A Call for Street Psychologists
As I understand it, if thereís something going around these days: hard feelings. With the personalized culture, there seems to be less and less interest in breaking social confines, as the social appears more asocial. Well, I would prescribe that college students and lifelong students alike need to take special note about the topic of psychology. Who am I to say? Well, Iím not a psychology student.
To the resentment of those like Niles Crane, I suppose what Iím encouraging is pop psychology, but taken up by the layman. The reason, I think youíll agree, is because people can be a lot sometimes, and itís best to take them bit by bit. Last June, David Brooks of the New York Times touted what he called ďpersonalism,Ē an essential philosophy suited to cure what ails this time. More than any piece I have read in a while, I believe him and his insight into this point-of-view that asks us to take people for the substantive and organic people they are.
To those of you still reading after I apparently just discredited myself as someone outside the field, I would say itís appropriate for me, as someone who has no real qualifications, to reiterate the importance of being a layman. If youíre going to get to know and (possibly) love your neighbor, you need to know thyself. Or yourself, depending on who you are. Itís the proverbial golden rule, which I would admonish to you as a Christian.
What Iím calling for is ďstreet psychology.Ē Ultimately, it is a matter of giving people the consideration and recognition they deserve, not through excessive praise but by giving them the empathy that moves things along. Not to be a bigger person, but to be the sort who diffuses issues as they arise. Generally, people are simpler than you think when seeing them through the lense of yourself.
University standards already require students to take a variety of classes with the intention of making them well-rounded. There are a number of things, including the sciences, history and philosophy that should be taken advantage of. We can all remember that song covered by every í60s singer and Leonard Nimoy, ďThink of your fellow man/Lend him a helping hand/put a little love in your heart.Ē
Well, thereís something to keep in mind with that: you donít really know all that much about yourself. At least, not the person other people know. Perhaps itís just me and my socially (e)strange(d) quality that makes me realize this, but itís something you think about when you hear yourself on the recording. Cringing when I hear the sound of my own voice isnít a luxury Iíve been able to keep now that Iím on the radio, but the principle is still there. People donít hear the voice you hear. They donít see the face you see in your mind, which is something Iíve had to get used to because Iíve been told I make some unpleasant expressions when Iím not aware.
I have been told I have a fairly expressive appearance, i.e. I donít have a poker face. In fact, I have been told I make some strange expressions and have at least once pledged to do a project paneling out the ďmany faces of Clayton.Ē Perception is everything, but talking to yourself in the mirror just isnít the same as meeting yourself on the street. You arenít really aware of who you. So just be genuine, and I tend to think people, more often than not, are typically warmer.
If youíre going to understand why people are rude, or withdrawn, or foul, or cruel, or sullen, you need to know what makes them tick. Because if you know what makes people tick, you can get away from them before they go off. Thereís a lot that goes into being a human. Itís all of our insecurities, ambitions, quirks and inhibitions, that make us who we are and ultimately make us suck at interacting with each other. For the layman, it all cracks up, not to terminology, or knowing William James or Sigmund Freud. Itís the simple fact that pretty much every arrogant moron or jerk you meet is compensating from some extreme insecurity. In simple terms, you can be your own handbook to understanding your fellow man.
In the current social setting, when folks are burdened with the pathology of perfectionism and a crushing sense of defeat when they cannot attain it, the biggest and most important thing is to remember how significant personalism is. We have entered what some, including Sen. Ben Sasse, a loneliness epidemic. Our call, in return, is to have a tactic to our compassion. First, by understanding ourselves; then by finding ourselves in others.