Friday, June 30, 2006

Sweet vengeance makes the world bitter

The perrenial grade-school struggle between twerps and bullies is actually a struggle between two different styles of bullying. In contrast to nerds (who leave others alone and are generally left alone), the twerp derives his phenomenological pleasure from the disgust and irritation of others (eating his boogers, making people wait) while the bully derives phenomenological pleasure from the twerp's pain (while often self-righteously defending his actions as restoring a homeostatic equilibrium to the world).

So twerps are psychological rather than a physical bullies, with their aggression generally diffused in the environment rather than focussed on individuals. It is initially surprising that many "twerps" become "cool" in college, but "cool" is an incubational phase as the twerps prepare to become yet more obvious bullies in adulthood. Thus it is not hard to find a grade-school twerp growing up to become platitudinous moralist who wants to impose a vapid system of values on others, a comfortably middle class citizen who is untroubled by social injustice, an engineer who designs highly effective weapons systems, or even a merciless CEO who imposes thoroughly defective software on his customers.

One of the key problems in IT management is to spot the difference between a nerd and a twerp. The two are almost indistinguishable during the interview, but once in place, the twerp leverages his control over information systems to attract attention and exert power over other people. The nerd will often seem less "nerdy" in the interview, but once they are brought on board, they quietly and efficiently make everyone's life better. The deepest hope about the Buffett-Gates merger is that, under Buffett's tutelage, Gates how to become less of a twerp and more of a nerd.

{Side note: I'm using "phenomenological pleasure" very loosely, working with Sartre's discussion of Sadism in Being & Nothingness, with the central idea being that a murky consciousness can ground itself in relationship to its control over the consciousnesses of others, and create the pleasureable illusion of its own solidity. Needless to say, I am rather more attracted to opposite pleasures, namely allowing the mind to be as transparent as possible.}


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're a twerp. twerp.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Leave Borrow alone, you bully!

4:43 PM  

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