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Old 2011-09-14, 08:51   Link #1
calorie
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Superficiality in Human Relations and Social Detachment

As I was watching the repugnant TLC show 'Dating in the Dark', this subject just naturally spurted into my thoughts pool. For those who aren't acquainted with the said reality show, it is about three men and women who spend some time interacting/dating in a pitch black room and eventually have the person of their choosing first revealed in the light, and subsequently deciding whether to date him/her who is waiting on a balcony or walking out of the house they were staying in, while the other person is looking from above. Needless to say, this leads to a bunch of awkward moments and rejections based on physical appearance alone, even when the 'contestants' were previously thrilled by their date's personality.

This issue has been, perhaps, the most prominent motif in my social life thus far. I was somewhat of a geek/nerd most of my childhood and was raised to be a generally nice person. When I had reached late teens and started going to highschool, losing all my geeky friends and becoming more aware of my social status led to an exponential increase of insecurity, social anxiety and eventually depression in the first years of college. Whether because of the lack of guts, predominant personality traits or most likely, friends and social environment, my way of dealing with this has been working out and dieting in order to become free of the major thing that burdened my ego, the inadequate looks. Though of course, mostly everyone thinks this way, I must say that I don't consider my features to be at all unaesthetic and have never been fat but at the same time I am not the naturally lean, dashingly cute type (by today's standards).

All this was a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I have gained the necessary knowledge, experience and technique to get fit and lower my body fat to an almost fitness model level while maintaining a reasonably comfortable lifestyle and without resorting to any Biggest-Loser-like methods impractical for everyday life. On the other, this meant putting up with problems like eating disorders, OCD, depression, anxiety/anger attacks; that time period has left me emotionally scarred and with far less social experience and people I could call friends than my social peers. Add to that the ever-present feeling of the absurdity of the world where happiness (which is relative, I know...I don't particularly believe in it either but we're all taught to strive towards it as a goal) rests on trivial matters such as the relation of calorie intake and metabolic potential based on the order of nucleotide bases that make the genetic code, which determines the relative levels of weight regulating hormones like leptin and insulin as well as the distribution of alpha/beta receptors, which in turn determine the effective metabolic speed of a human individual, which can greatly affect the overall body fat levels and favorable lipodistribution on which the lean features that are considered sexually attractive depend on.

And let me tell you, what people consider beauty can easily be mistaken for fitness and in my opinion, even a truly unfavorable bone structure would not make for a truly 'ugly' person from today's perspective if the individual gets to a low body fat and in case of men, puts on a decent ammount of muscle mass. To get one thing clear -- to me (and science) beauty is nothing but a proportional framework (muscle tissue and fat excluded) -- a much more important factor is the level of fitness, sparking an innate (and now, to a certain degree, unnecessary?) animal instinct to find a potent, able mate. Speaking from personal experience.

Anyway, this leads me to the hikkomori dilemma. There are periods of my life when I spend more time in the society (i.e. uni lectures and practices during the semester, holidays) and those when I am quite socially detached - I seem to be much better off during the latter, when I don't try engage in extensive social interaction such as night outs or sometimes flirting. The way in which I was able to at last get through the tough times in my life and mainly social anxiety was to completely "dissolve" my ego and accept the bad things rather than fret over them uncontrollably, which was the only way to improve in some aspects necessary for normal life. But the human society doesn't tend to work that way. Everyone has their role which was inherently, more or less subconsciously thrust upon them and as long as one is able to maintain a level of comfort within the stratum they find oneself to be "placed" in, they seem to be okay with it or completely lacking the resolve not to accept that.

We tend to think of beautiful, fit people who discriminate the fatties and the less attractive as arrogant and superficial but then, is anyone really above that? If you were put in the same position, would you really "shoot" for someone way below your "league"? My relative social ineptitude, my lifestyle and mindset still prevent the latter from becoming an issue although the technical standards for dating etc. are now, pretty much met. I should also mention that by me being a hikkomori, I don't mean the otaku type - I don't watch/read ecchi anime/manga, sleep with dakimakuras, play H-games, or much of any video games for that matter - I try to avoid building an "alternative" quasi-ego like that and instead live and think of my life as valuable on account of being nice to others, loving my family, studying, reading, thinking etc. (maybe the image of me I have led you all to believe I have is more grim than it actually is). To put it simply - I think of myself as a human being with flaws and strengths and nothing more than that. One of the reasons why I probably first liked anime, as ridiculous as it might seem, is because of the fact that (99% of the time) every character looks good and thus the segregation on account of the looks (fat people are silly/stupid/boring/etc., good looking people are cool at the very least, often they're the good guys too) is less glaring compared to TV shows and movies with their subliminal messages; I realize the irony in this, many are in it (anime) for the cute guys/girls, but this is the way I see it and like I've said, I don't view anime characters in a sexual way as some do.

So what are your thoughts on this? Are you too longing for the utopian future of Man who is at least more mature in that sense, or perhaps even one of Evangelion-like 'Human Instrumentality'? I realize this was way too long of a post - one which may probably seem pretentious - but I am honestly looking forward to some thoughts on this and nothing more, so as to perhaps clarify my own. Seeing as how the audience here can generally be more intelligent that any online community I've frequented, I am hoping to see a nice discussion and I don't think the subject is too serious for an anime forum
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Old 2011-09-14, 09:34   Link #2
Flower
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I think your reflections are pretty well articulated here. I'll try to answer some of them briefly.

