Today, something interesting happened. Two people I know post the same meme on Facebook.
What’s interesting is that one of these people is about as liberal as one can get and the other is pretty conservative. But they both have the same feelings toward to the extreme judgmental attitude that is seemingly expressed on the internet.
As an aside (and this is relevant, just go with it), I’ve been struggling lately with a sense of purpose. I’m… some relatively large number of years old… and I haven’t done anything that I have wanted to accomplish yet. I haven’t written my damn books. I haven’t invented a world saving device (well, I have, but no one will fund me). I haven’t written the various video games that I want to do. I haven’t made $400,000 by canceling a speech because I was afraid.
On the other hand, I haven’t gotten into the kind of extremism that is popular today.
It seems to me (having thought about it for almost 30 seconds and without having had breakfast yet), that the extremists are the ones who are powering their way through our society and culture. Both in good and bad ways. Donald Trump is an extremist. Steve Jobs was an extremist.
I’m going to change some words, because extremist has some particular connotations that are unpleasant. Those that are driven. They have very specific goals and train to get the skills and resources needed to accomplish those goals.
In terms of that dynamic (and that dynamic only), there’s not much difference between Elon Musk and Bill Gates and Fred Phelps and the leaders of ISIS. I’m not talking about the belief system or the reasoning behind these people and their motivations. I’m talking simply about the fact that they are driven to accomplish something.
I’m not one of those people, hence my mid-life crisis. I’m a generalist. I burn out on one thing so easily, that it’s extremely difficult to accomplish anything. Occasionally, just trying to keep up with blogging is as depressing as anything else in my life. (Not that I have a bad life, it’s actually pretty awesome, I just have to remind myself of that fact frequently.)
But it’s really frustrating to have ideas and concepts in my head that I can’t get onto paper or into physical structure. It’s very frustrating to read about the people who can do the things and do things and realize that I mostly can’t.
But, you say, why don’t you just do them? Why don’t you just write that book or learn to program?
That goes back to the problems I have being easily bored and frustrated. I can learn to program… kind of. I’ve got some basics, but it’s like a foreign language where I know some words, but actually conversing is beyond me. I’ve attempted to teach myself programming every other year for almost two decades. I spent most of my free time last summer learning C#. I can build arrays and loops and programs that call other programs. But I still can’t get to the point where I can make the computer do what I want. I don’t live and breathe programming like others do.
I have a friend who works in programming and then he goes home and works on his own programs. I have tried that. I burned out in a few weeks. Same with science. When my job gets rough (last couple of weeks) all I want to do is lie on the couch after work. My brain is tried (and the rest of me continues to be frustrated). But then I get the double whammy of being frustrated with work and being frustrated cause I’m not working on my own projects. It becomes a cycle of depression.
I hadn’t intended for this to be about me. I had intended this to be a discussion about the driven people versus people who are not. The specialists vs. the generalists. The people who do things and the people who do not (or try again and again and again and fail every time).
So that’s where I am right now. I am trying another tool to towards writing a book. We’ll see.