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Social Skills

August 2, 2010

In a conversation I had with a friend a few days ago, she noted that classmates @ college were talking behind my back, with their two primary misgivings about me being my “weird hair” and me “lacking social skills”. Neither of these were a surprise to me, although I am disappointed in today’s generation for being so close-minded as to think that I “lack social skills”, when in fact the more accurate assessment would be that I am “unsociable”.

The reason for this is, contrary to the apparently popular opinion, I don’t lack social skills– I just don’t make use of them, because I would rather be “unpopular” than be fake.

Personally, I think that social skills are overrated, and are only useful to those incapable of living their lives independently of society. Why put all that effort into “fitting in”, if it does no more than mask my individuality. If people reject me, surely their opinions are not worth my concern anyway, because I am quite certain that I should be myself, rather than “conforming to the patterns of this world”.

In the past few posts (the latest of which is “Salvaging Insanity”), I have analyzed in detail the importance of connecting with other people, for creative, social, and even spiritual reasons. Until recently, I felt that “Other People” were unnecessary, with a usefulness equivalent to a drug…that we are all addicted to each other– that social interaction is an addiction. But now I am exploring the proverbial “other side of the coin”, the notion that true meaning in life can only be found through the exchange of energy best facilitated through social means.

So then, what are social skills– that which I am obviously lacking?

I first answered this question in my post “Popularity”, in which I postulated that popularity (i.e. widespread social value) is ultimately about two things: power (control), and the exchange thereof.

What a cold-hearted answer I had arrived at, you might think…to put subordinate the meaningful interactions between people to such a stoic level of simplicity…But it is this simplicity in fact that makes social dealings so beautiful!

Perhaps you do not understand the meaning of those last words, but you will someday (hopefully!) — moving on:

In response to why that classmates felt that I lacked social skills, I expressed my opinion that the other classmates felt that I was “weak”. My friend did not understand what I meant by that, and this is understandable; after all, my Popularity post clearly points out that the lack of popularity (which equates to a “lack of social skills”) is caused by taking the power away from other people. Therefore, wouldn’t the lack of social skills be evidenced by being “strong”, considering that I have apparently become a “power hog”, by through my actions depriving others of their own control over the situation. Wouldn’t I then be the opposite of “weak?”

But as I did not realize until fairly recently, the social world is far from that simple. By empowering oneself, one will often look weaker than before, because of this thing called “dependence”.

If I draw my power from my own resolve, I will indeed be perceived as strong, and that strength will be seen in a positive light; if I were such a person, I would be looked up to, and people would take pride in lending me their strength, that they might shine through me. This is the primary basis of leadership, and is what I refer to as “emission.”

On the other hand, there is power that comes not by one’s own resolve, but by stealing the power from others. People do not look up to such a person, because they are too weak to shine in their own light, and must instead “steal the moonlight” from others. One who can only acquire power by stealing it is seen as a desperate wretch that leeches upon the more social endowed; such a person is unworthy of respect and should be shunned, lest they prey upon the innocent hardworking folk, and capture the glory that they have not earned, but stolen.

Because I talk a lot and am not considerate of the thoughts of others by filtering my words, I am seen as lacking social skills, and because of my lack of social skills I demonstrate what is perceived as weakness. The “social endowment” mentioned last paragraph is what people call “social skills”, that people say that I lack it implies that I am stealing power from others because I lack the social means to create my own moonlight.

Of course, it’s not as if I care much for popularity or power or social appreciation (although I’m currently evaluating whether perhaps it would be to my advantage to care more), but nevertheless, because people fail to understand my motivations in talking so much and am so willfully stubborn in my social language, they wrongfully assume that I “can’t help it”, and am resorting to such means because I don’t have a choice, or that I don’t know better.

This misunderstanding is due to the fact that people find it difficult to even imagine someone who does not care for social interaction– a need considered universal among all mammals, and most certainly among all humans.

In truth, my primary motivator for talking so much is far simpler: Education. I have found that through social interaction, I am more mentally stimulated, and by conveying and verifying my own thoughts about what I have learned, I am retain and understand knowledge much better.

I can’t relate to this “bond” that humans seem to not only believe in, but live their lives motivated by. I don’t have any such connection with anyone, save but perhaps myself.

In this sense I am perhaps wholly independent, and I can tell you right now, independence at such costs is not worth it. For what good is it to not need to rely on another, if you are unable to truly rely on another. To not know the warmth and pleasure of trusting someone with your life, and for a person to truly mean more to you than anything else in the world?

The world becomes a very cold place when you are unable to rely on others to meet you needs- especially when it comes to social needs. Take the analogy of the “Hedgehog’s dilemma” for instance; although humans may hurt each other incessantly in their social dealings, it is also through social interaction that we can achieve social unity, warmth, bonding, and a sense of personal security and intimacy that nothing else can compare to in its intrinsic spiritual depth.

Without the warmth of other humans– without being able to open up to and trust others with the darkest of secrets and most earnest of yearnings– there is no real meaning in life.

A person who’s independence is so perfect that it prevents them from relying on others- they are indeed to be pitied. For they have no heart left in them, save but a heart of ice. Alone in the winter, and naught but a heart of stone.

I am one such person, although having recognized it I am working to change it. But at least for now, to say that I am “lacking social skills” is far from the truth; to begin with, there cannot be a “lack” where there is no “need”.

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