Dazed and confused, we hurtle towards 2000
Saturday 03 January 1998
While that time-honoured mystery of "the opposite sex" is still a cause of complication for one in five people and "general changes in society" are making life complex for one in 10, it is the day-to-day tasks of everyday living which are perplexing the majority.
According to a survey commissioned by Abbey National, modern minds are boggled by assembling DIY furniture (42.7 per cent), programming a video recorder (41.9 per cent) and understanding a railway timetable (31.6 per cent). The one thing we find more difficult to cope with than time-saving gadgets is finding the time to meet all our modern-day commitments.
Respondents to the survey branded professionals "Masters in the Art of Confusion". Lawyers came out worst, with four out of 10 people blaming them for needless complexity. Computer sales people were accused of making even simple explanations mind- numbingly complex. One in 10 charged their bank manager with the same offence.
So-called media buzz-words came if for some flak, too. Fifty per cent of those surveyed said they found the single European currency too confusing to make sense of, 43 per cent found the Millennium Project impossible to understand, and 27.3 per cent could not grasp the fundamentals of BSE.
But the good news is that most of us won't be beaten by the complexities of modern living. Rather, we rise to the challenge - each in our own way. Dr David Lewis, a psychologist, has identified five different personality types for dealing with life's complexities.
First there is the "DIWhy?", best typified by the Carol Vordermans of this world. "Most of us fall into this category to some extent," said Dr Lewis. "A determined and dedicated group which tries very hard to make sense out of even the most complicated issues. When they succeed they feel a great sense of achievement - but can be quite serious."
To the "Juggler", complexity equals fun. To these Chris Evans-like characters, the more demanding the lifestyle, the better. "They don't take complexity seriously and so live life to the full - though sometimes people find it hard to take them seriously," said Dr Lewis.
The "Hippy Go-lucky" hopes that by not looking at something, it will go away. He or she makes no attempt to understand anything which looks or sounds the least bit complicated.
Step forward the "Joker", the one who is "great fun at a party, cheerily going through life without believing anything is the least bit complicated." "They don't tend to get an awful lot done, but what they do, they do with a smile on their face," said Dr Lewis.
Then there is the "Delegator". Delegators make sure they have a lot of "DIWhys?" amongst their friends. "This group believes that life's complications should be dealt with by someone else on their behalf."
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