In our previous post on The Outer Image and The Environment, we saw that our survival depends on our ability to get what we need from The Environment. Because our needs are fulfilled predominantly by other people, being liked by others is an important part of getting our needs met. Today, we'll look more closely at the Social Environment and it's relationship to the Inner and Outer Image.
Making Up The Rules
When you were born, you didn't care what you looked like or what affect you had on others. All you cared about was getting your immediate needs met by any means possible. By getting attention through loud noise and flailing limbs, nearby adults would figure out what need had to be met and do their best to meet it. If they got it right, you would calm down bringing an end to the wailing and flailing. Over time, as you grew, you noticed that different behaviours you exhibited were met with approval or disapproval. You learned to adjust your behaviour in attempts to get what you wanted from the adults in your social environment: if you gave them what they wanted, the hope was that you would get what you wanted.
These formative years, and the school years following, shaped both the Inner Image and Outer Image according to "The Rules". The Inner image was shaped by beliefs that developed about about who and what you are, what you are capable of, and what you could reasonably expect from the people around you. The Outer Image was shaped to help protect you and to maximize your ability to get what you wanted from the environment. All the strategies you use today are the same ones that you developed early in life, adapted for your current social environment: the adult world.
Biases in the Social Environment
The social environment that you exist in is not static or passive, since it is made up of people. As we mentioned before, people recognize and know you through your Outer Image. Based on the Outer Image, they make judgements and put you into categories so they know what they can get from you (rightly or wrongly). This means that your Inner Image is interacting with the Inner Image of other people through your Outer Image. People are judging your Outer Image to evaluate whether you can provide them with something they want. In other words, if your Outer Image doesn't contain any of the features that are important to another person's Inner Image, they won't see you, will avoid you or actively oppose you. As an individual, you could have advantages or disadvantages based on the nature of your social environment. Preferential biases are implicit, although not necessarily logical, moral, ethical or fair. The following video is a simple demonstration of common biases.
The white guy is hardly noticed, the black guy is actively opposed, and the pretty (white) girl is assisted in her task of hacking through the chain of a locked up bike. The Outer Image of each of the individuals, combined with the values, beliefs and preferences of the passer-bys, create the social environment, and the resulting behaviours.
The "invisible elements" of values, beliefs, and desires are present in the social environment. You have yours, you put them out into your social environment, and others do the same. You pick up, and put out, these elements in the form of words, actions, media, entertainment, business, religion, politics, education, science, and conclusions you make from the actions of others. This collectively creates human society, and The Rules are constantly being used and modified to get wants and needs met.
In our next post, we'll look at fundamental types of messages that your Outer Image broadcasts to others in your Social Environment.
Enough with the pop psychology man! I've got a big date coming up and I need to know what to wear! Can you help me or what?