Advice and Self Identity

Advice is a big part of social interaction with other humans. Sometimes you’re looking for advice and sometimes people just give it to you anyway. Parents have to instruct their kids from an early age in the ways of the world and it becomes a habit for them to give their children advice as they grow up and even when they’re older. Many a times people get advice from friends. Knowing how to sift through the advice and imbibe all the good stuff is something I really value. Society works largely on recommendations from others – shopping reviews, movie ratings, what place to eat at, what college to go to and so on. But when it comes to more personal things, heeding advice gets harder.

A big part of acting on someone’s advice is being able to socially identify yourself with it. For example, say I have a friend who is a gym buff. He tells me to start gymming, and follows it with a very sensible explanation of how excercise is helpful and so on; I’m only inclined to follow his advice if I am ok to take up somebody else’s passion(his) and start parading socially that it is also mine. My relationship with this person also matters because I am now indebted to him for convincing me to join the gym so I might not be able to fully “own” this passion with him out “owning” me.

This is obviously not the case for a large number of people who would take up their friend’s advice to join the gym. This happens because he/she is open minded and motivated enough to try something new in the first place. Another reason that people listen to other people is social inclusion. “Let me join the drama club cause thats what all the cool kids are doing” or “Let me try alcohol cause everyone else has”. It’s also important to respect the person giving you the advice and publicly regard them as more knowledgeable on that matter. This is tough to do with some parents because of obvious parent-child dynamics where the child is always on rebel-against-everything-even-if-it-makes-sense mode.

This post is pretty rough around the edges and it feels disorganized but hey, atleast I now identify myself as a writer.