Complex Vs. Complicated
A while ago I was involved in yet another discussion about dating. I had not intended the conversation to be about my approach to dating but it someone ended up there. Here is the set up:
Her: “…and that is why most men should be neutered.”
Me: “Well, that would certainly help with population control.”
Her: “Why don’t you ask me for dating advice?”
Me: “I’ve had all the advice I need. Plus, I think it unwise to ask advice from anyone who probably thinks I should be neutered.”
Her: “Really? All the advice you need? But you’re single. The advice must be bad. Oh, you shouldn’t be neutered. You’ve got good genes and don’t do stupid stuff that often. You should have kids. Lots of them. ”
Me: “Um, thanks.”
Her: “So what was the advice?”
Me: The advice was ‘don’t.’ Works pretty well and is very easy to follow.”
Her: “That seems a bit extreme.”
Me: “Yeah, but I’ve been on some extremely bad dates. But I do have some other advice for when my good sense fails and I go on a date.”
Her: “And that would be?”
Me: “Avoid complicated women.”
Her: “So, I suppose that means you only date stupid blond bimbos with huge…tracts of land! Perhaps you should be neutered…”
Me: “First, being uncomplicated does not mean being stupid or having huge…tracts of land. Second, why do people have such hate for us blonds?”
Her: “So what do you mean?”
This is what I mean.
A complicated person is analogous to the tax code or the Windows Registry. This is to say that they are problematic, convoluted, torturous, difficult and inconsistent. Dealing with such a person requires special knowledge of all their difficult ways. Even with such knowledge, errors are likely and are almost certainly met with punitive action. Complicated people often have a serious random element as well-you can never be quite sure how they will react. Well, you can assign a high probability to behavior that leads to conflict and problems, but beyond that there is little that can be predicted. As such, it is wise to avoid such people.
It might be wondered why people deal with complicated people at all. There are many reasons. First, some complicated people are very physically attractive and hence people will put up with their complications. It might be the case that they become complicated because they are attractive-the rest of us have to work on being able to get along with others. Of course, there are attractive people who are not complicated. Second, some people like the challenge of dealing with complicated things. Just as some people really like dealing with tax codes and others delight in tweaking the Windows Registry, there are people who like dealing with complicated people. These people are masochists. Third, a complicated person can often appear to be a complex person-at least initially.
What, then, is a complex person?
A complex person is like an iPod. That is to say that they are consistent, straightforward and ‘user friendly’ while also being rather sophisticated. Unlike the complicated person, interacting with a complex person does not require special knowledge of their complicated ways-because their ways are not complicated. When mistakes are made, they tend to be very forgiving because they understand that people are imperfect. In short, they are mature, sensible human beings.
It might be wondered why everyone is not a complex person. The obvious answer is that it is a difficult thing to be. Being complicated is easy-just find a nice assortment of personality flaws and keep developing them in ways that make you an incomprehensible minefield of unrestrained emotions and poor behavior. At the same time, refuse to accept that anyone else has problems and focus your attention entirely on the most important being in the universe (that would be you). Being complex is difficult-you have to develop depth of character, emotional balance, patience, and an assortment of mature social skills. And that is just the beginning.
Do I think I’m a complex person? Well, I’m just a guy from Maine who runs, has a husky and is something of a philosopher.