“Social Intelligence and the Standard Bearer.”
“The holidays” can put a person off.
As the season approaches, a certain set of expectations play across our culture. By some unspoken demand, one must be “festive”. This invariably translates as seeking out the company of others. In between massive bursts of expenditure, lunch dates are squeezed. The bravest among us host carefully planned and exhaustively prepared dinner parties. In the air, there’s that feeling of Christmas, and at the end of it all is the subconscious satisfaction of having met an effective standard; along with managing to get the gifts bought, wrapped, and delivered on time, there is the reward of having done it all right.
Just read, today, that those of very high intelligence prefer being alone.
In our family, it was always our older brother touted as the family genius; but, by golly gosh, he still commands an audience and I prefer my own company. Or, rather, after just a couple hours with people, I need to get the hell home.
Don’t read this wrong. People are fascinating. I love the energy of human exchange. I’ll be on the sidelines, watching and listening with keen interest. And, nobody dares call me aloof; the barber’s daughter, I know better than to look down on anyone.
But, what of social intelligence? Among all six recognized aptitudes (verbal; mathematical; spacial; physical; creative), just how overvalued is this trait?
The life of the party is venerated, for an ability to both mobilize and inspire all in the company to open up, relax, and let it all hang together. Seems every social gathering can’t survive without one. And, why is that?
All are warned to steer clear of the “bore” – that one who tosses out a stimulating topic for discussion and then secures a solid conversation with another willing to listen and respond. Parties aren’t supposed to be about substance, after all; keeping things light maintains a more comfortable atmosphere, one which challenges no one to engage any form of critical thinking or divergent speculation lest any feel tested. Enjoying oneself at a social gathering is paramount, even if tantamount to total intellectual abdication. After all, nobody wants to be guilty of clearing the room.
When life was smaller, people all knew each other. Natural gifts – for music, or comedy – emerged of their own volition. The only collective expectation was that the food be tasty and plentiful, the beverages fine, and the location of the gathering within a moonlit walk of home.
The rest of the world was the place one went for a change of scene. And, this might constitute a few days’ drive from town, even including dinner out at a restaurant where the people looked, smelled, and served up food so removed from the usual that the whole experience offered plenty of follow up conversation for days thereafter.
But, beyond the monthly excursion, neighborhoods maintained intact homeostasis. Proximity was close, and familiar, and understood. The pool was smaller; all members were recognized; the power of influence-peddling was moot; and, anonymity was alien.
Now, life is enormous. Technology has made social access nearly total. People of every persuasion cross virtual paths, almost daily. Food, of every conceivable gastronomical device, is offered up anywhere a meal is within reach. But, proportionately, social expectation has become overtaking in its scope, and the quality of what used to be called “genuine” is fading.
Where does one go, anymore, to find a true standard for the authentic?
Have we become so practiced in the arts of persuasion, manipulation, and influence that our respect for the real thing is relegated to the attic find on Antiques Roadshow?
Perhaps our social collective can submit to regaining its willingness to acknowledge that which rings merely true. I think somebody said Jesus would have it so.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 12/19/16 All rights those of the author, a real person who taught herself to type, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your recognition. I, too, see you. Merry Christmas.