Monday, May 6, 2013

At least three selves

Socrates famously advised to "know thy self."  Turns out that is much easier said than done.  Daniel Kahneman contributed the useful distinction between fast thinking and slow thinking.  Fast gives emotional reactions and very quick flight, fight or freeze reactions.  Slow thinking involves the full-bore rational, critical, mature mind with its hypotheses, search for evidence, etc.

But I am finding it useful to add a third concept to my unconscious and conscious selves, that of my social self.  You may be tired of hearing about "social media", which is Facebook and Twitter but also many others, such as Google Plus and Google Hangout, not to mention LinkedIn and MyLife and others.

What I am thinking about is somewhat related to these internet services and activities but I am also thinking about our individual impressions of who we are and what we are like.  Who I am socially is affected by my height, weight, skin, hair, voice, dress style, body language and other perceptible aspects of me.  If I am unusually attractive, or large or small, people will treat me differently.  Further, my physical and psychological habits and presentation has been affecting me since I was born.  People make quick assessments of what I am like and use that profile in getting along with me.  Right or wrong, I pick up some of my idea of who and what I am from the way I am treated by others.

I am impressed by some evidence and some opinion that I make guesses about myself.  In one experiment, being aroused by walking on a swinging bridge over a chasm seemed to cause some young men to assume they were attracted to a woman who spoke to them but the same woman acting the same way with young men on firm ground didn't get the same reactions.  The theory is that the aroused men inferred the woman to be the cause of their stirred-up state.


Junior and senior high school years are famous for the complicated social networks of both positive and negative feelings floating around among the students.  If you were the class clown or the class brain, you may still carry a notion of yourself being that sort of person from the result of impressions, intuitions and treatment you received from others.  Of course, interactions you experienced on sports teams, in Sunday school, at the Lions or the Daughters of the American Revolution may also have influenced your opinion and impressions of what you are like.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby