Superficiality: A Modern Tragedy

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Every experience is different. It is important for me to recognize that before I delve into anything deeper than I rightfully should. Every individual has their own unique set of values that guide them along different paths to meet different people, and it’s these same values that may determine how people connect with one another and how long these relationships last.

I want to discuss not individual links but rather a seemingly impermeable layer of interaction that has invaded our everyday lives and reroutes the way we choose to meet new people.

I call this the superficial layer that almost everyone encounters when they meet one another.

Now, this same layer is very understandable when it comes to meeting strangers because human nature is generally not very trusting. We never know the intentions of others, and putting our faith in someone we haven’t known for very long can lead to misguided actions that go against our own values.

It is because of this evolution of human personality that the superficial layer is essential to initial contact. Greetings are surface level, small talk is common, and then either the interaction stops or it becomes deeper and deeper until a meaningful connection is made.

However, this superficial layer is becoming thicker and thicker as time goes on. I believe that it is due to the individualistic belief that we must make everybody like us.

Society focuses strongly on the successful individual who makes his or her own future happen and this success is equated to how he or she becomes likable among others. The more popular you are, the more connections you have and thus the more successful you are because you are known as the friendly, perfect person. This mindset is exactly what leads to superficial relationships that can eventually become troublesome over time.

What exactly does a superficial friendship look like?

This can be seen in how people claim everyone is their friend, but they never make any real effort to reach out to the person and/or the person never makes any real effort to reach out to them. Conversations may be small talk and trail off into nothing until the awkward silence signals the end of the interaction.

A superficial friendship is also when you don’t know their intentions with you and whether they see a real friend who they can trust, or another person that they can use.

I think that everybody knows at least one person in their lives that they can think of when I describe a superficial friendship. It’s saddening that more and more friendships are becoming like this, especially when people become desperate for a solid social circle to make themselves feel like they belong. This is especially prevalent in high schools, where students are still searching for an identity and depend on being surrounded by others to provide them with that security.

Going to college has made me realize how serious superficial friendships are and how we need to address them.

Social media is a huge player in the development of the superficial personality. I’ve heard people describe others as “shallow” or “uninteresting” because we are burying ourselves in our own social media feed. We restrict certain aspects of our personality to fit the idealistic image of a “normal” person.

But the truth is, there is no normal.

Social media is currently used as a platform for people who pick and choose which parts of their lives they want to share to the world, but some people are only choosing the things that other people want to see. People should not shape themselves on social media to be what trends dictate them to be. Time is wasted when we only do things to please others. We turn superficial when the only actions people see are molded by what we want others to see and what we believe will make them like us more.

Superficial personalities can be avoided by just being yourself. I know it is so much easier to say than do, but believe me when I say that truly letting go and being as quirky as you really are will do wonders for your self-esteem and for your relationships. If you are just yourself and don’t care what others think, you’ll attract those who find your personality truly interesting and who will want to know more about you being you.

Being in college is already a huge first step because popularity in college does not matter. This already eliminates a huge social pressure off of your university shoulders. Also, the institution accepts you into the school for being genuinely you and the admissions officers believe that you will fit right into the crowd. That way, you will be surrounded by people who have somewhat similar interests and personalities to you, so you don’t have to be guarded about exposing yourself to others.

The last piece of advice I can give is that finding the personality you are most comfortable projecting onto others is done by joining activities that genuinely interest you. Don’t join activities because everybody is doing it or because you think it will make you sound cool; join a taiko club or be in a musical or start a blog about knitting. You’ll meet new people through these activities, both in person and online, and that will facilitate easier conversations since you found one another through a common interest.

The superficial relationships surrounding you grow stronger and stronger everyday the more we reinforce the idea that strangers are friends and friends are strangers. We all innately want to be known and free at the same time, so why not take that first step towards making that happen?

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