Simple Ideas

Princes of Validation

Blogging | April 21, 2012

Given the years and years of accusations of misogyny, I thought it about time I take a stab at the antonym and go for a few chorus of "Misandry, Misandry!" So here goes. Nary a foul word about the Princesses of Validation in this piece. I'm going after the guys, thank you.

So if I may, I'll start with the guy in Colorado who is former Army (is there a word for anti-Army? Anti-militarist covers too broad an arena, hrmm. Anti-groundpounder is all that comes to mind, so we'll go with that.) Anyway, this chap is a clear case of a validation ho.

Here is his contribution to the human race. He complained about how the Air Force wouldn't let his people into the classes they held at their base in Colorado. So he talked some senior people into moving the class to his base, his building even. We had never taught there before, so there were issues as you would expect for a new place. Lots of issues. Issues that impeded teaching severely.

The Prince contributed to the class in the following ways. First, he came in and used up 45 minutes of class time in week one recounting his career. He came back in week two and at the time class was to start (8:00 AM) he was busy telling an amusing anecdote to one person. And he saw fit to make the whole class wait until he was done before getting up and addressing the group. When he did address the group, he asked if there were any problems with the room. I raised my hand and said "Oh I have a page and a half write up here..."

Interestingly enough, that cut his attempted validation short. You see, all this guy is looking for in life is validation. Surround yourself with people who tell you everything about you is wonderful and you will live a long luxurious life of bliss. Annoying guys like, shoving reality in your face, who needs that?

Apparently not the retired Army 0-6. His response to the University after my note was to do...absolutely nothing. Every point brought up in my letter was responded to with exactly that answer. "We aren't going to do that."

Which is fine, because that evokes, or should evoke the same response from us down the road. We solved your problem, you gave us the finger. Ok, next year, we should give them their problem back and high tail it back to the Air Force base. Or some other location where we are not at the whim of people whose only drive in life is self validation. The mirror, mirror one the wall approach to life.

As useless as this guy is, the funny thing is, it is one of the key to a long life. This positive validation thing, even, or maybe especially, when it is complete nonsense does add to your life expectancy.

Actors who win Oscars add 5 years to their life expectancy. Academics who win Nobel Prizes add two years. I'd say the entire US Air Force "culture" is based on giving people medals for anything that they are remotely connected with that turns out well.

True, true, this leads to lots of "fiddling while Rome burns" kinds of guys in positions of authority. The people who actually listen to constructive criticism and do something about are the ones who make a difference in other people's lives and move the enterprise forward. But those guys who surround themselves with yes men are adding years to their lives. It is a Princely life they lead.

And as much as I despise this approach to life, it does not mean I can't learn from it. I stopped reading my end of class student comments last December. Sure I still read the mid-week comments that I get and I do take action on them. But there is nothing that can be done with the end of class comments. And that is where the random disgruntled student can, and occasionally will, tee off on the instructor. Typically for something outside out control of the instructor, but occasionally on point. But does it matter?

Only in the sense that reading it will have the opposite effect of the Oscar or the Nobel. At that point, it is just going to suck a few days out of your life expectancy.

And for that, I don't get paid enough.

Any Comments?

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