Jan 12, 2018 in Sociology

Deviate Your Self-Presentation

Societal relationships are impossible without human interaction. While interacting with each other, we often believe that the way others perceive us depends on the clothes we are wearing, on our appearance, habits, behavior, etc. If an individual wants to make himself/herself more attractive (from his/her point of view) to others, he or she gets involved in the process of impression management, which may be of three styles: ideal, tactical, or authentic. If people behave in public authentically, i.e., as they behave at home, this means that they create a true image of themselves and want the public to perceive their true essence. The opposite style is the ideal self-presentation, which implies the exposure of a desirable, not real, image. A tactical style presupposes the creation of a completely positive personality who rigidly sticks to societal norms and principles.

In this paper, I would like to describe a deviation from the authentic self-presentation, which is typical of my lifestyle. Despite the fact that I am an inherently lively person, I understand where and why I should control my emotions. That is why, usually, when I am in public transport, I avoid talking loudly on a cell phone. However, for this paper, I decided to change my typical behavioral pattern: being in public transport (I changed four buses during the day). I was talking loudly on the cell phone. I felt really uneasy about this change. I do not like to be at the centre of many people's attention; in this case, talking loudly, I drew people's attention and felt rather uncomfortable.

The people's reaction did not surprise me. It was the same in all the buses. Here is a scenario describing typical people's reaction to my actions. It has happened so that in every bus, an old man with a newspaper was sitting beside me (to be more precise, every time, I sat beside people busy with something like reading, talking to each other etc.); presumably, he was trying to concentrate on his reading, but I disturbed him. For two minutes he sat quietly; then he began to turn his head and glance at me. I did not turn to him and look into his eyes, but I felt that the glance was indignant (I am saying so because I also feel indignant in such situations). Other people sitting in front of me and behind also disapproved of my behavior; they said nothing, but started turning around and looking at me angrily.

At first, I felt uncomfortable and amused at the same time. I thought: "Well, you dislike my talking on the phone; what if I dislike your reading the newspaper? Why should I stop talking with my friend only because of your nasty glances? What if my friend is providing me with the same useful information that you find in the newspaper?". However, my egoistic thoughts were interrupted by a further range of disapproving gazes. I felt more uncomfortable and even ashamed and decided to stop the experiment. Thus, I put my phone into the bag; the man calmed down. When he was about to get off the bus, he kindly asked me to move over; all his indignity was gone.

Thus, I violated the social norm of public behavior (namely, in transport). It is common knowledge that since the transport is public, i.e., many people gather together at the same time, everybody should respect each other's rights. It is simply impolite to make others listen to the details of your life; moreover, it is even rude and presupposes lack of self-respect since you encroach on people's privacy and make them unwillingly intrude upon your own. I believe that the promotion or demotion of the given social norm is beneficial exclusively to those who stick to it or disregard it. It is simply the matter of self-awareness and self-respect. It is only up to us to decide which society we would like to live in.

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