Presentation of Self in a Minefield

The other day in my Sociology class at high school, we were going over a concept called social construction of reality. Basically what that came down to was that reality wasn’t an actual thing in and of itself, but instead it was a construct artificially propped up by the way that different people interact with one another. 

Which makes sense from a certain standpoint – after all, reality is fundamentally based on our perceptions, so if our perceptions happened to be different from those around us we’d never even know. Control perceptions and you literally are God.

But that’s not the point I set out to make here. The point I set out to make was regarding sociology and how I noticed that it had a concept in it that fit with Aspie social science, if it can indeed be called that. Presentation of self was the main term. It’s essentially what it sounds like – how we act to influence the opinions of others. The looking-glass self is a similar idea – only with the added step that we observe others’ reactions to our behavior and modify it accordingly to produce the desired reaction.

Anyway, at some point during this lecture my teacher was talking about how fragile this whole thing was and how one mistake could make it all fold in on itself like a great big house of cards. That hit me with, “oh, this sounds kinda like me!” I proceeded to make the connection to my own behavior. Ordinarily if this gargantuan construct gets destroyed, it’s not terribly bad. Awkward, yes, but people can normally put it back together fairly quickly. 

That’s where I come in. I have absolutely no clue how to set up the foundations for a social interaction most of the time. Thus, with the knowledge that a single mistake can completely undo the social environment, I become extremely overcautious. If I make that mistake there’s no telling what might happen but whatever it is it must be completely terrifying, because I will then not do anything at all. It comes to mind that it’s something like standing in a minefield – you know where you are is safe (because you aren’t blown all to hamburger, obviously) but you can’t move from there – there’s no telling where a mine might be hidden, and it only takes one screwup to wreck your whole life. Or at the very least it feels like that.


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