Sunday, April 12, 2009

There are two types of people...

of course any statement that starts off "there are two kinds of..." should be regarded with suspicion, because it likely ignores the complexity of the situation. And there are of course other kinds of people in this world. But there are two kinds I'm going to talk about today: the structuralists vs. the antistructuralists, the conformists vs. the non-conformists, the straights vs. the freaks, those who are off the bus vs. those on the bus. You get the picture. I'm not the first to make this argument.

The first group takes very well to socialization. They continue past traditions. They are up on all the latest trends and listen to pop music. They are religious, and they follow the religion of their parents. They are more likely to vote republican, although many are also democrats. Their lives progress on fairly standard paths, which vary by class and race but all involve some variation on education->job->family->retirement. They are more likely to follow the law, and less likely to have tried any drugs (except a few times in college). They uphold structures of society like marriage and the economy and they are usually perfectly happy with the status quo (except in times of crisis of course). They get upset at other people who have different values than them. They try to legislate their values, and are unfriendly to people they perceive as different from themselves. We need these people. Without them society would likely grind to a halt.

The second group are the tradition breakers. They are more likely to be atheists or agnostics or a smaller religion that their parents didn't follow, and if they are up on the latest trends, it's usually within a specific counterculture like the goth/emo/punk/hippie/whatever culture. They usually (but not always) vote democrat. Or they don't vote at all. They break the law when they think they can get away with it. They are involved in activist movements and creative pursuits. They have blogs, and they post more than just lists of what they did that day and memes. They have a libertarian bent and tent to believe that any choice is ok as long as you don't hurt another person. They are more likely to engage in alternative sexual practices, and are more likely to have tried drugs- and even if they don't or haven't, they don't mind if their friends do. At least in my experience, these type of people are usually very nice to the people they perceive as different from themselves. We need these people. Without them society would stagnate and we would not have necessary social change and progress. This group is a lot smaller than the first group.

Of course these are all stereotypes, and any one trait on either list can be combined within a single person. But in my experience, these traits tend to run together.


  1. Sounds about right :)

    The paradox happens when the second type start a new movement which gets followed by the first type.

    For example, the first people to wear shtreimals in the streets of New York had to be non-conformist, now there are thousands of people who are afraid to walk the streets of New York 'without' a shtreimal

  2. well i don't think that's a paradox, because type b initiates change, but once change has occurred then the meaning of conformity changes too.

  3. IMHO, people can be divided into 'Givers' and 'Takers.' And religion - what religion they are/were, how religious they are - doesn't have a thing to do with whether someone's a giver or a taker.

  4. Agree with your generalities except for this one:

    "They break the law when they think they can get away with it. "

    Unless it is a victimless crime, in which case I would agree, I think your non-conformists are also more likely to have an internalized sense of morality and when the law is set up because it is to prevent something that is morally reprehensible, such as stealing or assaulting, I think they are just as likely to not engage in that behavior even if no one is watching.

    The religious are always making this arguement, that the atheists are more likely to break the law. I strongly disagree because most atheists, at least in my experience, are humanists, and therefore agree and abide by laws set up to humanize society.

  5. i was originally going to write "laws they disagree with"... I was thinking mostly of drug laws though. :)

    Also I'm talking about all non-conformists, not just atheists. Which includes anarchists, rail kids (kids who ride trains around the country), hippies, goths, punks, etc- you think all those people are humanists? Or atheists? Who only break drug laws? I think a lot are, but not all.

    hmm, now I'm trying to think about all the non-conformist people I know, and all the crimes they have committed that I know of- off the top of my head- traffic violations, all kinds of drug use and trafficking, illegal assembly, destroying property during protests, shoplifting, prostitution, polygamy, public nudity, assault, attempted rape (I know several girls who have been roofied at hippie shows full of hippies- and several hippie guys who have the reputation of trying to take advantage of the most trashed girls at a show) ...and that's just the stuff I know about.

    (disclaimer: These are just people I know about, not necessarily my friends)

    Anyways, I'm not saying this stuff doesn't happen among the religious, and maybe if you tallied it all up it would even out or they would be higher. I just think we can't turn a blind eye to problems in our own community because we are humanists and think that means we are automatically better.

  6. Why will society grind to a halt without the first group? I think what you mean is, society as we know it, with its backwards traditions, would cease to exist.

    Last I checked, the freaks still bought things and got married.

  7. Apparently, I think I'm of the first group (altho I *am* a staunch Democrat). I never would have guessed it. Interesting, AE, verrryy interesting.

  8. Oh, and my parents are atheists, so I guess I'm following a group B. What DOES that make me?

  9. I think that website TED had an interesting lecture on the Conservative (right) vs the Liberal (left) and how a society basically needs both them working together. The right holds builds and preserves while the left is anti authority and strives for destruction. In a sort of Ying Yang manner, you need both.

  10. HH,
    Sure like that concept. As long as I get to be one of the non-conformist (though a law abiding one, except for the occassional victimless crime that I don't think should be illegal of course).

  11. Let's see if you can follow this in answer to your list for group one. yes,somewhat,not,no,no,no,kinda,yes,
    yes,no,not really,not really,not so sure,probably not.

    My fav music is oldies - hardly current pop. I am personally quite distant from religious. I have never voted Rep. Less likely to have tried drugs - hmmm. I lived during the "original" hippies so we can talk sometime ;-) Don't get upset in the least with people with different values from mine. Legislate my values? Nope. I don't think I am particularly unfriendly to people different from me.

    Now for the second group - I could give answers there also and you might be surprised by some answers.

    Interesting as an academic exercise - as is the case with looking at any stereotypes. However, when applied to individual people rather than generalized groups, the assumptions start to break down.


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