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Originally Posted by calorie View Post
....Anyway, this leads me to the hikkomori dilemma.

There are periods of my life when I spend more time in the society (i.e. uni lectures and practices during the semester, holidays) and those when I am quite socially detached - I seem to be much better off during the latter, when I don't try engage in extensive social interaction such as night outs or sometimes flirting. The way in which I was able to at last get through the tough times in my life and mainly social anxiety was to completely "dissolve" my ego and accept the bad things rather than fret over them uncontrollably, which was the only way to improve in some aspects necessary for normal life.

But the human society doesn't tend to work that way. Everyone has their role which was inherently, more or less subconsciously thrust upon them and as long as one is able to maintain a level of comfort within the stratum they find oneself to be "placed" in, they seem to be okay with it or completely lacking the resolve not to accept that.....
Firstly, I don't think your experience is out of the ordinary or "abnormal". Many people go through what you are describing to varying degrees and situations. And the way you describe is something many people "default" to at some point. The "art" of holding firmly onto one's ideals and beliefs in a balanced and mature way is something we learn to do pretty much throughout most our life, I think.

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Originally Posted by calorie View Post
...I try to avoid building an "alternative" quasi-ego like that and instead live and think of my life as valuable on account of being nice to others, loving my family, studying, reading, thinking etc. (maybe the image of me I have led you all to believe I have is more grim than it actually is). To put it simply - I think of myself as a human being with flaws and strengths and nothing more than that....
Nothing wrong with this! I personally think that it is better to have a "whole", "entire" or even "organic" world view and way of life that is honest and consistent as much as one is able to reach.

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Originally Posted by calorie View Post
....So what are your thoughts on this? Are you too longing for the utopian future of Man who is at least more mature in that sense, or perhaps even one of Evangelion-like 'Human Instrumentality'? I realize this was way too long of a post - one which may probably seem pretentious - but I am honestly looking forward to some thoughts on this and nothing more, so as to perhaps clarify my own. Seeing as how the audience here can generally be more intelligent that any online community I've frequented, I am hoping to see a nice discussion and I don't think the subject is too serious for an anime forum
I am NOT looking forward to a utopian future of man or such like, nor do I think it is possible, quick frankly. I think it is more important for each person to begin working on themselves now, here, in the "present tense" as best they can. I also don't think that wanting to do so and/or making attempts to do so in of itself is pretentious at all. How we go about it might be pretentious, but that is another subject.

Apologies for my rambling and/or disconnected thoughts btw.
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Old 2011-09-14, 10:59   Link #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calorie View Post
Seeing as how the audience here can generally be more intelligent that any online community I've frequented, I am hoping to see a nice discussion and I don't think the subject is too serious for an anime forum.
AnimeSuki is pretty much the only online community that I've stuck with for so many years. I'd say, though, that there used to be a lot more substantial debate here, at least in the General Chat sub-forum. But don't mind me. I'm just probably getting crusty and unjustifiably nostalgic with age.

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Originally Posted by calorie View Post
We tend to think of beautiful, fit people who discriminate the fatties and the less attractive as arrogant and superficial but then, is anyone really above that? If you were put in the same position, would you really "shoot" for someone way below your "league"?
The politically correct answer is "yes".

The brutal truth is, "no".

Again, I put it down to age. I find that I'm a lot quicker to judge people people nowadays, although I'd qualify that my assessment is not based on looks alone, but also on body language and the quality of discourse. After you've met and dealt with enough people in life, you'd learn from experience to quickly differentiate between those with genuine talent and those who are simply disingenuous.

And I do find that people who are worth your time and effort do, in fact, take pride in their appearance, and I don't mean "pride" in the pejorative sense. Take a look at the profiles of top leaders — how many of them look like Joe Shabby?

However, it's not looks that made them who they are, but rather their sense of assurance and self-confidence that bequeaths them with that elusive X-factor which makes them attractive, what most people would describe as charisma.

So, to cut to the chase, are humans by nature superficial? Yes, of course. That's why people always say that first impressions count. But, then again, it's who you are that determines whether those impressions last. Which do you think is more important? I'd say both.
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Old 2011-09-14, 13:28   Link #4
Gamer_2k4
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I think I'm okay with things the way they are. Of course, this might be because I consider myself to be moderately attractive, so (regardless of whether or not that's actually true) I have the self-image to be confident among attractive people.

Incidentally, it seems like the Utopian society you're longing for is not so much an absence of judgement as it is a lack of things to be judgmental about. Anime is "perfect" for you because no one's unattractive, while Instrumentality would dissolve the differences among humans entirely.

And therein lies the problem with Utopian society: You have to dissolve away the bad until everything is "good," and once everything is good, then there's no bad OR good. Everything just IS. People are all physically attractive? Then we've removed physical attraction as a quality of people. You can continue on with any other trait, too. People are all nice? Now niceness doesn't matter. People are all brave? Then there's no longer anything admirable about it. People are all smart? Then they all have average intelligence. The logical result of that is an Evangelion-esque merging of all humans. Everyone's the same, so why not just make them one entity? And once you've gotten that far, there's nothing left of what we once were. Humanity is ruined.

