Friday, July 9, 2010

Validation

One the most consistent arguments my wife and I have is about validation.

I readily admit that I'm a fairly self-absorbed and confident man. I'm not oblivious to other people, nor am I always sure of myself, but for the most part, those traits are a big part of my personality. I've been called arrogant and obnoxious on occasion, and honestly, those comments have been accurate.

My wife is not like that.

Most folks see my wife as the quiet, sensitive one in our relationship, and to a degree, they are right. More importantly, while my wife has confidence in some areas, she still often seeks my validation for her decision making and choices, something I rarely do. Sure, I discuss big issues with my wife before I make decisions, but I don't constantly seek her thoughts or feelings on how I'm living my life. For my wife, consensus is important, to me, not so much.

I was reminded of our different thoughts on consensus when I read this article on the NY Times website. The article speaks about fashion websites where folks can go for a real-time critique of their outfits before they cross their doorstep, but it also speaks to something else in my opinion. It points to some human beings overwhelming need for validation.

Look, no one is immune to peer pressure. We all succumb on a regular basis to behaving in a particular manner to maintain our status in certain communities. Anybody who says anything different is a freaking liar. But, some of us go further than others, and some of us crave validation like its emotional crack.

We need people to tell us we're doing well, looking well and living well. We don't trust our own impulses and instincts, even as we all pretend to be "experts" on everything. If you listen closely you can hear a loud bleating from all across the world and it sounds like "What do you think about this?"

Who cares what everybody else thinks? Who cares if people think your dress is fly, your Facebook fresh or your tweets awesome? Why do you need "followers" and "friends" validating your very existence? Trust me, I'm guilty of this too, but it's only lately that I've realized how much it has crept into everybody's lives and it's starting to worry me. This desperate search for validation cannot end well.

Not at all.



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19 comments:

Dirty Red said...

Good post man. I agree. But I am guilty of this also. I guess we all are. This is a very superficial world we live in.

CNu said...

Look, no one is immune to peer pressure. We all succumb on a regular basis to behaving in a particular manner to maintain our status in certain communities. Anybody who says anything different is a freaking liar. But, some of us go further than others, and some of us crave validation like its emotional crack.

I don't...., matter-fact, I take my stark oppositionality to the status quo ante as a primary form of validation.

Big Man said...

Ah, Cnu.

I thought about you while I wrote this. Even your oppositionality to the status quo creates a particular "status" for you.

From my observations, you take great pride in your intelligence, and see yourself as a being of foresight and strength.

Many of your online interactions, at least the ones I've been privy to, reinforce this persona and force others to acknowledge these characteristics. In doing so, you create a "status", an image of you that others acknowledge and accept. You react quite harshly to anything you feel that challenges this status, even as you make every effort to let folks know you don't care what they think about most things because most of them are peasants.

Peer pressure is a weird thing. Other people may not be able to openly coerce you into doing things, but that doesn't mean they don't have any impact on how you think or behave.

CNu said...

Many of your online interactions, at least the ones I've been privy to, reinforce this persona and force others to acknowledge these characteristics. In doing so, you create a "status", an image of you that others acknowledge and accept. You react quite harshly to anything you feel that challenges this status, even as you make every effort to let folks know you don't care what they think about most things because most of them are peasants.

Interesting.

Occam's razor would have you fit my harsh reactions into a "harsh reactions" box rather than "status challenge" box methinkst.

and,

The only commenter I've ever termed a peasant is your good friend Thordaddy.

Big Man said...

Cnu

Damn, he my friend now? lol.

Cats always quoting Occam's Razor, and I respect its wisdom.

But, sometimes "obvious" and "likely" are all about perspective.

I think my observations are valid, but I understand if you disagree. Personally, I think all of us have a self-image that we try to project in our interactions with others. We all assign ourselves "status" in different situations based on that self image, and we get pissed when folks try to dimish our status.

But, that's my theory. There are other theories out there.

CNu said...

I think my observations are valid, but I understand if you disagree.

lol..., yes, you've demonstrated your relative imperviousness to evidence - just the same I'll tug your sleeve

the psychology of social status

status seeking atavism lets his daughter die

the guardian institutions of hierarchy

why inequality is fatal

motive is 20/20

status trumps propositional faith

overcoming the status drive

the peacock/peahen spectacle

But, that's my theory. There are other theories out there.

sure there are, but I traffic in facts and let the overwhelming mass of these speak for themselves.....,

Big Man said...

Cnu you wound me.

I traffic in facts, when they exist. When they don't, I don't.

