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Social Dynamics

July 17, 2010

One of my first posts that seriously addressed the issue of social dynamics was the 20+ page long “Popularity” post. This was followed up with several posts, among them “Points of Authority” and “Silence is Golden”. Since then, I’ve evolved my understanding of social dynamics and the importance thereof, but the reasoning postulated in “Popularity” still hold true; but so that you might understand where I’m coming from, this post is going to approach things from a more practical perspective– that is, rather than looking at the issue in terms of popularity, I’ll use the “appreciation” angle– that is, what does one need to do to be appreciated?

Well first and foremost, for a person like myself, who’s primary motivation in life is creative expression, there are two primary concerns that should be addressed:

1. Am I expressing myself creatively to my fullest potential?

2. Is that creativity being appreciated by others as much as it could be?

In particular, I am lacking a sufficient ‘answer’ to the second question; my creative efforts are not even close to being appreciated by others– even my greatest of works are not appreciated by my closest of friends– they try to understand, but fail to even scratch the surface.

It’s not my friend’s fault, it’s mine. I have not expressed myself in a way that they could appreciate.

Why? Because I never bothered to take that into account.

I thought, “I’ve got great thoughts? This kind of profound thinking is so rare, that people will jump at the chance to read it, and be inspired by it!”

What I didn’t realize, is that it’s the other way around. Great thoughts can only be appreciated by others if they are conveyed as if they were common sense. People can’t connect with writing that is presented like a PhD thesis. Only a PhD graduate could understand writing of that quality, and someone of that status won’t take an amateur philosophy blogger seriously– they are more interested in “the authorities” who have even bigger degrees and years of research and books published to back them up. If I want people to appreciate my writing, I’m going to have to dumb it down.

This doesn’t just apply to writing, of course. It applies to my life in general. If I want people to appreciate me, I’m going to have to learn to “know my audience”, So that I can convey “who I am” to people from all walks of life in a way that each of them can understand. The key to being appreciated by people (which translates to “popularity” when amplified to a global scale) is the ability to merge “who I am” with “who they expect me to be”, in a way that everyone can appreciate.

Notice that I didn’t say “who they want me to be”. One doesn’t have to make people happy to be popular– I think that Hitler proved that one. Popularity isn’t about happiness, it’s about expectations– specifically meeting the expectations of others.

Applying this to “appreciation”, if you want people to appreciate “who you are”, “what you do”, and “what you believe in”, you’re going to have to present those things in a way that anticipates and preempts other’s expectations. You have to know what they will think of you before they even meet you, and most importantly, present yourself in a such a way that conditions them to expect things of you that you want them too— that is, make them expect to appreciate you as a person, to appreciate what you do, and what you believe in; by taking these steps, you will prepare other’s hearts to fully appreciate these things…they will already appreciate everything you do, say, and present– even before you have “shown” them.

BTW, there is a phrase for this proven leadership tactic: the proverbial “planting a seed”.

As I first said in my Popularity post, I don’t want to be popular, and that is the only reason why that I am not. Although I can tell you right now this is the absolute truth (if I wanted to be, I could boost my own online “brand” recognition 1000 times over within a month if I really wanted to), it nevertheless is still a “cop-out”. Why? because it avoids the otherwise necessary question “Why / Why not be popular?”

Well I’m well adapted to being a loner, and I have no real need of friends, so that’s the #1 reason right there. Secondly, I’m well aware of the fact that humans have no unconditional value– that is, there is nothing that I can do to make myself truly irreplaceable. Finally, I know that anything that I do to make myself attractive to others will only be illusionary– if I knowingly change my social character to appeal to others, they might see me as “real” but I myself would feel fake.

Out of those three reasons, the last one is actually the most paradoxical (and thus fallacious) in its reason: How can I justify not living my life to appeal to others, if I myself know best of all how the human social character is shaped by others in the first place. If they changed their character to create mine, is it not only reasonable that I change my character to reciprocate that creation– to inspire the world as they have inspired me?

But there are far more convicting reasons than this for changing myself to appeal to others– reasons that ultimately have nothing to do with the world, but with reality itself: My “audience” is not just my girlfriend, my family, or society– my audience extends far beyond those bounds. I am ultimately catering to an audience of One: The cosmos itself.

One Comment leave one →
  1. A Reader of th3g1vr since 20 Dec 0 permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:07 am

    Interesting and thought provoking, and in way, complicated;–to me, at least. It would be easier to explain my thought in person. 🙂

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