I haven’t written a philosophical rant in a while, so I thought I’d indulge. And when I say rant, I really mean it. LOL Sometimes it helps to vent my frustration in written form. I don’t expect it to change the world, but I’m also not willing to change myself to fit the world, or meet it half way. At least on this one point. Read on to see what I mean by that.
I am a unicorn. No, really…
According to the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am a unicorn. My results always rank me as an INFJ, one of the (supposedly) rarest personality types. What that means is that I wear my soft heart on my sleeve until it gets so cut up I yank it back behind a three-foot-thick adamantium shield surrounded by land mines and laser fields. There is no in-between. Either I feel with my whole self, or not at all.
It makes for… an interesting relationship with the world at large. In many ways, I am an idealist. I see how the world should work and I hold other people as well as myself to that impossibly high standard, but at the same time the cynic in me realizes that is nowhere near how the world actually is and, while it often hurts and disappoints me, I kind of expect it to at the same time. It’s weird. The best way I can describe it is that I believe in the goodness of individual people, but put them in the context of a crowd, and they become a cesspool of selfishness, greed, ignorance, and malice.
Let me give you an example
A good person goes off into the world to be the best waiter ever. They start off with bright smiles and a can-do attitude, treating every guest with the utmost respect. They work their ass off every single day and come home utterly exhausted. But the longer they work, the more they see their peers aren’t as service-oriented. They take overly long breaks; they keep customers waiting; they cop an attitude and mouth off. And the boss doesn’t care, as long as the work is done and the tips keep rolling in. Worse, instead of rewarding the good person, he dumps extra shifts on them to milk every last penny out of their service.
The unspoken message is that effort is not only unappreciated, it’s undesirable. Instead of making you look good, it makes everyone else look bad in comparison. It breeds resentment among your peers and greed in your superiors, and you can’t even take solace in your own achievements because the customer doesn’t notice the difference. Thus, effort becomes an inside joke at best, a liability at worst.
So the good person stops trying. The bar was set low, and since it’s a detriment to try to raise it, they lower themselves to match it instead. They stop looking at customers as valued guests and more as a cash cow they need to feed and get out in a hurry so the table can be readied for the next. Three small tips in the span of two hours are better than one large one. The math evens out, and the good person no longer has to feel like the world is on their shoulders. Peer pressure eventually turns a good person into an average Joe as a means of self-preservation.
A world of broken ideals
We tend to look to our peers as the benchmarks of what we should be doing, even when that benchmark is skewed toward mediocrity (as it often is). Everything becomes a get-rich-quick scheme where we try to get the biggest payout for the smallest amount of effort. Hey, everyone else is doing it. A few have even gotten rich off of it. Why shouldn’t we?
People who don’t know any better will take what they can get.
And I mean that for both service providers, and consumers.
Any schmo with a Canva account can call themselves a graphic designer and charge money for their truly atrocious designs. But to someone who wouldn’t know where to look for a better option, or someone who can’t afford that better option, even schmo’s services will look like a good deal. They will happily pay the price and count themselves lucky to have anything at all. And when they ask for feedback on this comedy of awfulness, rather than break a heart with honesty, well-meaning friends praise the result and fluff, and cluck, so the poor unsuspecting schmuck has no idea they’d just been duped not once, but twice.
People who don’t care will eagerly take advantage of others’ generosity and ignorance.
People know when they’re doing something wrong. Even if they don’t acknowledge it in public, they still know. The question is, do they care enough to change their ways? More often than not, no. Selfishness wins out. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Greed wins out. “Why should I invest into making something better? People are more than willing to pay for it as is.” Entitlement wins out. “My struggle is my calling card. People need to respect it and the limitations that come with it.”
Possible = Acceptable (?)
Without an enforced industry standard, the open market becomes a free-for-all for anyone willing to screw people over for a buck. In fact, our economy rewards such behavior. It’s based on consumerism–the wheels turn as long as you keep buying, so buying is the unspoken mantra. If you buy a cheap thing and it breaks down in a week, all it means is that you will buy another one. Ka-ching! Whenever a new phone comes out, there is always a line stretching around the block for the new shiny gadget. Whether those people actually need a new phone is incidental. What’s important is that they’re frothing at the mouth to get it.
An everlast in a world of disposables
This is where my personal dissonance steps in. I irrationally take it as a personal insult whenever I see someone skate by, or get rewarded for putting in a quarter of the effort I do into the same work. I get angry when I see people touting paid services they are in no way qualified to provide. I want to smash cheap, useless products into the faces of the people who created and sold them.
If you ask me for feedback, I will be 100% honest. If that means telling you you should have done better, that’s what I’ll tell you. If you ask for my advice, I will only give it if I know what I’m talking about and it’ll be with the best of intentions. If you don’t take that advice and end up regretting it, don’t expect me to commiserate. I’m very patient with people who want to learn, but have zero tolerance for people who fake it in the hopes that someone else (usually me) will do the work for them. The fastest way to lose my good will is to adopt an attitude of, “Whatever. It is what it is.” No! It is what you make it.
I put quality above all, and it drives me absolutely bonkers that others don’t, and that I can’t make them see how their ambivalence is hurting not only them but the world around them. I don’t do things to make a buck; I do them to make a lasting impression. I will sacrifice my profits in order to put out an exceptional product. I will pay more to make sure something is done right and I will insist on corrections if it isn’t. I’m a perfectionist for whom “good enough” is never good enough.
And that right there is the trouble of being an INFJ in a world that wasn’t built for them: it makes me a terrible business person, all things considered.
But I’d like to think it makes me a great writer and publisher. 😉
Here endeth today’s rant.