terrorbull asked: I'm interested in your ideas about "personality" as a concept. I am not as big a theory person as you (obvs), but do you talk about personality not being a "real" thing because people use their "personality" as a cop-out and a way to not hold themselves accountable or challenge themselves? Sorry if this is a totally simplistic question.
YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED BY HOW POOR MY THEORY KNOWLEDGE IS. I just hang out with a lot of theory nerds. my thoughts on personality are not very coherently theorised or anything which is why I haven’t posted much on it. I guess I do kind of think the idea of personality is strongly tied to the liberal individual subject and hence to simplistic identity politics which are of course a plague on us all.
but yeah, that’s probs basically the real reason why I think that personality is 99% bullshit, pushback against people not taking responsibility for themselves. perhaps a better way to put it is that you create your own personality, within the framework of your environment.
I’m not a strict behaviouralist or anything. I don’t think you just feed stimuli and experiences into a person and get actions out like a vending machine. consciousness exists. largely invisible and interior contexts for consciousness exist, like neurology and perhaps even temperament.
having said that… my personality is so dramatically different depending on factors that are not supposed to influence your core inner self, like practice and physical health and the context of the viewer. like, when I was in poor physical and mental health as a teen, I was universally understood to be an inherently vague and flaky person. people who met me in that time, or who were introduced to me by people who met me in that time, usually still see me this way. others often find the idea puzzling. I both am and am not a flake, of course. my family see me as restrained, disciplined, secretive, courteous, and subtle — because with them, I am. my peers see me as a much wackier and more over-the-top person. you could argue that I suppress my class clown side with my family and that who I am with my friends is more authentic; you could also argue that I don’t have to perform with my family. I think the whole question is silly.
another thing where this comes up a lot is introversion/extroversion. leonineantiheroine you are not gonna like this, sorry. it’s usually people talking about ~care of introverts~. this frustrates me a bit because I think framing introversion as an inherent personality facet is really dismissive of the hard work that “extroverts” put into their social skills. in my experience, so-called extroverts are usually just people who make their social life and their social skills a priority. they often make certain sacrifices to do this — like, it’s hard to do any intense solitary task while maintaining an extrovert lifestyle. I’ve made it a priority to read and study a lot and I haven’t made it an equal priority to push past my social comfort zone or be socially available. It was a choice and I don’t regret it but I admit it was one and I refuse to call myself an “introvert” and disclaim responsibility. it’s like dating — when you’re single for ages you get set in your ways and it becomes hard to be in a relationship again. doesn’t mean you’re inherently a singleton. socialising is like any skill, you have to practice or it’s hard.
I also think personality type categories are way more dangerous than star signs or whatever, because they have a veneer of respectability. lots of people who would scoff at the mostly-flattering cold readings given by horoscopes have no trouble believing that they are sometimes shy, but hold to their convictions when tested, that they are possessed of a singular vision and sometimes therefore misunderstood, that they want secure love and affection but don’t always know how to get it, or whatever else their enneagram or myer-briggs tells them.
to an extent, I think “personality” is to the individual what “human nature” is to the collective: an idea that makes intuitive sense, but doesn’t hold up to logical examination, and is ultimately a cop-out that precludes the possibility of change. even if it’s not true that personality doesn’t exist, I think the idea is so counter-intuitive that it’s worth going with for a while and seeing what happens.