So, yeah. Things are best the way they are now, because if they weren't like that, we wouldn't be human.
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Old 2011-09-14, 13:54   Link #5
calorie
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Originally Posted by Flower View Post
Nothing wrong with this! I personally think that it is better to have a "whole", "entire" or even "organic" world view and way of life that is honest and consistent as much as one is able to reach.
Hmm...organic...I like that, an interesting way to put it. Not entirely sure if we're thinking the same thing but I do, every so often, try to see things from a ridiculously broad point of view. For example, the way an alien, intelligent life form would; I find that strangely soothing at times of unease caused by "earthly" matters.

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I am NOT looking forward to a utopian future of man or such like, nor do I think it is possible, quick frankly. I think it is more important for each person to begin working on themselves now, here, in the "present tense" as best they can. I also don't think that wanting to do so and/or making attempts to do so in of itself is pretentious at all. How we go about it might be pretentious, but that is another subject.
Oh that sort of future is surely hundreds, if not thousands of years away from reality. Still, on some level I cling to romantic notions that humans will be able to rise above those things as they have, to some degree, risen above racism or sexual discrimination. I can see myself as being ready for that challenge, if anything. But I am also wary -- it is unlikely that such a thing is entirely possible unless we somehow evolve above corporeal existence that binds us to the animal side. Even if every single person looked close to what would today be considered ideal, we'd probably find some other way of ranking ourselves based on looks.

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Apologies for my rambling and/or disconnected thoughts btw.
They seemed quite sensible to me

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
The politically correct answer is "yes".

The brutal truth is, "no".

Again, I put it down to age. I find that I'm a lot quicker to judge people people nowadays, although I'd qualify that my assessment is not based on looks alone, but also on body language and the quality of discourse. After you've met and dealt with enough people in life, you'd learn from experience to quickly differentiate between those with genuine talent and those who are simply disingenuous.
I do agree that age plays a role in the matter. Suppose it takes a while for the learning through experience to kick in. It is true that most of the people I've interacted with on a deeper level were around my age, adults don't open up so easily to someone still in the teens/early twenties. So I may be overreacting a little

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
And I do find that people who are worth your time and effort do, in fact, take pride in their appearance, and I don't mean "pride" in the pejorative sense. Take a look at the profiles of top leaders — how many of them look like Joe Shabby?

However, it's not looks that made them who they are, but rather their sense of assurance and self-confidence that bequeaths them with that elusive X-factor which makes them attractive, what most people would describe as charisma.
A good observation. I was mostly referring to general populace which doesn't have that factor of fame/influence going for them, but yes, I would agree that a stern, decisive look that comes as product of high level of self-awareness and understanding of reality can make a world of difference.

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Originally Posted by Gamer_2k4 View Post
And therein lies the problem with Utopian society: You have to dissolve away the bad until everything is "good," and once everything is good, then there's no bad OR good. Everything just IS. People are all physically attractive? Then we've removed physical attraction as a quality of people. You can continue on with any other trait, too. People are all nice? Now niceness doesn't matter. People are all brave? Then there's no longer anything admirable about it. People are all smart? Then they all have average intelligence. The logical result of that is an Evangelion-esque merging of all humans. Everyone's the same, so why not just make them one entity? And once you've gotten that far, there's nothing left of what we once were. Humanity is ruined.
So, yeah. Things are best the way they are now, because if they weren't like that, we wouldn't be human.
The whole idea of what constitutes humanity is imperfect and wrong. While it may be a natural instinct to feel good about being better than your peers in some way, I don't find any pleasure in it anymore and frankly it sickens me. Contemplating existence, learning about the universe we live in, sharing your experiences with a different "universe" that is another self-aware human being, enjoying what life offers -- all those things are that which makes life more than enough fun and worth living.

If we were to evolve to some energy-based single entity with nothing to hold us back, or affect us positively, because there wouldn't be anything to worry about, I don't think boredom (which I think you were alluding to) would at all pertain to such an entity as it is related to memory-based, physiologically induced feelings of fear which act as sort of a defense mechanism that is the human ego.

Until then, I personally think we would be fine. The more we overcome our differences and in that way mature as a species, the better. The problem is, I don't think it's happening right now and I am not pleased with the current life setup, as immature as that might sound.
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Old 2011-09-14, 14:24   Link #6
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The whole idea of what constitutes humanity is imperfect and wrong. While it may be a natural instinct to feel good about being better than your peers in some way, I don't find any pleasure in it anymore and frankly it sickens me.
I hope that's not what you got out of my post. That wasn't the point I was making; I was simply taking the example you gave and running with it.

There's FAR more to being human than "feeling better than your peers;" my point was that in order to get to a point where we don't have such a shortcoming (among others), we'd need to eliminate the notion of shortcomings entirely. Consider it this way. We have a group of 16 numbers, and the lower half is considered "bad" (at least, relative to the upper half). So what do you do? Do you get rid of the first eight numbers? Okay, but you still have eight left. Now the bottom four are the "bad" numbers. So you get rid of those, making the bottom two bad. You get rid of those, making the bottom one bad. Get rid of that, and you're left with one number. Is it bad? Is it good? It's neither; there's nothing to compare it to. By chasing perfection, we've eliminated it as a concept.

In an effort to clarify my original point, I'm getting away from myself. In summary, humans are defined by their positions on several spectra of good qualities vs bad qualities. Moral vs Immoral, Rich vs Poor, Attractive vs Ugly, Honest vs Deceptive, and so on. As long as those qualities exist, we're going to judge them. If we don't judge them, then there's no longer a spectrum. Humans are defined by their flaws and their deviations from an ideal. If everyone is flawless, no one is human.

