The real world is a projection of your own fears

Published August 24th, 2007 edit replace rm!

David has a great little sarcastic post Who wants to live in the Real World?, which made me laugh.

David who is the ultimate “it’s my way or the highway” kind of guy has no doubt like me heard countless times about this mythical real world and that he should join it.

For us people who tend to do things a bit different (like emigrate, startup on our own, use new fangled technology etc.) this is something that can be extremely annoying, as what people really do when they talk about the real world is that you are wrong, but they can’t quite explain why.

I have always had a problem with authority (just ask my long suffering school teachers and principals over time). In particular just being told to accept something without an explanation is frustrating. However over the years to allow myself to actually function in the “real world” I have developed a coping strategy, which is based on what I think is a pretty accurate analysis of the people who use such terms. I find once I understand the motivations of people I can pretty much cope as opposed to being angry, regardless if I agree with them or not.

One of the keys to understanding this was realizing that we all do this to some extent. Basically when you start talking about the “real world” you are really projecting your own fears and insecurities about yourself onto the person you are arguing against.

For example some one arguing that in the real world you have to develop all production web applications in J2EE and deploy them onto multiple Windows servers running Websphere. Is pretty much insecure and fearful about his position in the industry, company and job market.

On the other hand someone arguing that you are stupid and not living in the real world if you aren’t doing all your web applications work in Ruby on Rails and deploying them on Linux servers, is pretty much also insecure and fearful about his position in the industry, blogosphere and job market.

I wont even get into talking about politics, where there are thousands of different real worlds, pretty much for the same reason as above.

The key to this is that we are all living in our own real world. Our own real world is filled not with objective facts, but our own subjective feelings about us, the world and our place in it.

A visionary is someone who projects your own vision and dreams for the future onto the world and others, however there is a thin line between doing that and projecting your fears onto others.

However if you realise that is how things work, it is pretty easy to take a deep breath and think to yourself, he’s just projecting his fears. In this case if you aren’t in agreement with his fears it is your job to project your visions and hope back.

However please don’t try and fight fear with fear, that is pointless for everyone. This is how endless flame wars, platform wars (Amiga rules!!!), corporate politics and other stupidity starts. These kinds of infinite loop style arguments only make all parties even more ingrained in their beliefs (read more fearful).

Thus if someone else’s fears awake your own fears and make you feel angry it’s probably better to shut up, if you can’t project your before mentioned visions and hopes back.

Oh, man I’ve gone all hippie and spirit like. Peace, love and Macintosh. But seriously if you disagree with me you just aren’t living in the real world!!!


Marston A August 25th, 2007

Very well said Pelle, I couldn’t agree more.

P.S. Are you going to be anywhere in Europe in Sept? Are you going to RailsConf? If so drop me a line, we’ll grab a beer in Berlin. I’d love to catch up since the last time we chatted at Reboot 8 :-X

About me

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My name is Pelle Braendgaard. Pronounce it like Pelé the footballer (no relation). CEO of Notabene where we are building FATF Crypto Travel Rule compliance software.

Most new articles by me are posted on our blog about Crypto markets, regulation and compliance

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