I admit it, it is my fault. The haiku-like nature of Twitter lends itself to the dangers of open interpretation by others. Furthermore, the two-way nature of the medium, practically assures the immediate feedback of those waiting in the background with specialized nets that fish for specific words of their liking. It is like one of those Sushi restaurant with a carrousel, immense in size, where all kinds of fish pass in front of the patrons and, occasionally, their favorite fish appears and they take it front the carrousel. Then, they eat it, digest it for a couple of seconds, and, if bad, instead of blaming the fish or their own predisposition for properly digesting it, they blame everything else between the happy life of the fish at sea to their own teeth.
Now, the specific issue at hand, and the raison d’être for this post, is that yesterday I posted this in Twitter:
Question of the day: what’s the attraction of “individuals” to find their own label? Thinking of MBTI tests, Eneagrams, etc. Note quotes
9:19 AM yesterday from web
A few minutes later I get this in reply:
@yijingman Your assumption seems to be that ppl are looking for labels perhaps they are seeking something else entirely –
Ah, the Blue, always prolific, didn’t disappoint. Quick search of the “Blue” told me that yes, in effect, the person had a subjective reason for the defensive posture. Needlessly so, in my opinion, because I placed one caveat in my post (the ” “) and I ended it with a big arrow pointing at it for good measure (“note quotes”). She missed both, apparently. Before I explain a few things, let me quote the next two exchanges. First my reply–two twits in length–and then her follow-up. I will also use bold and underline here, which isn’t available in the medium.
:-) You’re missing context but yes, my opinion is that certain taxonomy isn’t useful at street level. Self knowledge
isn’t attained by classificatory tests. Mind you, they are useful in other environments (thinking corporate and counseling)
To which she replied this morning:
@yijingman Self knowledge is emergent assessments+conversation+reflection+selfobservation+feedback My rant onthis http://tinyurl.com/9axdwg
The rant, as she put it, isn’t bad but, pointing to it (it was written days before these exchanges) perpetuates the defensive posture that prompted it, and, in the process, misses my point, again.
Now, I suppose, is time for some clarifying thoughts. Alas, my initial comment in Twitter wasn’t a criticism of MBTI or the Eneagrams as tools. I align myself with Jungian thought so I could hardly fault a “tool” that was inspired by him, albeit grossly trademarked by commercial interests. What’s happening with the whole MBTI environment reminds me of scavenging pharmaceutical companies taking patents on the active ingredients of ancient medicinal potions still in use in many Third World countries, which is akin to “ZYX Energy Co.” filling for a patent for fire and water…, and getting it granted. You get my drift. Shameful, in my opinion, and far from the intention of Jung when he published his “Psychological Types” in 1923. Proverbially, the man must be turning in his grave.
The missing context I talk about comes from a conversation in another forum–which does not deserves any negative feedback from those outside of it and shall remain anonymous–in which participants were quick to test themselves, comment about it…, and comfortably fall in place in their newfound little niches, like pegs on a board, wearing a badge that, for them, should obviate any conversation of whom or what they are or where they come from in a conversation. Thus, my twit/comment, was for those few that follow me there that are also participants in said forum. None of them took the bait, but, alas, the words MBTI and Eneagram got caught in “Blue Selective Net” and the fisherman manning it, instead of allowing the small fish to swim away, got it from the net and threw it back to the last fisherman.
As I implied in the original twit/post, and my follow up to the lady’s comment, the real usefulness of the named tests isn’t at the street/individual level but as corporate and counseling tools. To obtain one’s own MBTI label, just because it is freely available, does nothing to further one’s personal quest for self-knowledge. It provides nothing specific that would serve as a ladder rung to descend into the depths of your self–or to step out of it if you find that your nature isn’t of your liking–nor will it help you improve it. It will, though, provide you with branding label. Unfortunately, branding labels, much like those in cattle, are mainly used by third parties to place you in your proper place. Thus, labels, in my modest opinion, diminish the self, rather than helping it to improve, by taking your freedom of movement within a given environment out of the equation. Which is why corporations love MBTI testing their current and prospective employees.
When you need to open a conversation on differences between people an assessment tool like the Myers Briggs is an excellent starting place and provides a common language for people to begin to have a new understanding.
Really? I mean, yes, I suppose it does help in certain ways and in certain environments, but, are we, as a society, arrogant enough to believe that a classification label will explain the complexities of other selves to us or that those other selves would get a glimpse of our selves from an artificial label? I don’t think so. I don’t even think it is “an excellent starting place.”
Having said that, I wonder if those popularizing and commercializing the MBTI tests–I’m talking about those who know enough to get in trouble and misstep in an in-depth discussion by lacking proper exegetical reading–are familiar with the modern works of Richard D. Grant Jr. and Chris Lofting. Furthermore, how many of those have even a clue that the real root of the so called MBTI test, which is a modern trademark, in good old Western fashion of legally appropriating ideas, is a few thousand years old and from a far away land?
As for the statement “self-knowledge is emergent assessments+conversation+reflection+selfobservation+feedback,” yes, I agree, those are some of the steps, but, if it were only so simple to find your way within, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?
The title is an allusion to the dangers that lurk in throwing words to their own fate into the Blue. Alas, I’ve fallen into those yonder pits myself.
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