After more than 300 days of traveling, I have spoken to more than 3 000 people from all sorts of different backgrounds. In the tenth edition of my `personal reflections`, I try to describe some of the people I met on my way. With a little bit of good effort, I can all fit them into the categories specified below:
..apparently likes to classify the world
People who have given up all connection to a `normal` life in society and/or anything that has to do with obligations. They are scared of staying in one place for more than six months and continuously talk about `itchy feet`, describing the fact that it`s once again time to move on to somewhere else. If they are not talking about `itchy feet` they will at least start talking about the places they have already visited, where they are planning to go and how great it was in XX. All while forgetting to enjoy the place that they are visiting while telling about the other places. If they ever want a job, it is a job that allows them to travel. Travelers have the continuous urge to improve the world and to talk about it, but they have neither energy nor determination to do anything to contribute to their ideals. They often start blogging about their adventure but oftentimes give up within a week or two. They spend most of their time in lack of money to reach the next destination. Some claim to travel because they want to think about what they want to do in life, others travel because they do not want to think about what they should do next. Most of the typical travelers I met came from Anglo-Saxon countries.
Tourists or Grasshoppers
Been there, done that, bought a T-shirt. Those who find everything awesome, cool, exciting, and worth taking a photo of. They are usually disrespectful of the place they are visiting, make lots of noise, produce tons of rubbish, drink lots of alcohol, walk in the middle of the street, buy souvenirs that were manufactured in Taiwan, call home to tell everybody about the weather and how unfriendly the local population is, brag or complain about the accommodation and get annoyed about other tourists who misbehave in the exact same way as they do. They are usually late for everything and unable to find their way if they are not preceded by somebody with an umbrella who speaks the same language they do. Some of them mark X`s behind each city or city that they can tick off their list. No dominant nationality here, anybody who is afraid of silence or getting bored makes a nice tourist.
Adventures who make a challenge out of everything, whether for their own good or to impress somebody else. This group is composed of a variety of usually quite individualistic people, some of whom cycle from The Netherlands to Beijing, others walking from Rome to Santiago the Compostela and another few who will spend all of their spare time trying to see how close to death they can get without falling over the edge. Most of the genuine adventurers are rather silent about their achievements. Some others will list them with a stoic expression on their face, making you believe that it didn`t cost them any effort to complete their impressive performances. Some of them inspire you with their stories, others come up with stories that are so distant from other people`s experience that they remain completely abstract.Most adventurers I met either came from the Alps or anywhere North-West of those.
Quite difficult to get any sensible information out of those, as they like to do nothing but confirm that questions are questions, that generalizing is bad (which in itself is the worst generalization of all), concluding not only that they themselves cannot say anything about the subject at hand, but that whatever other people say about it is also bound to consist of stereotypes and simplifications. Although they are usually right by the fact that they never see anything black and white, they also lack the power to move forward and leave things behind. As a result, they keep turning circles in their own reflections without getting anything done. Like travelers, but without `itchy feet`. The worst ones can be a drain to other people`s inspiration by philosophying it to pieces. Czech people were quite good at this, but the French and the Hungarians also performed well.
People who do what they do because that`s what they do because that`s what everybody does because there is simply no other way of doing it. They perfectly fit into a system, which can be a religion, ideology or subculture. Followers can be happy if they actually support the values they carry out. In many cases however, they are unaware or unconscious of their ability to change both themselves and the system they are part of. Due to their automated protocol of taking things for granted, they tend to overlook consciousness as a first start to change the course of their lives, making any attempt to change even the more difficult.Most of the followers were inhabitants of the former communist countries, as well as Italians, Spanish, Greeks and Portuguese, who all seemed to be hi-jacked and stripped off their personal ambitions. In post-communist countries: by the system. In Mediterranean countries: by the families and/or church.
Artists position themselves as being opposite to the followers. By doing so, the majority of them become followers of opposite ideas rather than non-followers. The rest remains misunderstood or will be somehow be stimulated to keep copying one trick that happened to impress some authoritative person or body. Most of the people I met considered that they did not have enough time or money to be artists.
