Sunday, March 15, 2015

Be Different from the Crowd

Last time we puttered for some time and I found it really interesting to see one thing in a very deep and different perspective. Puttering is time-consuming and it needs a lot of practice. Human being naturally use shortcuts or rule of thumb to make assumptions to spare the brain. That's why it takes a lot of efforts to putter deeper. But it is definitely beneficial, at least for me, looking at something in a new perspective helps me to have more ideas and understanding.

So this time we might talk about the uniqueness and culture. As everyone's been told, people in individualism culture tend to be more self-awareness and want to be different from the crowd because they highly value the uniqueness of every individual. While people in collectivism are more tend to care relationships with other person and don't have high self-awareness. From my experience as an international students, I do feel domestic students, on average, being more outspoken and active in showing their difference in dressing, ideas, etc. 

One thing that makes me feel confused is, when people talking about uniqueness or difference, what exactly they're referring to? It seems that some differences are encouraged while some other differences are being pushed back. What makes the two different reactions? 

For example, people like unique ideas. They call it creativity. When someone has ideas different from others, it is being appreciated because that opens up people's perspectives. One idea that is unique could create extremely powerful results. The success of Apple is that they make their products unique. Even in the advertising, they tell the "why" first. The "why" is the ultimate reason or mission that Apple has. It is not just producing high quality laptops or computers; instead, it is "Making a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind." By doing this, Apple distinguishes itself from other companies in 1980s because they're not limited to bragging their products and tell people to buy. People are persuaded by why they're doing this. 

However, I realized some uniqueness makes people feel pressure and tend to hide their uniqueness. This is a video of TED talk called "The danger of hiding who you are" by Morgana Bailey. As a lesbian, she was afraid to share this to others and hided the secret for 16 years, mostly because of the social judgment. The sexual difference seems scary for people to talk openly. If people value diversity and individual's uniqueness, why this is so sensitive? One sentence she said was enlightening to me. "I don't want others refer me as the 'gay co-worker', 'gay Morgana', I just want others call me Morgana." When the uniqueness becomes a label of someone, it seems that people are dehumanizing individuals by using these labels. She is still Morgana. She has so many other characteristics that could be unique. While people's behavior of categorizing individuals is the beginning of stopping diversity. 

The best way to encourage individual's uniqueness is not just saying that we love diversity. It is respecting other's differences by being aware of it and putting that characteristic at the position equals to other characteristics, rather than categorizing individual into certain group just by one characteristic. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Actually, last semester, I tried to connect what we've written in the weekly post but obviously, based on your responses in class, I did not do it in the right way. For me, puttering can be the result of concentrating on doing certain things such as trying to win a better chess player. By paying all my attention on the chess game, I could come out with some really smart moves to earn some advantages. Also, puttering could be my purpose of doing certain things, for example, sudoku. I did it not for fun, in stead, I think it could help me concentrate. It is like turning on the concentration mode of my mind and I can keep that mode on for some time. I really like to do some sudoku to help me concentrate before I took my math test in middle school.  Unfortunately, I did not puttering a lot in my university life in Champaign. When I was at my former university in China, I think I puttered a lot for both my courses work and club activities. The reason is quite simple, I do not have that much school work in China and I have time to putter. If I putter on something not related to my school work and career plan for a considerable amount of time, I am fine with that. But during the first year in Champaign, I noticed that most of my friends were working by a very specific plan and they did not like to waste any time irrelevant to their goals. I started to become a follower and studied and worked like that. I made checklist for myself everyday and my life was all about finishing things on the checklist. I think what I get most from our discussion is I should dig deeper on things I find important and useful, not just finishing the checklist and coming out with a resume looks good but not that meaningful. The talk with David confirmed my thinking on puttering as well. What he thought about education is not only about puttering but knowing how to apply what you learnt to the real world situation. That is why I think I enjoyed project more than homework because it provides a quite open question that encourages us to dig deeper and deeper. 

In the second paragraph, I want to talk about an interesting article I read. It is in Chinese, so I will try to write down its idea with my words. This article compares studying with playing video games and explains why video games can attract so many people. First of all is that video games are designed to make you feel that it is controllable. In other words, video games will give immediate feedback to all your instructions in numbers or pictures. For example, every time you kill an enemy in the game, the golden coins will jump out, the experiences you earned will show in numbers. I noticed that the close button in the elevator of US does not work at all since every time I press it, I have to wait exact the same time if I did not press it. But the engineer decided to include it in the elevator to make people feel it controllable. Second feature is that video games give you the motivation to keep playing every ten minutes. You can always find next task available when you finish a task. You can always notice there are so many things to do to improve your weapon or get to the next level. You can always find your friend log on when you decided to log off and get some sleep. I think this article interesting because as human beings, we may want to putter in this way. There is a real world example of puttering to science journal Nature.