Builders, Critics, Destroyers

There are three kinds of people in the world with regard to their contributions to civilization. This analysis forms a spectrum of their attributes. On the far end of one side is about 20% of the population, the builders. The purest of builders are at the tip of that spectrum, and “builder” traits diminish as you trend to around the middle of the continuum, where builder traits turn negative. On the far end of the other side of the continuum are another 20% of people, the destroyers. Varying kinds of Critics make up the morass of people in the middle, some who produce just enough to be comfortable in life or to gain some prominence for themselves and their family, some who produce nothing but are paid to be negative voices of dissent and do perfunctory tasks dictated by others.

The first is people who build ideas, physical things, systems, perform services, or anything else that synthesizes existing materials or content to form something which is of some direct benefit to other people. The builder’s ultimate goal and sense of fulfillment is derived not from the feelings, approval, or words of others, but the confirmation that they have added to human civilization. External praise is OK, but their unnatural obsession usually does not permit a pure builder to dwell in it; it drives them to project after project as soon as one is complete. They cannot simply create one thing and bask in it. The act of creation itself drives them. This impulse has been honed by rejecting the world’s temptations to consume, consume, consume for their appetites; to signal, signal, signal for validation, and finally, to deflect blame for why they haven’t accomplished something. They are complete owners of their goals and dreams, or are on their way there. They harness the insights of critics or the energy of those who lean to destruction to crystallize their theories into reality.

Secondly, there are critics. The world needs precious few of these, and yet they are more common than even the destroyers. Most have built precious little, and their time is spent explaining why some new idea or new institution is bad and not good enough. Much of their commentary is unconscious autobiography wherein their unconscious values are a funhouse mirror with which to evaluate others. They concern troll, they often hold opposing views to impossible standards, and they seek tenure or “high ground” jobs such as columnists for major newspapers where they do not have to hear any fellow critics they do not like. They admit only token critics or “reasonable” people with opposing worldviews, not those who truly challenge them. Some of them manage to produce useful suggestions or improvements, although this is usually by accident. Their ultimate goal is their own comfort – in their beliefs, their money, their families. Being comfortable around their peers drives most of their criticisms and thus they can be controlled by simple group dynamics or societal taboo. They might attempt to be the voice of conscience for their in-group, but only from a position of safety and only for specific ends. The weakest variety of critic is the one of whom 90% of their commentary is about “hypocrisy”. Most have no real “worldview” and are ad hoc to the core.

Finally, there are people who destroy. They often fashion themselves as iconoclasts and adhere to some easy, cultic, oversimplified, or overly complex answer to some question, instead of the humble, productive task of mastering something small which contributes to a larger theory. An example is a scientific researcher who spends their life mastering and testing a set of very specific chemical processes for posterity, vs a conspiracy theorist who sells books passing off his half-researched theories (only from sources which agree with him or are properly cherry picked or properly “pure”) as things any reasonable, non-evil person would believe. This includes people who do jobs poorly, sit on comfortable jobs and do the bare minimum, and people who do nothing but attack other people’s motives or value based on tribal, political, religious, or other such affiliations. Their ultimate aim is not even comfort – it is the satisfaction of having proved, in their mind, their superiority to others. The most extreme varieties are violent criminals who have largely been trained to believe that the only way they will have is by destroying others.

This spectrum is not necessarily intended to argue that destroyers are “bad” and builders are “good”, although in most cases that is true. It is simply observational.

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