Our Understanding of Self

Our Understanding of Self

Perspective
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As a journalism major, I will take many communication classes and therefore have to study various theories regarding people and their thought processes. Many of these theories could be filed under psychology and how the brain functions, but you can also look at it through a communicable aspect in order to understand the reasoning behind why people choose to say certain words in certain manners.

Our entire understanding of the world has been, and will continue to be, influenced by our own perception of what is around us. As people we have come up with pre-defined meanings and interpretations for things based on prior experiences and events. Therefore, we cannot entirely see something through someone else’s perspective, or even imagine ourselves in their shoes. Because by imagining to be someone looking at yourself, you are using your own opinion on how people see you, rather than how the person views you. Interactionists call the phenomena of imagining how we look to others as “the looking glass self.” The A First Look at Communication Theory –Ninth Edition textbook defines “the looking glass self” as “the mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other; the objective self; me” (pg. 58). If the theory of communication is anything, it is a process of vocabulary words one must understand. Therefore, to put it in other words, a looking glass self can be described as pretending to be someone else in order to view yourself. Easy enough? Sort of.

The term “I” is the subjective self, “the spontaneous driving force” (pg. 58). What do I look like to them? Who am I? What am I going to do? While the term “me” is the objective -- “The image of self - seen when one takes the role of the other” (pg. 58). The text gives examples from social constructionist Herbert Mead in order to better understand this concept. “If the ‘I’ speaks, the ‘me’ hears. And the ‘I’ of this moment is the present in the ‘me’ of the next moment” (pg. 59).

If that wasn’t complicated enough, the concept of “generalized other” also can come into play. This concept essentially is explaining that the mental image you have of yourself is due to societal expectations and its reflection upon yourself.

The majority of us have probably created our sense of self through other people and their expectations -- who we believe they want us to be based on conversations and responses. Perhaps that is why most people have varying personalities depending on who they are with. One acts one way with their professor in order to meet the expectation. They act another with their family, to fit a portrayal. They then continue to become another character when they are with their friends. It’s a continuous and inevitable cycle.

But I believe it is important for people to understand as one self, you cannot fully know what another thinks of you or know what their expectation for you is, without clearly communicating it to one another. You can imagine being them and seeing you, but that still reflects your impression of yourself with regards to how you see their expectation of yourself. This can affect everything between how you behave in total and how you choose to interact with people. A small example can be found in how you greet people. Using examples from before, greeting a professor most likely would go along the lines of, ‘Hello, how are you?’ Greeting family may sound a little more relaxed, ‘Hey what’s up, how are you?’ While greeting friends will be comfortable, and the set of vocabulary you choose to use may be completely different, such as, ‘What’s good?’ Your choice of words and expressions is a direct reflection of your assumed expectation. This is an example of the communication aspect of influence in personal self, rather than psychological reasoning.

We do not know what others think of us. Only what we think others think of us. Even if you try to detach the self when you look at something or someone through someone else’s eyes, you can still be blinded by your own perception. I think it’s okay to be blinded sometimes, but don’t allow it to become your light.

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Please, If You're Somehow Still Using The 'R Word'— Leave That Habit In 2018

Come on guys, its 2018. Google a new word.

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Maybe it was because I witnessed two boys get in trouble in elementary school for using this word as an insult.

Maybe it's because I fell in love with a thing called Camp Able. Maybe it's because one of my best friends is a special ed major. Or maybe it's because I try to be a decent human being. I do not use the R word.

Until this past semester, I hadn't really heard anyone use it often despite one encounter in 6th grade. Most of my best friends I have met while serving at places like Camp Able or Camp Bratton Green where summers are dedicated to people with diverse-abilities. I think having been surrounded with like-minded people for so long made me forget that some people still use it as an expression.

Let me tell you, it's annoying.

The word itself has been brushed off even in a "scientific" sense. It means to be slowed down, but it has stretched far beyond that meaning and has turned into an insult.

It's an insult of comparison.

Like any word, the power behind it is given by the user and most times, the user uses it to demean another person. It's like when you hear someone say "that's gay."

