I would like to continue the ironic tone of my previous post and talk about what involvement in the socionics sociopsychological realm does to participants. I have a very low level of group affinity, so taking a detached look at the socionics community and comparing it to others out there comes easily to me.
In essence, I see the socionics community as a game or training ground where participants practice being ILEs. As I have already written, ILE is the integral type of socionics as a sociopsychological realm. Socionics "culture" is passed along through interpersonal interaction much more than through books and articles on the subject. If one simply stumbled across some writings on socionics and took no part in the socionics community, one might easily take the ideas or descriptive framework of socionics and inject one's own cultural values into them.
That is what happened to me. During my first year of studying socionics, I discussed it only with my immediate teacher and perused books and articles about it. I had no idea, for instance, that typing people could be a public event, that different people might have different opinions on people's types, or that there existed socionics based social groups where people gathered to socialize more than to learn or practice socionics. I was in for a shock when I came face to face with the and aspects of socionics culture that I hadn't foreseen at all: specifically, the focus on definitions and classifications and using socionics as a platform for social bonding and group formation.
When one is by oneself, one can apply bits and pieces of socionics or any other systems however they feel like. But when you get together with other socionics enthusiasts, you inadvertently switch to the "group language" -- which is ILE and Alpha quadra based. This means:
- venturing forth any kinds of theories or hypotheses that might explain how things tie together (note: real-world phenomena, so , not )
- writing up your thoughts for peer review and discussion (logical analysis, especially with regards to theories rather than real-world actions/events = )
- sharing observations about "this type" or "that type" (observations are almost always within the context of a category -- -- otherwise, they are not for general discussion)
- bringing up new texts for discussion and to "figure out what it means" -- e.g. "have you read so-and-so's article on thinking styles?" ( and focus, given the nature of the vast majority of socionics articles)
- publicly typing everyone who shows up (putting people into impersonal categories = introverted logic)
- livening up group interaction every now and then with fun and games (compensatory and )
Maybe this all doesn't sound that remarkable. Maybe it applies to any sociopsychological realm? Well, let's imagine socionics had a completely different cultural focus...
- "Hey, come over to my house tomorrow. I'm going to be performing some socionics work on some people and I need your help. I can't figure out how to do a few things."
- "What does socionics say will match this shirt better? My old stonewashed jeans or these forest green slacks?"
- "My socionics experience for the day is that I felt angry at my friend for not inviting me to the party, but then I thought of how Gammas and Deltas interact, and I was able to forgive her inside of me." "Thank you. Does anyone else have anything to share?"
Obviously, to hear anything like this would be absurd and laughable to the extreme.
So basically, the socionics community offers us a place where we can practice generating insight and large-scale generalizations, hone our logical and analytical skills, use a bit of academic-like mumbo-jumbo now and then, and gain practice building charts and other graphics. It's pretty darn good mental training -- much like taking a couple college courses in logic or math analysis or something like that.
A common theme of social psychology is that our social behavior is a lot more programmed than we generally suspect. Alas, at times I feel sad that socionics turns people into unwitting ILE drones, me included (at least when I'm "in" socionics). It modifies people's natural tendencies, causing them to argue over things they wouldn't normally care about (as well as find humor in completely new places). If it's any comfort, the same happens in other established sociopsychological realms, so this is hardly unique to socionics.