Hello my fellow HEists,
First of all I’d like to my first post isn’t really a short one, hehe. Hope you can manage.
Below you will find an article that explores (or attempts to, anyway) social situations and what I personally see relationships like to me. Some may instantaneously mark me as a sociopath, some might think I’m the same as everybody else, some may find some similarities between themselves and myself. The post does not include any mature themes or any “twisted crazy stuff” you might find somewhere else. No, it’s just a person without an outstanding medical record, or any criminal record to speak of, discussing how he has experienced the social world and all the norms, values and ideas that are related to being a social person.
Well, without further ado, I’d like to ask you a simple question about my character, and what you’d cathegorize it as. Now we all hate cathegorizations and most of us believe that they’re complete hogwash. But out of my own interest I’m going to provide you with some material and maybe you can determine whether the social individual described would remind you of sociopathy, asociality, experimentalism or simply philosophical thinking about social situations, or something else entirely. I hope you do not mistake me for a person seeking help, as I don’t feel I am in such a situation, but just as a curious thinker eager to hear the thoughts and reactions of fellow thinkers.
What I’m looking to do is to provoke you, the HE readers reading this, to talk about what it means to be an emotional and social human being.
*Side note, details have been changed for identity protection, also, I use the word “they” to refer to a person whose gender I do not wish to disclose, as a hint to non-native English speakers. The events do not necessarily take place in the specified time or in the specified place, nor are they necessarily portrayed accurately.
I apologize for the poor organization of the streams of thought below.
I believe I’m somewhere in between an extrovert and introvert. While in my early childhood I never made more friends than a few who I wouldn’t classify as super “close” like the stereotypical introvert would. Afterwards I suddenly got more outgoing, in high school I made plenty of friends in my class, some of whom I considered to be in the “best friend” cathegory. After high school I remained in contact with certain friends but I also enjoyed hanging out in bigger crowds.
As people we make friends naturally, but there are always a few “restrictions” we put in place to make sure we hang around with people we really like to hang around with. I personally wanted friends that interested me, I wanted friends whose personalities I can’t explain with just a few classifications. I didn’t want to make friends who I met one day and knew the other. I didn’t want it to get boring. All in all I believe I get “bored” in my relationships a lot quicker than other people. It sounds a bit rude when put that way.. “I’m bored with being friends with you” (Trust me, while I might think that I never say that out loud with at least a few dozen euphemisms) But I don’t mean it like that. I just believe that in a world with 6 billion people and where there are no two brains that are alike, if I am to know everything I can’t be constrained by a norm that says relationships need to be cherished, and it’s not just about profit, but also about having a healthy social circle. I don’t agree with “cherishing relationships”. I don’t get any additional benefit from hanging out with the same person whose personality I have assessed to the point I feel I won’t get anything more out from it.
In elementary school I wouldn’t cathegorize myself as out of the ordinary.. or maybe I would. I liked fighting and many other kids too, so we got into many fights and a lot of trouble in and out of the school premises. It wasn’t anything serious, but we did have our own “wanna-be tough guy gang”. I didn’t have any problem with my classmates despite the occasional childish fights and arguements. We had good team spirit and unity even though we got bruises and whatnot because of each other. We used to tease the girls in our class and whatnot, but if we had a problem with someone (other than ourselves) it was the teachers. I never really got along with authority in elementary school, I didn’t want my path to be dictated. I also didn’t want the baby steps I took as a child on the path of education all the way to university to be critisised by people I didn’t feel were qualified enough to do so. I still don’t think most elementary school teachers know what they’re doing in class, but after finally getting out of elementary and into middle school, things changed. My attitude towards authority changed, and my attitude towards other people in general changed.
3 Middle School
I started to respect authority when I entered middle school, maybe even too much. I had good grades, yes, but I never really thought of myself as a teacher’s pet or an example citizen. Well, I don’t know about the latter but I really was the former in most cases. While most of my contemporaries hated the teachers in middle school (as per usual, I guess), I liked each and every one of them, apart from the less experienced ones. My favorite teacher was actually one who the rest of the school regarded as a “mean, weird old lady”. I got a lot of flack for saying she was my favorite teacher, but I guess the main thing I liked about her was that she had control. In the classes of the newer, younger, more liberal and innovative teachers, my classmates usually caused a ruckus and were talking throughout the class (something I used to do in elementary school with my friends). In her classes, nobody dared utter a word without permission. She was strict, and she gave me my worst grades in school. That’s why I had respect for her, because she didn’t let us hyperactive little school kids ruin her lecture and she didn’t play favorites, unlike other teachers who either picked me or another top-scoring kid on my class as a “favorite student” (informally, of course, there was no proof). I didn’t feel like a masochist or anything, even though other people who bothered showing up for her classes probably did, heh.
