Many societies and cultures have “social rules” that determine how we should judge people and label them. I believe that many of these rules lead to social hierarchies (or fictional boundaries) that actually inhibit us from connecting with others in open, productive, and meaningful ways. In this article, I hope to explain how these social hierarchies can hurt our ability to connect and build relationships. Instead, I believe we should throw away many of these fictional boundaries, and begin seeing and treating people more as equals.
Social hierarchies and perceived social value.
Many people tend to judge a person, label them, and then put them into a “social hierarchy” of importance based on how valuable we perceive that person to be.
Those who we typically perceive as high value (like CEOs, celebrities, athletes, politicians, good-looking people, etc.) we place at the top of our social hierarchy, while those we typically perceive as low value fall to the bottom of our social hierarchy.
While sometimes it may be useful to distinguish between valuable relationships vs. not-so-valuable relationships, this kind of thinking can also hurt our ability to connect with some people in productive and meaningful ways.
This is because often when we pass judgment on others, we are simultaneously comparing ourselves (and our own perceived value, or self-worth) to that other person.
For example, if we perceive someone as having extraordinarily high value, then we must automatically see ourselves as somehow inferior when compared to this other person. And this perceived difference in value can then cause us to act and think in desperate and anti-social ways.
For instance, in order to build a relationship with this “high value” person, we may feel the need to pretend to be more valuable than we actually think we are, or even somehow lessen that person’s value by picking on them or bringing them down.
One example of this flawed paradigm in action: The Pick-up Community
In fact, there are many concepts within the Pick-Up/seduction community, popularized by guys like Neil Strauss (“Style”) and Mystery, which rely on this flawed paradigm.
First, you have to understand the Pick-up Artist’s social hierarchy. This is known as the “Hot Babe” scale. Pick-up Artists feel the need to rate women on a scale of 1-10 based on their perceived value (usually it is based on good looks). They then treat women differently based on this perceived value.
For example, there are certain social tactics a Pick-up Artist needs to do in order to get an “HB10″ (Hot Babe 10 – a really good-looking, high value woman). These two main tactics include:
Negging: A “back-handed compliment” often intended to lower a woman’s perceived value. Pick-up Artists believe that HB10s need to be negged more so that they don’t think too highly of themselves (because that would presumably mean they wouldn’t want to be with you, duh!).
Demonstrating Higher Value (DHV) DHVs often include canned stories and “games” so that a woman perceives you as higher value (than you actually are). In other words, you have to essentially “prove your value” to the woman in order to win her over.
The irony is that the whole reason a Pick-Up Artist needs to use these tactics is because deep down they feel inadequate. They don’t believe they deserve “high value” women, so they have to tease and play games so that the women essentially gets “tricked” to believe they are worthy.
Throw out the social hierarchy mentality: People are just people.
I think it would do many people good (not just Pick-up Artists) if we put less emphasis on these social hierarchies that we’ve constructed in our minds.
All it does is put artificial boundaries around our relationships, which in the end only inhibits us from connecting with others in a healthy way – a way based on mutual respect and understanding.
As Sean Cooper eloquently explains in the Shyness and Social Anxiety System (a great guide for overcoming social anxiety and living a richer social life), all social value is a product of our subjective minds:
- “The first thing to understand is that value is all in your mind. In reality, there are no ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ people. The only reason why you see some people as more valuable than you is because you have some rules in your mind that determine whether someone is valuable to you or not. If someone passes all these rules and criteria you have, then you see them as valuable.
If you have low self-esteem, it means that you do not think you meet other people’s rules for being a valuable person.“
By being less judgmental of others (and ourselves), we begin to see and treat everyone as equals.
In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you are talking to someone who is really rich vs. someone who is really poor, or someone who is really good-looking vs. someone who is really ugly, or someone who is really popular vs. someone who isn’t well known at all. Every individual deserves your attention and respect, and there’s no real reason to be more nervous or anxious around one person over someone else.
(In fact, I truly believe we can find something good in everyone.)
And the great thing is: when you begin to see and treat everyone as equals (insofar as everyone has something valuable to offer), it’s much easier to start building relationships left and right. Your social circle grows and grows, because you no longer discriminate or worry about these fictional boundaries anymore. And once these silly social hierarchies are ignored, everyone becomes a potential friend.
- Do you notice your perceived social hierarchies hurting how you communicate and relate to others?
- What types of people do you tend to perceive as “higher value” than yourself?
- How do you treat people of “higher value” differently than you treat those of “lower value?” How can you change this so that you treat people more as equals?
Leave answers in the comment section below!
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