What If People Came With Instruction Manuals.

Here’s the question, what if everyone possessed a physical instruction manual and was able to hand out copies to people they meet or are interested in. This concept often crosses my mind as I think of the time and trouble it would save in the usual misunderstandings and miscommunications that can take place during the period when people are just getting to know each other. I fantasize about handing a new acquaintance a little book which reads “Congratulations on meeting Rohan, here is everything you will need to know in order to get the best out of your interactions with Rohan.” I know if the tables were turned and someone handed me a user guide to themselves I’d be eternally grateful. I’m pretty good at reading people anyway, but imagine seeing it all in black and white, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies and pet peeves, their talents and deficiencies, favorite foods, movies and music. There would be a biography and a Frequently Asked Questions section, all written in the stale, emotionless language of an instructional guide.

I suppose you could say we have somewhat of a user’s manual in the likes of Facebook and other social networking platforms. Spend a few minutes on a person’s profile and you will get a pretty good, if superficial idea of what kind of person they are. The problem with user generated social networking pages is the amount of emotive language, the bias, the flattering profile pictures, and people’s natural tendency to accentuate their positives while minimizing what they perceive to be there bad points. We’ve all done it. So that other than their taste in music, a Facebook profile tells you next to nothing about the real person behind it. My vision is for an objective, uncaring third party who simply prints these factual and helpful guides not so much for the benefit of the subject of the manual, but more so for those that read it. In a previous blog I talked about how when meeting new people it’s best to be open and honest about what you perceive to be your weaknesses as early as possible, don’t hide the truth, get it out there! This manual is the natural progressions of that concept.

So what exactly would this manual include, how would it be structured? Well for the sake of the example let’s take a look at what mine might be like! NOTE: Because I’m writing my own there will of course be an inevitable emotional bias, but I’ll do my best to keep things as balanced as I can. Also a full guide would be fuller and more detailed, but for the sake of this piece I will condense it all down.

Introduction: Congratulations on meeting Rohan Healy, this useful manual will arm you with all the information you’ll need to get the best out of your interactions with Rohan and will guide you in dealing with any problems that may arise.

Quick facts:

Name: Rohan Healy

Race: Irish/Australian

Religion: None

Occupation: Musician, Music Producer, Writer

Hobbies: Video games, history, philosophy, blogging, health, sexuality

Smoker/Drinker: No/Occasionally

Vegetarian: Yes

Sexuality: Straight but open minded and slightly kinky.


Q. That’s an interesting accent, where are you from?

A. Rohan was born in Murwillumbah, Australia. But also spent his childhood in France, The Netherlands and Ireland. Hence the confusing accent.

Q. Do you want to grab a drink at the pub?

A. No, unless Rohan is performing at the pub in question, Rohan likes tea and a quiet place in order to engage in conversation, work, or sexual intercourse.

Q. Are you coming to the after party?

A. No, after a gig Rohan likes to pack up and head home for tea and a bit of conversation or television before bed.

Q. Is your name Ronan, or Rohan?

A. It’s Rohan, if you listen carefully you can hear the difference.

Q. Do you mind if I smoke/eat meat?

A. Rohan in non-evangelical, he does not care what you do, nor does he make a judgment. He will not give you are hard time about your lifestyle choices or try to make you change them.

Rohan likes: Conversation, taking walks, photography, playing video games, watching Anime, sexual intercourse, documentaries, playing music.

Rohan dislikes: Relationship drama, excessive texting or calling, loud noises, busy places, lies, people who don’t respect others’ boundaries.

Tips & Troubleshooting:

In order to get the best out of Rohan and keep him running at optimal levels try being kind, supportive and constructive. Rohan can show signs of disorder and malfunction if bullied, hen pecked, regularly lied to and criticized maliciously without any constructive element. Rohan likes to be the center of attention which can be grating at times but is basically harmless. Rohan reacts well to positive people, if you are a positive influence on Rohan he will most likely have a positive influence on you.

Thank you for reading this user manual, we hope that it has been insightful and helpful in enabling you to make the most of your interactions with Rohan. Good luck!

So this was very much an abbreviated version of what a full manual would be like but do you start to see the idea? Now raw data does not tell us everything about someone, it only makes up about half the picture. The other element is chemistry. With compatible data only, everything seems right on paper, but without passion things will be very boring. When it’s only chemistry you may enjoy a period of passionate fun, but in the longer term there will be too many conflicts to enable a stable relationship. A great relationship is formed when both exist at once. The benefit I think with the user manual is that it’s a time saving device. While you wouldn’t necessarily write someone off simply from the contents of their manual, it would give you a pretty good idea of whether you are going to be able to get on with this person or not.

For me though, the manual would be less of a dating guide and more for when you’ve decided you like someone, or you’ve made a new friend or colleague. The manual could come into play once the relationship is basically established and you want to give them a heads up on how to make the most of the relationship all at once, as opposed to doing it over time through trial and error. Of course the manual also comes with certain problems and raises a number of important questions. For example should criminal history be included in the manual? What about medical history? Do people have the right to know this kind of information before making a decision on whether to get involved with someone, or should the onus be on the individual in question to give up that information when they deem it the right time to do so? There’s a risk of getting a little too Orwellian, especially if the ‘manual’ were to become compulsory! But let’s calm things down a little and keep it fun.

