Wednesday, July 2, 2008

books & DVDs as clues to personality

Kathy Sierra, famous blogger of Creating Passionate Users, started quite an interesting controversy today on Twitter. She said you can get some insight into a person's inner self. One way is by examining what they allow into their mind.

How can you know what's been put into a person's mind?

You can start by looking at their bookshelf.

Women need to pick up on subtle cues, since they're the targets of rape, murder, and kidnapping. Many serial killers, con artists, rapists, etc. are considered by neighbors, friends, and family as supposedly "nice and normal".

I think the subconscious, the dark inner self, leaks out. There are always indications of something wrong in a person, if you are perceptive, skeptical, and experienced.

Leaks of the subconscious include offhand remarks, unusual word choice, odd facial expressions, displays of irrationality, sudden outbursts, and...the bookshelf, DVDs, and video games in their home.

Kathy Sierra started the Twitter debate with this innocent, low key message:

Tweet 1

How many have experienced the "I thought he was awesome... until I saw his bookshelf..." (bookshelf could be playlist, DVD collection, etc.)

Apparently, she got some dissent, though I replied to her in agreement, so her next tweet was defensive. In her third Twitter message, she replied to me (my Twitter nickname is my old blog title, vaspersthegrate).

Tweet 2

So it's shallow & I'm kidding about judging ppl by their reading, movie, or music choices... but in a profile/quick look... they have value.

[My reply to Kathy Sierra:]

@KathySierra - NO! You are absolutely right. If a person has trashy, violent, vulgar books and movies, that's what they ARE!

Tweet 3

@vaspersthegrate imagine you have 15 minutes in the apt. of someone you might date. What do you look at/for? Points for subtle inferencing.

Here are some of the other Twitter replies to the conversation.

@vaspersthegrate @KathySierra PBS got better ratings when Nielsen used hand written diaries (people wanted to be seen as intellectual)...

@vaspersthegrate @KathySierra As soon as television viewing habits were tracked by technology, data changed.

@KathySierra - Women especially need to pay attention to such cues about a guy, as what's on his bookshelf and DVD collection. All porn?

@jpostman - Reminds us that a con artist, rapist, molester, etc. could have nothing but good things in bookshelf & DVDs to fool the victim.

@vaspersthegrate It's a bit reductive to judge people according to their acquired media - or, worse, a portion thereof.

Have you formed opinions about people by what's on their bookshelf or DVDs? What if it's all religious, or romantic, or violent, or porn?

@vaspersthegrate If ALL a person owns is cultural trash, that's one thing. But if it's part of a larger collection, they're just eclectic.

@JustinKownacki - Why would a person's books, DVDs, video games not be a good indicator of their personality? I think it's good evidence.

@vaspersthegrate What if it has been 20 years since they bought a book?

@vaspersthegrate Um. So which is the "dangerous" guy - the one with all porn DVDs or all Mozart? When did you become a 9-11-ish alarmist? ;)

@vaspersthegrate Indicators, perhaps, but not evidence. The only video games I own are sports games. Does that make me a jock?

@vaspersthegrate What if a person's books are all by conservative authors, but the person is really a liberal looking to understand others?

@justinkownacki - If the majority of person's books, DVDs, video games are violent or porn, I can make a reliable assessment of their heart.

@vaspersthegrate where do you think twitter fits in? not blogging, not emailing but more personal and connected, so...better???

@y2vonne - Good point. Yes, Twitter is, or can be, far more intimate than blogs. Some are cold self-promoters. Most users seem more human.

My blog is single-focus business & my Twittering is spontaneous, intimate, rash, intense, combative, human, controversial, trivial, varied.

@vaspersthegrate I love your spontaneous, intimate, rash, intense, combative, human, controversial, trivial, varied Tweets :>)

I'm not saying that you judge someone totally by their books, DVDs, CDs, or video games. All I'm saying is that women especially must pay attention to various signals when it comes to dating or selecting a husband.

We can learn a lot about a person, even a potential employer, by the books displayed in their home or office.

It's not a foolproof, guaranteed method for personality evaluation, but it can be of value. Keep your eyes and ears open. Ponder. Think about inconsistencies. Discuss your concerns with family, friends, other trusted individuals. Don't be paranoid, but also don't be a chump who misses obvious or subtle cues.

I would love to hear your opinion on this interesting topic.


Jim Spencer said...

The flip side is that you can also find books or CDs or DVDs that you have in common.

Certainly in an interview situation it is wise to look around the shelves and if appropriate ask a question.

It's always wise to be aware of your surroundings. I continue to learn to effectively rely on my intuition as well, which is often more trustworthy than what I can see.

matt searles said...

The totality of one's consciousness.. by which I mean both conscious and unconscious.. in the Freudian sense, and personal and collective in a Jungian sense, has Impact on shaping... well everything.. from what words you use, the subject,.. all the none verbal stuff... the pitch / timber / etc via which ones speaks... if you tune into it, you really can be a mind reader.

To take it a step further.. in a Nietzschean sense there is a relationship between will and morality.. which imprints its self on this stuff to...

There's a huge amount of sensory data, and what have you, passing through us all the time.. much much more then we can be consciously aware of, let alone consciously process.. will and morality speak to what of that data we do perceive and process... and what books are on your book shelves... are as indicative of this as what thoughts are in your mind.

The challenge in reading someone's book shelf is to understand what's "the organizing factors," or how is it expressive of this stuff:

Clearly, because at a certain age I was listening to a lot of Heavy Metal.. and Ozzy Osboune... I was an emotionally disturbed individual, right? Ok.. I probably was, though not in a bad sense.. more in the sense that the world around me was making me that way.. and the Heavy Metal was like.. tools for mitigating this.

The point is that sometimes our own prejudices color our perceptions.. One can learn to pick up cues from book shelves.. but an immature practitioner of such a skill... will no doubt have immature results.. so I imagine much of the twitter talk about how you perhaps couldn't make these sorts of judgements comes from folks whom have had more contact with the immature practitioners then the mature ones.. and are perhaps them selves immature practitioners.. but then again, one has to be immature before one can be mature!

Billy Dennis said...

If you are inside a sociopath's apartment, it's already too late.

I can't take Kathy Sierra seriously. This is a woman who quit blogging because some anonymous troll made a threatening comment.

She's too sensitive and too easily frightened. I suggest she lock herself in her closet where no one can get at her.

peg said...