Psychological games that people play : 7. The Loyalist

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For my first post on this series, please click here.

As opposed to the Rebels who constantly seek  to overthrow establishments, the Loyalist is someone who believes very deeply and strongly in pledging allegiance to an organisation or the nation state. Their passion for serving a master or an organisation delves deeper than loyalty itself. It almost seems as if the very reason that they are living is because of the very people whom they serve.

“Unlike the Rebels, the Loyalists have no issues with authority or established rules. In fact, they relish the very fact that they have a a father figure to look up to, or a mother figure to protect. Films of bravado and patriotism flame their passion and strengthen their belief that the very purpose of their lives is to protect and to serve – something that the Rebels will probably not understand.”

There are many such literary figures in history. In Chinese culture, there is Yue Fei  (岳飞) (a famous Chinese general who defended his country against foreign invades and who, ironically, died in the hands of traitor Qin Hui) and the Yang Family (杨家将) (whose entire family, including females, served the country’s military for generations, with some family members killed in the line of duty), who willingly risked and ,at times, sacrificed their lives for their patriotic beliefs.

Much can be said for patriotic figures in western cultures too.  Consider William Wallace, who was popularised in the movie “Braveheart“, who led the war during the Wars of Scottish Independence (1286 – 1328). Then there is Sir Lancelot du Lac, one of the most courageous and loyal knights serving under King Arthur.

The above examples prove that individuals take on such roles regardless of their cultures.  The inclination to be grateful breeds loyalty and this tendency to serve is imbued in Loyalists more than others. Hence, the Loyalists , in their lifetime, often position themselves as advisors to a leader, although sometimes they will bear the responsibility of the leadership themselves when the situations call for it.

“The Loyalists are often highly valued in corporate organisations since they offer unwavering loyalty to the organisations they work, and are not as easily tempted by higher monetary remuneration offered by competitors. This innate ability to value their contributions to the organisations they serve over higher salary packages often makes their steadfastness look almost saintly in the eyes of others. “

When it comes to ads, the unfaltering faith of a soldier saluting the national flag, images of soldiers conversing with the natives that the former protects, policemen who keep the streets safe, samurais bowing down to their shoguns and national flags swaying to the winds all evoke feelings of loyalty, an attribute which the Loyalists take well to.

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Alter ego of the Loyalist:

The Blind Devotee

When this role is played to the extreme, the Loyalists turn into the Blind Devotees, where their unflagging and unflinching support for their cause turns them against everyone and/or anything that is perceived as a threat to the people and the cause they defend.

Now, the end justifies any means that they need to use to secure their objectives.

“The blind devotees have forgotten the initial reason  for pledging their loyalty, persisting with an adamantly fierce loyalty that simply refuses to switch course, even when the original rationale for being loyal is no longer there (such as the case when the initial ruler is removed and a tyrannical dictator has taken over).  An overemphasis on the significance of loyalty has made them blind to the adverse changes occurring around them. Even when their lords are pillaging the nearby villages and looting valuables from peasants, blind devotees remain oblivious to the fact and devote their time to protecting the stability of the existing regime.”

Their obsessive strive for the integrity of what they fight for are almost cult-like, working single-minded to defend against anyone or anything that they consider as adversaries and opponents.

What is interesting about both the Loyalists and the Blind Devotees is that power is never their original motive for their actions, and probably never will be. Instead, what drives them, besides their undying loyalty, is their belief in hope, in the hope that through their struggles, justice (as defined by them) will prevail eventually and everything will be all right again.

“The role of the Loyalist is a popular role that – even if not taken on by someone – serves as a constant reminder to all of us that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and that with continuous determination and faith, one can prevail against all odds. However, it is very important that Loyalists temper their unwavering faith with a dose of rationality, and not be entirely swayed by emotions – else they will – more often than not – inadvertently inflict more harm than good on the masses.”

In our next post, we will explore a role that is more in touch with our five physical senses and takes it to such an artistic level that they become often exemplifies charisma.

We will look at the Lover.

Psychological games that people play : 4. The Alpha Male / Authoritarian

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For my first post on this series, please click here.

Some people are born to take charge and to control.

They are the Alpha Male / Authoritarian (Note: some females exhibit this trait as well).

They are not used to being delegated but they often love to delegate. Some of them are often skilled at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of others and are adept at enabling others to work to their strengths. Many of these individuals work themselves to distinguished position of prominence, with some of them heading companies as CEO, project leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses professionals.