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If we were to evolve to some energy-based single entity with nothing to hold us back, or affect us positively, because there wouldn't be anything to worry about, I don't think boredom (which I think you were alluding to) would at all pertain to such an entity as it is related to memory-based, physiologically induced feelings of fear which act as sort of a defense mechanism that is the human ego.
I wasn't alluding to boredom at all. I was referring to the necessary elimination of any sort of scale of quality. Boredom is just another emotion on that scale: It only exists as the opposite of activity. If there's no such thing as activity, there's no boredom either.
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Old 2011-09-14, 14:48   Link #7
Flower
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Originally Posted by calorie View Post
Hmm...organic...I like that, an interesting way to put it. Not entirely sure if we're thinking the same thing but I do, every so often, try to see things from a ridiculously broad point of view. For example, the way an alien, intelligent life form would; I find that strangely soothing at times of unease caused by "earthly" matters.

Oh that sort of future is surely hundreds, if not thousands of years away from reality. Still, on some level I cling to romantic notions that humans will be able to rise above those things as they have, to some degree, risen above racism or sexual discrimination. I can see myself as being ready for that challenge, if anything. But I am also wary -- it is unlikely that such a thing is entirely possible unless we somehow evolve above corporeal existence that binds us to the animal side. Even if every single person looked close to what would today be considered ideal, we'd probably find some other way of ranking ourselves based on looks.
From what I bolded above it seems we are not thinking of the same things when we think of the word "organic".

First of all I don't believe that some inexplicable, unidentifiable kind of process taking place over time in of itself will somehow magically alter what human beings are commonly like at present to some kind of "higher existence". I agree very much with your calling such an idea a "romantic notion" - to me it just isn't going to happen, and imo hoping for such a thing to happen sometime in the far distant future is a bit of a waste of time. It is far more important (and I would even say practical) to live in the present and begin to face and attempt to deal with one's own shortcomings and weaknesses as a practical starting place.

When something like "evolving above the corporeal existence that binds us to the animal side" is mentioned in religious or philosophical writings, is usually the direct result of an individual's great effort of will and/or some kind of "otherworldly intervention" (and this leaves aside the issue of whether or not doing so is a good thing to attempt or whether the specific example we are inspired by is in itself a good or "safe" example).

But coming back to the issue of organic. The reason for using the word was originally meant as a contrast to your mentioning "alternative quasi-egos" that one "takes on".

I was using the word as another synonym for "wholeness", or "entirety" or "integral-ness", as reflected, for example, in our planet's ecosystem, for example. Where a very large collection of seemingly unrelated or different parts at first glance all actually work together in one harmonious ... err ... "unit".

And I was using this analogy as a comparison for how we should lead our life, think, and even feel - and honesty with oneself is a pretty big element in terms of a starting point.

More than that - I think that the difficult work of doing so is something that takes a lifetime.
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Old 2011-09-14, 15:04   Link #8
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First of all I don't believe that some inexplicable, unidentifiable kind of process taking place over time in of itself will somehow magically alter what human beings are commonly like at present to some kind of "higher existence". I agree very much with your calling such an idea a "romantic notion" - to me it just isn't going to happen, and imo hoping for such a thing to happen sometime in the far distant future is a bit of a waste of time. It is far more important (and I would even say practical) to live in the present and begin to face and attempt to deal with one's own shortcomings and weaknesses as a practical starting place.
This. Truthfully, any time I hear talk of utopia or some eventual societal nirvana coming about in the distant future, it just sounds like another flavor of a theistic wish for divine salvation for humanity. I don't believe in either. You may have taken God out of the equation, but I still call it a fantasy. A nice one, sure, but essentially it's merely like applying a Merry England-type concept to the future. Life is too complex to allow for the existence of such simplified, conflict free realities.
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Old 2011-09-14, 15:41   Link #9
cyth
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What do you care anyway? It's the future. You live your life to your fullest, try bettering yourself and try raising your kids well. That's all that a bright future requires you to do. Some old folk lose all their confidence and pride when they're faced with their lineup of achievements and failures, so living for the future is important for your late psychological development.
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Old 2011-09-14, 15:50   Link #10
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I have to disagree with the OP regarding physical looks. Now I'm not going to go so far as to say that looks don't matter at all, but I will say that what people actually find attractive and what is by common wisdom percieved as atttractive are two very different things. I'd say that being obese is certainly a red flag, likewise having skin problems, or other visible illness or deformities. Other then that, people don't care that much. Certainly as a guy I've found that my lack of fitness has not really set me back, though I'm not exactly a textbook case for sexual and social success, I would put my perrenial datelessness down to other more mundane factors (like the fact I don't bother to ask out any women...)

In fact, to be socially succesful, fitness is worthless, what you need is to cultivate wit and a confident persona. A neat sense of style is also a good idea, but it's nothing that really breaks the bank. Just wear a pressed shirt and trousers rather then that shabby t-shirt and jeans you've worn for the last 10 years. Nothing extraordinarily hard. The key thing is to wow people with your conversational aptitude and intelligence. In fact, I often mine my lack of physical fitness and general unconventional looks for self deprecating humour. People love it, and it shows I don't take myself very seriously, and that I am at ease with myself and in control.

