The Horcrux February 13, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in societal commentary.
Tags: horcrux, ideas, pointless arguments
Today, I went into the lab and started disassembling some items that the Minion had made. I felt kind of bad about it because of all the work he’d done, but it was necessary to test out some ideas I had. He jokingly mentioned that he’d “poured his heart and soul” into it, when then led us to joke that the items I was actually destroying were Horcruxes.
Thinking about it later, it actually seems a somewhat apt analogy, and it doesn’t just apply to things you make in the lab. When you’re really interested or passionate about something, even an idea (or maybe…especially an idea), it can be hard to take criticism even when it’s obviously deserved.
GMP had a discussion about being nice, and I made the comment that I try to be tactful and that I prefer to try to argue ideas. It’s true that I try to be tactful because I’ve been on the receiving end far too often of those who don’t care how their words affect others. I also try to argue ideas or concepts and not turn things into a personal attack…although it sometimes fails miserably. I’ve often been confused, however, when people thought I was attacking them. I’ve had many people say that I was attacking them when I began to argue passionately about something. I really didn’t feel like I was attacking them as a person.
This is where the horcrux analogy is perfect: people think that by criticizing and commenting on their ideas, professional or personal, you’re trying to cut out a piece of their soul. Unfortunately, this makes little sense to those of us who are (supposed to be) trained to view ideas separately from the person who presents them. As a scientist, it’s irrelevant who poses an idea: if you think it’s stupid, you’re just supposed to say so and point out it’s numerous flaws. This is supposed to help the process of science.
On the other hand, it really doesn’t help the process of getting along with other people. It’s really no wonder there is this stereotype of the cold, heartless scientist who becomes a villain. People mistake criticism of their ideas to mean that the scientist must not like them as people, when sometimes, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
I really like my ability to analyze and criticize things, so I don’t really think I should change this behavior. It is also quite necessary for the work I do. I have difficulty compartmentalizing this and trying to not do it to people around me, although I’m far better than I used to be at biting my tongue. I guess what’s frustrating is that the scientist is the one expected to change this behavior by people who confuse criticism of their ideas with a criticism of them. From my perspective, however, this sort of ‘polite’ behavior is silly and somewhat dishonest.