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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why Humans Have Difficulty Outgrowing Their Social Networks?

We are social creatures that are bred, reared and eventually die within social networks. The very core of our identity is based in our psychological neuro networks that form from our interactions with others. Much of our personality is formed through our early family identities. This "inter-connectedness" is helpful for most but can be extremely limiting for others. To truly develop we must recognize the importance of our social networks but also step above them to create your own personal identity.

I have lots of different types of friends but can sort of explain the limitations these identities can create.

The "Sophisticated": This group likes wine, fancy clothing, are European and foreign in orientation, social climb and have good jobs. They are confident and expect each other in their group to be as sophisticated as themselves. They pick and choose their friends on social status, live a big city life, travel extensively, and are socially adept. If you don't drive the right cars or meet a certain standard you won't make it "in"!

The "Hometown": Small town group of people who prefer tight circles of family and friends but are connected to their hometown. Simple clothing and simple likes in terms food and status. Many have not traveled more than a few hours drive from their house. Can be judgmental based on beliefs but are typically more curious than rejecting. Don't really understand people who have different values as themselves.

What you find is that people become limited by their social networks and often are not willing to move beyond these networks because it would require a change of identity. As a person develops, they begin to find that these social networks are driven by very basic human needs and mechanics underpinning how these networks are formed. They serve a useful function but should not be solely relied on for values.

There is surface impression and there is real identity. Most require others to tell them who they are, what to wear, what to believe and what is "successful". In the "sophisticated" group there is some judgmental perceptions and members are sort of forced to pretend to be more important than they actually are. What they say, and what is, are sometimes radically different. To this group high education, high income, and social status are only beneficial if you are willing to show it and flaunt it a little so others can find advantage in being your friend.

....probably not a good basis of friendship.

The "hometown" group is connected by values and geographic identity. If you are from the area, have family there, and have similar values to people then you are accepted. In some places education and class-ism can limit your friends but in small towns you are wrapped into a single class based on how close your relationships are with others. However, if you violate their values then you may be socially ostracized.

To grow beyond these identities requires exploring life and developing a level of meta-cognition that allows you to view yourself as a complex individual that can see yourself as part of but yet still distinct in identity. As you become more aware of human behavior and motivation you also begin to see the commonalities of how people are chained to their networks and judge their value by those networks.

The autonomous personality is akin to the Parable of the Cave. While you may know that the figures on the wall are shadows the other prisoners may never know that and will confirm each others misconceptions and delusions. The independent personality thinks for themselves, is better developed, but still understands how to live with "prisoners" in a way that doesn't cause dissonance for those who need others to define their identities.



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