A female job recruiter on LinkedIn inquired whether I was interested in a position. I wrote back that I was not. Being a photographer, I could not but notice that her profile picture was more suited for a shady dating site than a job portal. Taken at night with a webcam, eyes looking down at the display, grainy and blurred, it definitely was an acceptable portrait of her sexy facial features, but looked very amateurish nonetheless.
I nonchalantly attached this observation to my reply and did not expect an answer; when I wrote messages with sexual undertones on LinkedIn in the past, I never got answers. Granted, my own profile picture back then was not what you would call attractive.
But I am not only sharing this because I want to showcase my balls – Donald’s are bigger, but because she actually replied.
What she had to say was:
Regarding to my photo. I have not had any problems with it, i recruit very successfully globally and it has not held me back. I will update it when I get a moment, but I was unfortunately at a funeral the day the photographer came into my work. That held priority.
Now, there was a time when I would have felt vaguely bad about having criticized her photo. My thoughts would have been something like: She did not do anything bad, she did not mean it, it was not her fault. And she does not need my advice anyway, she is doing well.
I would have beat myself up for my comment, because she did not ask for it nor deserve it. Back then, I would likely only have said it to satisfy my unhealthy altruism, anyway. But I am kinda past doing stuff because it will make a woman happy.
So today my reaction to her comment was: Jeez, why are you telling me about your funeral? Am I guilty of your dead relatives or what? What the fuck, girl? And why tell me it has not held you back? I gave you a tip that will improve your presence; I did not try to publicly shame you or anything. Take it or leave it, bitch.
Now, why would she not simply say: Hey, thanks for the idea.
It would seem intuitive.
But take a look at the weird brilliance of her game. Firstly, she invalidated the impact of my criticism by stating that she is doing as good as she possibly could anyway. Secondly, she gave me a reason for why she did not yet upload a better photograph, justifying her inaction. Thirdly, and she did that eloquently within the same sentence, she brought up an emotional subject like her funeral. And smartly isolated the sentence That held priority, emphasizing it. As if I had implied that this was not true.
Let us take a closer look and conjecture what kind of mindset makes you react in that manner.
1. Invalidation of criticism
By invalidating my criticism, she proved that her choice to not use a better photograph has not had any negative influence on her career. But why bother? Maybe to prevent regret, aka If I could have done it better, I have not done it perfectly and am bad.
That is illogical. It presumes that there is some kind of absolute knowledge of the perfect way to do things that can be easily distilled out of thin air. Nonsense, of course.
Of course, if you are an amateur, you see the contrast between yourself and something that may seem like perfection. But if you are actually at the top of your profession, you see that ideal norms and standards are. And even those compromises are reached after years of experimentation.
I am a proponent of perfectionism, but I assert that you can not reach perfection unless you define it. And that presumes that you already know enough about a matter to know where you want to go. Even a professional photo can vary in millions of ways.
For some reason, this gal may believe that it is possible to know the right way to go and if she did not go it, she is bad. Or whatever. Since she must not be bad – presumably some childhood nonsense like mine – she cannot allow to admit that she could have done better.
Now, you would think that this is a stupid thing for her to say, because she robs herself of the opportunity to do better in the future. But she does not:
2. Justifying her inaction
Of course, if there is a right (better) way to go, she must not admit that she did not know it beforehand. I may be projecting here, because I myself use to have this problem.
Anyway, it is stupid. How would you know if a path leads somewhere before actually going it?
Nonetheless, from the moment you give criticism, the criticized is free to say Well, of course, you are only stating the obvious, which is consistent with the belief that there is something obvious to know. This false bravado may seem arrogant, but I prefer to have compassion for it, because it showcases the desperate confusion of a mind that thinks Ah, I knew it, just had to get it right. When you believe in the right way and a cosmic truth, it may seem to you like you finally remembered the truth just after somebody told you a good idea. Coincidentally. You just need to have that good day!
It is a bit similar to my first point, in that you may feel like you knew where your path would lead you before you went it. Example: You fear that you may fail. You try. You fail. You remember your fear and conclude that you already knew that you would fail. But you totally ignore that back then, you also had hope it would work out.
So she says that she of course already considered making a photograph, it just did not work out.
I am not saying that she did not, but why is it so important for her to assert it? Why does she need me to know that she did?
Why is it a problem to admit – not even to others, just to yourself – that you simply did not think it was very important back when you made the decision?
