Friday, May 8, 2015

Lecture 2: Ego

(Warning: The following content is highly likely to lack eloquence or a coherent point. If there is a transcript in the video description, it is recommended that you read it for a slightly better understanding of the points I'm attempting to make.)

Hello there everyone! This lecture is far overdue and largely due to my own procrastination. That's right - today I am going to talk about ego and, in particular, the implications of having too much or too little of it. I feel this is a very important topic to discuss since not only does it link back to previous rants and lectures, but it helps to serve as part of a framework for some future ones as well.

With that said, let's dive in (remaining transcript is below).


By definition, ego is a state of one's sureness of themselves, that is to say how important they consider themselves.

If you are like myself and don't have a lot of confidence or otherwise consider yourself unimportant, and if you are I'm up for talking to you, though you may want to seek professional help, then you may have low self-esteem or ego. This can be dangerous in itself, though largely for the person suffering from it since it is relatable to depression. For instance, by not being so sure of oneself, they end up lacking the confidence to do anything, such as attempting to create content or being passionate about pursuing a goal, possibly because they don't believe they deserve to, among other reasons. In my case, my lack of confidence, among other factors, means I don't upload a lot since I feel my content creation ability is lousy in comparison to some others, though I am trying to improve it. Ultimately, this mentality is self-destructive, and while some aspects, such as self-deprecation in itself, have a place in the form of showing modesty (we'll get back to this), letting it actually become part of who you are might prevent you from reaching any form of potential, not to mention you probably won't be too fun to be around.

People who are egotistic, however, also have the potential to be destructive and, unlike their polar opposites who probably won't be having a lot of social interaction due to factors such as under-confidence, can affect many individuals as a result, which is why the brunt of the lecture will be on this particular extreme of ego. This is because having a large ego, or being overtly prideful so to speak, by nature means the person thinks of themselves as very important - more important than others in particular to the point that they typically consider others and their opinions unimportant. This results in issues such as excessive entitlement and selfishness. I consider this to be a very large problem that affects human interaction, particularly online and in games.

For instance, in League of Legends, I'm playing mid and I get ganked by the enemy jungler. Subconsciously, I might know that this is due to not placing wards and straying too far without vision (that is to say, for those who don't play, it's essentially my fault), but instead of acknowledging a potential mistake, I lash out because due to my inflated ego, I believe that I'm not at fault, thus redirecting my blame at another player: the jungler.

Now this in itself isn't that bad. Even if one were to try to balance out their ego, so to speak (more on this shortly), they might emotionally get caught up and blame someone else on impulse. However, people who think a lot of themselves are likely to do acts much like the above repeatedly because they refuse to ever blame themselves or acknowledge that they have shortcomings. Referring back to my lecture on constructive criticism, a person with a large ego is unlikely to consider criticism of any sort purely because they don't think they can do any wrong.

To be fair, I am exaggerating a little bit to make my point. There's generally people who aren't (completely) this extreme, though there's definitely some people who behave much like I have described consistently enough that interacting with them is problematic. What's even worse is that since they might not be keeping themselves in check, they may impose their presence on others. The implications of this are staggering, with tragic results. For instance, acting in the way mentioned above is harmful for all involves, with the victims of the egotistical person's vitriol upset by the person's behavior and the person potentially being shunned and isolated as a result.

But there is a solution from essentially becoming impossible to interact with due to having difficulty acknowledging issues with yourself (in both ways, so to speak). A few tips that might help with attaining a balanced ego:
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings.
    • This falls under the self-deprecation I mentioned above. It is best to consider it as self-criticism worth taking into consideration to improve yourself. How you go about doing that depends on what the mistake or shortcoming is.
  • There are other people too:
    • Being at least somewhat understanding of other people and what they might be thinking/how they're feeling, that is to say, being compassionate, means you endow them with a degree of importance and thus ultimately end up taking the feelings and state of others into consideration when interacting with others.
  • Remember that your own existence does matter.
    • Without getting too philosophical, you are your own window into reality (at the very least, depending on your beliefs), so to speak. This means that you should at least consider yourself to be of some importance (at least when it comes to self-preservation). Just don't let that mentality get out of control to the point that you become as I describe above.
    • This brings me to my last point, which is...
  • It is possible to have some aspects of low and high ego simultaneously.
    • This can be in a positive or negative way (or somewhere in between). 
    • What I mentioned above is an attempt to mix the self-deprecating aspects typically associated with low ego in an attempt to be humble and give oneself criticism and some semblance of self-importance typically associated with high ego.
    • A negative possibility is having a sense of self-loathing and misery associated with low ego, then outwardly lashing out at others, pushing aside their protests and criticism and otherwise considering them unimportant in the blindness of the misery mentioned above.
    • Another could be that the person is miserable due to not being so sure of themselves, but also being in denial about it and trying to compensate for it by attempting to make themselves seem very important.
    • In short, be careful about how you balance yourself in terms of ego.
I would like to close by saying that these points regarding ego don't completely apply to every case - there's exceptions to keep in mind (noble acts potentially trumping self-preservation and self-importance, etc). However, this doesn't validate certain states that are objectively bad, such as being a self-important jerk.

TL;DR: Having too much ego or too little ego (or a bad mix of both) is unhealthy . The former in particular will be pretty damaging when it comes to interacting with other people while the latter means you probably won't be doing a lot in the way of social interaction.

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