Now, I didn't click on every link you were gracious enough to provide, but I just the first one was interesting, both the linked material and the discussion on your blog. Like this snippet from you:


"We want to - and have devised a vehicle for - socializing and incentivizing "what you know" and "what you do"

specific measurable achievable results in time = SMART'


If I understood you, that comment was talking about how you, and those you respect, determine status compared to the folks who use useless measures like clothes, cars and Ipads.

So before I go on, let me make sure I clear something up.

Are you disagreeing with the idea that some people crave validation like emotional crack, or are you saying YOU don't crave validation like emotional crack?

And, are you saying that you don't seek validation at all, or that you don't care about your status and take actions to protect that status?

Cause honestly, the links you provided seem to support my idea that folks are constantly seeking validation of their status, and looking for ways to improve their status. Are you saying you're completely immune to this drive, or that you've dampened your drive.

I can get with the latter, can't agree with the former.

Big Man said...

Now I've checked out all the links, and I'm pretty certain you agree with the main thrust of my blog.

So, what's the disagreement about?

And, why do you see this as a "fact" as opposed to a theory? I'm curious about how you determine facts.

CNu said...

If I understood you, that comment was talking about how you, and those you respect, determine status compared to the folks who use useless measures like clothes, cars and Ipads.

If you conceive of the practice of science, the practice of engineering, or the practice of an objective martial art as being measured in terms of "status" - rather than "what you know" and "what you can" do, then our difference is terminological.

Are you disagreeing with the idea that some people crave validation like emotional crack, or are you saying YOU don't crave validation like emotional crack?

Not only do I not crave it, I reject it as a fundamental moral error. The overwhelming majority of people DO however crave it, and it is a core betrayal of our God-given being-duty. It is the foundation of false personality and lying.

I crave mastery of whatever I put my hand to - whether that mastery is acknowledged by any other is of no consequence whatsoever.

Are you saying you're completely immune to this drive, or that you've dampened your drive.

I'm saying that I recognize the moral hazard of status-seeking better than anyone short of a genuinely holy person, which quality I durst not claim for myself. My present level of development is focused on pure competence (mastery) rather than the total expurgation of ego. I have learned how to teach others (particularly youngsters) how to substitute the psychological gratification of competence for the false gratification of status.

So, what's the disagreement about?

How could I not disagree with your assertion that I am "status" seeking?

And, why do you see this as a "fact" as opposed to a theory? I'm curious about how you determine facts.

Facts are determined on the basis of universality, consistency, and objective performance - in short - scientifically.

Big Man said...

All right, I get you now.

Don't you think "mastery" provides status?

Is there not a particular status given to scientists, engineers and martial artists who achieve mastery?

Now, I'm not saying that the potential status that accompanies mastery was the sole motivation for everybody, but I do think that it's part of the process. Humans crave peer recognition and we value the opinions of those we consider our equals or our superiors. Their approval provides us with a certain status, often within a small group, that is important even to those folks who scoff at the usual status seeking among the general populace.

I first started noticing this my freshmen year in college. I was always conscious of hierarchies and pecking orders, and like most teens I made decisions based on how I wanted to position myself socially in high school. At my school, like at most schools, there were clearly folks who were "popular" and I paid more attention than most to how popularity was determined and the different levels of popularity.

It was surprising to me in college to see that while there were still "popular" people, popularity was a much more fluid thing in college, mainly because you had so many different groups and hierarchies crammed into one space. Therefore, someone could reach the height of popularity in one group, but be virtually unknown in another group. And each group had different reasons for assigning status, or popularity.

Band folks might use someone's skill at playing an instrument, athletes might use athletic ability, engineers might use math and sciene and so on. This new state of affairs started me thinking about status, and how it's conferred and how humans battle for it in different ways depending on the groups they are a part of.

So, while mastery is your primary concern, do you deny that mastery provides status among the groups that recognize your mastery? Does that status matter to you at all, does the recognition of your peers and their opinions of your skill level have any impact on your decision making?

In your first comment you mentioned the "status quo," which I read as the "masses." I have no doubt that you oppose the status quo, but that doesn't mean you have removed the concerns about status from your mind. It's just a different type of status with a different group of people.

CNu said...

Don't you think "mastery" provides status?

At the risk of your concluding that I'm being difficult simply for difficulty's sake - I'm going to answer no here.

Mastery is an end and an aim unto itself.

Promotion of mastery, OTOH, is a means by which one seeks status by commercializing either ones efforts, ones practices, or ones results.

Is there not a particular status given to scientists, engineers and martial artists who achieve mastery?

If they commercialize and promote their efforts, methods, and results. Then there are cats who simply make the effort and seek the results.

So let me ask you a kwestin Big Man. Do you think any saint undertook the ascetic path in pursuit of "status"?