“While most of us are aware of the unpredictability of life, and that change may well be the only constant in life,  these individuals who love to take charge prefer to be the trailblazers that go against the trend, and often feel that they control their own destiny. And not only that, they tend to be opinionated and would have no qualms about teaching or lecturing others, when what others are saying or doing are against their values. One can say that they are individuals who aspire to have a voice in matters of the world, especially matters revolving around them. Conflicts are not something that these individuals steer clear of. In fact, they relish them. “

These individuals often have a stern or strict mannerism around them, such that others are wary of getting too close. They are well versed with logic and rationality (which makes them great teachers, especially language and/or the sciences. If they are creative, even humanities are for them :)), but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to using positive emotions to resonate with others (which is in direct opposition with the Clown / Jester, where laughter and lighthearted humour are their best weapons).

In the conversation arena, they are adept at conversations but tend to dominate the conversations. They are also quite forceful at time when putting their points across, so interrupting others and changing conversation topics are also common observations for individuals playing this role – which often puts them in positions of power.

In the dating arena, ladies often mention that they prefer confidence in men. What they are actually referring to are actually these individuals mentioned here, who often take on the role of the Alpha Male / Authoritarian. If one were to conduct a survey at speed dating websites, people taking on the role of Alpha Males / Authoritarians are often among the ones who make the strongest and deepest impressions among the ladies.

“When this role is played well,  the Alpha Males / Authoritarians are able to control a situation or bring it under control in a chaotic situation, such as can be commonly seen in the classrooms or emergency situations. Since these circumstances do not require much emotional connection but more on speed and efficiency, the Alpha Males / Authoritarian’s ability to direct and manage others comes immediately into play, thus saving the day.”

Furthermore, the Alpha Males / Authoritarians often take pride in sharing their beliefs, values, knowledge, experiences and expertise with others to enable them to be more knowledgeable. Most of them are caring in this way, but they often express them through actions, and seldom in words. With a stern demeanour, it is not surprising that they are misunderstood more often than they realise.

To the Alpha Males / Authoritarians, life is not about laughter (trademark of the Clowns / Jesters) but they often are on the same page with the Sage when it comes to learning and acquiring wisdom (which, for this role, is a result of life experiences more than an accumulation of knowledge, although it can be both at times). More than wisdom, life to the Alpha Males / Authoritarians is about discipline, values, beliefs and ethics. They are often the Order of the Universe, discharging their duties on Earth through ensuring that order is sustained throughout societies.

We can see many Alpha Males / Authoritarians in the military, the legal courts, schools and all uniformed groups such as the police, the fire departments and many more. Individuals adept at playing the role of the Alpha Male / Authoritarian flock to such professions because these organisations embody strict adherence to discipline and order.  In addition, the symbolic uniforms and ranks enable a gradual progression which seems enticing to the Alpha Males / Authoritarians,  and which appeals to the core of human nature – the aspiration and desire to improve oneself for self-esteem and self-actualisation, the top two element on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

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Alter ego of the Alpha Male / Authoritarian:

The Dictator

Control is a dangerous thing, both for oneself and others. When one strives too hard to control situations and circumstances, the results are often disastrous. A brief look at the history of dictators and war lords would have given mankind an important lesson on the consequences of an obsessive need to control.

“When the role of the Alpha Males / Authoritarian degenerates to such an extent that it becomes that of a dictator, self-confidence has turned to sheer arrogance. “

Seeking to discipline an child and enforcing discipline within an emergency rescue teams is all good. However, things often take a dark turn when this need for control extends to everything that a person comes into contact with or possesses.

“This often occurs when parents strive to accomplish what they failed to accomplish in their younger days through controlling their children and squashing the latter’s aspirations and dreams.  It can also materialises in the form of bosses micromanaging every aspect of an employee’s work.”

Dictators often cannot differentiate between giving others a direction and the need to control. Relinquishing control and especially power is hard for them because power is the very basis on which they thrive and survive. Take power from them and they collapse under the very weight of hopelessness.

While the Machiavellians and Narcissists rule by their chameleon-like adaptability and versatility to changing situations and the Schemers / Connivers dominate through plots and knowledge of human weaknesses, the Dictators reign through control – total control of every situation.

In the next post, we will proceed to examine another role that people play – the Rebel.

 

Psychological games that people play : 2. The Clown / Jester

 

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For my first post on this series, please click here.

