Misguided? Callous? Just Plain Stupid?

by Enoch Root4 min read20th Aug 20213 comments

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Personal Blog

Here's something I think about a lot: of these three traits, which is the least desirable? I have gone in circles for several years now and run the proverbial gamut, befriending people with these three traits (often several, actually.) I always ask myself: is it better to be kind and dumb or be intelligent, yet callous?

If I subscribed to the "agent" philosophy of personal relationships, I would most likely never befriend people of the third type₁, since they seldom have skills to offer (at least at first glance), interestingly enough, one of my better and "more useful" friends is both type one and two. This particular friend is politically misguided (to a frightening degree) and not the smartest, but he has an encyclopedic knowledge of automotive repair. Another automotive friend is a type one and two person, but can you guess who I go to first?

I don't usually want to deal with the headache of type two friends. Even though they may be more intuitively capable, they bring a lot of baggage (after all, I think something has to go wrong in your life to end up hopelessly angry at everything.) I spent a considerable amount of time dealing with these people working in the automotive sector while I was in college. On one hand, type twos are difficult to make happy and difficult to deal with, but I owe them some credit, since I had to fundamentally change how I interacted with them. Prior to hanging around with type twos, I was a bit of a pushover, the type of introverted kid that always apologize, even when I wasn't the source of the problem. After dealing with type twos for a year or so, I decided I was never going to apologize again. Not really, but I was done making apologies for the logistics company, my employer, or my peers. Interestingly, the type twos were very receptive to this change and almost immediately stopped condescending and began to treat me as a peer, rather than somebody they were obligated to deal with. If any young people take one thing away from this post, let it be this.

Regarding type one people, I have found that the best approach is to ignore the problem. Being a rural Midwesterner, I have encountered my fair share of type ones, particularly politically. Being misguided is, I think, a lesser flaw, since it is typically a result of rearing and exposure. Neither of these are the fault of the individual, that is, until they are presented with contrary evidence which they ignore (thus completing the transition from pure type one to a type one/three hybrid.) Provided that an individual is not a type three, then this issue is usually self-resolving, although not necessarily quickly. I have had pure type one friends and colleagues and in several cases, I have been surprised how quickly they can pivot out of this classification. Earlier I mentioned ignoring the issue, this is my typical course of action until I get to know somebody really well, since up to that point, I cant be sure of their type three status.

With type three friends, I usually try to look for the best in them, although somebody may appear to be type three, it's never beneficial to immediately write them off. As I mentioned earlier, a close friend who is a type one/three hybrid has been one of my most valuable friends. I recall one evening I left the gym and got in my truck, only for it to crank and crank and crank. Immediately, I messaged a friend, who I hadn't perceived as being any of these types. He quickly agreed to lend me a hand and give me a ride home, so I waited for him... For 45 minutes. I was able to get home that night, since my sister was in town, but this exposed a weak friend to me. The next morning, I texted one/three and he dropped everything, picked me up from my house, and pulled me 10 miles to his house with a tow strap (don't do this if you live in a town with more than zero stoplights.) I had already picked up the part to fix my truck but he stuck around and let me use his shop space to swap it out and test things. This event made me seriously reconsider my priorities for friends, since a smart friend is worth nothing if they don't show up for you. 

These days, my most valued friends are kind, reliable, and preferably (but not necessarily) intelligent. I suppose this post has been a meditation on what I value in my peers, hopefully you were able to gain something from it. It's almost 2:00 now so I better get to sleep.

 

 

  1. For the sake of readability, I have referred to misguidedness, callousness, and stupidity as type one, two, and three traits respectively

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For the sake of readability, I have referred to misguidedness, callousness, and stupidity as type one, two, and three traits respectively

For what it's worth I find descriptive terms much easier to read than type one, two, etc. In statistics I even dislike "false positive/negative", and prefer the more descriptive "false/missed alarm/label/...".

Move your footnote to the first paragraph, please.  It's VERY confusing to talk about three traits after asking "is it better to be kind and dumb or be intelligent, yet callous?"  I'd also prefer to refer to the positive sides, rather than the negative (or at least make clear that these are three dimensions you think of: kind-callous, intelligent-stupid, and knowledgeable-misguided).    I'm not sure they're independent, nor universal - many people are kind to some and callous to others, for instance, and lots are knowledgeable on some topics and surprisingly misguided on others.

And finally, I don't think you can generalize very deeply here.  People have more dimensions and variation than this, and you're not limited to only being nearly-inseparable or not-friends-at-all.  There are many (MANY!) people I'd call "friends" who I wouldn't leave in my house unattended, but who I enjoy a conversation with.  

After many years I came to the same conclusion as you. Kindness and reliability are the most important traits. Intelligence is a nice bonus, but not mandatory. Just ignore the misguided ideas and don’t try to change them. Avoid angry people.

The type 123 definitions would be more helpful at the top of article.