The Importance of Likability

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There are two types of people: those who experienced their glory days in high school, and those who experienced an endless nightmare. People will say that college is a “fresh start” in terms of establishing your status and persona amongst your peers. You no longer have to worry about the football captain throwing spitballs in your hair, or the “Regina George” of your school making fun of your outfits every single day. Although these people may not be around anymore physically, the experience you go through from age 3 to 18 will essentially affect the rest of your life for better or for worse.

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Ugh, this dress. Forever regretting how badly it washed me out.

I recently finished Mitch Prinstein’s book, Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World. I can’t lie, I was considered “popular” in high school. I was one of the captains of the soccer team, I was a cheerleader in middle school, and I was in the top 6 finalists for Homecoming Queen. On the outside, it appears that I had a dandy high school experience; hanging out with the “cool kids,” dating the most popular boys in the school, and being known by pretty much everyone in my gradating class. I was pretty, smart, and athletic. If you have any of the same characteristics, you were probably considered “popular” in high school, too.

However, when I look back on my high school experience, I can’t say that I was necessarily ‘happy.’ The thing about being part of the popular crowd is that I always had anxiety circulating my mind about what people thought of me. Since most of the school actually knows who you are, you are constantly in the spotlight. Other students look at you walking down the hall, keep up to date with who you are dating, check online profiles for the most recent gossip, etc. Don’t get me Image result for 2000s fashion popularwrong, I am definitely aware that my high school experience was probably ideal compared to many. I was not fiercely bullied or made fun of or laughed at. I had my moments too, though, and would come home crying when people made fun of the way I did my makeup, or call me “the anorexic girl” behind my back. When you are in the spotlight, you are held to a higher standard than everyone else. You are expected to look pretty everyday, have the nicest clothes, and have the most confidence. I, however, struggled heavily in the confidence department, so I tried to make up for it by overcompensating in the other 2 categories. This meant: waking up extremely early every day to do my makeup and straighten my hair (I don’t remember ever going to school without makeup on), and picking out an outfit styled with the latest brands like Juicy Couture, Abercrombie & Fitch, Seven for all Mankind, etc.

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh God, what a harddddd life you had. You must have been so exhausting trying to look pretty every day while the other students were bullied Image result for popularity quotesand harassed in the middle of every class.” Trust me, I know I had it better than others. I know that many people would have traded places with me. The point I am trying to make here is that popularity does not end after high school. What you went through in your adolescent years does not disappear after graduation. There is no “clean slate” in college. What you go through in adolescence affects there rest of your life: your career, your relationships, etc. It affects what you choose to seek later on in life – status or happiness.

There are two types of popularity: status, and likability. It’s nice to have both, but one is far superior than the other. Let’s take status for example. Someone of status can be someone like Paris Hilton or Donald Trump. They were both born into wealth, and what we all know, money = power. The more money you have, the more “power” you are assumed to have since you have access to many things that 90% of us do not. You have more financial freedom to do the things you want to do, and do the things that many others could only wish they could do.

However, both Paris Hilton and Donald Trump are not the most “liked” celebrities out there. They are not necessarily two celebrities who you would say #goals to (unless you are a radical, irrational, and close-minded Republican), or celebrities Image result for tom hanks likablethat you would probably want to hang out with if you had the chance. This is where “likability” comes in. Being likable is the most determining factor of happiness. When you are well liked, people want to be around you, and think of you as a positive influence in their life. Well liked people are often understanding, Image result for ellen degeneres likablehumorous, good listeners, and compassionate. Some well-liked celebrities are Ellen DeGeneres, Beyonce, Tom Hanks, etc (there was so much on Tom Hanks had to include another hyperlink here on how cute and awesome he is). Compare these 3 celebrities to the Kardashians, and most people will choose to spend time with the first group. This is likability vs. status.

The thing is, many people believe that just because you were popular in high school, means that you will go forward being a successful human later in life. In essence, it’s hard to have a high status and high likability factor. Many people correlate high status with characteristics like: egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, self-centered, petty, etc. Ever see previews of that show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills? Or the Real Housewives? They come off extremely pretentious, exposing their lavish Image result for rich kids of beverly hillslifestyles to the rest of the world, AKA, people who come no where close to their financial status. Many of these people do not have the best approval rating compared to the rest of the world. Therefore, it is a challenge for them to essentially humanize their life – make it seem like they are “just one of us.” They are put on this pedestal that has a negative connotation many times, so they have to try and show their ‘likable’ side if they want to succeed even more in life (which equates with either making more money because all rich people want to become richer – or becoming happier – since of course having a high status does not make you happy).