Social success is a lot less about any particular characteristics so much as a state of mind. When a person is anxious, lonely or depressed people can very easily pick up on it, and most people try to avoid meeting people like that. Unfortunate but true.

Now I myself have gone through periods of depression, anxiety and being a near hikikomori. For me I wasn't really worried about my appearance, so much as other people percieving me as a failure or "that guy", the weird guy that creeps everyone out. And I'd say that it was that very thing that held me back the most, as it prevented me from putting myself out there, and showing myself at my best.

I think that when you start to look at things too mechanistically, that such is such is a requirement for success, that I have be like X and Y, it's too easy to sink into feelings of alienation (something I'd recommend anyone to read about who's gone through social withdrawal and/or depression), you become disconnected from the people around you, you don't feel any connections with anyone. You're isolated and alone.

What people really want from you is a feeling of connection, they want to have chemistry with you, when people feel that connection, when their conversation with you is flowing, people really don't give a damn about how good your muscles are, or whether you have a slight belly.

What people are really looking for in the people around them is happiness, we want to associate with other happy people, we want to feel buoyant. I've said earlier that fat people are unnattractive, but jolly fat men with a joie de vivre are a bit of an exception to that... People really don't like the unhappy fat people, though they may not consider them prime dating material. On the other hand, I know some people that like em big. Everyone has a preference.

So I don't actually think most people are so superficial. Some people are, and you don't really want to associate with them anyway. But most people aren't looking for perfection in the people they talk to. They just want to have an enjoyable conversation. My pet theory is that it's really the anxiety that's the problem, not what you're anxious about. I know it's difficult, but you have to focus on overcoming the anxiety and your fears, rather then simply obeying them.

In fact, if you do manage to overcome your anxieties you should feel proud of it. It's a sign of strength, that you have felt your fears and overcome them. It's a much greater thing to have overcome them then to have never felt them at all. I'm proud of my anxieties and fears, I embrace them, and why shouldn't I? It shows I care about other, that I'm at heart a good person. But I have to maintain a strong will, and not let them overcome me. When I feel fear in social situations I force myself forward anyway, and eventually I see that my fears were not so great afterall, or better yet, that the people around me were afraid as well.
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Old 2011-09-14, 18:09   Link #11
Asuras
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I honestly don't wish for anything different. It's the way it is, whether you want to call it fate or just biological disposition. Seeing others attractions as superficial seems fairly accusatory anyways, as everyone is entitled to their own preference. Just because there a some less "fortunate" (if you can call it that) doesn't suddenly dictate that outer appearance is worthless. Sure, appearance is only skin-deep, but it's this outer image that induces specific chemical reactions, pretty much. One can't exactly help being pulled towards persons of a certain character or appearance.

To me, what is most important is how outgoing you are, and your personality, as cliche as it is. Though I say appearance is very important above, it must be noted that most (intelligent) girls/guys generally don't go for people with terrible attitudes, regardless of how attractive they may be.

Don't fret over your luck or lack thereof so far. All it takes is some confidence and a go-getting mentality. If you try, you will eventually succeed.
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Old 2011-09-15, 01:44   Link #12
calorie
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Originally Posted by Gamer_2k4 View Post
I hope that's not what you got out of my post. That wasn't the point I was making; I was simply taking the example you gave and running with it.

There's FAR more to being human than "feeling better than your peers;" my point was that in order to get to a point where we don't have such a shortcoming (among others), we'd need to eliminate the notion of shortcomings entirely. Consider it this way. We have a group of 16 numbers, and the lower half is considered "bad" (at least, relative to the upper half). So what do you do? Do you get rid of the first eight numbers? Okay, but you still have eight left. Now the bottom four are the "bad" numbers. So you get rid of those, making the bottom two bad. You get rid of those, making the bottom one bad. Get rid of that, and you're left with one number. Is it bad? Is it good? It's neither; there's nothing to compare it to. By chasing perfection, we've eliminated it as a concept.

In an effort to clarify my original point, I'm getting away from myself. In summary, humans are defined by their positions on several spectra of good qualities vs bad qualities. Moral vs Immoral, Rich vs Poor, Attractive vs Ugly, Honest vs Deceptive, and so on. As long as those qualities exist, we're going to judge them. If we don't judge them, then there's no longer a spectrum. Humans are defined by their flaws and their deviations from an ideal. If everyone is flawless, no one is human.



I wasn't alluding to boredom at all. I was referring to the necessary elimination of any sort of scale of quality. Boredom is just another emotion on that scale: It only exists as the opposite of activity. If there's no such thing as activity, there's no boredom either.
Your argument is sound from a logical standpoint, and I did get what you originally tried to say. That same logic has occurred to me in the past but the reason I haven't accepted it is that it doesn't seem practically applicable.

Human beings are living organisms governed by the physiological regulatory mechanisms defined by genetics, via the release of appropriate chemical substances. Animals have a way of finding a healthy, sexually able mate by recognizing certain physical qualities; that ability is embedded in the genetic code and is a product of evolution, not social analysis. Humans tend to distort this innate image of the "ideal mate" because of the cultural influence, but I do believe that it in fact still exists, except perhaps it only becomes visible when actually confronted face-to-face with an extreme (i.e. how many Average Joes would not call a RL equivalent of Asahina Mikuru gorgeous?).