One problem that surfaced in middle school was making friends. Middle school times are notorious for that, aren’t they? I had a rivalry with a classmate, person A, who scored similar marks in tests and had many similar interests in terms of subjects and future plans. We argued all the time. While A had a group of friends around them ready to shout in their support, I usually had one friend who I told not to bother with defending me, as I didn’t really care that much about winning the arguements. I believed A to be the person in charge of the “noisemakers”, or in general the people who I respected my favorite teacher for silencing so effectively in class. While A wasn’t a noicemaker, their friends indeed were noisy hooligans who actually got into a lot of trouble with the teachers, too. Anyways, my dear rival A and I ended up arguing so much that some classes with the more lax teachers were spent entirely on that. The teachers didn’t really have a problem with it, they were happy to see young kids exhibit such critical thinking – we only argued about personal stuff half the time, so the teachers only had to call it off half the time, too. At other times we argued about the basic stuff in a middle school students life.. you know, politics, religion, equality and capital punishment. Anyways, we really disliked one another back then, even though I actually learned a lot from my dearest rival and they might have learned a couple of things from me, too. Nowadays we say hi to each other when we meet, but we leave it at that.
Anyways, middle school was the time I started to behave less “normally” in social situations. I didn’t get into fights, I wasn’t a troublemaker and I wasn’t openly aggressive per se. I had developed an interest in power, personality, philosophy and psychology. I usually did my studying in those topics on my free time.
One situation which exhibited my new attitude towards relationships was with another person in my class, B.
B was very friendly, I mean friendlier than most people I’ve known before, and it wouldn’t have been hard to befriend B even though I generally disliked most of my classmates (and vice versa). B wasn’t nearly as noisy as the others, I was a couple of times noisier than B.. During my arguements with A, B rarely took part in arguing with me or against me. B’s neutrality was comforting, though I did not form a strong friendship with them for whatever weird reason, even though I could’ve. I believe at the time I wasn’t interested in forming new friendships, I generally had one or two “weaker” friendships that were mostly from outside my school.
After a while in secondary school I noticed B getting bullied by other students. While the school staff weren’t all that bad and they dealt with the bullying quite well, ending it almost entirely, I sort of felt a curious resentment to B, who was a bullying victim. Maybe it was the fact I saw them at their weakest? I had a lot of respect for B because of their aforementioned neutrality and kindness, but it seemed to disappear as I saw them put in an embarassing situation. I don’t resent weakness, not that I know of, but the fact I started disliking B for whatever reason seemed to draw parallels between liking/respecting someone and the authority or power they exhibited in their behavior. (I usually interchange the words to like and to respect, to me they’re the same thing.)
After some time, I decided to direct contemptuous glances at B. I felt a bit mean for doing so, as they were never mean to me nor did they do anything I would consider morally wrong. I still started to act coldly towards them. Maybe it was some sort of “punishment” for B allowing themselves to be bullied? It’s curious I wasn’t more sympathetic as I had been bullied a few times as well.
Being the nice person B was, they usually responded with “What? Did I do something to offend you?”, among other things. While I never did anything physically or verbally offensive towards B the situation escalated into an actual problem in class over a few weeks. B was confused and, to my surprise, went to the school counsellor. I was brought in, and as I’ve had problems with school authority in elementary, I claimed that there was no valid reason why I should be punished in any way. I thought “I’d finally done it. I ended up like that guy in The Unsaid – movie, and on my last year of high school, too”. Well, I wasn’t punished or anything, but B implored me to be nice to them again, or at least neutral. The school counsellor said it’s not right to be mean to a person, especially without telling them why. I don’t know if I took that advice or not. I didn’t look at B in a mean way anymore, though we still weren’t friends though I believe we could have been. I actually met B on the bus once not long ago and we had a nice talk.
