Isn't it quite bittersweet that when we weight in our relationships, we remember arguments that were so regrettable and bitter, that we would happily delete them from our memory?Read More
Imagine needing an auxiliary wooden stool to reach the tall cupboard shelves. You do your research "for the best of the best", but it takes too long, and you start feeling that you are wasting your time. So instead of a tool lightening up your daily life struggles, it makes it rather harder. This is how planning, agendas and new-year resolutions can end up manipulating us too. Let me share my thoughts on that.Read More
Welcome welcome! Today we are talking about peer pressure, how we all want to be a part of groups of similars and about social rejection.
If you prefer to read this Brain Juicing episode, I have you covered; find it below.
Have you ever been to a dinner with friends, not very good ones that you know as the palm of your hand, but ones with whom you can break the ice quickly? In such a group of people that the in-between dynamics aren’t formed yet, it is mathematically certain that someone will attempt to match similar personalities. There will be a passionate statement from someone about how "I love to eat nutella right from the jar with a spoon." Those who agree with this position will take a stand next to him, creating an enthusiastic beehive and praising the delights of nutella. And then someone will throw oil on the fire by saying that “I think that peanut butter is better,”, only to collect around him the ones that feel the same. One group will start mocking the other, and if there is one indecisive person, both groups will bombard him with pro-nutella or pro-peanut butter arguments. At first glance, the "glue" keeping these members together is an insignificant culinary preference, but the feeling of excitement and satisfaction of belonging to a group of people, who share something in common, is so generalizable. In the end, there will be a cynic that neither is intrigued by such a game nor does he observe the social interest of it. He will state with apathy "I do not eat sugar.”, and will trigger a massive explosion against. This game is like a small ritual in many dinners, and this is how groups are created and spread more or less.
Such dinners are so delightful because they generate very often the most enjoyable conversations too. It is the most wonderful feeling to belong to a group of similars, in a group of people who share the same range of fundamental views as you. Personally, many times I find it tough to grasp the popularity of an opinion diametrically opposite of mine. That happens simply because I am surrounded by people like me. When I'm with them, I'm a flashlight and a mirror at the same time, our ways of communication are very common and our behaviors reflect on each other. And sometimes you meet people in your social circle with an intellectual horizon slightly wider than yours, and you customize your mirror, you become a sponge that absorbs what this person has to offer to your horizon. Such interactions are such great inspiration; it is like reading a book that brings your world upside down. However, being surrounded by similars can work in opposite ways too, it can become a brake.
In such a dinner we were wondering, what is the factor that motivates incredibly, shamelessly rich people to still chase more riches? When you have everything, and even more, when you can open champagne for breakfast, and fly around on your private jet, why is it so important multiply these little green paper babies per millions every day? What possibly can motivate you to spend millions to satisfy your narcissism, when you could cure tuberculosis in Africa, let’s say, with the same money? Is it the pleasure of taking competitors out of your game, is it the absence of the level of moderation and what has value, or is just greed and arrogance? Or all together? Or nothing from the above mentioned? A friend of mine, we will call him Paco for the sake of our discussion, suggested something really brilliant. He said "it is your lobby that motivates you". He threw in the conversation as if he is drinking malt whiskey with the golden boys of Wall Street and knows them so well. But seriously now, he is damn right I think. "I can imagine them”, he said, “standing there in their expensive suits, mixing statistics and Dow Jones averages (damn if I ever understood what Dow Jones show) and boasting about how many millions they made this week. Our environment and our peers set a tremendous pressure for us to be acceptable.” Interesting, huh?
But since most of us will never reach these levels of wealth, let's go one level below, in a situation with which we can identify more easily. Let's go to the groups of two, in the couples. Why do so many people want to get married? Why aren’t they satisfied with the promise of their partner to stay together? For me -besides the spousal coverage that marriage provides you in the case of medical or insurance circumstances- it is the security that the institution provides emotionally. When you get married, you join a group of two, and we all want to belong somewhere. A significant portion of people is terrified with the idea of pending their life alone with nobody to take care of them. We have learned that we need to belong somewhere and be accepted very early in life, through our family and our first friends. Aren't many children traumatized by the need to impress or please their parents by taking decisions that don’t make them happy? A lot. And let’s not forget the stress in which many kids are exposed to in school when they don’t satisfy the whims of their “friends’”, and the public humiliation that comes after. You can see that the peer pressure is frighteningly real and very powerful.