Say if everyone was to become beautiful all of a sudden - the DNA mainframe would still detect a, now ordinary, individual as highly attractive. Even if this beauty was a constant, that doesn't mean we would somehow instantly evolve into beings with a different way of recognizing attractiveness. Surely, the society would pose new standards - personalities would then become vital as a means of differentiation. Where do we go after that? Juxtaposition of an unstable factor such as intelligence which can give birth to an infinite number of possible personalities, each shifting and changing as long as it exists to a set of preferable physical traits is not comparable to your example of a set of numbers.

Even if evolution was sped up to an impossibly high rate, would we really, eliminate the concept of perfection? Humanity is not a computer program with set parameters and states. Even if we were to rule out the looks from the equation, our genetically defined instincts which we can't rule out would still continue to recognize this, now common, beauty as perfection -- you could call it life hacking of some sort. How long would it take for the evolution to get rid of the concept? Is there any real reason for that to even happen? And if it did, I highly doubt the same would be applicable to intelligence, it goes much deeper than that. Hence I refer to physique as superficial; because there is something far more unique and valuable in this universe, and that is intelligence which has reached the point of self-awareness.

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From what I bolded above it seems we are not thinking of the same things when we think of the word "organic".
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Originally Posted by Flower View Post
But coming back to the issue of organic. The reason for using the word was originally meant as a contrast to your mentioning "alternative quasi-egos" that one "takes on".

I was using the word as another synonym for "wholeness", or "entirety" or "integral-ness", as reflected, for example, in our planet's ecosystem, for example. Where a very large collection of seemingly unrelated or different parts at first glance all actually work together in one harmonious ... err ... "unit".

And I was using this analogy as a comparison for how we should lead our life, think, and even feel - and honesty with oneself is a pretty big element in terms of a starting point.

More than that - I think that the difficult work of doing so is something that takes a lifetime.
All is One, One is All (Fullmetal Alchemist). That is pretty much the way I strive to live and think of my human existence.
Yes, that is how I understood 'organic'.

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First of all I don't believe that some inexplicable, unidentifiable kind of process taking place over time in of itself will somehow magically alter what human beings are commonly like at present to some kind of "higher existence".
Neither do I. The way I see it, there isn't any way for evolution to take us there. But perhaps we can intervene (sometime in the far future).

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When something like "evolving above the corporeal existence that binds us to the animal side" is mentioned in religious or philosophical writings, is usually the direct result of an individual's great effort of will and/or some kind of "otherworldly intervention" (and this leaves aside the issue of whether or not doing so is a good thing to attempt or whether the specific example we are inspired by is in itself a good or "safe" example).
By "evolving above the corporeal existence" I was not referring to any biblical renaissance of humanity. As someone who has been influenced by Arthur C. Clarke, I was thinking along the lines of a few sci-fi scenarios:
  • Finding a way to transfer human mind to a mechanical body which would not be affected by the primal needs such as hunger, thirst, sexual urges etc.
  • "The Light of the Other Days" inspired scenario: a future world where the invention of wormhole sized cameras would eliminate privacy, resulting in a much more honest humanity
  • Another scenario from the afore mentioned book: in response to the lack of privacy, groups of people have started living in the dark, connected by some sort of neurological network, eventually evolving into one collective superego where no secrets are kept among the individual parts

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I agree very much with your calling such an idea a "romantic notion" - to me it just isn't going to happen, and imo hoping for such a thing to happen sometime in the far distant future is a bit of a waste of time. It is far more important (and I would even say practical) to live in the present and begin to face and attempt to deal with one's own shortcomings and weaknesses as a practical starting place.
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This. Truthfully, any time I hear talk of utopia or some eventual societal nirvana coming about in the distant future, it just sounds like another flavor of a theistic wish for divine salvation for humanity. I don't believe in either. You may have taken God out of the equation, but I still call it a fantasy. A nice one, sure, but essentially it's merely like applying a Merry England-type concept to the future. Life is too complex to allow for the existence of such simplified, conflict free realities.
My opening post was indeed not religiously flavored.

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What do you care anyway? It's the future. You live your life to your fullest, try bettering yourself and try raising your kids well. That's all that a bright future requires you to do. Some old folk lose all their confidence and pride when they're faced with their lineup of achievements and failures, so living for the future is important for your late psychological development.
If I had stayed a desperate fatty or if I was born as a Brad Pitt equivalent I probably would have thought that way. By substantially improving my physique, the latter has become a variable and thus the things I have mentioned are a lot more easy to notice. My experience and conscience cannot allow me to just become one of those arrogant good-looking bastards (relative to those who look "worse" than me now) but I see no way of achieving that -- it's easier when you're closer to the bottom (referring to where I was, not you cyth ).

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I have to disagree with the OP regarding physical looks. Now I'm not going to go so far as to say that looks don't matter at all, but I will say that what people actually find attractive and what is by common wisdom percieved as atttractive are two very different things. I'd say that being obese is certainly a red flag, likewise having skin problems, or other visible illness or deformities. Other then that, people don't care that much. Certainly as a guy I've found that my lack of fitness has not really set me back, though I'm not exactly a textbook case for sexual and social success, I would put my perrenial datelessness down to other more mundane factors (like the fact I don't bother to ask out any women...)