The likability factor in popularity is key. Many of the popular kids you knew in high school who were just popular due to their financial status (being the rich kid), their looks (best looking of the grade), or their athletic ability (senior captain, fastest player, etc) do not end up the most successful or the happiest people later on in life according to Prinstein. The thing is, having a higher status will not make you happier. Being popular in high school will not guarantee you to become a reality TV star or the most popular person at your new job. So how does this relate to the digital revolution?

Right now, we are living in a society where everything you do or say is displayed on social media. Due to the rise of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networking sites, we have essentially become obsessed with sharing our lives with Image result for edited selves on social mediathe rest of the world. Social media marketing is one of the most successful forms of advertising in 2017. Brands are learning how to infiltrate your news feeds and timelines, and you will rarely see a company that does not have a Facebook or Twitter link on their Contact Us page. Although social media is supposed to be about connecting with each other, I believe it has become a medium we use to advertise ourselves as who we want to be, not who we really are. We use social media to share our “edited selves” rather than our “authentic selves.” And no matter how much we deny it, all of us just want to be liked by others.

Therefore, the power of likability is extremely relative to how we portray ourselves on social media. We have become a society who gains instant gratification from new followers and likes on the last selfie we posted. We feel more confident in ourselves when someone leaves a comment on our page telling us how skinny we look, or #bodygoals. We are constantly seeking gratification from others – whether it be strangers online or our close friends – it’s become an unhealthy obsession.

It’s normal for us to feel good about ourselves when someone compliments us – why wouldn’t we smile and have a spark of happiness? Yet, we have become so Related imagedependent on relying on other’s for acceptance, that is has completely transformed the way we display ourselves online. We are desperately seeking that likability and status combo – we want to appear like we have an awesome life, but we also want people to tell us how great they think we are. Both popular and unpopular people go through this, as popular people seek to keep up their image, and unpopular people seek to repair theirs. Typically, the more we try to impress people with our amenities and advanced status, the unhappier we become.

I know it’s a sore subject, but how many times have you read about celebrities who have committed suicide or battled with depression? You would think the #LifestylesOfTheRichAndFamous (thanks Good Charlotte) are the ones with the happiest people since they attain everything that us plebes do not have. Do you see the pattern yet? Status does not equal happiness. Status does not equal happiness. Status does not equal happiness. If you were unpopular in high school and thought the “popular” kids had it all, think again.

In conclusion, it is important to realize that most people who are popular have a hard time achieving both likability and status. There are some, like the celebrities I mentioned earlier, who are definitely well-liked and well-accomplished. However, I think most of us automatically think of status first when thinking about success. When we think about “being successful,” we typically correlate it with material goods like nice cars, big houses, and designer clothes. In reality, most of us just want to live a life where they don’t hate their job, they don’t have to battle through a divorce, and they don’t have to face much confrontation. Whether that means living in an apartment in NYC or on a small ranch in Montana, your desire to be happy will be more dependent on how likable you are, rather than what social status you’ve acquired. In the end, isn’t happiness the greatest form of success?

Concentrate on your positive qualities rather than your impressive quantities. 

 

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Is Political Preference a Deal Breaker? Would You Date a ____ Supporter?

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(Edit: I started this piece in 2016 and just finished now. Yes, I am annoyed but Christmas and New Years and Holiday Parties happened. #IHateExcusesButSorry)

I think we can all agree [“we” referencing as literally everyone on Earth, not just the United States] that the US Election of 2016 has evidently been incomparable to any other election in the history of the world. Unless you have been living under a very dense rock, the new President-Elect for the US is Donald Trump — celebrity billionaire. He will start serving in 2017, and many of us can agree, we are going to deeply miss President Obama and his sweet family.

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I currently live in Astoria, and according to a recent poll, more than 80% of my neighborhood voted Democrat. New York state has always been a [blue] Democratic win. New York City, compared to anywhere else in New York, is almost entirely Democratic. You’ll find some Republicans in the liberal city, but you’ll have a better chance of meeting them in upstate New York or out on Long Island. Here at my office in Midtown and back at home in Queens, almost all the people I have interacted with were Hillary supporters [or just not voting for Trump]. However, a huge chunk of these supporters were initial Bernie fans, but they knew in the bottom of their hearts writing his name on the ballot would essentially be a huge loss.

Political conversation is typically classified as a “no-no” when going out on a first or second date. Since it is such a controversial and personal topic [like religion or finances], it is advised to avoid talking politics if you want to move on to the second or third date. However, look at my parents, celebrating 30 years of marriage, and my dad has always classified himself as a conservative Republican and my mom has always classified herself as a liberal Democrat.