As I mentioned, I did get bullied a bit in middle school. Developmental psychologists say that factors such as getting bullied are key factors in child development. Well, I did get bullied a lot here and there, but it never lasted for over a few months. In most cases, the way I escaped bullying was through acting my way out of it.
In P.E. class, for example, where social assimilation is a must if you wanted to attend class and leave without bruises, I faced a difficult situation. I deviated from the norms, saying the “wrong things” when I was asked something or behaving in the wrong way. And in middle school P.E. class, deviators from the norms are heretics. And heretics must be punished under the rule of law in the following manner: Physical and verbal abuse. I didn’t have any experience of the norms and guidelines for behavior in middle school P.E. class personally.
At that time for me it wasn’t even that bad, it was mostly verbal. I ended up somehow trading my position of a “bully victim” for the position of a “lower class supporter” in the group. I did that by simultaneously increasing my knowledge of subjects such as girls, cars and popular video games and redirecting some of the bullying to another person in the P.E. class, who, unfortunately for them, didn’t know the guidelines for acceptable behavior in a P.E. class group either.
Oh, remember when I wrote that the teachers in that school weren’t that bad when it came to fighting bullying? Well.. if they were then they were inconsistent in doing so. Apparently a student needs to betray their group and let go of all that they have worked so hard for to escape the torment of being a potential bully victim – and go tell a teacher about bullying – in order to stop it happening in schools. Huh.
And, unfortunately for that certain person , the bullying, in this case physical and verbal, was now completely targeted at them. Their turn, huh? Well, I can’t say I felt bad for them getting bullied, it wasn’t me after all, but I didn’t feel any satisfaction from it either like “some psychopath”. I felt that if I was able to get out of that situation, shouldn’t everyone? I’m guessing that was one of the early signs of me not being as empathetic as other people. I didn’t really understand why I was able to do something when another was not? I guess it did make me feel a bit superior to other people, which allowed me to part-take in the bullying at certain times. After the bullying escalated to the point where the person had to be taken to the hospital and he had to be moved to another school. I was present as the physical violence which resulted in the aforementioned events took place, but did not take part in the act itself. Thus I didn’t feel responsible, although some might have been bugged by their conscience for not intervening. It could have been me in the hospital, but it was the survival of the fittest. I was more fit, I assimilated myself into the group faster. Later in high school I met the bully victim from P.E. class again who actually made some descent friends there. I wasn’t necessarily overwhelmingly happy for them, they did fail in their test of letting go of their individuality in middle school, thus making them the victims of severe bullying. But I guess I could be happy for them a little bit.
Ever since that event, I really understood the importance of group conformity and how assimilation and masking your true ideas and feelings is paramount to success. Well, I know that isn’t the case, but at the time I didn’t feel like I could nor should challenge that way of thinking.
4 High school
During my journey through the education system I started experimenting a lot with social situations. I don’t believe I was that into psychology as a subject in school, but I felt as if I was a researcher who wanted to gain new knowledge of different kinds of people by experimenting on them with different sociological stimuli.
While I did learn the importance of social assimilation and conformity, I eventually betrayed the promise I made to myself to have a stable social circle in high school. I did believe that conformity is a good answer if I wanted to have a “normal” and “healthy” social circle, but I also had a passion for research. A passion to meet and understand different people, see their responses to things I did or said to them, and other things. In order to research the extent to which I could form friendships and understand different personalities I couldn’t stagger in one group of people. I had to increase my sample size. It took a lot of toying around and setting myself up in profitable situations, but in the end I was able to “access” and form relationships with different groups in the delicate social network that existed in high school. I even met the bully victim from P.E. class who actually made some descent friends in high school. I wasn’t necessarily overwhelmingly happy for them, they did fail let go of their individuality in middle school, thus making them the victims of severe bullying. But I guess I could be happy for them a little bit.
I had a friend, C, in my social circle in high school, and we also went to the same middle school together. As first years we were really good friends and shared laughs here and there, but after a while I wanted to know what it was like if we were never that good of friends to begin with. The way I made our relationship more distant was by not listening to the conversations C wanted to start with me and also directed some annoyed glances at them when they did something out of the norm (for example if C gave the wrong answer in class). I was intrigued with intentionally making the relationship distant as I could see that C was asking themselves why have I stopped liking them so suddenly.