I had the pleasure of meeting the incredible Dutch documentary filmmaker Coco Schrijber. Her personality is such of a powerful stream that it took only twenty minutes conversation with her, for me to have the feeling of being swept along, and being struck powerfully on the banks of my beliefs. For example, Coco works as much as she wants or has to every year and after that she stops to live the life she wants. What a powerful statement! Who could have the strength in the current, sickly, social pressure to, even, murmur that she doesn’t want to earn more and more money? The norms dictate us to be ambitious, to aim higher and higher the elusive and inaccessible peaks. The conversation with her was so enlightening, that I wanted to continue it by watching “First Kill”, her first documentary. It raises the question of why did the veterans of the Vietnam war killed for the first time back then. This documentary is a little gem, the answers of these people are so honest, and you should see this documentary. However, for the sake of our conversation I will answer here this question. It wasn’t the sense of survival, or protection, or fear that prompted them to do so; it was the peer pressure that was set on them by their environment. Imagine, a bunch of macho boys intoxicated by the arrogance of youth and alcohol, who landed in the horrible reality of war and began a bet of who will hit the most. The absurd in all its splendor, or as Nietzsche would say, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
As a biologist, I couldn’t avoid talking about how we are a combination of the genetic information we carry (in case you are not familiar with it: it’s the information transferred to us by our parents, as they took it from their parents and so on, which affects many of our traits) and of our environment. For sure we would end up as absolutely different people if we were raised in different conditions. Nothing in biology makes sense unless it is seen under the light of evolution, did you know? The bright biologist Dobzhansky said so, so let’s go back and observe us as species in our first steps on earth. The first people started as hunters and pack animals in the African savannas. Nowadays individualism is praised and rewarded as a great asset. However, the prehistoric man should stay with his herd. Otherwise, wild beasts would devour him. So, the brain networks of these early humans evolved to remind them of the consequences of the social rejection, a feeling of neccesity to stay in the team, otherwise you have to pay the consequences (a.k.a. death). These networks are preserved in the present human, and although we don’t hunt zebras in the savannas anymore(at least not in all continents or all places), we know that the beast that can devour us is still there; now it is a psychological one. It's crazy that our brains recognize the pain of rejection and the "wounded heart" as normal physical pain. Love and acceptance activate the same neuronal pleasure pathways as drugs or alcohol. And whether we go through a social or chemical withdrawal, the same neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex and the insular cortex are activated. The only way to feel better is to take back what will make the brain feel better, social acceptance or addicting substance.
Hence the need of belonging somewhere and the feeling of acceptance in a group of similars, is a nececcity. These are known in scientific circles or between high corporate executives and often they are used as a pressure tool. When you feel that you found your niche, it’s not, most of times, due to in-depth research about this group’s ethical principles, but because something you heard made a click on you. This creates the feeling of belonging with them. And out there in politics, in society, at work and friendly groups, there will be many people that practice this sport, of being likable. So wouldn’t it the best if we chose the people who surround us? Or instead of pushing ourselves to join somewhere where we do not feel comfortable, or accepted, internalize this need to be part of a team of similar, but choose them ourselves consiously. And as said incomparably hilarious Amy Poehler said, "Find a group of people that challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life”.
Credits | Text, Editting & Graphics: Despina Kortesidou, Photography: Alfred Eisenstaedt. George Balanchine’s School, New York City 1936, Life Magazine
Hey, welcome in Brain Juicing, the new podcast from In Whirl of Inspiration presented by meee; Despina!
It will be a 10-20 minute show having to do with how peculiar creatures we, humans,are. It will contain a little bit of human relationships, a little bit with psychology and culture. Also, it will have to do with my firm belief, that food is a way of living and not just a physical need. Ah let's not also forget about the tiny bit of science facts (just to justify the crazy thoughts in my mind) that you will find inside.
To keep it brief, the first episode will come out next week and the theme is a top confidential secret. Don't miss it! seeya
Find all our podcasts here!
Credits | Text & Graphics: Despina Kortesidou
The elections of 11/9 may passed, and slowly your stress levels and dopamine will return to their baseline levels, but not complacent. These American elections are just an alarm bell for a very realistic and very bleak future. In France, the neoliberal party of Le Pen is flirting with the victory in the next elections, in Poland the criminalization of the abortion degrades the women nature, in Netherlands and Scandinavia neoliberal parties are gaining more and more power, targeting immigrants. The richest people on this planet, only a -damn- 1% of the global population, feel their power chairs to creak under the weight of people that are starting to fight for everything dear and right.
There are many things you can do before the next elections, starting today!
1. Pay attention!
Your responsibilities as citizens and voters, don't end by the time you hit the ballot box. The institution of democracy is only meaningful, if only the voters are savvy. Look in the past of every politician before you start supporting her/him, learn about her/his agenda on issues regarding women, minorities, imperialist wars, the environment, health and education. It's hard I know, but it's the only way.
2. Stand up and create a supporting niche around you!
In the last days you either cried hard or celebrated with fervor. No matter in which group you fall in, the future is common for both. The extinction of the social role of the state and the lack of environmental sensitivity will crush everyone mercilessly and indiscriminately.