The term “jester” originates from an ancient profession in the Medieval Ages – a professional joker employed by the courts to entertain. Pleasing their lords and rulers through their laughter-inducing attire and hilarious behaviour, they can be considered to be the predecessor to today’s circus clowns. A primary difference between a jester and a circus clown is the extent which they evoke laughter and smiles. While the jester fully utilises the creativity of their minds through the use of music, stories, sounds and facial expressions, the clowns have streamlined the use of these tools, limiting it to merely facial expressions / make-up / balloons, as well as acrobatic and juggling acts. Nevertheless, the jester remains in the hearts of people throughout the ages, primarily due their unusual profession. One nagging thought that some have with regard to jesters is this: Why would one dedicate their lives to indulge in trivialities such as lighted-humour? Assuming that it is not due to unavoidable circumstances, one primary reason is probably due to this:

“One of the entities that is often associated with the jester is the portrayal of jesters as fools in tarot cards.  However, the clout and power that jesters hold in the courts cannot be underestimated for it was believed during the Medieval Ages that only the lowest men in the King’s Courts are able to advise the king on the matters of the state in a brash way through comical acts, which the royalties do not take offense. A common man or even a prominent and distinguished minister would probably meet their untimely demise through hanging, or soon have their heads under the guillotine should they seek to do the same thing.”

This immunity of the jester has stayed with them throughout the ages,  progressing and metamorphosing into the present day circus clown However, this blog post will make little mention of clowns as they- while widely and popularly entertaining – serves minimal social function in real life interpersonal communication – an aspect that this blog post is focused on. Instead, let’s turn our attention to an average Joe on the streets – to any person who initiates and exhibits the traits and characteristics of a jester.

It is not hard to spot such individuals.

They are often the life of the party, the person who spice up a quiet crowd in the room by eliciting laughter through some hilarious acts. Self-deprecating humour, a sarcastic dig at someone, a mischievous grin followed by a witty remark after an embarrassing incident at the social event, as well as having one of the loudest voices define them. As they often are rapturous by nature, few take offense to their, well, minor transgressions such as the overstepping of social boundaries by getting too close to someone in conversation, or their occasional nudging at someone to urge them to give up a secret.

“Almost everything they do are forgiven, and almost always forgotten – for their nonchalant attitude and light-hearted humour often make everything seems all right.   A cheeky wink at us. A childish grin that almost always brighten our days. Everything is forgiven..for the human soul often forgives a slight when an offensive is tapered with light-hearted humour. But it’s precisely this attitude of theirs that they are able to extract secrets and information from others covertly, for while humans are immune to rude behaviours by putting up defenses of steel, we often soften and are almost always fallible to flattery, compliments, affectionate gestures and praises – when they lavished abundantly upon us. It is not surprising that flattery remains as one of the most omnipotent tools employed by seducers and sycophants throughout the ages. “

Putting ourselves in the role of jesters lightens people up, makes them smile and laugh, tensions disappear and rapport are built quickly. Humour is the eternal antidote to defensiveness. That being said, playing the role of jesters to extract information and to ingratiate with others are sheer psychological manipulation, which are undesirable behaviours as they breach moralistic and ethical considerations.

While we can understand the powers of the jesters and protect ourselves against their intrusions, we should only allow ourselves to be one or the benefit of others, such as to diffuse tension in the room, or to brighten someone’s day. We should not use roles to achieve our ends but to bring benefits to someone else’s day, such as improving the dampening mood of a tour group after a trip to the national garden ends in a heavy downpour, or motivating team mates to do better when morale is low and dropping due to setbacks and obstacles yet to be overcome.

“Such is the power of roles but they are and will always be a double-edged sword. Hence, we can and should only use it positively to benefit others and ourselves.”

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Alter ego of the Clown / Jester:

The Machiavellian / Narcissist

Played to the extreme within the context of self-interest, the role of the Clown / Jester could easily escalate into that of power-loving enthusiasts, eager at seizing every opportunity to gain power and ingratiate themselves into the power-loving crowd. There is a reason why the primary villain in Gotham City is a joker, and why the Chinese have often labelled opportunists and power lovers who acquired their aims through joviality and triviality as “smiling tigers” (笑面虎).

Long have our forebears learn the power of the smile, which can be used to soothe, but it can also be used to seduce and manipulate. Healers use it, but cheaters employ it too. The difference lies in the intention of the smile. Is it directed inwards, so as to achieve the aims of what wants to attain (i.e. the “What’s in it for me” mentality)? Or is it directed outwards, so as to enable others to relate well to oneself and their environment?