Those who think they are entirely dependent on the sympathy and support of the people they meet. They often end up being like the Followers above, but tend to pile up frustrations and project them on people whose sympathy and support they think they do not need. Typical for cultures that have hierarchical structures, where superiours take advantage of subordinates, while accepting that their superiours take advantage of them. Hence the supreme goal of the `overdo-er`: raise their level of authority at the expense of others. Central and Mediterranean Europe.
The kind of people who will always talk about other people and never about themselves. They justify their authority by the number and quality of the people they know and neutralise any achievement by saying that his and that person did the same, would be ready to lend a hand and/or is such a great this and that. Networkers can be quite annoying but they are among the most helpful if you can count on their sympathy. Italy is quite good for this, but the idea of networking is quite universal and seems to work wherever, whenever. Greeks are funny in having 25 best friends, which is already impossible by the grammatical definition of the word `best`.
Me, myself and I. At least as annoying as the obvious networkers, but less useful because they tend to have themselves as best friends. Whether physical or psychologal, exhibitionists want to tell and show whatever they are proud of or have an opinion about. They can be very annoying by the fact that they are so fond of hearing themselves talk. They can also be very useful, because whatever they say will contain information that non-exhibitionists would care to hide. I found most of these in Romania when it came to ideas and especially conspiracies. The Finnish sauna culture obviously showed me the physical side of exhibitionism, but also how little of that actually qualifies for exhibitionism if you cut out the link between nudity and sex.
Those who believe in only one truth, which may be their own or somebody else`s. They will go far to prove they are right, or in the worst cases: that somebody else is not. The good thing is that, as friends, they are usually very hospitable, if only for the fact that they want to show that they can serve as an example of how friendship should work. Italians have made an art out of this and they can do it with elegance as long as no non-Italians are involved. German and Polish people are less elegant about it, but their opinions about what is right and what is wrong seem to be even stronger. Swedes and Finns have strong ideas about what is right and wrong, but they are more likely to see the fun of ambiguity.
Are usually unhappy about their situation, but remain unwilling to accept responsibility for their own share in the course of events. They blame politicians, systems, media, immigrants , the weather, conspiracies, the young generation, the old generation, history, or whatever they can find to make themselves appear innocent and possibly culturally superiour to everything and everybody else. They want the world to change while they are the ones who actually resist changes. This is happening in a lot of countries who deal with immigration issues, including The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Italy. Or pretty much any country in Europe for that matter.
People who do not do anything if they are not certain that they will gain something in return. Not so much for the balance but just for the fact of harvesting, collection and owning. Many of them seem to become politicians, or maybe it works the other way around. Materialists have adjusted ethics and made them subordinate to the ideals of increasing property, power and authority. They are perfect masters of manipulating responsibility and blaming others for their imperfectness. I found a little bit of this in many people, but I guess it would be hard to survive without. Otherwise, I am happy that I met so many people who were willing to invest `themselves` into ideas that exceeded the purpose of material enrichment.
A boring group of people with whom I count myself in as well ? if there`s not already a little bit of something in all the other groups. A little partying is OK, but not too much. Drinking is OK, but not too much. Philosophy is OK, but not if it doesn`t lead to anything. Compromisers never openly agree or disagree with any strong opinions cast by others and hope that doing this will help them become or stay friends with everybody. They never really belong to any group, but they can usually describe quite clearly how and why the opinions of opposing people or group differ from each other. They prefer to use their influence to maintain, create or restore balance, but they always need to rely on other people to get things done. The best achievement compromisers can make is to be conscious about what they do and adjust their behaviour to whatever they think is right. Dutch people think they are great compromisers, but they only are within their own context. Their diplomacy is indeed known across the world, but mostly for its boldness. The Swedes and Finns are compromisers, and so are the Austrians and the Lithuanians. Every country that has tasty dark bread somehow has good compromisers as well.
I can`t think of any more fixed profiles of people, but if I come across any, I will add them later on. For anybody who is not yet bored by the subject: some scientists have obviously come up with some more sophisticated ways of describing different personalities. The Bryers-Miggs test is a good example. Here`s one, try if the result matches your expectations. For your information, my outcome was INTJ. I`d be interested to know the results of my readers as well and see if there are any international consistent patterns. Do not hesitate to submit them using the comment form.
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