As for background context, I’ve for years wondered why people get so bugged by each other on Twitter. A second question is why political correctness — even if you think it is fully bad — occasions so much opposition compared to many other maladies.
Those paths of inquiry have led me to think more about socially neurotic people, and yes that is a pretty big percentage of humans. By that designation I mean people who likely would score high on neuroticism on a five-factor personality test. Here is one definition, useful but maybe not the most precise one:
Neuroticism can lead an individual to focus on, and to dwell on, the negative aspects of a situation, rather than the positives. They experience jealousy and become envious of other people when they feel that they are in an advantaged position over themselves. They may be prone to becoming frustrated, irate or angry as they struggle to cope with life stressors.
Is this kind of neuroticism even well-defined, or is it indirectly bundled with other positive traits, including positive affect toward some other set of external circumstances? Or, to be blunt, are we ever justified in thinking that neurotic people are — ceteris paribus — simply worse than others? Maybe neuroticism is a holdover from earlier times when life was more precarious and nowadays lingering neurotic traits are largely unjustified. Alternatively, is neuroticism simply “another way of being”, deserving of respect the way we might treat another culture, even in the presence of some negative externalities?
How much are five-factor personality traits context-dependent rather than absolute? Is anti-neuroticism neurotic, a kind of negative affect of its own? Or is it a way of standing up for truth, justice, and the American way?
Are there positive social externalities from neuroticism, such as indirectly subsidizing movements for social justice?
Overall, I am coming to the conclusion that, even (especially?) if we are personally annoyed by neuroticism, it is more useful to view it in a broader and less negative context.
Most concretely, when should you seek out or at least not mind neurotic trading partners? It’s that kind of question where the rubber hits the road.
These were perhaps my top questions for mental space, I may soon present you with some others.