Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is my Type?

When I was a child, I never knew what a social class was. I didn't care and it never bothered me that person X was was rich or poor, conceited or philanthropic. In retrospect, the truth is, I never considered it possible to determine these traits. The truth was simple to me, every child was clothed by their parents. Poor kids or kids with frugal parents wore the same hand me downs as myself. Who were these kids? Some were my friends and the other could be.

That's what I remember when I was a child, how I saw and interacted with people.

Then as we get older we are given choices, what to wear who to talk to how to act to people. Slowly but surely we start to gain an "aura". I've noticed this, and suspect others can do this as well. If you put all your friends in the same clothes, body and voice, then have them all call to you at the end of a football field, something about the way they do it will tell you who they are. To me, this is what an aura truly is.

The things we wear, do, and want, start to describe the kind of person we would like to be. Not the person we are, but who we'd like to be. Our choices start to mold our futures, our options and our minds.

Yes, your mind. Walking through the mall you see a man who is muscular, wears a "wife beater" and shorts. You think, I know his "type". In fact what you are thinking is: People who make specific choices like X, are likely to also make other choices like Y. Based upon this assumption, I either do or do not like choice Y, so I therefore will or will not like this person based on that system of choices.

You may not like this assessment, but I believe this to be true. Statistically speaking how often does a "goth" kid wear an entire "sufer" outfit? When was the last time you saw some Abercrombie & Fitch kid dress "Emo"? So... extrapolating that into what I'm saying is: It is statistically true and fair to asses people based on their choice of physical appearance.

I took me a long time to realize this and make choices about my appearance that attracts the types of friends I want. Because what is meant by the phrase: "I dont' like people of their type", is: "I don't like people that make that group of choices"

This is not that big of a leap of logic, we've all known this for some time. I just have to state it for purpose of argument.

I find myself as an adult. Only now in my life I feel awkward in social situations. With friends its different, you've watched them fall into their choices, and love them just the same. I have friends who's life choice is to work in assembly lines and wear wal-mart clothing. I have friends who have degrees in computer science and don't even pay attention to their more-than-out-of-date clothing. Or a few random people who think they have some style and raz others who seemingly don't.

And everyone of you out there right now reading this are all scratching their heads and saying "What? Who cares, this is all high scholl drama, I don't deal with that anymore". And you are likely correct in saying that as well.

But to me I seem to constantly try to determine what I want to advertise. I've never made a choice as to who I'd like to be, or what I'd like to represent. I change to often, most days I try to be average. That's my goal, to be familiar to the most people. I figure this will get me into a position to meet the most people, make the most new friends. All we want ourselves is to be familiar and to be surrounded by the familiar. I tend to find familiarity in most all people, I think we all do. But for some reason we only allow us to connect to that familiarity when we are children. Growing up means make judgments ignore people and be rude if they don't walk the walk.

Saturday morning, I went to Ragtag to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. During the breaks, the group of people next to me were having a conversation. In the dim light, I could not tell much about them, except they seemed "familiar" not that I knew them, but I knew their type, based on what was being said. I really like nice, smart and down to earth people. I started to strike up some conversation with them, speaking on par with what they wanted to talk about, nothing deep or political but it was a few short conversations. They seemed to be interested and not offended by my butting in, which I'm always afraid of.

During intermission I mentioned I was new to town and trying to meet some friends. Their response was typical thus far, "Well, Columbia is a friendly town, I'm sure you'll meet some people". Well as far as I could tell that what I was trying to do. You might as well add, "But not us, we're not interested" - He shoots, he misses end of game. I kinda ignored them after that.

The lights came on, and revealed ourselves for who we want the world to see us as. The girl next to me, Meredith, had this wonderfully crafted handbag, I could tell she had made it herself. I had noticed first a reused bicycle inner-tube that created the strap. I had to mention it, this was too coincidental, I've crafted lots of stuff, and figured we hat a point of similarity there. I was hoping to strike up real conversation.

But the light had revealed us, and to her I was part of the machine a consumerist. I was part of the evil empire that her unshaven armpits and natural cloth fibers must not mingle with.