Like, what? Why is that term being used in a derogatory sense?

Why is someone's sexuality an insult? Hearing someone use the R-word physically makes me cringe and tense up. It makes me wonder what truly goes on in someone's mind. People will argue back that it's "just a word" and to "chill out," but if it was just a word, why not use something else?

There is a whole world full of vocabulary waiting to be used and you're using something that offends a whole community. Just because you don't care, it does not mean it shouldn't matter. Just use a different word and avoid hurting a person's feeling, it really is just that simple.

There is not a good enough reason to use it.

I volunteer at two summer camps: Camp Bratton Green and Camp Able. If you know me, I talk nonstop about the two. More realistically, if you know me, it's probably because I met you through one of the two. Even before I was introduced to the love at Camp Able, I still knew that this was a word not to use and it never crossed my mind to think of it.

The history behind the R-word goes back to describe people with disabilities but because of the quick slang pick up it was sort of demoted from the psychology world. Comparing someone or something that is negative to a word that you could easily avoid speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

The word is a word, but it is subjective in its meaning and in its background.

Just stop using it.

A List of Objective Words/Phrases to Use:

Fool/Foolish

Blockhead

Nincompoop

Silly

Ludicrous

Dim-witted

Trivial

Naive

"A few beads short on the rosary"

"On crack or something"

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Stop Telling People That They Don't Act 'Autistic Enough' To Be On The Spectrum

It's time for the world to wake up. Seriously.

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(Note: This article was entirely inspired by this Twitter thread I saw and would highly recommend giving a read! The user touches upon a few points that I may miss, and I wouldn't want to just repeat everything they state. https://twitter.com/xasymptote/status/1075781558630518785)

No matter how many times it is stated, everyone seems to forget that autism lies on a spectrum. Therefore, the symptoms and signs demonstrated by one individual may not be shared by another. Sure, there may be similarities among two people on the spectrum, but these similarities should not be seen as defining factors of autism. Likewise, someone further along the spectrum may not compare at all to someone else.

Yet, television, films, and other forms of media don't do a great job showing this. There are very few cases of representation for autism on-screen, but when there is, it is often a very stereotypical, inaccurate case of it. Some traits that I've noticed most of these characters share are accelerated intelligence, lack of tact, honesty that borders on rudeness, and so on. And yes, some people with autism will have these characteristics. But a large percentage of them don't!

In all of my years working with those with special needs, I have never met someone who acts like what television considers the perfect picture of someone with autism. This is a big problem. Why?

Because the general public will start to believe that this is how everyone with autism acts. They'll start to think that these characters define what autism is like, and when they're confronted with the reality that this is not the truth, they won't know how to help.

This false idea of what autism is and means could lead to this concept on not "being or acting autistic enough." To an outsider, if you don't act like the main character from "The Good Doctor" or Sam from "Atypical", your identity is considered invalid. If you don't have the characteristics of having above average intelligence or complete honesty at all times, nothing matches in their head. See why this is a problem?

Autism is a spectrum in which no individual who has it is alike and will match all of the symptoms and signs. So it is foolish for television and film to describe autism through the same stereotypes when it is unlikely that the people you encounter will find truth in that representation. Even the best representation will not be accurate for everyone.

While telling someone that they don't act "autistic enough" is already an insult to their identity, that harshness buries itself deeper when you take into account that society already looks down on those with mental disabilities. They spend their entire lives trying to fit in with the crowd, lessening their ticks until it becomes easier for them to do the everyday activities that you take for granted—all for people to invalidate them by saying they don't look like they're on the spectrum.

Even today, society doesn't know how to explain autism, and admittedly, it isn't easy when it is so different for everyone. Even the people deep in that world don't understand everything about it, and that's okay. What is important is that we start considering everyone as individuals and not expect to fit them in a box of preconceptions. It is important that we try to erase the stereotypes and start explaining the truth: autism is complicated and tricky, but that doesn't mean we should ever stop trying to understand or make the world kinder for those on the spectrum.

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