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The Transactional Nature Of Social Interaction


Licorice

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How does one avoid becoming a cynic?


Part of me feels like just not talking to anyone unless I see something to be gained from them, since I can't in good conscience say that I believe anyone I meet is not either seeking something from me or going to take their frustrations out on me. Most people don't talk to me unless they need to vent, want something fixed, or see some other, immediate gain. A few of them just stick around and respond with a rather one-way interest because I show concern for their lives.


No social anxiety. No shyness. Have social skills. Exposed to people. Laugh and get along with people I meet. Not really depressed anymore, but sinking back in as my vision of the world is turned upside-down. Worked on everything that was "wrong" and preventing me from connecting, leaving nothing but my personality - that's me, though. That's not something I can just toss out for a better model.


Part of me still wants to hold to a more idealistic view of the world where people can connect genuinely and are well-intentioned if bumbling. I want to believe that most people are decent and just don't click with me in the way that people seeking to get a need met do. I want to believe it's innocent. I don't, though.


I've been withdrawing socially and cutting contact with a lot of people because I just don't know what else to do and I'm tired.

Edited by Licorice
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How are you when it comes to empathy and has that changed at all?

I tutor at my campus' writing center where I work primarily with ESL and returning adult students. I'm the one my coworker calls in when we have a problematic student who can't stop worrying and get to class. Classmates and near-strangers (friends of friends I'd met that night) have liked me enough to talk to me about their personal problems. You tell me.

Edited by Licorice
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I only ask as I think sometimes this aspect of someone hasnt been developed or our struggles have dampened it down. And then if it isn't that then it is interesting to consider that you have that empathy and yet perceive everyone as only being invested in themselves. There are a lot of reasons we can fall into that type of thinking.

When it comes to empathy there is Theory of mind, and then the emotional response we have when we correctly read someones emotional state. Putting an emotional state onto them that is incorrect is of course projection not empathy.

Just something about what you said in the first post made me wonder how much of what you do you feel. If a lot of it is mechanical rather than felt. The interesting thing is why that is happening if it is. There are selfish vindictive people in the world and those who are almost opposite and of course a whole lot of people in between.

I am cynical too in many respects and I think a lot of it comes from generalising things incorrectly. It's fairly black and white.

Edited by Fizzle
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Empathy is more of an internal experience, and it's very easy to fake. So having the repeated experience of other people sharing their stories (for instance) with you only really suggests that THEY feel empathy.

That said, all social interaction is transactional, even the stuff that you're implicitly saying is innocent or idealistic. Everything can, if you spin it that way, be looked at as just game theory, people bouncing off of each other in a sort of evolutionary game of bumper cars. That's okay. It's just one way of looking at things.

As an example that hopefully is optimistic rather than pessimistic, look at the types of interactions that don't fall into your category of people taking something from you. Let's say close friends. Friends usually start by sharing a common interest. Maybe you like music, and I like music, and we play music together and joke around in between songs and show each other new music and a friendship is formed. Now we're buddies, and I didn't take anything from you. I still gained from the experience--we played good music together, and maybe you showed me a bunch of cool albums or something--so it's transactional without being exploitative. This is really just pure evolutionary biology. There is competition and exploitation and cooperation. They can overlap.

Maybe focus on trying to build the types of relationships that are cooperatively transactional, like friends with a common interest. That's trivial advice--you're clearly smart enough to have thought of it yourself--but it is maybe a different way of looking at things.

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