See, I was wearing some random Abercrombie & Fitch "advert-shirt" and my ever so comfortable Union-Bay jeans with the pre-made holes. (I did laugh histerically when I bought them, I mean I just bought pants with holes, but they were so damned comfy)

I didn't look familiar enough for her to see past what I was wearing. So her ability to accept my comment was jaded. I was familiar in a way she doesn't like, she could only see what I chose to represent myself as for that day. What she didn't know was I recognized that she had made her naturally dyed hand woven hemp bag, with inner-tube strap, I recognized the work, skill and craft that went into it. From this I had a reliable pattern to recognize with some basic accuracy the kind of person she was. Or the group of choices she is likely to make which are : intelligent, hippie, activist - she would also deny up and down that any label truly defines her, BTW for clarification that choice is usually categorized as "independent" which is the master category for hippie, goth, and emo. But most all of us actually claim that one label won't describe us.

What I've always wanted is a common denominator, something that I can choose that advertises me to all, as a person who wants to represent that I am compatible with X, Y & Z. That I'm a hippie, prep, geek, goth, emo, philosopher and most of all just human. Just a human trying to connect with other humans in a world that is full of loneliness.

I suppose that I could try to represent human simply by wearing my birthday suit, but even I couldn't hang out with someone who was naked all the time, that would just be awkward.

If you liked this introspective rant, please comment, and also be sure to watch for my next post, its semi-related to this one.

P.S. - If you've never seen free hugs campaign video watch it!! Every time I start to feel kinda like existence is hopeless I watch that video and all is good again. I want to go the local mall and pull that off myself, but I'd need a partner in crime since I'm not that bold.


Karen said...

You're right; I don't deal with this stuff anymore, nor did I deal with it very much then (then, being high school, of course.)

Being from a lower middle class home didn't afford me the opportunity to sport overpriced clothes, but I seemed to find friends across the classes. Just as my taste in music is a bit ecclectic you might say so are my preferences for friends and acquaintances. I try not to judge people based on their physical appearance because I know that on any given day I might be dressed like the poster child for Abercrombie, a hip hop addict, a young business professional, a hippie, an 8 year-old (thank you Big Bird & My Little Pony Tees), and honestly, while I appreciate what you're saying and that clothing may often be indicative of a personality or someone's likes and/or dislikes, I also think that it often has very little to do with who someone truly is.

I like to be social, and I think that to truly be social you have to see beyond the wardrobe. I'm always getting teased by my close friends and family because I am constantly engaging strangers in conversations when we're out and about, but I like to meet people so I take their playful teasing.

That said, if we're already making assumptions based on appearance then I will further elaborate on a stereotype and say that I think Meredith was a poser. A true hippie-type wouldn't have cared if you were in a 3 piece suit, your Abercrombie Tee or apparel closer to her own; as long as you were amicable to friendly chatting (not to mention sharing a common interest by being at the same venue) she would have been happy to visit with you.

So don't worry about being familiar or anything else. You're a cool enough kid; just be you, and if people aren't interested don't take it personally. If they're not interested, the way I see it is that it's their problem, not mine/your's.

Prozacgod said...

Sometimes I write stuff and it takes several rewrites to get to what I really mean. I tend to write in streams of consciousness and then rewrite the mess. That being said, I think you got the gist of my post. I'm thinking I was lacking in one area though.

I think what I was trying to really get to was the symmetry of representing what we want to be as a choice of dressings. And then knowing that we choose style X, we then realize that others who choose style X are similar to us. I think I was trying to say we all do it, it's ingrained into our social cues. It's become almost instinct.

A person like yourself, probably finds novelties in strange places. So strangers in novel places is probably on the menu as well :D

I think what happens to people like Meredith is to much positive reinforcement. Not exactly psychological, more like pattern reinforcement that becomes a psychological reinforcement.

Imagine, if you will - Social groupings as blobs of water. All groups have a surface tension that bind them to each to her, but for people who constantly push further and further away - they seemingly loose connection and become a separate blob on there own, this blob can no longer connect with other types, simply because the only reference they have is others of their type. At that point the social grouping, now segregated, individuality kicks in, and the person gets further and further removed.

This model that I've proposed actually works with other things, like evolution or quantum interactions - and its amazing to me that we "seem" to follow it as well - its just one of my many overbearing observations, I make to many - which was an observation of my observations - and I'd like to not tell you what that last sentence was. I'm going off the deep end here :P