"Are you a sociopath?"

10 July 2013

Here’s a really good question that I was asked as part of the discussion arising from my previous post, Life is not a conveyor belt:

@alexwarren You’re right of course. Any response is better than none. But did you not hope for a positive reception? Or are you a sociopath?— Howard Yeend (@user24) July 08, 2013

Quick answer: No, I am not a sociopath.

Longer answer: Actually, the question doesn’t really make much sense. Surely a sociopath, of all people, would want a positive response? Sociopaths want everybody to like them. They have charm, and the power to manipulate and seduce - all characteristics which I find myself sorely lacking.

I actually really want people to disagree with me. Why would I bother writing anything on this blog if I thought everybody would agree with it anyway? What would anybody gain from reading this, and what would I gain from writing it?

By writing my thoughts here, I get to work out what it is that I think in the first place, and then offer it up for people to add their own views. Maybe readers will spot something I’ve missed, or something I’ve got wrong. Maybe people can point me to articles expressing alternative points of view, or maybe I’ll meet people who really do feel the same as me. I can’t see any downsides either way.

It’s also interesting to see ways in which what I write can be misinterpreted. The comments on a couple of my recent posts have often sounded like people are responding to something completely different to what I actually wrote. But even that feedback is useful - it makes me think about what I can do to express myself more clearly.

So if nothing else, it’s all good writing practice. Communication is a fundamental skill, and by blogging I can practice it by spending half an hour here and there. If I maybe make some friends, give people something to think about and learn something myself along the way, that’s a wonderful bonus.

I’m pretty sure a sociopath wouldn’t do that, but please feel free to correct me in the comments below.