In fact, to be socially succesful, fitness is worthless, what you need is to cultivate wit and a confident persona. A neat sense of style is also a good idea, but it's nothing that really breaks the bank. Just wear a pressed shirt and trousers rather then that shabby t-shirt and jeans you've worn for the last 10 years. Nothing extraordinarily hard. The key thing is to wow people with your conversational aptitude and intelligence. In fact, I often mine my lack of physical fitness and general unconventional looks for self deprecating humour. People love it, and it shows I don't take myself very seriously, and that I am at ease with myself and in control.

Social success is a lot less about any particular characteristics so much as a state of mind. When a person is anxious, lonely or depressed people can very easily pick up on it, and most people try to avoid meeting people like that. Unfortunate but true.
I accept this argument, the fitness level can indeed be worthless if your persona doesn't follow. Speaking from personal experience.

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Now I myself have gone through periods of depression, anxiety and being a near hikikomori. For me I wasn't really worried about my appearance, so much as other people percieving me as a failure or "that guy", the weird guy that creeps everyone out. And I'd say that it was that very thing that held me back the most, as it prevented me from putting myself out there, and showing myself at my best.

I think that when you start to look at things too mechanistically, that such is such is a requirement for success, that I have be like X and Y, it's too easy to sink into feelings of alienation (something I'd recommend anyone to read about who's gone through social withdrawal and/or depression), you become disconnected from the people around you, you don't feel any connections with anyone. You're isolated and alone.
Yes, I have recognized this too and spent probably way too much time fixating on physical appearance as the defining component of a success. Pretty soon this obsession becomes a quasi "security blanket" for every failure (even when the connection is completely fictional); this IMHO, is the root of all non genetically imposed forms of depression - a man can get used to despair as a constant, in the world where happiness isn't, in order to protect his ego from getting hurt.

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What people really want from you is a feeling of connection, they want to have chemistry with you, when people feel that connection, when their conversation with you is flowing, people really don't give a damn about how good your muscles are, or whether you have a slight belly.

What people are really looking for in the people around them is happiness, we want to associate with other happy people, we want to feel buoyant. I've said earlier that fat people are unnattractive, but jolly fat men with a joie de vivre are a bit of an exception to that... People really don't like the unhappy fat people, though they may not consider them prime dating material. On the other hand, I know some people that like em big. Everyone has a preference.
However, my utter lack of social experience, friends and social interaction, which becomes evident after a while, is now in the way of me making new friends or getting in a relationship. The social anxiety really isn't a problem anymore, I mean, I do get excited and nervous sometimes, but in situations where it's somewhat expected, and not so much as before (I'm guessing, pretty much like most other people would). It's the inability to talk about my past in relation to social life because it was basically non-existent. I can have a meaningful conversation, smile, talk about the stuff that's happening atm etc., but not the small talk pertaining to my friends and love life. People notice this and start thinking: "This guy is weird. Does he spend all of his time alone?". After the initial hikkomori impression I must leave on others, followed by "Hey, this guy is not so bad after all", comes this realization (by other people) that I am indeed too weird and withdrawn for their liking.

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So I don't actually think most people are so superficial. Some people are, and you don't really want to associate with them anyway. But most people aren't looking for perfection in the people they talk to.
On a basic level yes. It easier to get in the friend zone with someone you're attracted to but the fact is, there are good looking people who won't look at you in any other way if you're out of their league.

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They just want to have an enjoyable conversation. My pet theory is that it's really the anxiety that's the problem, not what you're anxious about. I know it's difficult, but you have to focus on overcoming the anxiety and your fears, rather then simply obeying them.

In fact, if you do manage to overcome your anxieties you should feel proud of it. It's a sign of strength, that you have felt your fears and overcome them. It's a much greater thing to have overcome them then to have never felt them at all. I'm proud of my anxieties and fears, I embrace them, and why shouldn't I? It shows I care about other, that I'm at heart a good person. But I have to maintain a strong will, and not let them overcome me. When I feel fear in social situations I force myself forward anyway, and eventually I see that my fears were not so great afterall, or better yet, that the people around me were afraid as well.
Acceptance is indeed the key. I believe I've mentioned that in the opening post as something that was crucial in overcoming my depression.

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I honestly don't wish for anything different. It's the way it is, whether you want to call it fate or just biological disposition.
I do. The very idea of being able to fight the biological disposition seems inspiring and makes me feel happy more than a mere of intelligence in a vast, cold universe. There may not be much that we can do about the topic in question now but in the future, I surmise that through gene manipulation or something else we will be. If we weren't fighting biological disposition as human race, we would never evolve from cavemen who were left to mercy of saber tooth tigers and whatnot, not to mention finding the treatments for many diseases etc. And I certainly don't believe in fate.

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Seeing others attractions as superficial seems fairly accusatory anyways, as everyone is entitled to their own preference. Just because there a some less "fortunate" (if you can call it that) doesn't suddenly dictate that outer appearance is worthless. Sure, appearance is only skin-deep, but it's this outer image that induces specific chemical reactions, pretty much. One can't exactly help being pulled towards persons of a certain character or appearance.
This is the reason why I made this thread in the first place -- it's too cruel. I would have settled for TinyRedLeaf's reply because that's what I was thinking too, but we can debate this further, at least in theory right?



