I hate predictability. Which is odd, because I like firm principles in life, and firm priciples will drive predictable outcomes.
So I'm playing HALO 2 last night, and another player says that someone in the game is cheating. And then I heard him mention my gamer tag, B Strat. He announced to everyone that I was the cheater.
"If you think I'm cheating, then turn me in. I have nothing to hide."
"Okay, I will."
"But I have a question for you. If I were cheating, wouldn't I be winning?"
Silence. "Well, maybe it's not you, but someone was cheating."
The game soon ended. I finished 3rd out of 8 players. The post-game conversation picked up on the cheating accusation.
"Dude," I told those who stayed, "you can't just throw out accusations like that willy nilly."
"B Strat, why are you so worked up about this?"
"Because to accuse someone of cheating is dumb unless it's blatant. I didn't see anything in the game to suggest that, and it obviously wasn't me - I didn't come close to winning - but you threw my name out there."
"You must be a computer programmer," someone replied.
I started laughing. "I am, but how in the world did you guess that?"
"Because I work with programmers every day and they act just like you." Then he laughed.
I was dumbstruck. Was I that obvious in such a short time frame? Am I that predictable? And what exactly was "computer programmer"-ish about my behavior? Before I could ask the questions, I exited the room after wishing everyone a good night, but I wish that I had remained and asked the question.
We all fit certain patterns or traits, and we all see the world through a different lens. But in some ways, it's a shared lens. At least to some degree. The Myers-Briggs scale, or MBTI, has found success because it successfully catalogues certain behavior and filtering that we do to earmark us as 1 of 16 types along 4 axes. I'm an ENTP, but narrowly the extrovert. I have many introvert tendencies.
A friend of mine recently spoke of her travails on match.com. I hear commercials for eHarmony on the radio, and it touts its personality matching service along its 29 dimensions of compatibility. Yet this same person tried eHarmony and wondered how in the world it chose her matches because they could not have been more wrong for her.
What do you want to be when you grow up? With whom should you spend the rest of your life?
I don't know the answer to either of those.
I like principles because they simplify life. As my kids have grown up, they have all heard the four rules:
It has made family life simpler. Just about anything that needs correction with them can boil down to one of these rules.
- Do what you're told without talking back, unless you can't do it.
- You are responsible for your things. If you need help, ask.
- Treat other people as you want to be treated.
- If it's not yours or you don't know what it is, don't touch it.
The bright lines that principles provide can simplify life. Is there creativity in that? Bright lines limit us. Most of us appreciate a bit of rebelliousness now and then. Can we color outside the lines? Should we?
I teach my kids that there is no such thing as a bad word. All words are fine; certain words are just inappropriate at times. You shouldn't say "shit" in school.
But is there a time when it's appropriate? Think of the teacher confronted by a student who just pulled a gun. I think "shit" is very appropriate at a time like that.
Can everyone agree on principles? Can we all agree on the "Rules of Life?" I don't think so.
Can those who oppose the killing of innocent life, such as the wrongly accused convict in prison, also be okay with abortion? What are the principles involved? Are they contradictory?
Those who believe that God's rules best suit society - can they also believe in freedom of religion and freedom of speech? What are the principles? Don't they conflict?
We all see life through a different lens, and in some ways, we're stuck with our lens. We're predictable that way. And we're built for conmflict with others, I'm afraid. It's unavoidable.
I suppose it's all in how we handle it. Margaret Thatcher said, "The veneer of civilzation is very thin." Yes, indeed. Truth doesn't come in a stream of 1's and 0's. Programming offers a bit of solace that way.