On Emotional Intelligence

Intelligence, as a concept, is largely based on pattern recognition and the ability to learn quickly by deduction and example. This is, indeed, the entire basis of IQ tests. Then is it not so that a truly intelligent person should be socially and emotionally, as well as academically, adept? Social systems follow definite, if usually nonverbalized, roles (mores) and emotional expression follows consistent, if subtle, patterns. For example, it is almost always possible to deduce whether one’s friend is angry with one, and even that the reason is one’s recent assassination of her ex-girlfriend (for whatever it may be worth, I’m sorry; I don’t choose my commissions). This is a trivial example, though–such obvious cues are easy to register. More nuanced are the ways people say, or do not say, what they are thinking; the ways they say what others want to hear or deliberately deliver bad news; and the ways and ways they inflect their speech with voice and body.  It takes clever pattern recognition and deduction to pick up on and interpret all these cues–likely moreso than, say, understanding mathematical problems that have been drilled into one’s head.

This is, essentially, the most intuitive form of intelligence because humans have evolved and trained one another to understand social cues without conscious thought. A person who is emotionally intelligent understands their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and can use this to motivate themself (forgive the awkward construction on behalf of my indecision as to which gender-neutral singular pronoun to use) or others, the latter of which quality is oftentimes called charisma. Why, then, does it seem that there are so many more charismatic people than academically intelligent people? Or does it? At first I thought that our society might have higher standards for academic intelligence, but I realized that this, like all standards, is relative. The more emotionally intelligent we become as a whole, the more charismatic one must be to stand out–and this is as it should be. Yet the perfect intellect excels both in conscious and in unconscious pattern recognition.

Hackneyed as the sentiment has become in recent times, I think that emotional intelligence is by far the more important of the two. Not every job requires a lot of conscious thought or pattern recognition, but all require unconscious intelligence in the form of human interaction. Our society is at its root (aha, I made a pun!) social, and we all must participate to be of any use to the human race. And if you have no desire to be of use to the human race, Best Beloved, we shall simply have to agree to disagree on this subject.

“Haters Gonna Hate”

As most on the internet know by now, a hater is someone who not only hates something, but does so volubly and often scorns any who disagree–either directly, or by the patronizing implication that others disagree only because they don’t know better. The worst thing is that nearly everyone is a hater under some circumstances, once they are reminded of whatever it is they hate so much; any perfectly reasonable person can become a hater when considering Republicans, or people who leave the toilet seat up, or valley girls, or internet trolls. My father is a hater of the religious, anyone who does things differently than him, and the ninety-five percent of all humanity he considers imbeciles; and thus I have plenty of experience with hate, although I try never to participate in it and often find inexplicable displays from other people.

A common (and here eponymous) reassurance when confronted with this phenomenon is that “haters gonna hate.” It means “I don’t care whether you hate me, and I will not change my behavior because of you.” While this is admirable, it seems to me somewhat problematic to treat haters as a force of nature that can be neither checked nor reasoned with. It can be extremely frustrating to try to persuade those adamant in their moral and logical rectitude that they are incorrect, but perhaps we owe it to the hated–and to ourselves, for everyone must be part of a group hated by someone–to try. My chosen path is the judicious (is this wishful thinking? oh, probably) application of comments intended to foster thought on why exactly my conversational partner hates a group or ideology so much. I have no idea whether this works, and have a suspicion that it almost never does, because of the irrational knee-jerk nature of hatred. I only wish I were gifted with the silver tongue necessary to persuade haters to become wonderers and lovers.

It is the nature of humanity to hate those who are not like us, or who are too much like us. Yet we have conquered some aspects of our nature, as societies in not individually. We have outlawed murder, rape, and theft–surely it is not too much to hope for that we could one day outlaw hate.

In Defense of Mockery

My father and I were today discussing marriage, its boring ways, & c, and the phrase “man and wife,” which I mistakenly cited as “husband and wife” (how foolish of me!). This delighted me because it meant that I could now construct a parallel “man and husband” for gay couples, but my father decried me for mockery of the solemn tradition of marriage and the host of sociopolitical issues connected to it.

I replied that any couple fun-loving and fun-poking enough to use such a phrase at their wedding would suit it just fine, and launched into a defense of mockery:  if one can mock something, one can truly love it, and not, perhaps, until then. Mockery, at least the affectionate sort, comes with a deep understanding of a subject; one loves not only its admirable qualities, but its more negative ones as well. Until one understands all parts of an item to be considered, and well enough to poke fun at it, one cannot love it fully for the simply reason that one does not fully acknowledge it.

Added to this, the ability to make fun, idiomatically as well as literally, allows fun. A person who makes their own fun will be having fun more often than not. I pride myself on being able to mock nearly anything, and I like to think that this makes me easygoing and enjoyable to interact with.

Thus do I say, Best Beloved: go forth and mockery.*

*I know, it’s not grammatical, but I could not resist making it scan slightly more like the original multiply.