Thursday, October 5, 2023

Note to (Presentation of) Self

I'll be teaching about Goffman's presentation of self to students soon. I love the material, and enjoy talking with students about different examples of front stage and back stage behaviors. My go to example of impressions is a hundred years ago I went to a job interview not wearing a tie. I could see the interviewer's notes on the table. He wrote "NO TIE!!" We are always making impressions, regardless of whether we mean to. First impressions, of course. But second impressions too. Impressions always. 

Anyway...sometimes I get lost in talking about impression management and performances. This time around, I want to say more about what happens when emotions take over. When we are reacting emotionally, are we less concerned with managing impressions? In such instances, are we less deliberate about our behavior? Like when we're mad! For example, what's going on with the couple constantly arguing with each other in the neighborhood? Do they think about the possibility that their fighting shapes people's impression of them as an unhappy couple? Do they care? Whatever the case, they keep forming impressions. Or suppose a dad is jawing at another dad at a youth sports event. Something angers a parent who then speaks aggressively to the other parent. Awkward! This would be front stage bickering between two dads. In such an exchange, emotions rule the interaction. There seems to be less calculation in these kinds of interactions. So this is just a note to myself (with a few examples to consider) to talk with students about how to analyze interactions when raw emotions are a key feature, and how emotional interactions influence the impressions of audience members. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Three Indie Rock Love Songs

Just a quick appreciation post for contemporary indie rock love songs. What are some of your favorite love songs in various genres? Here are three of my favorite indie rock love songs. 

The song "Lilacs" by Waxahatchee received a lot of play on Sirius XMU a few years ago. I love hearing it whenever it shows up in their rotation. It was on the station yesterday when I caught it. I then listened to it a few more times on YouTube. I'm a sucker for a good lyric, and this line knocks me out: "I won't end up anywhere good without you."

Another song I hear often on XMU is "True Love" by Hovvdy. The simplicity of the lyrics work for me..."You comfort me, Rosy"... and the imagery works for me too...

"Show off your new dress

Spin around for me

Like a blue sky I get up so high

You sure shine in the color

In that shade of pink"

To end with a perfect song... "Geometry" by Rubblebucket

"When you talk to me

I start to believe

I can believe in myself

When you're far out to sea in your personal hill

Draw a line to me

And I'll draw a line to you

Let's make geometry"

I just love the everyday life stuff in this song:

"I woke up thinking the same thing

What you want to do today?

I guess I'd go for a walk again

But Alex said it might be raining"

It's all so good: 

"I like you

You like me too

That's why I'm callin' on you"

These songs will be in my head all day 😍

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The True Declaration of Love

"The practice of mindfulness will help you to love properly, in such a way that harmony, freedom, and joy are possible. The true declaration of love is, "Dear one, I am here for you," because the most precious gift you can give to your loved one is your true presence, with body and mind united in solidity and freedom...

In order to love, we must be here, and then our presence will embrace the presence of the other person. Only then will they have the feeling of being loved. So you must recognize the presence of the other person with the energy of mindfulness, with the genuine presence of your body in mind in oneness." 

Excerpts from You Are Here, Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 91 and p. 93 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Deep Listening

"The practice of deep listening consists of keeping compassion alive in your heart the whole time that you are listening. You do not listen in order to judge, criticize, or evaluate. You listen for one reason alone: to offer the other person a chance to express him- or herself. That person is going to say things that irritate you. He or she might express disapproval of you, heap blame on you, say things that are false. You have to be ready to listen to anything. You have to say to yourself, "I'm listening to this person not to criticize or judge him. I'm listening to give him a chance to express himself, to provide him with some relief--that's all."

Excerpt from You Are Here, Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 62

Friday, July 14, 2023

See The Blue Sky

"Albert Camus wrote a novel, The Stranger, in which his character, Meursault, is condemned to death. Three days before his execution, he is able for the first time in his life to touch the blue sky. He is in his cell, he is looking at the ceiling. He discovers a square of blue sky appearing through the skylight. Strangely enough, a man forty years of age is able to see the blue sky for the first time. Of course, he had looked at the stars and the blue sky more than once before, but this time it was for real. We might not know how to touch the blue sky in such a profound way. The moment of awareness Camus describes is mindfulness: Suddenly you are able to touch life." 

Excerpt from True Love, Thich Nhat Hanh, pp. 16-17

I took this picture at Knox Farm (East Aurora, NY) yesterday during a long walk. 

Developing a Listening Exercise

Listening is a sociological skill. We can all improve our listening ability. If given the opportunity to concentrate and listen carefully to others, maybe we can be better listeners. This semester I plan to try a listening exercise. One way to do this would be to pair up students and have them chat about prompts like these:

  1. Describe a pet and what your pet means to you (if you've never had a pet, would you want one some day?) 
  2. Details about a job you’ve had
  3. What's something in your life that is stressful?
  4. A hobby or activity in your life
  5. What’s a value you have, or a family value, that’s important to you?
  6. Is there an area in your life you’re trying to improve?
Whatever the questions are, we would pair back up a few weeks later to revisit these questions and to see what people remember from their conversation. The spirit of the exercise is to practice deep listening. Maybe we'll recognize we too often "half listen" in daily conversation or come in and out of conversations. We can't be perfect listeners all the time, but surely we can improve. 

Thoughts? Ideas?