David Brooks paints a vivid image of a character type:
Every society produces its own distinct brand of social misfits, I suppose, but our social structure seems to produce significant numbers of people with rank-link imbalances…. They rack up great grades and develop that coating of arrogance that forms on those who know that in the long run they will be more successful than the beauties and jocks who get dates.
Then they go into one of those fields like law, medicine or politics, where a person’s identity is defined by career rank. They develop the specific social skills that are useful on the climb up the greasy pole: the capacity to imply false intimacy; the ability to remember first names; the subtle skills of effective deference; the willingness to stand too close to other men while talking and touching them in a manly way. And, of course, these people succeed and enjoy their success. When Bigness descends upon them, they dominate every room they enter and graciously share their company with those who are thrilled to meet them….
These Type A men are just not equipped to have normal relationships. All their lives they’ve been a walking Asperger’s Convention, the kings of the emotionally avoidant. Because of disuse, their sensitivity synapses are still performing at preschool levels.
I’ve occasionally wondered what sort of developmentally stunted freak wants to spend most of his time being surrounded by adoring, wide-eyed fans. I mean, while I very much appreciate those who think well of my writing, I’d rather socialize with my friends. Half of them know that I write but don’t read my stuff, the other half are vaguely aware that I occasionally write now and then, but most have no idea what it is. None of them play my games either. On the other hand, I don’t spend much time investing in their portfolios, going over their code, using the products they manufacture or reading their legal briefs either.
Other than SB, the White Buffalo and the Original Cyberpunk, no one even reads this blog. And that’s not only fine, that’s normal. This is the best line from Brooks’s column: “Maybe they’d be O.K. if somewhere along the way they’d had true friends, defined as a group of people who share a mutual inability to take each other seriously.”
Life is too short and too crazy to take yourself seriously all the time. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you deserve the laughter that will eventually come your way.