Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I learned a new social psychology/personality theory today, and I thought it was pretty interesting, so I'm going to try to explain it in place of a picture. Here goes...

For many people, different social situations cause us to portray our personalities in different ways. The way you interact with people you are meeting for the first time is probably very different than the way you interact with your closest friend. And even that's likely not the same way you are around your family or spouse.

Example: Imagine yourself at an important business meeting--a lunch meeting--where you must convince a potential investor that your company is going to be the next big thing. You have on your nicest suit and tie/dress pants and blouse. Your shoes are shined, your hair is neat, and you brushed your teeth twice before leaving the house, just in case. Now is the time to use all those table manners that Mom taught you growing up. Sit up straight; don't slouch. Don't talk with your mouth full. Use your napkin not your sleeve. Say please and thank you.

New picture. It's time for dinner with your family. It's Mom's famous spaghetti and meatballs! Your favorite! (And Mom's favorite, too, cause no one cares that she forgot to plan dinner for today, so she opened a can of Ragu last minute and called it good. And it is.) Once the family is finally gathered and the meal is blessed with a quick prayer from your impatient little brother, everyone digs in. You fill your plate with a serving of spaghetti, but no one judges becasue your serving is probably two or three according to the package nutritional facts. Your sister puckers her lips as she slurps spaghetti into her mouth, and sauce splashes onto her cheeks and chin. Your brother talks with his mouth full about the neat video game he's about to beat--it's on pause in the living room. And, your thumbs are tapping away at your cell phone (hidden under the table where Mom probably can't see it because cell phones at the table are against the rules) discussing all the latest gossip with your best friend.

See the difference? Erving Goffman was a social psychologist who basically said every individual is an actor performing for an audience. Times like that first scenario--the business meeting--are when we are front stage acting. That's when we're putting our best foot forward and making an effort to give the best impression possible. The opposite of that is backstage, where we're working to develop ourselves, but I sort of see it as the place where it's safe to be ourselves.

Life is beautiful, especially when you are looking for the beautiful things that happen every day.

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