Effort in social settings

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Why is there so much preoccupation with the idea that some people need to make an effort to fit in, while others can go wherever they want and behave as they please? History has shown that those who go to particular places looking for validation usually end up at the mercy of those they aim to please. Obviously, it makes sense to learn the social codes of specific groups, to avoid ruffling feathers or stepping on toes, but there are moments when it is possible to conflate the need to remain within the boundaries of what is deemed as appropriate behaviour, with the need to impress people who don’t have very much to offer in return to those making the effort.

All of us have in depth knowledge in our areas of interest. A friend of mine is a talented footballer. He has dreams to make a career out of his talents, but is restricted by the system in the country where he lives. On one occasion, he took me to a football field, where his peers wanted him to act as the referee for a game. He asked if I would be willing to watch the game while he did so, for fifteen minutes and I accepted.

I have never been inclined towards following the “beautiful game”. I sat on the sidelines and watched my friend and his pals. I noticed quite a few things about the way the players treated each other, which would have probably informed the way I would deal with those people if I met them socially. But since I had no agenda with regard to meeting them, the information was simply recorded as a matter of interest.

If I had a need to make an impression on them, perhaps to be accepted into their circle, maybe I would have been more engaged, but since I couldn’t imagine any situation in which I would need to do that, I struggled to stay awake as I waited.

In a more general sense, it is obvious that “making a favourable impression” is all about seeking ways to make others do as we would like them to do. Some people barge around, assuming that they have positions of authority in many situations and that there is no need to impress anyone. This makes me think of the last photo I saw of Saddam Hussein, when he was discovered hiding in bunker. What happens when the tables are turned on people who think they have all the power?