I still enjoyed C’s company here and there and maintained a certain kind of friendship with them so I could get my “fix” off of their own unique personality every now and then. I’m not saying I think I’m “eating” someone else’s personality, but I really get bored of people I’ve been around with for a longer time. If I force myself to interact with them after I’m burnt out, I’ll probably end up in an explosive arguement with them.
That’s why I need to have a safety net of different, diverse people who are able to offer me social interaction that is refreshing. I actually believe that I’m a descent judge of character, but my vice is that I hate being able to understand someone. The friends that earn my respect are ones who keep surprising me with their actions and personality, show powerful and independent behavior or authority, among other things. C is a great friend to have, still, as they look at life in an interesting way. Like me, C doesn’t see life as a couple of strings where you have to pick one and follow it till the end. They see life as a sea of water, where no drop is the same. You can drink water from whatever spot in the sea you want, as long as you have a sturdy boat. Not an endless, but a very expansive shoal of discovery, opportunity, intrigue and learning. Time isn’t linear.
Another example of my social experiments is hanging out with a person who was a good example of your traditional “dude”. They liked to watch and do sports, they wanted to eat pizza with 3 different kinds of meat in it, they had a deep voice and all in all exhibited masculine behavior. I eventually got bored of getting fast food after school every week and talking about topics with such as football or games that never really interested me. I did research those topics in my free time enough so I could talk about them casually, but it was only to be able to maintain my friendship with the “dude” It was relatively easy for me to get rid of my status as their friend, though. I simply started trending other things and I feel they actually called off the “friendship status” as it were instead of me, which I was impressed of.
I then recognized a couple of people who were from an opposite end of the masculinity spectrum, a person, D, who was into art, singing, acting and club activities. While I had no intention of being a singer, painter, chess master, or anything else among those lines, I joined same clubs as D so that I could build a friendship with them. It was one of my most interesting friendships to date as I’d classify D as quite smart. D was often open to voice their dislike of certain things and certain people, even me sometimes (partially as a joke). It turned out to be great fun having conversations with D.
D actually said I was dumb on numerous occasions (partially as a joke, again) during our conversations, which didn’t insult me at all. It was fun actually thinking of someone that they might be on the same level as me. I discovered that I respected people who either exhibited intelligence, partially by being able to talk down on people so they would stand out as more intelligent, or if they were able to prove their intelligence in some way I deemed relevant.
Though I’ve always thought of myself as an intelligent person and my grades most of the times were able to convey that to other “stakeholders of my life” at the time, such as my parents or teachers. I discovered that I liked people who either exhibited intelligence or were able to prove their intelligence in some way I deemed relevant.
On the same topic, with wisdom or the idea (justified or not) that one has wisdom, comes arrogance. I’ve been balancing arrogance and humility in my mind and personality for the majority of my academic career. Back in high school, my philosophy teacher recommended the movie “Good will hunting” to me, saying it’s a movie I in particular should really watch, it might teach me a lesson or two, they said.
Only after watching the movie for the first time a few years after leaving high school did I understand why my teacher recommended that film, heh.
5 Empathy, Apathy, Lying.
It can be argued that I don’t have as much empathy as other people might, for example it is impossible for me to console someone over a misfortune because I cannot understand their reasoning for being sad. My consolation attempts are usually awkward “pats on the back” because I’m not sure if the correct thing to do is to hug the person who is sad, say the over-used expression “come on” to them, or leave them alone because it’s unlikely I can stop them from exhibiting said behavior with just a few words. But as they say, it’s the “thought that counts” and if it’s a person whom I know, I don’t want them to hate me for not “being there for them”, whatever that really means. I personally very rarely get sad apart from watching a film or an episode of a tv series that really appeals to my emotions. (Yes, I have those) Anyway, I do not believe I would really exhibit the traditional behavior people do when they are sad (crying, remorse) – from situations such as making typos in my master’s thesis to a loved one passing away.