The Clown / Jester, when the role is played right, serves as a beacon in the world, brightening and livening up the world and throwing the darkness back with its lightness of smile and heartiness of laughter. However, when the role of the Clown / Jester is marred by the blemishes of self-centeredness, it will gradually escalates negatively in a downward spiral into the role of the “The Machiavellian / Narcissist“, where power and manipulation is the primary driving force behind the individuals in the role.

Hence, when playing the role of the Clown / Jester, we must be very mindful of our intentions, and never allow the idea of self-aggrandisement to stand in the way of the betterment of humanity.

Seek, always, to be the light that drives away the darkness, and never the darkness that consumes the night.

In the next blog post, we will look at the role of the Sage, a role prevalent among the knowledge-focused industries, such as the education and research sectors.

Psychological games that people play : 1.Introduction

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Asian society has always focused on traditional values such as filial piety, respect towards elders, harmonious relations with loved ones, and patriotism. Western culture also has their own beliefs that they adhere to, such as independence, freedom of speech, free markets and democracy.

While such values and beliefs progress the nation states and increase political and societal stability, it doesn’t ensure smooth relations between individuals. One can easily see domestic disputes and conflicts within families and nation states globally.

“This is because values and beliefs provide common channels to abide by for societal harmony but when it comes to interpersonal communications, there will still be friction among people when communicating, because each individual possess unique personality types that are so different that rubbing shoulders with one another can sometimes be painful, if not brutal. “

Hence, to be an effective communicator in life, one has to go beyond values and beliefs (which are often imposed upon us) , and make an effort to understand social psychology. More specifically, one has to understand human nature, which, in essence, is the core of the human psyche.

Western psychology has often used personality type assessment test such as Myers-Briggs Types Indicator or DISC to categorise individuals into their respective personality types. Other assessment tools include that of using archetypes, which are symbolic representations of an individual’s personality and inclinations. These instruments are useful and may even be instrumental in getting people to know themselves better.

However, once that is achieved, we cannot leave it as that. We need to take it a step further by understanding the mechanics of how to interact with others of different personality types.  Many authors have tried to solve this age old mystery, as can be seen in contemporary book titles, such as “How to resolve conflict in the workplace”, “Ways to handle office politics”, “Improving your Emotional Quotient”, “Enhancing your conflict and negotiation skills”, “Improve your classroom management skills” etc.

While the titles may differ, the topic of interest is always the same. To put it simply: “How do we communicate with one another?” This issue cuts across all context. It can be a communication process between people of authority (such as bosses, teachers, parents or project leaders) and their followers (such as subordinates, students, children or team members respectively). It can also be interactions between individuals of the same social or corporate standings, such as interactions between schoolmates, colleagues, friends or siblings.

This books often focus on techniques, which is all well and good. Some may not take well to techniques though. Furthermore, human nature is complex and multi-layered.  A better way would be understanding the games that people play.

Games that people play?

Please let me explain.

By “games”, I do not mean psychological manipulation or sheer exploitation of others. Rather, “games” here refer to the “natural psychological flow”  between two individuals, who often inadvertently take on the respective roles expected of them within a specific context, which is often aligned with their personalities.

“In fact, to be frank, we perform at our best when we are able to identify the primary roles that align well with our personalities, as well as the roles we are expected to play in specific situations. In other words, it’s our personalities that define the roles that we usually take on, and we ensure our personal success in life once we understand the strengths and weaknesses of our roles, as well as how to adapt to varying situations by taking on other roles when the context changes.

Think about how our colleagues’ behaviour changes when they are promoted to a Manager or a Director. Is this due to their obligation to meet the social norms of acceptable behaviour for someone in a leadership position? Or is it that behaving in an appropriate behaviour increases their chances of success in further ascension up the corporate ladder? I leave that to your judgement. Regardless of the reasons behind their changed behaviour, one thing is apparent – a strict adherence to behave in a manner expected of others and befitting of their position are vital to their future success. “

There are two schools of thought in this world. One is that of Shakespeare, with his famous quote( which I regard as his most famous quote that is almost life-changing for some of us): “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.“. Then there are some who feels that it is best to be ourselves.

“While I would like to agree that sincerity and candour are key to any personal success in work and life, one would not get along well with others at least some of the time if one does not understand that we are expected to take on roles at times and in specific context and situations, not to deceive with out acts but to use them to serve as social lubricants to facilitate exchanges of conversations and strengthening one’s rapport with others. Hence, this author’s conclusion is this: Shakespeare was right, and he has always been right, right from the beginning. “

Please note that taking on a role in specific context and situations is not about acting or putting on a social mask. Yes, we may not be expressing who we are at this point in time but we are doing the best thing possible for communication to take place, and for goodwill to build. Think of how a salesperson will behave towards a client and ask yourself if that is his true self. If not, why is that so?

