Ask Me, Tell Me: Follow-up

My sister’s comment on my previous post asks:

Now I ask you, Biology Boy, if this is a biological adaptation of sorts or if this falls into the realm of some sort of cultural phenomena?

My attempt at an answer:

I think the only biological adaptation at play here is the evolution of a brain capable of higher thinking, but a brain which sets us up for both amazing successes and failures. On one hand, we can engineer fantastic tools to perform almost any given task. On the other, the capacity of the human brain to adapt to certain situations, adjust its owner’s behavior, and perceive its owner’s culturally-inflicted shortcomings introduces a vulnerability in humans not found in less advanced species.

That vulnerability is the target at which society and culture–perhaps unintentionally–attack, through negative external stimuli. The easy example is the growth in numbers of young girls with body dismorphia issues thanks to the ubiquity of fashion ads and commercials glamorizing skeletal-looking women.

Dogs don’t go on diets because other dogs think they look fat. Dogs are shameless, as evidenced by the frequency of leg humping in public. Their brains aren’t “smart” enough to do “dysfunction”.

So, I definitely think it’s a cultural phenomenon.

Back to humans, a person doesn’t feel like an asshole for saying something unless another person or collection of people reacts negatively to what they’ve said. It is only that external feedback that induces the speaker’s brain to adapt behavior to avoid that type of social embarrassment. Without input from others, he’s simply verbalizing a thought with no consequence.

Society conditions you not to say what you mean, and you ignore that tenet at your own peril. Say what you mean, and you risk insulting someone else and being labeled an insensitive prick… a fairly low score on the pariah scale, granted, but a outcast of sorts nonetheless.

So, that highly-evolved human brain invents ways to circumvent its owner’s deficiencies–be they real or imagined–which results in an ultimately farcical process of communication.

In the previous rant, there were two screwed up brains at work: his and mine.

As far as I can tell, his brain was working like this: “I think ABC is a waste of my time, so I want XYZ. But, I don’t want Gary to think that I’m lazy, so I must frame it differently, with the ultimate coup being my convincing him that it’s his own idea. Also, I don’t want to burst into Gary’s office and demand he implement my change, because then I’ll look like a jerk.” This results in the manipulation detailed in the previous post, which is neither explicitly nor inadvertently underhanded.

And my fucked up melon was working like this: “There are many good reasons ABC is done as it is. There had better be a good reason for XYZ to justify the amount of time I will have to work on it. I’m simply not hearing a valid argument for XYZ, yet he will not relent.” Lacking the ability to decipher his true motivation made me push back against his suggestions and arguments.

Were we both acting selfishly? Absolutely.

But my original point stands: Had he approached me about XYZ under the pretense of productivity, then he may have been lying, but at least he would have conveyed his goal in a straightforward manner… saving us both a lot of time.

2 thoughts on “Ask Me, Tell Me: Follow-up

  1. It’s funny how in people and relations classes that they teach you how persons are classed in types a, b, or, c… Sounds like “he” (the dude), went to those classes, thought he could “win friends and influence enemies”, but ran into you; type D. The personality that “they” don’t know anything about, or know how to bullshit yet.

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