Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Connections to Keep or to Lose

I have not posted since a short post on Friday, so I guess my plan to post once a day has failed. However, I am still going to post regularly and keep to the plan outlines in my first post. This blog is primarily for my musings and to keep in contact with people, which is today’s topic.
Today in English class we talked about the importance of high school friends and the contact you keep with them. It was an interesting topic and I thought it would make a good blog entry and would be in the spirit of my web log. In class we dealt with such ideas as our ten year reunion and some little blips about who would become who. Obviously, I was most likely to be a drunken hobo on the street (which I am planning to do, but that is a different issue) in my class. Since I am enrolled in the advanced program, that was not to much of a prediction.

The “Advanced” Mentality
I have not really talked to any of my schoolmates about this to get their opinion, so the following is mostly my interpretation. In the advanced program we develop a closer bond than most of the other students, since we share many of the same classes and think from the same branches. We are mostly liberal minded (or democratic for all the Americans). Some are on the more conservative end of liberal *coughs out Phil’s name*, and others are very much left wing. The liberal minds could be from our “better” education or maybe the more free forming structure of our classes. I have never taken the time to analyze the program in enough detail and such issues are probably best asked of Jennifer W.
Through my four years in the program I have had time to analyze a general feel of the class. My assessment is not substantiated by exact case studies or extensive research but comes from the feeling deep in my gut. Personally, I think that feeling is a much better guide on a tentative matter like this. In general I believe the comradeship we form as classmates is undermined by our “smartness” and the competitive tension between us. As individuals everyone is solid and righteous, but as a program we are much farther from the human ideals.
I have seen many people sacked by their friends because they were causing an ineffective group dynamic. I am sure the same has happened to me many a time, but it is harder to be objective when looking at one self. To bring up an exact example: a friend of mine was working in a group with a bunch of other friends (I was in a different group) and he performed very much up to the standards required and even surpassed them from many angles. When the time came for group self-evaluation the group did not even take one moments hesitation from blaming all their problems on the one individual, just because that would raise their individual marks. To display my point with a more extreme example: if suddenly one of our teachers seriously offered to fail us (and had the actual legal means to do so) if we did not sabotage a friend’s project, most of us would not hesitate to do so or at least would seriously consider it.
I would like to think that I am different and would never stoop to such a low level. However, I am not completely sure that I can say that honestly, as much as I wish I could. Accurate self analysis, even though it is taught to us in the program, is extremely hard to accomplish. Many of my classmates might react with a rash: “I would never do such a thing”, but that reply would only raise the question of how good/bad their self analysis is.

The Better Mentality
The lack of quotation marks is not an omission my part, because I honestly believe there is a better mentality. Like outlined in the previous section the advanced mentality has many flaws with it. I think the best connections for the future are developed outside of the school’s social setting. Sports teams, clubs and good ol’ activities outside of school is what builds close ties. This is especially good for non competitive things. Surely the relationships you develop inside of school are good… but they are good for one thing: school. So if ten years down the road you have a question about math, you can go ahead and call your math wiz. If you want out of jail, though, I really do not recommend calling him with your “one” phone call.
To reinforce this point: there are plenty of people I socialize with only in school and about school. I might be interested in their day to day life (just because I am a nosy brat) but they have no interest in mine. People like that and I keep in basic contact. I might be able to help them in one area, and they can help me in another. If however socialization with such people is expanded outside a school setting a whole new field of contact opens.
To summarize, what you can use your connections for depends on where you made the connections. If you made them in school, you can use them for school. If you made them in sports, you can use them in sports. If you made a personal connection you can use them for personal things. Therefore, the best connections are ones made on a personal level.
The mentality comes in with a person’s willingness to make connections. The problem with being in advanced for four years is that you learn to over-analyze. When you go make connections with an advancee you are open to being over analyzed. Advancees are just an example; the main point is that one of the factors of mentality is level of analyzing. The second factor is the comfort level. If a person is fine and dandy where they are they are more bent towards conservatism and not making new connections. If the person is out of their element, then they are more liberal and have to make connections.
Hence the best atmosphere is one where there is little competition and everyone is new.

Applications of this knowledge can be varied. For me, the biggest application is in choosing a University. I believe that the people you go to University with are much more important that the education from that University. All Universities (of the same level) have the same education but are attended by different groups of people.

As my mind runs out of things to spur out I have decided that this post has not really said much. It is important to keep all the connections you can, because it is good to have a variety of different friends. Each connection has its own traits and each connection has different demands, rewards and consequences. I think it is essential to keep all the connections that you can. For me, I think I will use this blog as the primary way of keeping in touch, because it is less demanding than email. So, if you are planning to read (and especially if you do not like my pink background) then add me to your Google Reader, or other RSS feed reader (http://devilfromrussia.blogspot.com/atom.xml).

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