The modern independent professional (and I include myself in this group) benefits from self-actualization in the sense that he or she does not depend on institutions or other individuals to provide core professional motivation. While this is a sound strategy for general success, taking it to its extreme has produced a generation of distinctly self-absorbed individuals of a different sort than those that came before us. Unlike the quiet narcissism of the Baby Boomers or the naked, unmotivated consumerism of Generation X, we are a generation of roleplayers: leveling up and treating everything outside ourselves as a grid of potential resources.
Yeah… that’s That Person.
That Person wants and takes the limelight. She must get her name out, and she must sound smart doing it. She has to meet everyone there and she has to carefully note their names, what they do, what they like, and if they know anyone else she knows. If your network didn’t overlap with hers before, well, it does now! It’s calculated showboating.
I expect the Zelda “I-got-the-thing!” song to play on every handshake.
I don’t see this very often, luckily, and very few cross the line between enthusiastic-and-sincere and what-in-all-the-hell‽. I love that there are people who go to technical meetups who want to meet everybody and know everybody. It’s a contrast to the way I typically behave at events, where I want to directly meet 5-15 people and talk in depth with 2-4 of them in one evening. To see super-social techie people is cool — and pleasantly less rare than it was in college — and I usually enjoy watching someone work a crowd.
But I’m saddened by seeing an event so strongly dominated by a single person, especially when greedy ownership and possession take place. I’m reading the Beta of Driving Technical Change, it’s one of those books that — as you might expect — is making me re-evaluate how I and others behave in quasi-professional settings. It’s a tasty People book, but it opened a third eye to the way things can shake out at a social gathering.