It is profoundly distressing that certain verbal expressions, universally discredited as “psychobabble,” have nevertheless enjoyed remarkable longevity. One possible explanation may be found in the public’s perennial taste for certain afternoon television panel discussions; such panels feature popular T.V. personalities attired in fetching garb, exchanging populist “gems of wisdom” on such compelling subjects as “true love” and the classic vicissitudes of life, all articulated in the snarky-cool patois of celebrated soap opera intelligentsia.
Maintaining its prominent place among the many other travesties in the vast inventory of ludicrous aphorisms and discredited pseudo-intellectual “wisdom,” is the very subject of this writing, an exemplary item of intensely offensive, albeit classic, psychobabble.
On the field of battle, artillerymen are routinely ordered to “Fire one for effect.” Thereafter, the battery officer will receive a telephone message from the forward observer, who will direct any necessary adjustments relative to the desired target. However, in the universe of social interaction, by profound contrast, a ventured statement, used for an analogous purpose to “firing for effect,” is an offensive and foolish experiment.
This outlandish and presumptuous investigation is conducted in the form of the trite question, “Is the glass of water half full, or half empty?” The response, purportedly, would enable a summary determination as to whether the respondent was optimistic or pessimistic, i.e., possesses a positive or negative persona. In the words of many of my contemporaries, “give me a break!” This idiotic, reductionist farce is of no conceivable value whatsoever and might, conceivably and ironically in fact, discourage the inception of a nascent, successful relationship.
The notion that character or personality is stereotypically discernable from an elective response to a pre-set, cliché, is a truly classic example of profound, reductive ignorance. (See: earlier writing, “Tags…”). In fact, the choice to employ such a tactic, while useless and misleading as an inquiry concerning the character of it’s subject, may operate, instead, as revelatory of insecurity and lack of sophistication on the part of the examiner.
The only rational and effective way to ascertain another person’s attributes is by means of sufficient mutual interactive experience.
Still, at the risk of seeming to afford some measure of unwarranted credit to this simplistic metaphor, it is nevertheless true that with the natural passage of time, symbolized by the declining level of water in the apocryphal glass, the same will be partly empty (or partly full). Those folks who have wisely spent the empty portion developing their personal resources and engaging in life affirming and enhancing pursuits, may find the” balance of water” even more pleasurable and rewarding and may discover that the “first half” was a necessary and wisely prescribed pre-requisite for the fulfilling second.