Does it matter what others think of you? The totem pole effect

I think the importance of the opinion of others rests on the power dynamics between individuals and groups. It depends on social status, which is not the same as economic class. Social status means, loosely, how “in” you are. Often, social and economic status coincide, but not necessarily and we need to realize this. Within each group is a subgroup with sub-statuses and its own elite. We may not like it, nor admit it, but it’s true.

Think: What if I took one of these blog entries, cleaned it up a bit (fixed the boo-boos here and there), then, changed the author’s name and sent it in to the Boston Globe signed “Sera Davidow.” And added the Western MA RLC. Nothing against Sera, but what do you think would happen? If I sent it in signed by me, even with the MFA, they would ignore the mailing, likely toss it out without reading it. If it had Sera’s name on it, they’d read it at least. The Real Sera would likely get a response (and then wonder why!).

In all seriousness, here I am talking about social status. Sera has social status that I do not have. I am only saying this to illustrate social status.

Trump has said atrocious things on Twitter, but he has a high social status, never mind politically being in a position of  power. Does it matter what we think? Does he care, or even know?

Now, what if someone of lower social status said the same thing? What if, say, a college professor came up with similar tweets that Trump comes up with? I doubt that prof would keep his job unless his tenure agreement kept him there forever.

It matters what the public thinks of a college professor as he represents the institution. The college has the power to dismiss him if the trustees are too pissed off.

If a student tweets racist or bullying tweets, he might get reported to the police or the FBI might get an alert. He might be considered a potential school shooter. Now, it matters very much what the local police think, because they might potentially shoot the student.

If you live alone in the woods and have no contact with society, who the hell cares what others think? But who falls into this category? We are social creatures and eventually we have to say hello to each other.

Humans are judgmental, critical as hell, and downright nasty at times. If you are as disgusted with the human race as I am….you are not alone. At least we have our dogs to hug at the end of the day. Mine is snoring in her sleep as we speak.

2 thoughts on “Does it matter what others think of you? The totem pole effect”

  1. Your last sentence reminds me of a Walt Whitman poem.

    I struggle with misanthropy often. I bet a lot of psych survivors do. We feel–understandably–like humanity has betrayed us.

    1. I never felt that way, disgusted with humanity like that, until I was abused in a hospital when I was 53 years old, deprived of water for no medical reason. After that nothing has ever really been the same. I totally understood the “broken” concept. Because you feel like you have been ruined by “them.”

Feedback and comments welcome!