The U.S. Presidential Election, and My Theory Of Engineers.
I must admit, I am the master of awkward social situations. By "master", I mean they happen to me a lot, not that I am good at handling them. Due to an overwhelming abundance of such situations, I got to thinking. Why do I find it so hard to be accepted by my peers? Once I thought about it for a while, the answer became clear: social interaction is muddled and ambiguous (one might even call it chaotic), while my mind works (most times) in a logical and ordered manner. It explains why I am more comfortable with my computer than with other people. It even explains why I can have long, meaningful conversations on MSN. You see, unlike a "real-life" conversation, an IM convo has structure (it's handily arranged in chronological order), there is only one data stream (the text), and in general there are only two people per conversation. Whereas with a real life conversation has multiple overlapping data streams (speech, tone of voice, eye contact, body language, etc.) and multiple people interacting at the same time. It's no wonder I find it hard to adjust to social situations where many people are interacting.
Holy Jeebus... I just refreshed the election results page, and it looks like Bush has control of the bible belt, as well as basically the entire midwest. But it's still a close race.
Anyways, after explaining my inability to act correctly in social situations, I felt that I should extend the theory to something else that was bugging me. A contradiction, of sorts. You see, I'm an engineer; and historically, engineers have been known for being loud, fun-loving, and huge party animals. But in my classes, I look around me, and what do I see? A bunch of quiet Asian guys (my class is about 95% Asian, and 95% male). Where did the discrepancy come from? Was it a long-standing tradition from back in the days when engineers were the "real men"? Was it the fact that we hate artsies with a passion, and would do anything to prove ourselves superior? Or was it something else?
Before this question can truly be answered, let's look at some of the stereotypes about engineers:
1. We love to party.
2. We are extremely loud.
3. We can drink inordinate amounts of beer.
How are these connected? The answer is obvious when one thinks about it. Assume that I am a typical engineer. I represent what would most likely be classified as a computer engineer (though that is not what I am). I am shy, nerdy, and absolutely terrified of social interaction. Note that these attributes map DIRECTLY to the three stereotypes presented above, except they are opposite. How can this be? Well, first let's look at the similarities between the three stereotype characteristics. The obvious similarity is that beer-drinking and being extremely loud would most likely be accomplished at parties. This links the three together, and the key is that parties are social situations, which engineers despise. So what gives? Why would engineers go to parties if they hate them? TO DRINK BEER. An engineer will go to a party, realize that he or she is not having a good time, and then start drinking. Now, the effects of alcohol are well known. One of these effects, of course, is to make a person very extroverted. So the typical engineer is remembered as someone who is a great guy to have at a party, as well as someone who has the ability to absorb large quantities of alcohol.
It's too bad I don't drink.