Social Chameleons, People Who Change According To Circumstances

Social chameleons, people who change according to the circumstances

Social chameleons are champions of making a good impression. They don’t hesitate to use some kind of emotional trading technique that hides their own feelings, thoughts and opinions. They are meant to be accepted in this way and gain the approval of others. This course of action naturally causes serious side effects to a person’s self-esteem.

Most likely many readers will now remember a strange Woody Allen movie titled “Zelig.” In this film, the main character displays a strange supernatural ability. He is able to completely change his appearance so that he can adapt to the environment he is in. Finally, a young psychoanalyst warns Leonard Zelig about his real problem. His excessive insecurity causes him to camouflage himself among people to feel accepted.

This is undoubtedly an extreme case. It’s a funny audiovisual reflection of Allen talking about psychology, identity problems and our society. But there is a fact that we cannot ignore. We are all social chameleons in some way.

It’s not easy to be yourself

Showing ourselves as we are, without any cracks and with complete transparency, is not always easy. Because we are afraid of “what they will say.” We are afraid of disappointing, attracting attention, or not being what others expect of us. Living in a society forces us to adapt. We all know that. But it is also important to remember that we must learn to be people and not characters. Being a person means that we know how to respect others with their shades, their opinions, their virtues and their oddities. It also means that we are able to be honest, that we do not falsify our identity and values ​​because we want to be accepted so badly.

The key is learning to be people and not characters.

social chameleons

Social chameleons and the psychological cost

Mark Snyder is a well-known social psychologist at the University of Minnesota. He is an expert in examining the universal need for social acceptance. He reveals an interesting aspect. Social chameleons are very unhappy people. Let’s dwell on that for a moment. Imagine someone who forces himself every day to be just like the people around him.

To succeed in this you have to get used to thinking and feeling something and then doing the opposite. So you have to live in a constant contradiction. You swing away and fight between the personal face and the public mask. Because you laugh when you don’t feel like it. You live in a compulsive way. This is almost an addictive behavior. You always try to make a good impression. But it rarely leads to the creation of durable and satisfying tires. Moreover, it usually causes a real psychological exhaustion.

The cost

For we must not forget that in order to “imitate” the social chameleon we must pay attention to the social codes of each context. You have to observe and read the hidden and the explicit communication going on around you. Then you have to imitate it. But above all you have to show an exceptional malleability with which you can always be extremely convincing.

social chameleons

Being the right person at all times also requires us to always be aware of how others react. So we have to constantly keep an eye on their social performance. Then we adjust our behavior so that we get the desired effect. We can deduce from this that the wear and tear of all this in the short and long term is immense.

For authentic social chameleons, anything is possible. They lose their dignity, their principles and even their value system in order to achieve success, to feel part of the group or to gain recognition. But by imitating and playing so many roles, they will never be able to have authentic relationships. They will never be able to have valuable friends or stable partners with whom they can be themselves without a mask.

Social Chameleons or Social Zebras? The choice is yours

In certain professions we need the skills of a chameleon, whether we like it or not. We then need them to influence, seduce, attract customers, build trust and even manipulate. Examples of this can be found in politics, the legal system, sales, advertising, theater or diplomacy. Because they require the art of juggling in a psychological way. In these areas, imitation is synonymous with survival and even triumph.

We’ve all been social chameleons at some point and in some way. But experts in this field such as Dr. Mark Snyder, tell us we must learn to be “social zebras”. For this is necessary if we really want to gain authentic emotional health, wisdom and balance.

It doesn’t matter where a zebra is or with whom or next to what it is. Because they will always be the same. Their stripes will never change. This, of course, assumes that they are easy targets for predators. And as we already know, they also exist in a social context. Our “stripes” may not be the skin, style, character or voice that everyone likes. But the few who are touched by our authenticity and some strange nuances will be our best allies.

social chameleons

We want to conclude with this. Few things are as sterile and exhausting as trying to please everyone. What do we achieve by being a piece that fits every puzzle or a lever that fits every gear? Such a skill is not credible or healthy. So let’s learn to live without masks. We can be consistent and brave, unique and exceptional beings, with each of our “stripes.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button