Friday, July 25, 2014

Black and White

Through the years I have run across people that think so much differently than I do. I'm not talking just about religion or political differences, but a fundamental difference on what they find to be a satisfying or acceptable answer or explanation.

You see, I like to be as accurate and detailed in my answers as I can. Meanwhile, other people want everything to be black and white. As simple (vague) and answer, the better for some... That may work for them, but I view the world in shades of grey. I've had employers that only seemed capable of flat yes or no answers. But the questions that are asked were rarely answered so simply. There are nuances and details that make neither yes or no to really be an accurate reply. Yet, this is all they find acceptable.

Not one to willingly forfeit accuracy, I will avoid the use of these flawed replies if a more accurate option is available. What is wrong with 'possibly' or 'most likely' and then stating the variable(s) you are concerned could reverse an affirmative or negative declaration?
A: Is the machine fixed?
B: I'm not sure, it's working now.
A: So it's fixed...
B: Maybe. It wasn't working, and now it is. Everything was done exactly the same both times. So either there's a variable I'm missing, or it fixed itself.
A: It's working. So it's fixed. How did you fix it?
B: As I said. Everything was done the same as it was when it didn't work and did work, but it's working now. So we'll see how it goes. If I can repeat the problem/solution, then we'll know.
A: So it's fixed for good then?
B: ... *bangs head on wall*
An accurate portrayal of reality: Usually, it's somewhere in
the middle...
Also, why are 'I'm not sure', or I don't know' discarded as acceptable answers? I'll be asked A question that I don't know the answer to, and will say as such and then offer the my gut feeling or what is usually the case, but that I'll have to check the facts. Yet, I find myself faced with only the binary options of 'yes' or 'no'. What is wrong with being honest and accurate?
A: Can we put this info on a plaque this small?
B: I'm not sure. I'll have to lay it out and see it that's too small.
A: Can we do it?
B: I think so, but it will be pretty close. Let me lay it out to see.
A: Yes or no?
B: Probably, but I can't say for certain at that size without checking.
A: Yes or no?
B: ... *wonders if I'm speaking another language*
Those are quite simplified examples, but when speaking with someone seemingly incapable of understanding variables or detailed explanations, I'm often left at a loss for words. I'm dumfounded that before me stands a grown man, that wishes to converse at the level of a grade schooler. Sorry, but I refuse to eschew accuracy in favor of faulty simplicity.

It's odd that these same people also always seem to take things the wrong way. Say they offer a solution to a problem. I may agree or I may notice a problem with the proposition. Yet pointing out this flaw is somehow viewed as a reactionary shooting down of anything they would have said. Um, no... Offer a good idea, and I'll gladly accept it. But if there's a problem or potential problem I'm not just going to ignore it only to result in a waste of time and money.
A: What if we do 'X'?
B: That almost sounds like it would work, except for the fact that 'Y' will cause 'problem Z'.
A: What if we do 'X2'?
B: We tried that already and it didn't work.
A: What if we did 'X3'?
B: That would actually cause more problems because of 'Y2' and 'Z2'.
A: At least I'm offering solutions! You just keep shooting them down!
B: ... *At this point I'm thinking "chill dude, me pointing out where physics or geometry defy your 'solution' is not me trying to pick a fight..."
I feel that looking at everything in such a black and white manner is good for no one. So it's no surprise that this thinking has permeated politics and religion. It's not news to anyone that many conservatives view liberals as the enemy, and vice versa. You're either with the party, or you're against it. Likewise, some believers feel that you are either with God or against him. This line of thinking only goes to divide and cause undue conflict. Often there is a middle-ground where people can compromise on an issue. But in a strict black and white world, this potential for cooperation is lost.

I feel that similar dangers are at risk when condensing conversation to only two polar opposites. Sometimes that may work, but often times things aren't quite that simple. Some may enjoy that illusion of black and white simplicity, but I will pick the accuracy of a world painted in shades of gray any day.

-Brain Hulk

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