“If the roles that everyone is supposed to play is disrupted or reverse, the result could be disastrous. Think of bossy subordinates lording over their subservient bosses and errant teenagers rebelling against their relenting parents. “

By understanding the primary role(s) that we are attuned to, the subtleties of situations, as well as what roles we are expected to play to facilitate the dynamics and inner mechanics of our communication and by playing along, we will enable ourselves to communicate well with all if not most personality types over time.

Taking on roles is also different from associating with archetypes as while archetypes primarily define the characteristics of one’s personality, understanding how the characteristics of different roles and how our role interacts with another enable us to effectively enhance our communication with others, thereby establishing and building rapport within a short time.

With regard to this interactive dynamics that happen when we select roles to take on in a bid to interact with others, I call it “psychological games that people play”.

So, are you ready?

If so, we will move on to the first role that some individuals possess, sometimes known as “The Clown/ The Jester“.

How to care for introverts

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Source: http://blog.bufferapp.com/introverts-and-extroverts-what-they-are-and-how-to-get-along-with-everyone

One drastic difference between introverts and extroverts is that while the former’s learning process is steeped in thought (which explains why introverts are almost innately attuned to the world of abstract theories and ideas), the latter’s learning process is hinged on experience (which explains why most extroverts need to voice their thoughts out loud).

Conforming to media images

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We have a tendency to embrace what the media has to offer because the benefits that they offer us are numerous: information, news, commentary, updates, as well as reports on global events and happenings.

The media provide us information and knowledge from across the globe that are simply not possible for us to acquire within a specific locality or a single-day time frame.

The media also provides us with opportunities to seek out further information through the internet if we wish to, and jobs as well as connections are also established through their daily provision of news and updates – both online and offline.

The most important and debatable issue with the media – with the emergence and proliferation of image editing software coupled with advertising – lies with its advertising images.

While photos of news reports are often authentic and realistic, the same often cannot be said of images that are used in magazine covers and photo spread. The latter are often heavily digitally edited to enhance the aesthetic value of the photos since – from a business prospective – the main objective of a profit-motivated organisation is to draw sales. There is nothing wrong in reaping profits since revenue is required for one to stay commercially viable but in this case, reality is distorted.

Digital enhancements on the photo is – more often than not – a case of creating an idealised image perceived by the media as “beauty”,  a creation far from the actual reality and appearance of the actual model used.

While responsibility doesn’t directly lie with the media (since graphic designers, image editors and advertising agencies are all involved in the production of these images), the media still serves as the ultimate distributing outlets for most of such images.

Ethics should come into play in such situations where consumers may be misled into trusting the authenticity of such images.

However, consumers have a part to play to in terms of being more discerning when establishing one’s sense of beauty. We may be bombarded with media images but it’s also one’s responsibility to educate oneself and refrain from comparing what one sees with the media’s projection of beauty.

It is interesting to note how a line between reality and idealism can fade out so easily in the light of one’s pursuit of beauty.

A delicate balance should be sought between realism and idealism. While the media may swing us in the direction of the latter, we should educate ourselves and our young through media literacy, and swinging ourselves back into balance.

What compounds the problem and makes it a double whammy is that besides projecting media’s definition of beauty on everyone we meet, there are some who also has the tendency of projecting such images on themselves.

What follows is a drastic altercation of one’s appearances and at extreme cases, resorting to cosmetic surgery is not uncommon. For those who are unable to afford or are unable to do so for personal reasons, accessories and fashion apparels are purchased to enable them to resemble models portrayed in the media.

And with researches asserting that looks and appearances enhance one’s chances at job interviews and the dating arena, it is unsurprising that people conform to media’s definition of beauty. After all, if media images are so prevalent, conforming to its images cannot be all that wrong, right?

Wrong.

What is gained through a conformation to media images is a sense of wrongly-perceived self, turning oneself into someone whom he or she is not. This is ironic since in the pursuit of the perfect self, we often lose ourselves.

The adage of “Just be yourself” seems to be losing its social value here, since few walk the talk these days. What seems to be perfect advice for living a happy and fulfilled life is fizzling out. When seems to dazzle in contemporary times is that “if you do not conform (to the media’s perfection of beauty), you do not belong.”

In our search for individualism, we are heading straight towards disillusioned conformism – another irony that simply cannot be ignored.