So what do you think, would you like it if new people you met handed you their users’ guide to browse through at home? Would you be willing to hand over an unbiased, emotion free manual for the correct operation of ‘you’ to new acquaintances? Would this kind of manual take the fun and excitement out of discovering a new person, or would it be a time saver that tells you right away if things have a chance of working or not? I personally love the idea and would happily hand over a no holds barred ‘manual of me’ to anyone who wants to know me, if they are still interested after reading through then they’d definitely be worth having a chat to! And I’ll leave you with this thought, have you ever said something like “If I’d known that from the beginning I’d never have gotten involved”? Would the manual save us from these kinds of realizations?

Thanks for reading :)


Rohan Healy is the author of “Greeks to Geeks: Practical Stoicism in the 21st Century” and “The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You”

Click the book titles to visit their Amazon pages, read the reviews, and sample or purchase the books.

13 thoughts on “What If People Came With Instruction Manuals.

  1. This is such a good idea and such a cool idea for a post, and I love how you mentioned that social media websites like Facebook kind of take care of this for us. Still, I think it would be a lot easier to distribute a manual the first time you meet someone so if you run into any malfunctions you know how to fix it.

    • Thanks Katie! Glad to hear I’m not the only one keen on this idea :) It has the potential to save so much time and avoid many a misunderstanding alright. I swear if I ever get the spare cash I would so love to work with a designer and get a few manuals printed up with that cool 1950’s Americana style of illustration. If just for the look on peoples faces when I had it to them!

      Thanks for your comment Katie, I like you blog too!


  2. No way! I think getting to know people over time is the best thing in the world – slowly coming to know them, what they like/dislike, their opinions on different things, etc. I don’t think a booklet could ever cover enough to let you understand a person entirely, it would just create a false image of what you think that person is – sort of like taking a look at their Facebook page. You didn’t even consider what would happen if it fell into your enemies’ hands ;)

    • Thanks for your comment! You raise some interesting points, and it’s certainly no substitute for chemistry between people and creating a rapport over time. Such a manual might take some of the mystery and intrigue out of meeting someone new, but wouldn’t you want to know if there was a piece of information that would drastically differ the way you view this person before you get too involved?

      Is meeting someone new really any less superficial than a Facebook page either? People tend to put their best side forward and have a knack of omitting certain details until later on.

      You are absolutely right about the enemies! With access to your vulnerabilities people who dislike you could take advantage. But in doing so they would identify themselves as pretty nasty people as you would know that only those with access to your manual could know such things. And I mean if you had something really really bad to hide I don’t think you’d be going for one of these manuals in the first place lol!

      I’m glad my post is causing some discussion, I offer no perfect solutions, makes you think though :)

      Thanks for your thoughts!


  3. Interesting for sure. I agree with the Facebook idea, although I am perhaps one of the rare people that do not use Facebook

    • Thanks for the comment Alex :)

      You’re a smart girl haha! Facebook isn’t that great in my opinion. I have a facebook but just for promoting my music. I much prefer wordpress and youtube, places where people produce and share interesting content. Facebook is very “me me me” in my opinion.

      Thanks for stopping by :)


      • My whole class is like literally living in Facebook, which is quite pity :( Real touch and communication is somehow missing and I personally can’t live without that.
        But yeah-I had an account on Facebook before and I deleted it and would never create another one. i prefer using this website, my email and twitter from time to time :)
        Thank you for saying that and you are more than welcome. Keep up writing :)

      • Yeah it’s sad :( I’m actually so glad that I was not in high school during the smartphone/social media generation, it’s too disconnected and a lot of shaming and bullying goes on through sites like Facebook, which sucks!

        Connection and real conversation are so important :)

        Thanks for the encouragement! ^_^


  4. No way would I hand out an “instruction manual of me” to people I met for the first time – they would all run away scared! ;-)

    • Haha, don’t worry I think that’d be the case for most of us if we are honest! I think the manual would come out once we get a little comfortable, but still, it’s a scary thought isn’t it! Not being in control of the drip drip of information lol, having it out there all at once.

      Thanks for the comment :)


  5. Pingback: 7 Things I Learned In My First Week as a WordPress Blogger! | rohan7things

  6. This is such a cool idea!! Nice to meet you…er…your instruction manual :) Unfortunately, if that were to be a literal thing, someone else would have to write it. We don’t usually see ALL of our own weaknesses and strengths. However, our closest friends tend to see EVERYTHING, and love us in spite of it all. I think it could be a fun way of meeting someone, though, with the realization that it isn’t the whole picture. it’s a good grass-roots starting point, which might encourage someone to turn the next page. If someone was into the speed dating scenario, this could be something fun. I don’t happen to be into that sort of thing, but if someone wanted to try the manual approach, it would be neat to see what happens next. Cool, cool…

    • Yup, someone else would definitely have to write it. I’m no speed dater either but yeah I think it would work well in that circumstance! I think that would be a great idea, a group of people who all had manuals made up by their closest friends and family, in the group they exchange manuals and learn about each other really quickly, with no snow jobs.:)

      I think it would be great for overcoming self acceptance issues. Hmmm, maybe it’ll be the next dating craze haha! It’s all about being ok with who you are :)

      Thanks for the comment!


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