Ironically, if she knew of the importance of the photograph all along, why did she have to assert that it did not hamper her in the first place?
3. Instilling guilt
Now, this is the most petty part of it all and I am lucky to be at a point where it almost only mildly amuses me.
She not only asserted that she was not bad, she also made sure to assert that I was.
The irony here is of course that she may be just a sheep following an arbitrary moral ideal of piety. But since she believes in absolutes and maybe even omniscience, she would of course think that I knowingly did an evil thing. Not only is it ridiculous to assume that I knew about her funeral, it is also ridiculous to be so convinced of an action being inherently evil or bad.
But it is necessary for her to believe that my action is inherently bad and that such an ideal exists. Why? Because how else could she then use it against me? If there are no absolutes, how can you fight the battle for perfection?
It comes from a mindset that is akin to keep up a picture of perfection, no matter how illogical the concept is. It is about appearance. And that is also where frame control comes from. It is a battle of ideals; and since sheep believe in perfect ideals, but no sheep knows what that perfect ideal is, they will switch their ideals in a matter of seconds – if only the speaker appears convincing. And why would the sheep not? If something is absolute, after all, there is no reason to resist it; it would be futile.. If you think of it, politics are where you would need to
Yet the sheep can never eliminate the cognitive dissonance of Oh, how could I have been so stupid!
Now, while a politician or psychopath may calculatedly deceive people to conceive him as perfect in order to pursue goals, this gal did not have to impress anyone – as no one was observing.
From this I conjecture that she feels a strong emotional attachment to proving that she is better than others. And when you think about it, it is even more stupid since there is no audience but me. If she needs to prove her superiority, she needs me to acknowledge it. That makes her my slave, because I can practically freely choose any kind of standard to judge her by; there is no social pressure. I guess that is what game is all about, eh.
Again, I may be projecting – which does not necessarily prove me wrong.
Let me theorize here how such an emotional attachment to the appearance of perfection may develop.
Ever watch television?
Where the hero is confronted by a fighter with a mysterious and powerful technique? And the hero immediately looks through it, copies it and beats the enemy? Or where the hero immediately looks through all deception and has a practically all-knowing intellect?
What a heap of bunchshit.
But imagine that you had parents who – being human and fallible – have come to believe in indoctrinated ideals of perfection, omniscience and omnipotence. They adore that politician or perfect man / woman in the movie. He / she never makes an error. Or he / she is always kind, friendly and everybody likes them. It may be a kid. Then they look at their own kid and are kinda disappointed.
So the kid thinks: Ah. I need to appear omnipotent, or perfectly nice and likable.
Kid will do whatever it takes to get the approval of the parents. I tried to be nice. Cause equality needs men to be nice. Girls tried to be perfect and superior, because equality demands women to be strong.
But even being nice carries a kind of idiotic arrogance. The belief that there is the right way to behave. The smooth way. Oh, if you only knew wbich.
Being nice is an ideology. The belief that. Like the overburdened girl may think that everything can be solved through appearing perfect. Both are laughably ridiculous.
Now, how much was I talking about the girl and how much was I talking about myself? Not sure. If what I said applies more to me than to her, does it invalidate my points? You be the judge. Because I frankly do not believe that I can do it perfectly right anymore. Not from the get go, that is.
And if I wrote more about myself than about her, well, then the purpose of this blog is fulfilled, anyway.
Now, how about some smart ass quotes I would have despised not long ago?
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
– Albert Einstein
If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
– Francis Bacon,
In the Congress of the United States, Cromwell had known a good many men who were possessed of absolute certainty, and this he feared so much that he felt the only real and enduring evil on the face of the earth was unbending certainty, unshakable orthodoxy.
― Howard Fast,
Here are some more.
Think of it. What kind of certainty did it take for me to write this? Was it really more than an intense intuition that may not hold true to all cases in reality? And even if I described a true tendency, is it really that absolute? Are single mothers the source of all evil? Hardly. But in regard to this article, that is not even the point. The point is: Could single mothers have known beforehand that they are not up to it? How can you prepare for your first parenthood? Well, they could not know. Does not mean you should not hate their guts.
Yeah, so I am talking against certainty a bit. Of course. Far from it. I still despise the vague approach to life. The belief that you can not know anything for certain. But I only despise it insomuch as I believe that everything is theoretically knowable, because the information exists in reality. There is just not – yet – a method to access that kind of knowledge. And, regarding your own life, if you only did the things you know everything about, you would never be doing anything new. I will have to think about it.