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Looking-Glass Self

The Real World, or Mirror Dimension?

By Syed ShahbazPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
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Looking-Glass Self
Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Came across this theory in our sociology course a while ago. The concept basically states that you look at yourself the way other people look at you. And there are different point of views on how you can go about this. However, it all ultimately falls down to the type of person you are. And how you take this can also determine the character you have.

Its funny because everyone, especially guys, in the new era want to consider themselves as "sigma males", or people of independent thought. Not affected by other peoples opinions or criticism. However, if you are silent enough in groups, or even with single individuals, you can determine whether or not they actually mean it and break them down pretty easily.

What you see today is the result of generational, technological, and social change in which people have literally molded the fabric of who they are supposed to be, rather than who they should be. All for social acceptance.

Lets start with Social Media. At face value, it just seems like platforms where people can go and express themselves, or share moments of their lives. But overtime, it seems like it has taken a bit of a dark turn. Somehow people have convinced themselves that how you appear on it, is how you appear in real life. Which is far from the case. It is in fact become more of a drug, where instead of highs and relaxation, people come to get hits of validation.

Try this experiment on a friend of yours. If they have a social media where their profile is majority of them in just poses, and trying to be edgy, take a picture of them that is unflattering and threaten to post it. You will never see a more scared version of them than in that moment. It not only shows a weak character and massive insecurities, but also proves the concept of the Looking-Glass Self. Likes have become a form of currency, in which apparently if more people like what you post, it makes you feel better about yourself. Much like opening up your bank balance and knowing you are secure. Same is the case with followers. It is no surprise why there would be a huge fan following for the metaverse. Why not live in the delusion you created for yourself all the time, rather than work on the reality you live in.

Then comes generational causes. Often times it seems like what we envision for ourselves is almost impossible. Success stories from the previous generations never had lifestyle gurus, and motivation influencers telling them they could make it if they did XYZ. They had to stick their guns. See it through. Sure, they probably had mentors, but no one ever knows if they will ever make it, or not. And that is what mental toughness looks like. Most of us, myself included, are guilty of not finding "motivation" to get up and do what we are supposed to. Imagine saying that to a 50 year old millionaire today who did not have 60 second reels, or 15 second stories to tell them "they can do it".

Even today, some people are born with that fire, and some are not. Those who have to get it done, will. The ones who don't, tough. Majority of us have probably had ideas that we knew could change the course of our lives. The only thing holding us back is failure. And its not failure that we would have to see. It is the failure others will observe which we would have to live with. The hardest part to any endeavor, is starting. And just because we cannot get over the "what if" factor, we never start.

In my opinion, the biggest factor to the result of how this theory would affect an individual would have to be Experience. If you are someone that has seen enough of the world, studied enough religions and socialized with enough people, you are most likely to realize that no one has it right. Not one soul. One of the main points of being human, is being flawed. There is no way anyone could determine where they will be, even if they do everything right. So, why dwell on that fact? Looking-Glass Self is not something everyone knows they have, until they self evaluate. How are you going to allow the perception of a stranger to mold who you are. and let them conclude it.

However, accountability is everything. The only people that will question your actions are the ones that care enough to see you not get affected by its consequences. Someone who is close to you, will often tell you what is wrong with you more than what is right. If you are able to see it just as well as them, then it means that it is true. And that is the only time where this theory should be considered. Granted, the person speaking themselves should also have that level of experience, at least in the relevant areas.

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