But this past election – the Election of 2016 – was different than any other election… way different. You would think that the first woman nominee for a U.S. president was the “different” I am referring to, but no. That was actually the more unsurprising candidate since she served as Secretary of State (and First Lady) in the past. The decision that shocked not only America, but the entire world, was the final decision of celebrity ‘billionaire‘ Donald Trump being the next President-elect.Image result for dating and politics

I didn’t know a ton of information about Donald Trump before the primaries in 2015. I knew that he was the host of Celebrity Apprentice, I knew that his daughter Ivanka Trump is a fashion designer and some of her clothes I have tried on in TJMaxx, and that he has various estates and properties such as the Trump Hotel down the block from my office in NYC, and the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City that is apparently a shithole.

This election consumed all of America’s attention whether we liked it (most did not) or not. It was all over social media, all over the radio, and even if you weren’t watching the news, you  couldn’t help but get hit by a promotional ad planted by one of the candidates during the commercials. People were becoming incredibly Image result for facebook and politics election 2016hostile – defriending colleagues or even family members on Facebook, getting into full-blown arguments in public, and even vandalizing public property. We have all been in that uncomfortable situation over the holidays, sitting at the dinner table, and wishing you were anywhere else on the planet than sitting through a political battle between your relatives. That is normal. But this election, this was just violent. I have never seen and heard so many offensive and inappropriate slurs from friend to friend or from relative to relative. Shit got intense.

One of the most common things you heard in this past election was, “I am choosing the lesser of two evils.” A heavy majority of people did not like either candidate, Clinton or Trump. This resulted in several ridiculous effects: people didn’t vote, people voted for a 3rd party candidate whom they truly knew wasn’t going to win, or people wrote in an absolutely ridiculous candidate (please click Image result for choosing the lesser of two evilsthe hyperlink). Obviously though, there is still a large percentage of people who have [and still] absolutely adore their candidate. I have a friend that LOVES Donald Trump, and I have a cousin who LOVES Hilary Clinton. Putting these two in a room together would be extremely dangerous. This election was not just political banter and cursing, this election got personal. Racial slurs, sexism, and discrimination were part of this election more than anything in the past. Yes, Hilary Clinton is a female, but also… yes… Donald Trump is known for his comments against women in the past. Millions of people were incredibly heartbroken during the election and after the results were released. I have never seen New York City so traumatized (since September 11th). I rode the subway on November 11th, and people were wiping away tears, sitting on the corner of the street with their head curled up into their chest, and some didn’t even show up to work the next day.

What I am pondering after all of this, is that after such an intense election with some feeling so extreme about a certain candidate, is it possible to date someone Image result for trump photo over hillarywith an opposing view? Like I said, my dad has always been a republican and my mom has always been a democrat. Yet, this election was just fucking different. I have trouble trying to find the perfect word to describe the election of 2016 – shocking? traumatizing? unbelievable? Some people would say it was “amazing” if they voted for Trump I guess. Then again, people who aren’t passionate about politics would probably just say something like “whatever” or “it is what it is.”

My roommate (original Bernie supporter, but eventual Hilary supporter) went on a date a few weeks ago with a guy who approached her at a bar we were at. My roommate is extremely passionate about politics, and it remains to be one of her favorite things to converse about. Not caring about the rules society enforces about dating, she goes right ahead and brings the topic up. She asks if he’s a Trump supporter, and he says… yes. She sits there, eyes wide open, waiting for him to utter out “just kidding.” But he didn’t. He voted for Trump, the person that she despises the most in the world.

She came home that night and told me that the date went well – BUT – he voted for Trump. She said, “I could never date him.”

My roommate is Latina, and it has been reported that Trump (although many Republican candidates have trouble with the Latin community, this was worse) had difficulties reaching minority communities, especially Latinos. For someone who is Latina and extremely passionate about politics, this was an obvious deal breaker. But besides this characteristic about him, the rest of the date she stated went well. They laughed and ate and walked together in symphony. Yet, she couldn’t detach the horrific truth from her mind of him supporting who she has considered one of the most disgusting humans on the planet.

I have been on a few dates over the past 6 months when the election was getting extremely heated. Most of the time, I can infer their political preference from where they grew up, from the way they talk about certain topics, or from their social media profile. Recently, there was a guy who I truly started to consider something with in the future. He was intelligent, aesthetically pleasing, hard-working, sweet, etc. However, it really annoyed me that I couldn’t figure out what his political preference was. Does it really matter? Would it really bother me if he voted for the candidate I hated if everything else about him is fantastic? I enjoy politics, but I would not classify it as a true passion of mine. In addition, many Millennials seem to have zero to little interest in politics these days. I believe that the guy my roommate went on a date with didn’t care much for either candidate, but he just voted for Trump because his parents and friends did. He admitted that the things Trump said in the past were racist, sexist, and downright disgusting. However, it still bothered my roommate that he somehow granted his vote to Trump.

What would you do? Would you date someone who voted for Hilary? Or for Trump? Would you date someone who didn’t care much for either, but voted for the “lesser of two evils?”