May 10, 2010

More on Career Recommendations

Some readers may have thought that my recent post on career recommendations for socionic types (2010) was written in jest. Actually, it was quite serious. I would like to develop the topic here further.

The current economic system is only possible thanks to the recent availability of cheap energy sources in the form of easily accessible fossil fuels. Take nonrenewable resources away, and we are almost instantly back to a pre-industrial economy where automatization meant using a waterwheel to set in motion cleverly devised contraptions made almost entirely out of wood. Try to find an "Operations Research Analyst", "Network Administrator," or "Human Resources Manager" in such an economy.

Even if alternative energy sources are developed soon on a large scale, it is becoming more and more clear that many elements of our oil-based economy will change drastically over the coming decades. These changes are not a distant prospect; they are already beginning to happen. For instance, automobile transportation will gradually fall out of usage, agricultural production will take place on a smaller scale, closer to population centers, and involving a greater number of people.

An almost certain result of a Peak Oil scenario is ballooning national and personal indebtedness, which has prolonged economic depression as its inevitable consequence. The thing about national debt is that a country has to pay it off while still in a growth phase, otherwise it careens toward default. The giving of loans assumes a growth scenario which allows the debtor to increase his capital at a rate greater than the interest of the loan. In a shrinking economy $1000 invested today yields $900 tomorrow. If the interest on a $1000 loan is $100, then the debtor is now $200 in the hole and is worse off than when he started. Then he takes out another loan based on the assumption that growth will resume later, leading to a deeper hole if growth doesn't materialize. Eventually he goes bankrupt or defaults on his loans. Economic growth is possible only if energy inputs are increased or if energy is used more efficiently.

Are these prospects significant when thinking about your career plans? I tend to think so, particularly if you are under 30 years of age and not yet established in a particular career.

Just about the worst thing to do, in my opinion, would be to put yourself many tens of thousands of dollars in debt for schooling on the wager that economic growth will continue for at least another decade, allowing you to pay off your loans. For years the establishment has been telling people that student debt is "good debt," because it pays for itself in the long run. However, note that the cost of higher education has been rising a lot faster than people's real earnings. Slowly, the absurdity of the U.S.'s overbuilt and inefficient (but highly effective as a money-making scheme) education system will reach the mass consciousness.

Now, back to the question of "ideal jobs." In the current economy, most people will not get their ideal jobs. The needs of modern economic production and human organization correlate rather poorly with the needs of the human participants in these systems. Hordes of potential politicians, generals, philosophers, writers, artists, musicians, actors, and explorers spend their days selling mass-produced merchandise, administering machines, developing marketing plans, fixing network problems, and writing reports.

There always seem to be more applicants for ideal jobs than there are positions available! How many of us have been Presidents, famous actors, and world travelers in our dreams?

My view is that traditional lifestyles may actually provide greater opportunities for self-realization than a modern economy. Growing one's own food provides a sense of personal power and stability and probably reduces anxiety. Engaging in crafts and participating in a local physical (as opposed to virtual) community allows more people to find recognition for their work and talents than in an enormous and highly interconnected community where a few individuals inevitably end up getting most of the attention. Of course, if you are truly a "big fish," you may feel somewhat limited in a "small pond," but overall a greater number of people will be able to enjoy recognition for skills that they might otherwise have to abandon in the modern economy due to its much higher level of competition. In the modern economy the entire world listens to Madonna and Michael Jackson; in a traditional economy people listen to the guys next door.

The fact is that every type is suited to traditional lifestyles. Some types gravitate more to social aspects of such a life; others may tend to focus on crafts. Some will hoard useful information, others will end up teaching and playing with youngsters, etc. And pretty much any person enjoys food that they grew themselves. A few fellows will just become drunks, but even these will still retain their usefulness as a source of brute strength and for performing simple tasks.

Traditional living is not "old fashioned"; it is how most people lived for thousands of years until, well, several decades back. It is the modern oil-based economy that is the fragile anomaly, not traditional economies.

It is very likely that with the end of cheap energy we will move from a highly specialized economy to one with much more general (i.e. wider) niches. The good news is that wider niches can mean more self-realization, more variety, and much less of a sense of simply being a cog in a soulless machine.

Traditional societies are/were able to satisfy basic human needs quite well, including emotional and intellectual needs as well as physical. As we can see from the pre-industrial history of advanced societies (Europe, China, India, the Arab world, etc.), there is plenty of room in such societies for more single-minded artists, actors, scholars, generals, etc. -- all those typical "ideal jobs" that so many would like to have but so few actually obtain.

The irony is that if you visit traditional societies I think you generally find that people engage in no less philosophizing, play, hobbies, and arts as in our society. Even hunter-gatherers typically spend under 20 hours a week procuring food. What do you think they spend the rest of their time doing?

My basic point here is that we are likely to see a return to a more traditional lifestyle and that the "careers" available in such an economy are no less fulfilling than those of today.

More Relationship Tips

Here is my response to a letter from a college-age LII asking for tips about how to find an ESE dual. I thought the topic might be interesting to other readers.

Finding a particular type over the Internet is problematic unless you happen to be on a Russian language dating site that is based on socionics. On other sites expect that if you pick out 10 people you're interested in and think may be ESEs, only 2 of them will turn out to be ESE. Part of the difficulty is that everyone is trying to be positive and present qualities that others will find attractive, and it will be easy to mistake people's self-descriptions for possible ESEs.

My general advice is to not look for a particular type, but to focus on being yourself and doing things with sincerity and interest, and in general to follow standard advice for finding and developing new relationships. Put yourself in a position where a lot of new people will be crossing your path so that the odds are in your favor, and focus on expressing your personal qualities, talents, and interests so that a potentially compatible person will recognize you as such. Finding and keeping a dual is probably more about personal development than it is about knowing what to look for in others.

It's important to learn to take responsibility for your gender and type role when getting to know other people. In other words, to learn to do basic "man" things in the initial stages of the relationship, and to do the types of things that a dual type would be expecting. For instance, ESEs probably won't be expecting you to be super active in getting to know them initially. They'll enjoy the challenge of opening you up, discovering your interests and views, and involving you in stimulating and fun activities. At the same time, they'll be expecting you to be firm and confident and to express a clear interest in them in a manly sort of way.