It doesn’t mean I don’t care for those things or consider them important. It’s a bit hard to give a reason why I am not usually so “emotionally attached”, maybe I feel it’s a behavioral response which has no profit for me or anyone else, spending your time laying down on the floor and it might be because I look up to characters in television such as Amelie from “Amelie (2001), Temperance Brennan from “Bones” and May from “May (2002)”. I don’t know why they’re all female, to be honest. I guess one of the things I look up to are strong female characters who, due to their stereotypical portrayal of physically inferior to men in TV films (which I don’t agree with, mind you!) have to resort to different methods to achieve their goals, methods which social behavior rather than physical might.
Talking about television, “acting” is probably a key term when talking about people who deal with social situations “differently” (ie aren’t as emotionally attached relationships and social interaction compared to others).
I actually have acting experience, and I also eat through a lot of movies and tv series from different sources (not just western flicks, but chinese, korean and indian ones too!). I like copying a person’s demeanor, facial expressions and language that they use from those TV series or films, and I often “fool around” in front of the mirror taking on different characters. I’m not the best actor ever, though, I don’t get praised for my performance any more than the next guy on the street, but I have passion for the job and I believe I’m a better actor in real life situations than ones on the big stage.
Copying someone’s language, the way they carry themselves, the things they like, the things they dislike, are pivotal for making them be comfortable around you and respect you enough to be friends with you.
6 What are friends for?
My stance is not that of a person who claims that “relationships are useless” and that other people don’t matter. My arguement is that is there a purpose for emotionally attached relationships at all? I’m not just talking about love, but is emotional attachment a requirement for relationships in general? I believe people are able to live completely normal and happy lives, obtain wisdom and happiness, without having to become overattached to things or people emotionally. I do not know people who don’t have emotions. We all do. But is it needed for us all to show these emotions in order to reaffirm others that our intentions are pure? That’s the question. Did George Orwell’s 1984 shock people so much that now everyone is required to show what they think, feel as they do, and do as they feel? Is emotionally oriented thinking, or expressing one’s emotions in general, a must in order to avoid the Room 101?
P.S. I’m prepared to remove the thread at the smallest sign of thoughtcrime, facecrime, ultrapsychopathy or just plain hatecrime directed at other readers, the website, people with psychological disorders or anything that shouldn’t be target of such behavior in the first place. (Including me, if I may!)
You’re a girl? That’s weird.
Here are some things I like about you – You don’t exaggerate. You respect people’s privacy even if you don’t keep them as close. You understand the importance of keeping distance. You’re honest either way with your interests without sucking up to people. You respect a person you can learn things from.
Those are all traits of deeply respecting yourself, which ironically of your idea of posting this is what works best in relationships. Having those traits and understanding the importance of them also makes you relate easier to people and be a good judge of their character, which actually means that you have a strong sense of empathy, but you just choose when it’s worth using and when it isn’t.
One thing I don’t like about you is that you’re boring.
The truth is you can be attached or non-attached, wise or foolish and still have friends, and still live a happy life. It’s about what you choose really.
I’ve never been in a group of people for too long, but not because I didn’t like people that much, I just didn’t like what they’re doing and saying to each other, so I was in absolutely every group I ever encountered and hated everyone acting hypocritically, so I can’t relate much with your passion of reactions. I already know how people react because of what makes them laugh and angry, because emotions show that, by expressing them we are actually picking up on everything we’ve experienced, our movie idols too.
Something interesting. When you witness a person who does things effortlessly, you also witness how they’re not consumed by what they’re doing. You pick on that up too – through empathizing.
I have a lot more to say but I’m lazy and hungry. Good evening.
I’m actually male. And I can see why you think me boring. That’s what I think of most other people I’ve known for over a week or so. I have no problem maintaining a social circle, but for me and some other people it feels like you have to “push yourself” more than normal in order to maintain those relationships. It’s mostly because you do stand to gain something from those relationships, and it still overweighs the cost of having to act as if you’re a keen member of the relationship while you honestly would just like to have the benefits without having to do the mundane task of listening to someone or paying attention to someone.
Anyway my point of view is that having friends or family around you that “care about you” isn’t really enough to make me happy. My understanding of happiness is not being bored, having something interesting to do, research and work towards, etc. And my way of doing something interesting is testing other people’s emotions and ideals. Maybe because it makes me feel superior, though to be honest in the current world you don’t need to do much to be in a superior situation to others.. or maybe it’s because it’s just a good way to find that “special someone” who you can actually bond with.
