The Problem Is Not Them, It’s You

XKCD comic number 1386

(alt text: To everyone who responds to everything by saying they’ve ‘lost their faith in humanity’: Thanks–I’ll let humanity know. I’m sure they’ll be crushed.)

I read the online comic XKCD regularly each week for years and Wednesday’s is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It sums up my own attitude toward a lot of smart and condescending people I work with in the IT industry.

People tend to have a self-centered view of how the world should be. We all do it. We all have our own particular viewpoint. We all think that people should do things our way, be more like us, etc. But when life doesn’t match our expectations, we get offended or assume the problem is somewhere else (or someone else). The problem is you. You have unrealistic expectations that don’t match reality. You can’t blame reality.

One of my favorite quotes from Frank Herbert’s novel Children of Dune is this one (also mentioned here):

The universe is just there; that’s the only way a Fedaykin can view it and remain the master of his senses. The universe neither threatens nor promises. It holds things beyond our sway: the fall of a meteor, the eruption of a spiceblow, growing old and dying. These are the realities of this universe and they must be faced regardless of how you feel about them. You cannot fend off such realities with words.

If you think life is good, you’re ignoring the painful, ugly parts of life. If you believe life is bad, you are blind to the beautiful things in life. If you think people are stupid, you do not understand other people. If you think people are smarter than you, you do not understand yourself.

The Universe is just there. Life just is.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

6 thoughts on “The Problem Is Not Them, It’s You”

  1. Wonderful statement:
    “If you think people are smarter than you, you do not understand yourself.”

    As for the topic of reality, for me reality is a personal perception of the world. If your perception is malleable and able to change viewpoints quickly and if you can learn to enjoy contradictions and challenges to your world view, then life becomes a ride full of curiosity and learning.


    1. Hi Dan, good to hear from you. Yeah, the perception is indeed malleable. Once your attitude changes, your perception changes as well. Ultimately, there is a genuine “reality”, but our minds color it based on experiences, backgrounds, etc, so on another level we have to learn how to remove the “goggles” that color our perception, but that’s another story. 🙂


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