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Social Games And How Not To Play Them

Side view of a muslim man comforting a sad caucasian girl mourning in a train station
Side view of a muslim man comforting a sad caucasian girl mourning in a train station

Everyone plays social games and sometimes I believe that they are played so automatically and effortlessly that the game player may make movements somewhat unconsciously. Some of the games that we play to acquire social status may be innocent while others can exclude people and can cause dangerous emotional pain. I have worked out some game player categories that will help people to identify the actions of offenders to acknowledge these plays for social status. These categories may also help multiple offenders to recognize their own actions, so they may remove themselves from the game, change the game, or at least become a bit more humble.

Money braggers - I recently went out with a friend and her boyfriend and after they offered to pay for my meal my friend's boyfriend said, "We have had a really good year. We have invested in the car. We have done well." My friend went on to talk about the ipod she had gotten for Christmas. This is an overt money brag meant to let me know about their financial position.

School braggers - I may be guilty of this as I sometimes drop the "M" bomb. "I learned that during my Masters," I drop into conversation at opportune times. I also know someone who went to Cambridge University in the UK and is constantly dropping that bomb into conversation.

Appearance braggers - these are the obsessive selfie takers whose job is to let you know that they are good-looking or that at least a bunch of people in their Facebook thread think they are.

Event braggers - these are the location, and event multiple taggers. These are the people that let you know exactly where they are and who they are with. Pictures may be attached to this event bragging. This is to let people know in some instances who was included and to let you know that you were excluded. When it is used in moderation it may just be innocent information sharing.

Work/Working hard braggers - these are the people who talk excessively about their job and the perks that come with it. These are also people who develop a Social Media presence to let you know that they are up at the crack of dawn or they are forever going to the gym. These are also the people who tell you "I have been busy" multiple times without prompting.

Cut you down to sizers - be wary of this category. This is the person who cannot deal with other people's success. They will painfully and expertly try to minimize your accomplishments. These jabs are often subtle and undetectable like an insidious gas leak. When I recently got a job promotion a friend said, "Oh that's lucky," and "That must be because you are good at the social thing." Another friend said about my French teaching gig, "Is that something you just picked up for the job?" She was trying to insinuate that it was oh so easy for me to be doing what I am doing.

Finally, my goal has been to find people who are trying to change the game. People who are not trying to value others through conventional social markers. People who are working themselves toward being non judgemental. I am also finding peace in identifying these plays for power by friends and trying to be open about it to them, and to let them know how it makes me feel. And finally if someone is a toxic player I have removed them from my life for my own sanity.

I have also tried to identify when I need to assert my achievements and defend myself when someone is trying to assert their social power over me. Lastly, I am trying to identify when I make my own plays for social power to understand how I influence the people around me. I am not a monk, but I am not a super villain either craftily trying to manipulate people for world domination. So I guess I fall somewhere in between the two. And I hope most people who are leaning more towards being a super villain will develop some of their monk-like humble powers for everyone's sanity.

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