Thank you all for replying, the feedback is even greater than I'd expected. Many quality arguments, my vision of the world seems a little less black and white now

A part of the title is also 'Social Detachment' and it would be hypocritical of me to claim that my reasoning is above my life background and otherworldly - so don't feel bad about mentioning my personal experiences as something that's distorting my vision of reality. You just have to convince me first, and there are some things which I had given enough thought, so don't expect my judgement crumble in on itself that easily
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Old 2011-09-15, 03:45   Link #13
DonQuigleone
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However, my utter lack of social experience, friends and social interaction, which becomes evident after a while, is now in the way of me making new friends or getting in a relationship. The social anxiety really isn't a problem anymore, I mean, I do get excited and nervous sometimes, but in situations where it's somewhat expected, and not so much as before (I'm guessing, pretty much like most other people would). It's the inability to talk about my past in relation to social life because it was basically non-existent. I can have a meaningful conversation, smile, talk about the stuff that's happening atm etc., but not the small talk pertaining to my friends and love life. People notice this and start thinking: "This guy is weird. Does he spend all of his time alone?". After the initial hikkomori impression I must leave on others, followed by "Hey, this guy is not so bad after all", comes this realization (by other people) that I am indeed too weird and withdrawn for their liking.
This can be a real issue, and it's certainly a bit there for me. There are a variety of ways to tackle it. Personally I find the best way to deal with it is to actually be pretty open about it. I wouldn't lie about it. You'll also find there are plenty of people out there who are of a similiar disposition to you and don't really like going out either.

I wouldn't out and out say you have no friends etc. but if they asked about previous experiences I'd be honest and say I went through a rough patch, so long as you overcome it people should respect you.

But with all that said, you still have to project to them a measure of social value. People aren't going to be particularly tolerant of your sob story if you're dull.

If you are finding it difficult where you are, it may be a good idea to move somewhere new and start fresh. You have a good excuse for knowing no one, and it really helps you move on with your life. When I was in College I had a fair amount of depression and social isolation, I decided to go on exchange for a year and it really did me a world of good. I was really able to start putting things behind me.

Quote:
On a basic level yes. It easier to get in the friend zone with someone you're attracted to but the fact is, there are good looking people who won't look at you in any other way if you're out of their league.
You need to look at it from another perspective, rather then you not being worth their time, they're not worth your time. They're just idiots that don't know what they're missing. Have a bit of confidence. There might be a part of you that doesn't believe it's true, but really it is. There will always be people who don't give you the time of day, but hey, there are always more people out there...

Quote:
Acceptance is indeed the key. I believe I've mentioned that in the opening post as something that was crucial in overcoming my depression.
I think the key is to accept reality as it is, and not striving for unnattainable perfection. Enjoy what's already around you. People have to shift their perceptions.

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A part of the title is also 'Social Detachment' and it would be hypocritical of me to claim that my reasoning is above my life background and otherworldly - so don't feel bad about mentioning my personal experiences as something that's distorting my vision of reality. You just have to convince me first, and there are some things which I had given enough thought, so don't expect my judgement crumble in on itself that easily
I would term it "Alienation". On the plus side, I think having a period of alienation strips away some of your false perceptions of the world, and can help you see the world with some more clarity. It's not pleasant though.
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Old 2011-09-15, 04:35   Link #14
Seitsuki
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Auckland, NZ
Ah hah, I know how you feel.

At some point in my life I went from pretty "normal" (y'know, kids have that amazing skill to make friends with everyone in like a day) to socially incompetent. Dunno when or how. Even now, I prefer time by myself to hanging out with friends (or the closest thing I have to them).

The thing is, I'm rather used to it and don't really mind if the situation stays this way. The way I see it, "friends" are very nice to have and can be useful, but aren't really a necessity- think the whole hedgehog dilemma (which I now subscribe to thanks to Cross Channel..). In great contrast to me my parents have huge networks- whenever I go overseas, whether to America or back to China, they'll have contacts in almost every city who can host me for a short while or show me around etc. While I would love to have their degree of social connectivity, it's simply probably not going to happen.

What I'm trying to get across I guess, is that it's not necessarily a bad thing. I can (and sometimes even do) go out with friends, do irrelevant stuff, talk about trivial and inconsequential things, but I don't enjoy it and don't do it very often. I guess that people notice it and don't ask me out very often either. It all comes down to yourself, and what you prefer. While I'm hardly an expert or the like I think the important thing is not to think that it's a must to be social and everything, and try and change yourself accordingly- it'll only hurt yourself in the end. Solitude is where we are least alone, after all.

Whatever the case, good luck I guess :D
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Old 2011-10-09, 22:30   Link #15
Puddingman
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The thing is, I'm rather used to it and don't really mind if the situation stays this way.
Yea! It's only a bad thing if you want your life to be different. So many people live life one way, and others who don't follow that path might think their way is "wrong", when in reality it's whatever fits the individual person.

I've also noticed how a lot of the "socially normal" people all waste their time excessively drinking on the weekends, doing drugs (I don't mean to offend anyone here if you do these things). I find those people are the people who go to college for business or other dry topics because they think they can "make money", end up working a lousy job, and are ultimately unhappy with their lives. They think enjoyment is in superficial behaviors and they look for relationships with superficial people.

While some of the people on this board who may feel socially awkward or lonely eventually make a few close friends, develop legitimate and healthy interests, and in general feel fulfilled and thankful for what they have and who they've got.

It's definitely a "Quality vs. Quantity" topic. And if you're life is quality to you then that's all that matters.
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