So, what then is the true loss of conforming to media images?

We lose our sense of personal identity. While we took pride in the new identity which we have created for ourselves through either cosmetic enhancements or aesthetics embellishments, we have created the opposite of we truly desire – mere caricatures of our perceived ideal selves, living in the shadows of our disillusionment.

So, be it gain or loss, we lose both ways.

Rethinking Social Media and Technology

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It has been a few years since social media has taken off in the social and business aspects of our lives.  It has been applauded and commended, specifically in the ease of access to networking and building a social life right from one’s abodes or computers. It has also been praised for changing the landscape of communication and much adulation has been given to it for enabling shy singles and introverts to communicate  with one another via social websites, which includes dating websites.

While all this is well and good, a deeper examination into the mechanics of social media will reveal many flaws that hinder and impede up close and personal communications. Much as been said that people are now almost “programmed” to hook up with their mobile devices almost 24 hours a day, with their eyes fixated on the screens – to the point of being oblivious to their environments. Take a walk through any urban city and board any transport transport. And you will realise that nobody is communicating with one another, even if they are around a group of friends. Even if they do, few of them are totally focused on any conversations that ensue. Most would have been fiddling around with their mobile devices at some points in time.

If social media provides social comfort, we should see many smiling faces. But in reality, most social media users on mobile devices have blank faces, tapping aimless away at games on mobile devices as if to kill their boredom (or risk facing the straight faces of other strangers) or plugging  their earphones into their ears (to ignore the rambling conversations of other commuters mere inches away from them)

Some might stroke  their fingers across their touch-screen mobile phones to check updates on their friends who post images and text updates of their encounters with incidents and events. We have to really ask: is this really communication? Picking up random thoughts of others and then probably commenting on their daily affairs? Are we really friends of others when we act like this? Or – as one of my friends commented- “tabloid” readers and commentators? To make matters worse, the news are often not even a tad sensational in the first place.

It’s human nature to crave for attention. In the past, only celebrities are given this privilege but with social media, we are the content creators and hence we have the power to become celebrities ourselves if we manage to build ourselves a huge following. So, when social media makes that possible, everyone jumps on the wagon by creating whenever content they find interesting without even asking their friends: updates on their children, work stress, updates on their favourite celebrities, fan pages that they like and many more – without asking the most important questions of all:  are their friends even interested? Celebrities are celebrities for a reason. People love them. People love the things they create and produce. Celebrities love attention but they don’t shove things onto people.  They don’t compel their fans to read things that only they themselves are interested in. If fans don’t like their work, the fans will walk away and the celebrities’ fame fizzles out.  It’s as simple as that.

But with social media, users often thrust what they deemed interesting onto their friends without considering if they are interested. When we have a mesh of such information loaded onto a social media website,what we get are tons of information that is often irrelevant to our lives, redundant to us going about our everyday lives, time wasted in reading such stuff where the same amount of time can be put into good use by reading some educational books that are useful to us (and of our own choosing) and most importantly, we sacrificed real time in communication face-to-face with others whenever we immerse ourselves in social media.

Like many others, I was also once an ardent fan of social media, grasping  at any opportunities and seeking to learn the various features and functionalities of any upcoming and emerging social media websites. I joined the hype and loved the thrill of using them. However, after years of being a social media user, it seems that most social media do not improve the social lives of users.

Yes, we get updates of our friends – the food they eat, their children whom they play with, the concerts and events that they attend, the fan page that they adore..but at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves this: does knowing all this improve our relationships with our friends? On the surface, it seems that we get to know each other better..but delving deeper, is this really so? Think back of the times when you deepen your friendships with your friends. Was this how friendships deepen?

Maybe, on a superficial level.

If you are really honest with yourself, you would have realised that deep friendships are forged otherwise – through enabling others to be themselves around you (by letting them speak their minds about issues that matter to them but not consistently throwing everything that they find interesting at you in one go), lending a listening ear up close and personal to what matters to them, celebrating their achievements in person, travelling together on a trip – none of which social media are able to fulfill.

I have now chosen to forego most social media (save for this blog, which still serves a purpose of giving me a voice online and yet not compelling others to read them) and instead opted to arrange face-to-face meetings with my friends whenever possible because this may be the best and only way to communicate well and at a deep level. And when I meet the person, I would go forward, smile,  look them in the eyes and tell them how much we can catch up on.

At least this is how I feel- that meeting in person is how deep and sincere friendships are forged and sustained.

Think about it. You might feel the same way.