Friday, March 25, 2005

It’s a Matter of Perception

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. CS Lewis

Society has set aside caring about people and embraced caring only for people’s perceptions. Another words, we care more about someone’s perception of us then we care about them. There is a tendency to help people so they will think of us or see us in a certain light rather then genuinely helping them for their sake.

How did that happen… are we really that selfish?

You will notice this tendency in politics and Big Business. Politicians preach an ideal to get elected, they campaign to gain a good perception yet many promises never actually turn into action. Politicians will jump on certain issues knowing that it will promote their agenda, yet leave similar issues untouched because they are not “profitable”. Big Business advertises and hires image consultants to manage consumer’s perceptions. Imagine if all that money was actually put into making genuine happy customers. I know it is a utopian idea, but why not aim high… if you do you will get closer to a Better mark.

Now that I have pointed the finger at big business and politicians, I can’t help but realize that we have all bought into this to one degree or another. Why do I sometimes care more about what people think of me then about the flesh and bone, the very life standing in front of me? Why do I strive to control others perceptions of me, why are my efforts wasted on perceptions rather then relationship? Why not show people who you are and make a genuine effort for meaningful friendship and let the chips fall as they may…

Are we all really that insecure? Are we that afraid of getting hurt again; are we afraid of rejection or loosing control? If you’re afraid of rejection and pain, maybe a better question would be, is there really an alternative? One road is guaranteed to be lonely the other has hope, hope of something meaningful, something full of life and delight.

Education many times teaches us to control a situation to ‘handle it’, don’t ever become so smart you mistake controlling people for knowing people. They are as different as living and dieing.


ruth said...

No one does anything that is not in their rational self-interest. You get paybacks for helping people out - it makes you feel good for example. Too many people have an unhappy concern for the opinions of others "what will they think of me?" Just my 2c.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Great essay, ese!

I like that quote, too. How true!

Rachel said...

If I have to say I really enjoy your blog and the way you share your thoughts.

I struggle with the whole "what will they think of me?" complex, even in my blog. So many times what I am trying to say gets taken out of what I meant to say. I really feel misunderstood most of the time, to my own fault. I am not the type to keep up with the Jones, as the Jones where I live have so much more money than I have; it would ruin my life to try to keep up. We are the only one on the block, I think, without cable and that is okay. But I struggle with my need to express myself and giving others a bad impression of myself. Odd you post "It’s a Matter of Perception"; I typed this up the other day:

Rachel said...

I don't why I put 'if' at the beginning of my comment. Please ignore it. Sorry.

Edgar said...

Good point.

Actually i think yes, we are insanely insecure. Every single time you know something for sure or you got a clear aim or you trust someone beyond any doubt, is a not-so-little victory.

moofruot said...

The only time I really care about what someone thinks of me is when it's one of my best friends, or family members. Otherwise I really don't care how others perceive me.

At the same time, the "public" me is a much different person than the real me. I think we definitely do this 'cos we're scared of being judged (or at least I do). Besides, we can't viably get to know everybody... I agree that we shouldn't be trying to manipulate others either by devising some false perception of yourself when you can't live up to the expectation - ie promises made by politicians that they have no intention of carrying out.

It's natural, though, to wear a mask in front of most people, and only shed it when surrounded by people you know. It takes mutual trust to reach that point where you can be yourself, and I guess if you've been burned too many times, you never fully take it off.

Reggie said...

Hey Cure, sorry for waiting so long to respond to your question on my blog, been really busy trying to keep up with Terri news. I have posted my response if you care to see it.

Thanks for your interest.

Rushan said...

Great post. I've been wrestling with this issue recently as well. On the one hand it is true that we reap what we sow....if we care for and help those we encounter in our daily lives, then we will receive something back in return - either on an immediate, personal level or on a more global, long-term level. On the other hand, it is so frustrating when it seems like the only reason people participate in making a positive difference in our world is because they will get something out of it immediately (e.g. free advertising, tax rebate, community approval). Having said that, however, I also wonder whether it really matters in the larger scheme of things what the motivation is, as long as the task gets done.

Aimee said...

I think that people care so much about what others think because they want validation. We love and care for ourselves first. However, since we're terribily insecure, we want people to tell us that we are how we view ourselves. This is true on both the positive and negitive side. Those who think well of themselves find people that will validate that reality for them. If you view yourself in a negitive light, then you'll find ourself around people that validate that frame of mind. Now, i'm not saying you'll only be around positive or negitive, but there will be a handful that will make that reality reinforced.

Something else... people confuse acceptance with love. We think that because someone accepts us (or seems to), then we are loved; however, we usually assume it's unconditional love to boot.

devastated said...

interestingly, and for some unknown obscure reason, this reminded me of something i heard recently. (probably because you were talking about education and society and perception.)

in france, they have a new law that prohibits any evidence of religion in public schools. the idea is that the children will avoid preferential treatment or descrimination if they refrain from wearing a cross or other symbol of their religion. complete separation of state and church, to the point that they are like oil and water. we have the extreme situation.

i'd be curious to know what you think of that, tc.

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dotbar said...

Oh well, people have always been that way. It is in our nature to be selfish after all. Being naturally selfish motives all kinds of behaviour with a "good" veneer but it is very difficult to discern one's true motives. Personally, I like to apply the formula of 97% of people do the right things for the wrong reasons. Hey, it works for me!:)

dotbar said...

...I mean the times when people are actually doing good because lots of times people do bad things for bad reasons.

Donna Grayson said...

Wow - this post really spoke to me. Being that I work in the entertainment business, and trying to be a spiritual person as well, this is something that I have been trying to work on. I think a big part of it is being secure with who you are. Once you get past that, then it is easier to reach out to other people.
Wonderful post. I have bookmarked your blog.

N said...

Hey Cure,

It's been a while since i've commented on ur blog, and so I thought I should :o)

Well if you care about someone's perceptions towards you, wouldn't that mean that you kinda care about them too? Except if it's ur that case it's just to get good grades :oP

And yes we are selfish. It's is the horrid truth...although I don't think it's all too horrible to be selfish...i'll have to write an article about that: S is for Selfish! Watch that space! :o)

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victor said...

I like that quote, thanks

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