Member Questionnaire 1 (Jeremy Andrews)

What is beauty? What is love?

Beauty is a measure of closeness to an ideal form. The more closely an individual object resembles its ideal form, the more beautiful people see it as being.

Love is an intense emotional connection between people that leads them to sacrifice their self-interest for the sake of one another, to find the presence of one another pleasurable, and to be quite focused on each other.

What are your most important values?

Curiosity, empathy, learning, friendship, progress, comfort.

Do you have any sort of spiritual/religious beliefs, and why do you hold (or don't) those beliefs in the first place?

I'm Agnostic. I'm curious about most religious/spiritual traditions, and see all of them as having potential moral value and possibly true... but no one of them stands out to me as more true than any other. Most people seem to choose based on what their family believes, and that is honestly the only reliable predictor of faith among large groups.

Opinion on war and militaries? What is power to you?

I think war is an uncivilized way of settling a conflict, although it is justified in some situations. Power is the ability to influence the maximum number of people to serve your interests.

What have you had long conversations about? What are your interests? Why?

I've had long conversations about technology, psychology, video games, and politics. My interests include all of those things. I'm interested in those things because they are fairly abstract, broad topics that don't require a focus on concrete details. They seem to play to my strengths and avoid my weaknesses somehow.

Interested in health/medicine as a conversation topic? Are you focused on your body?

I enjoy trying to come up with ways to treat a health problem sometimes, but it isn't my favorite topic. I'm so oblivious to my body that my Mom notices that I need to have a bowel movement (based on a mood change) about an hour before I feel the need to go.

What do you think of daily chores?

I do my best to avoid them. I try to automate/eliminate as many of them as possible. For instance, I have this big tray that I put my empty soda cans on when I'm done with them, and just take them out at the end of the week... rather than bother to throw each one away when I finish.

I generally find routine tasks that will never be complete or lead to any ultimate goal, to be an annoying distraction from more worthwhile pursuits.

Books or films you liked? Recently read/watched or otherwise. Examples welcome.

Books: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Lord of the Rings, I Am Spock, Gifts Differing.

Films: Star Wars (original trilogy), Back to the Future, D.A.R.Y.L, WarGames, Short Circuit, Super Mario Bros.

What has made you cry? What has made you smile? Why?

Watching someone on TV face death with quiet dignity, especially willingly and for the sake of others. If someone dies while screaming or freaking out, I mostly just feel intense fear.

I smile whenever I hear a pun or play on words, even a "bad" pun. I even laugh at my own jokes, which is something most people find odd/perplexing.

Where do you feel: at one with the environment/a sense of belonging?

When I play video games or participate in online communities... I feel like I'm merged with the device I'm using, and as if I really belong in the virtual environment. I feel the strongest sense of belonging on the Internet, I guess.

What have people seen as your weaknesses? What do you dislike about yourself?

People tell me that I overanalyze things, and that I'm not very good at "selling myself." I dislike the fact that I feel anxious easily, and that I find it hard to stick to something for more than a year.

What have people seen as your strengths? What do you like about yourself?

They see me as polite, helpful with computer problems, and good at coming up with ideas in general. I like the fact that I have concern for others, the ability to avoid conflict, that I'm good at research, and the fact that I'm capable of completing a project on my own, at a high level of quality, with fewer resources at my disposal compared with most people. Most people need a group, a longer amount of time, tons of resources, and will settle for lower quality. I don't brag about this, though, and usually compliment a group's efforts despite knowing I could do better alone.

In what areas of your life would you like help?

I want help with holding onto friendships and networking, and with the messy, confusing process of procuring employment. I could also use some help with transportation and travel... I feel that I could do better if I weren't stuck in Texas, and if I had access to better mass transit while being able to afford access to it as often as desired. I'm terrified of driving, but people here take for granted that everyone learns how to do it and finds a way to pay for the cost of ownership and insurance. I generally feel trapped in a situation where I have to settle a lot and never get what I want out of life, in order to avoid the things I most dread in life.

Ever feel stuck in a rut? If yes, describe the causes and your reaction to it.

As a matter of fact, I've felt stuck in a rut since I graduated HS. The cause is that I can't meet the expectations of employers, and have no competent people around me helping me to find work. My parents were both HS dropouts and don't know how to do anything but persist in the face of constant failure and rejection, which is something I suck at doing.

My instinct is to keep trying to do something else, something that might "work," and I try a new plan to gain qualifications/work every year, but I don't think that makes me look very good. It feels like an endless cycle that needs to be broken with the help of good friends in a better position, a way of demonstrating EXTREMELY strong competence at something, or some way of using strong stimulants to reduce mental activity and improve my sensory performance so that I can drive a car safely and work very quickly.

What qualities do you most like and dislike in other people? What types do you get along with?

I like people who I can have long conversations with about abstract topics, emotions, symbolism, ideas, etc. I dislike superficial people who try to make physical contact (especially in an aggressive way) and who prefer activities to talking a lot. I get along with people I like, and don't get along with people I dislike... I guess?

How do you feel about romance/sex? What qualities do you want in a partner?

Romance is nice, but I find the idea of sex unpleasant. Ideally, I suppose I would want someone who behaves like the sort of people I like, and who can take care of the aspects of life I suck at for me so I can focus on what I'm good at. But I'm not really interested in looking for a partner.

If you were to raise a child, what would be your main concerns, what measures would you take, and why?

Well, I'd definitely adopt because I feel it's selfish to insist on creating another life when so many that already exist are abandoned. I would be concerned with educating them and making sure they felt valued, that they got to have a variety of cultural experiences growing up... perhaps even being exposed to other languages at a young age. I would also be concerned with making sure they were happy and comfortable as much as possible.

A friend makes a claim that clashes with your current beliefs. What is your inward and outward reaction?

Outwardly, I just say something like "that's interesting," and nod along. Maybe even think of something positive to say about the belief. Inwardly, I think the person's claim is poorly founded and likely rooted in tradition, anecdotes, or some kind of inability to accept a certain aspect of reality without filtering.

Describe your relationship to society. How do you see people as a whole? What do you consider a prevalent social problem? Name one.

I believe in a social contract, and I have had similar beliefs for as long as I can remember. The benefits of social organization outweigh the loss of the freedom that we have in a natural state, and thus I have an obligation to society as a member who enjoys the benefits of it. Due to those principles, I would be very unlikely to break a law.

I see people as being part of various social organisms. Their family, their school, their group of friends, their nation, their subculture, etc. These organisms all have a degree of overlap, but they are all integral to human existence and allow us to depend on one another while operating as a collective.

I consider an obsession with achievement/status, uniqueness, and individuality to be a major social problem in the US. I feel that it makes social organisms less efficient, often results in social isolation, and gives people inflated egos and unreasonable expectations of what they can achieve in life. It also leads to arrogant and demanding behavior, and encourages consumption over finding contentment in life, or developing healthy relationships with other people.

How do you choose your friends and how do you behave around them?

When I try to approach people... I usually look for someone who appears out of place and a little sad, who doesn't already seem integrated into the group. A distant, far-away look in their eyes, combined with a lack of attention to dress/appearance is somewhat appealing. I also feel more comfortable if they tend to fidget a lot (possibly twisting their hair, tapping their fingers, chewing on a pencil, or slipping their shoes on and off).

I generally talk to them about subjects I'm interested in, and respond to their interests as well. I like to sit down to eat with them as we talk, possibly watch TV or play video games.

How do you behave around strangers?

I ignore them unless they engage me, try to keep to myself and avoid notice. When I am engaged, I try to be polite and talk about mundane, boring topics that won't cause me to stand out or appear strange. If the person appears threatening, overly physical, or demands something uncomfortable from me... I may start trying to make excuses to leave, or even just run away. If the stranger brings up a topic that I'm interested in and attempts to engage me on a deeper level... I become somewhat less tense and open up, cautiously moving closer to the interaction style I use with friends.