I’m a bit of a natural contrarian. I have a tendency to go against the flow. I couldn’t tell you why. I can’t identify any particular incident in my developing years that might have led me to take such a position. I just have a thing about groupthink and following the crowd that automatically makes me want to take a contrary position.
So, for instance, if I happen to be in a room full of business type people or general right-wing libertarian sorts, I’ll become the most raving communist. I’ll focus on all the issues with this position, such as market failures and the risks of boom-and-bust cycles and the damages they cause if business is left to itself.
However, if you stick me in a room full of socialist types, I’ll take a massive u-turn. I’ll become massively pro business and freedom of the individual, and fixate on all the historical problems faced by countries that went communist.
It’s not only political-type issues where I exhibit this sort of behaviour. Any kind of cultural issues will trigger similar types of attitudes. For example, if I’m surrounded by highbrow film buffs, I’ll want nothing more than to savour some sort of fun, entertaining movie. But if I find myself in the middle of a bunch of trash film aficionados, I’ll b yearning for more intelligent or engaging fare.
From this brief character snapshot, you’d think I must be a difficult person to get along with. You’d think I’d be constantly getting into arguments and pissing people off. Only, you’d be wrong.
Because another key aspect of my personality is a strong need to be liked. And because of that, I hate getting into arguments and I hate disagreeing with people. So I don’t. I put as much energy as I can into agreeing with people as often as possible. And if my contrarian instincts make that impossible, I smile and nod and (generally) keep it to myself. Of course, there are some situations where I can’t possibly go with the prevailing trend of discussion and need to make myself heard. But those situations are definitely the exception.
And what happens to all those contrary feelings building up inside of me? Well, I try not to let them overwhelm me. Luckily, I’ve found a pretty good outlet. The stories I write are often the safety valve to express the ideas I struggle to say in public.
So that’s me, the agreeable contrarian. I guess it’s just another indication of how complex each of us is.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as