Ben Cantrick (mackys) wrote,
Ben Cantrick

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Understanding (or not) engineers.

It's totally unfair to suggest - as many have - that engineers are socially inept. Engineers simply have different objectives when it comes to social interaction.

"Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:

  • Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
  • Important social contacts
  • A feeling of connectedness with other humans

These goals are irrational and stupid. Experience shows that most conversations degenerate into discussions about parking spaces, weather patterns, elapsed time since you last exercised, and - God forbid - "feelings." Those topics hardly qualify as stimulating and thought-provoking. Nor are they useful. Engineers realize that making personal contacts is not valuable in their occupation. For them it's not "who you know" that matters, it's "who knows less than you do" that counts. Nor is there much tangible value in feeling "connected" with other humans. That stuff is best left to the poets and the multilevel marketing organization. To an engineer, most "normal" people are intellectually indistinguishable from Mexican jumping beans with faces. Feeling "connected" with carbon-based dolts holds all the joy of being handcuffed to a dead zebra - it sounds special, but it can get old fast.

In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:

  • Get it over with as soon as possible.
  • Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
  • Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.

These are sensible goals and ones that can produce great joy. Tho social skill of an engineer must be evaluated on the basis of these rational objectives, not on the basis of bizarre and nonsensical societal standards. Viewed in this light, I think you'll agree that engineers are very effective in their social interactions. It's the "normal" people who are nuts.

From "The Dilbert Principle" by Scott Adams

See also: Triumph the Comic Insult Dog vs. The Star Wars Nerds. (Guy: "I-AM-A-STORM-TROOPER!" Triumph: "YOU-ARE-A-HUGE-NERD!")
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