I think people that identify mostly with their social circle have an easier time keeping it up because it really validates them
Sorry, I thought you’re a girl because of the female characters you can relate with.
Well, even if having people that care about you isn’t enough to make you happy, you’d still need creativity in your life with or without a lot of dynamic friendships.There’s also nothing wrong with being unemotional. Being unemotional already guarantees you no friends whatsoever, so that’s a good strategy.
“without having to do the mundane task of listening to someone or paying attention to someone” Yeah, pretending you’re listening to someone makes you only a lying friend. I don’t think anyone enjoys friends like that anyway. I mean, your friends will do better without you, obviously, so why bother? It’s more important to be true with yourself, otherwise you’ll go against your own capabilities.
“What I’m looking to do is to provoke you, the HE readers reading this, to talk about what it means to be an emotional and social human being.”
Every person could write an article this long about their social experiences. It means something different to everyone. I think emotional attachment happens from the bonding of two people building a perspective together. The more willing you are to adapt to a person the easier it is to do that. My most attached friendships endure through not seeing each other much… we have separate lives. The attachment is there because of the emotional bonding we share. If you were consciously trying to “get” these people as friends for your experiments with no honest emotion, that might prevent that from happening. My worldview in late elementary through high school was that I was resistant to social games because my parents taught me that it was mean and didn’t put me in many situations to conform to the status quo so I created relationships that were very exclusive and based on emotional transparency but also the feelings of superiority. But my friends I keep to this day are people who grew up with this self-concept of being separated from the social context in some way through eccentricity and also money.
I think everyone sees themselves as separated from the social context but there are people who feel superior for participating in it and people who feel superior for not participating.
I definitely agree. I for one don’t feel any need to be a part in the social context but neither do I have any specific reason not to. The thing that interests me is whether or not other people believe in relationships being mostly based on profit in any way. Do people need relationships to do anything else but satisfy their needs and desires? These would include sex, favors, support in social different social situations and then just simply fighting boredom. Are some people genuinely interested in having friends and family to have “people to talk to, people you can trust, people that matter to you?” Many psychologists believe that everyone starts out thinking that friends and family are important because they are valuable and they profit you if you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to have a symbiosis with them. But after reaching adulthood developmental psychologists argue that people start to be more “altruistic” and have more “empathy”, and that these two traits allow people to have relationships the purpose of which is not for profit, but for something “else”.
I don’t think it’s an age thing..people of all ages make connections just to up their status. It’s necessary to negotiate with social power if you want to make money for instance. The real emotional connections go beyond what material value can be brought. However material abundance is a validly caring offering. The adults I grew up around were genuinely altruistic but all within the social context. Idk what I’m talking about really. It’s just the underlying sense that even though people appear loving you have to bring some type of currency to the situation if you want to be really valued. And that language is so influenced by illusory and shallow sources of value. Still sincerity can be felt deeply. Not sure if I drew a clear line to these thoughts from what you said.
Community is important. But whatever you get from it you will repay it either with submission to its agenda or being an effective leader.
If you understand from your past how to get people to do what you want you can use it for altruism. I always felt the pressure to be sweet so I didn’t really examine how to manipulate people other than being respectful. It’s all confusing
I like you. I’m a bit similar to you because I also get bored of people sometimes. I can actually relate to you in some ways ,however I have not tried to do any social experiments. It’s refreshing to see a person’s perspective that actually interest me.
That made fascinating reading. It’s quite fun to know about other people’s thinking and their rationale behind certain actions and how they live their life.
Somewhere along the line, I lost track of the point of this lovely little anecdote so thank you for summing it up at the end. Yes, I believe there is a purpose for an emotional attached relationships. Of course you, as a highly logic centred person with endless ratiocination may not understand it. You can live completely normal and happy lives without emotionally investing yourself into any relationship but where’s the fun in that? You made friends because you got a fix out of their unique personalities, common sheep like me make friends to provide a distraction to life’s melancholia. We have fun hanging around people we like. It isn’t needed, it’s not necessary but it is the norm. Why does the norm exist? Because a substantial chunk of people are that way.
I feel as if I haven’t adequately answered your questions nor provided substantial evidence to back any claims I’ve made but hey … emotions, they don’t do logic.