Resentment is a nonsense of those, who think they will live forever, so do not give up and do not stay silent. Fight for your beliefs to the point that you can and want. If you feel strong, fight for the young and the weak ones too. Fight for the ones you love and appreciate, for those who have fought in the past, for all the commodities you consider for granted today. Those of you that have the desire and the financial stability to search in the their neighborhood/city for organizations whose activities make them feel full of hope, please do. You can make donations or become a volunteer. Here are also some organizations that are pro-women, pro-minorities, pro-immigrants and pro-environment. In time like this, when hope seems to vanishI think of “Still I Rise" poeam of Maya Angelou.
If you feel scared and desperate, or you feel that your life will change for the worse (I am so sorry for that, for letting such crimes still occurring), turn to your community. Strengthen your relationship with your partner and friends, get to know your neighbors, see if elderly people/single mothers/disabled people around you need help, don’t judge people and wake up your empathy. The algorithms of Facebook and our Twitter isolated you in your home, in a ‘filter bubble’, in which the information that reaches you is filtered, so you see only what you agree on/like. And if you feel very upset or that depression is knocking on your door, don’t be ashamed. Brain diseases are as important as all the others ones. If you had a broken leg, or a strange bump on your chest, you would rush to the doctor to heal it as soon as possible. Please, do the same when your brain is in pain. Also, exercising and adopting diets with plenty of vegetables and little meat, will benefit your mental health tremendously. (Today I start a 14-days free e-course lesson on adopting healthier diets within few steps, you can find it here if it is something that interests you!)
3. Empower your readers
For the bloggers of our field (lifestyle and creative) or the entrepreneurs that are reluctant to share opinions like in this post -because they believe that it will damage their brand or lose their followers-, I assure you; you are wrong! You might lose some followers, but you will earn respect and support from the ones that stay. Behind every brand, there is a manifesto of ideologies and a level of humanity, and I will ask you to focus on that for a moment. Stay away from discussions about political parties, but empower your readers. Turn your business into a social business and give back to your community. Actions like that never backfire.
Personally I plan on turning my personal attention towards understanding people who read IWOI, to share knowledge and ideas that I gain through my field, and to help people who now feel unsafe. I'm not very sure how to do that (any idea is welcome), but I don’t want to remain silent.
4. Your money has power
Female consumers currently motivate 70-80% of all consumer spending. Either directly (by buying) or indirectly (by proposing to friends, sharing in social media, creating trends). But! What if women stopped supporting that don’t support them - companies with unfair hiring, known for discriminatory sexist practices -, what kind of changes could that bring? And what if supported green, fair trade, sustainable companies more? Aim in learning who is behind the companies you support financially and if what you find doesn’t please you stop doing so and stop promoting them (in friends and Pinterest).
The lovely Caroline Donofrio wrote an article on it. Here’s an excerpt below, but it is worth the read. “ While Urban Outfitters, Inc. (which includes Anthropologie, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Terrain, and BHLDN) aims to cater to bohemian, hipster consumers at various stages of life, it is owned by conservative donor Richard Hayne. I do not wish to contribute to conservative causes (directly or indirectly), so for me, that choice was simple. If you don’t support my lady parts or my lady agenda, you cannot have my lady dollars. [...] This is as much about self-care as it is about social justice.”
5. Understand the people and be careful with hard pompous declarations.
If you have someone in your environment that you believe that endorses political parties with extreme beliefs, try to understand hi/hers underlying reasons before you start judging. What happened in the US elections, is not because the Americans are stupid (let’s not forget that people in Greece 2 years ago were making fun of the <1% Golden Dawn stats, only to be hit by a meteorite, when they reached the 10% and entered the parliament). Such simplified assumptions downplay the complexity of such an issue.
Only those who were in the odious position of losing everything (from their job to their dignity), and chose to silence in a war against power that they felt unable to enter, understand the hollowness of such words. Despite our brave words and our revolutionary fiery statements, we all make small concessions on to our beliefs to please our peers. Every day we are sacrificing small pieces of our values (consciously usual), and we reassure ourselves that one day, when we are in the position of taking the big decisions, we won’t execute morally people. If you have such feelings, do not let anything or anyone make you forget these feelings. Be careful, though, because as Nietzsche warned us all: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”.
Hold on tight on each other, that’s the only way for everyone to float.
Well the July-August month is the berries’ harvest month for us. Growing them in semi mountainous places (like ours), it’s their favorite cause all berries (rasp and black and blue and red) want a little bit of chilly-spring weather to grow strong and tasty. May this cool weathers low down their growth and harvest (hey July), but -trust me on that- they end up being a-ma-zi-gly rasp-blissful. Something like the gods’ nectar. But reddish.