I’m sure you’re curious about my interest in Curiosity. Or should be.
Well, if you are interested in Curiosity I have nothing but curiosity for your interest. In Curiosity.
Before we can answer the question, though, I feel that we should explore some definitions and lay out some boundaries for our discussion on Curiosity. (Are you curious about the capitalization? If not, why not? And vice versa..)
Curiosity is a peculiar trait of what I call Curious People. Sometimes, I call them Curious Folk. Now, there are different things one can be curious about. We can wonder about our neighbours and what they’re upto, why they grow huge maple trees ‘for privacy’ when an evergreen would have been more useful, for example, especially when 89.37461% of leaves fall into my yard!
Or, as some people define Curiosity, about who is sleeping with whom in the apartment across the hall. You could also be curious about the mental state of a new boss at a micro-blogging service. Or the reported usage statistics of ketchup in the state of Florida.
I’m not actually interested in that sort of Curiosity. I don’t care to know what religious symbols, gods, rituals my neighbours (or anyone) follow. I don’t want to know about their sex life, as long as everyone is a consenting adult.
No, I’m talking about the Curisoity that comes from exploring the world we live in and wanting to know more about it, to understand the “Why”. I’m talking about understanding our world and how our human brain and behavior is applied to it. I don’t want to judge, I just want to understand the logic, or science, or mechanics, thinking that goes into the “What” is done.
I don’t want to compare, unless such comparison throws up some sort of pattern or data. I don’t, for example, care to list all the pros and cons of each religion, political party. There are so many nuances, passioned responses, emotional baggage, fear, loathing and hate rolled into those two things, religion and politics.
What I’m curious about, is understanding the thought processes that allow people to follow anything. Whether its a paleo, keto diet, or a vegan lifestyle, a life devoted to the teachings of a guru, I don’t want to judge the guru, the diet or the lifestyle. I want to understand things like the elevation of the guru to guru status. I want to understand the thought process that allows someone to follow a set pattern. I want to understand why some patterns attract some people but not others.
I also want to understand why some thinkers are elevated to guru status. I want to know, for example, why a stubble or a flowing beard is necessary to be a guru. I want to understand how information is passed on and why some information sticks and some does not.
In short, I want to understand human behavior. Why do people behave the way they do? What’s going on in their heads?
The Role of Social Media
The rise of the internet in the past decade or so has seen a boom in the amount of information that is generated and, more importantly, the speed with which it is communicated. In another, now long forgotten post (I found it here), I, as the SloMan, an avatar long retired, had lamented the death of grammar at the hands of urgency.
The need to be current, or as the kids call it, FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, is so dire, so desperate that information has developed a speed that far outpaces any limitations as to validity, truth, acceptability, etiquette and, in my opinion, sanity.
People I once considered sane, are apt to share information that they never once stop to examine. Is this, in fact, true? Who said this? Where did this originate? What else has originated here? What is the expertise of the originator? Is there a way to cross check / validate this?
Curiously, though, they simply forward it on. The Whatsapp University is the derisive name for this mind-numbing sharing of “information”, mostly because, Whatsapp has been a boon for such mindnumbing stupidity.
I mean, people, please, drinking hot water ain’t gonna melt the fat in your veins!! Stop, count to ten, slowly and THINK, before you decide to forward this sort of thing!
I’m not even going to explore the “social friend” construct here. It needs its own discussion.
Science and Modern Human
Sadly, it seems the Modern Human has rejected science as the Examiner of Truth. And scientists have only themselves to blame. Some have sold out to vested interests. Some have not figured out how to get their message out.
And then, they’ve blurred the meaning of the word Theory and the word Hypothesis. This is, probably, a contributing factor to the ease with which people can diminish theories. “It’s just a theory, not established fact”, they say. The common man, already ready to share, waiting with bated breath to hit the forward button, nods, and sends.
Human behavior is, probably, the most interesting thing that anyone can research and investigate. There was this colleague, documented here, a science grad, who didn’t think psychology or psychiatry was science and only Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Math were sciences. That post was, probably, my first attempt at trying to document my befuddlement at how humans think.
I mean, really, why do people think the way they do? Why am I so fussed about this?
I don’t know. I wish I could understand why it means so much for me to understand. Maybe, because I grew up not understanding anything around me and I’m still trying, still curious.
For example, there are readers who click the link to this website, read the specific article, and show no interest in finding out more about the writer, even though they claim, on social media, that they loved it. They don’t explore what else there may be, similar to what they liked.
Me, if I like something someone wrote, I spend some time looking for more of their content.
On my consulting gigs, and on my website for that consulting, I once had the slogan “Tool and methodology agnostic solutions that stick. Completely jargon free”, because as far as I’m concerned every tool, every process, every methodology, every “best practice” (I hate that with a passion) is up for change.
The world around us changes constantly. Political leadership changes all the time. War, weather, natural calamities affect us all the time. The corporate structures change with Mergers and Acquisitions all the time. People come with new ways of doing things all the time.
Yet, there are people who, it seems, want the world to sit still and not change.
I was, am, unfortunately for me and every one around me, the kind of guy who minutes after a release, wanted to change it for something better. There was always the sense that while the immediate need was solved, there was room for improvement. I sent out documents, presentations and notes without a disclaimer on it, until I realized people expected it to be a “finished” product.
There is no “finished product” in my head. It’s just a route to follow. If I see a fork in the road, I’ll evaluate which one to take. If it was wrong, I’ll fix it. Where’s the sense in weeping over it?
I don’t get it.
Change is continuous, people! Get over it!
I will never know how people think and why they think what they do. I will never understand how things work. I’m curious and, yet, I’m doomed to never understand the world I live in and the people who live in it with me. I’m a curious person. I like to examine things and work them out. When I used to hire people, my interview conversation was aimed at finding out how curious they were. I didn’t care how much they knew already. I was more interested in how much they wanted to know.
Maybe, you’re curious to engage on this and have a conversation. Or maybe, you’ll shrug, dismiss it from your mind and head back to the one-way communication that social media seems to want from us all.
Which is it going to be?