Do you suppose any alchemist set out and accomplished the Philospher's Stone in pursuit of "status"?

Does your belief system permit you to indulge the possibility that one might endeavor to change one's very being and thereby alter one's relationship with reality itself? That the pursuit of status in such an endeavor would quite literally distort or destroy one's careful and systematic Work on one's self?

Now, I'm not saying that the potential status that accompanies mastery was the sole motivation for everybody, but I do think that it's part of the process. Humans crave peer recognition and we value the opinions of those we consider our equals or our superiors. Their approval provides us with a certain status, often within a small group, that is important even to those folks who scoff at the usual status seeking among the general populace.

What we can know for certain about such an one, is that they have never experienced non-human intelligence and their separation from "God" if you will, is total.

CNu said...
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CNu said...
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CNu said...

(continued)

I first started noticing this my freshmen year in college. I was always conscious of hierarchies and pecking orders, and like most teens I made decisions based on how I wanted to position myself socially in high school. At my school, like at most schools, there were clearly folks who were "popular" and I paid more attention than most to how popularity was determined and the different levels of popularity.

As the father of an adolescent daughter, I see it daily, and try to subtley nudge her away from it by encouraging self-expression rather than emulation every.single.day.

It was surprising to me in college to see that while there were still "popular" people, popularity was a much more fluid thing in college, mainly because you had so many different groups and hierarchies crammed into one space. Therefore, someone could reach the height of popularity in one group, but be virtually unknown in another group. And each group had different reasons for assigning status, or popularity.

The ground of being had changed. Some of my peers and I lament not understanding how colleges/universities worked when we were thrust into them fresh off turnip wagons approaching 30 years ago. Imagine how different things would have been if you knew that only mastery of subject matter, service to, and relationship with masterful faculty were of any consequence to your college or university experience and your professional access and exposure thereafter?

Band folks might use someone's skill at playing an instrument, athletes might use athletic ability, engineers might use math and sciene and so on. This new state of affairs started me thinking about status, and how it's conferred and how humans battle for it in different ways depending on the groups they are a part of.

So, while mastery is your primary concern, do you deny that mastery provides status among the groups that recognize your mastery? Does that status matter to you at all, does the recognition of your peers and their opinions of your skill level have any impact on your decision making?

What I've learned in the past 7 years is fundamentally orthogonal to everything I'd previously learned. What really matters more than anything else is tangible and effective service to others. Now it's completely up to you to (A.) determine what you apply your efforts at mastery to, and, it's almost completely up to you to (B.) determine whom you make those efforts in service to. However, I promise you that if you seriously apply yourself at both A. and B. without regard to status-seeking - that the results you achieve will likely exceed your expectations.

In your first comment you mentioned the "status quo," which I read as the "masses." I have no doubt that you oppose the status quo, but that doesn't mean you have removed the concerns about status from your mind. It's just a different type of status with a different group of people.

What is of primary concern to me at this stage of my life is that I maximize access and exposure so as to be able to effect the greatest possible good. I believe (in faith) that as long as I stay true to that creed that I will be able to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the convo.

Big Man said...

My bad, you did ask me a question.

I think that saints sought status with God, fully recognizing that their human endeavors would fall short of the Godly perfection but still desiring to achieve as muh as humanly possible. They were trying to align themselves with the wishes of God as we humans understand them and their actions reflected that goal.


I do think that a concentration on status is a corrupting influence. And I think the vast, vast majority of humans fall prey to that corrupting influence. And I think the key is recognizing the motivations for your actions, then correcting your mindset and actions.

So, I agree with what you wrote in your last comment, and I have a better understanding of your aims and thoughts on the issue.

CNu said...

I think that saints sought status with God, fully recognizing that their human endeavors would fall short of the Godly perfection but still desiring to achieve as muh as humanly possible. They were trying to align themselves with the wishes of God as we humans understand them and their actions reflected that goal.

How might one know one's "status" with God?

Big Man said...

Well, we disagree on this, if I remember correctly.

My thoughts are that God has outlined a way for individuals to align themselves with his will through his word. It's our responsibility to bring our actions and thoughts in line with that will as we understand it. This process involves communing with God through prayer and constant self-reflection.

I think you believe there are specific practices that allow humans to achieve a closeness with God, rituals and other measures that have been developed and practiced for centuries. If I remember correctly, some of them were tied to meditation and certian types of prayer.

Now, you scoffed at my procedure, and I believe that's where we left it.

CNu said...

lol,

you ducked my kwestin Big Man - and none too smoothly I might add...,

"I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer - in fact - it's highly preferable when - as in this case - it's true.

Raving Black Lunatic