Layers

Shrek, lovable ogre of Disney Dreamworks origin, is a hard guy to get to know and love. As he explains to Donkey, he has layers-

There is an implication this is bad. I guess the happy crappy liberal psychologist ideal is we expose ourselves completely all the time, but any realist knows that’s not going to work. You need layers, of the right quantity, composition and thickness.

I read a book years ago about Japanese culture, and the author said the Japanese typically have a very thick outer layer, with which they keep not only foreigners but friends and coworkers at a distance until they are very well-known. Their inner layer however is very thin. According to him it takes a long time to get to know a Japanese person, but when you have reached a certain point they will be very exposed and have no defenses- exactly the reason for the thick outer layer. He said Westerners have a fairly thin outer layer- they make casual friendships quite easily but maintain a stronger inner barrier against possibly hazardous trust and intimacy.

It has occurred to me the omega personality is much like the Japanese personality- a hard outer layer, which shows the world a lack of emotion and interest, concealing a gooey inner center, which is pretty emotional, maybe even childishly so. Surviving in a chaotic, hostile environment- such as a highly religious family, a public school, or a prison- requires showing the absolute minimum of emotion or enthusiasm about anything. You then go out among normal people in normal situations and they think you’re a weirdo.

(Note to any social conservatives reading- a politically liberal and politically correct home has all the same problems as a religiously conservative and strict home. I know because my family of origin was both. Note to liberals reading- yes such a thing actually exists and your beliefs are no panacea.)

Appropriate and successful social functioning requires a variety of layers. Socially skilled people have an outer layer only for dealing with strangers and new people. The more cynical call this “being phony” but in an anonymous urban society this is a valuable tool. You can get along without it only if you have social institutions such as churches or clubs for making friends and finding spouses.

This layer is the trickiest. I think this layer is where the “nice guy” problem comes in. I don’t think the typical omega has the nice guy problem because they don’t have even that level of development of the outer layer. A somewhat higher status low-status male- a gamma? a lower beta? will still be concerned that others are a threat, and thus with erroneous reciprocal thinking try to show others he is not a threat. But as I have said in Western society even omega women are pretty safe and well-treated so they see this as submissive behavior.

Your outer layer should never say “non-threatening.” Or, it should say non-threatening in another way than submissive. The most important qualities to convey are relaxation and calmness. People who will go out of their way to stress you out- women and bosses in particular, and any higher status people you deal with in general if they are dicks- are the ones who will insist the most on seeing this calm outward demeanor.

Another important thing is some kind of mark of differentiation. This is what the “peacocking” thing is all about. People in Western society are not rugged individuals, in fact they are barely individuals at all- they wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, eat the same food, and watch the same movies and TV shows. If they are guys they all want to fuck the same women, and if they are women they are after the same high-status men. Being well-dressed, or possibly with some kind of flair or outrageousness, makes you stand out in the static. I think this is why people get visible tattoos, but these have become just another hipster affectation. For visual this would be something you wear; personality-wise something you might tell people in a first brief conversation with them.

Beneath this you would have a layer you expose to co-workers and casual acquaintances; somewhat personal information and vulnerabilities. Beneath that are layers you expose to a) women you have a sexual relationship with and 2) close friends. Which of these is more personal? Friends I suppose. I have had the same friend (yes I basically have one friend) since college but various women have come and gone.

What’s the ultimate in intimacy? The fiancée/marital relationship? I am beginning to think not. It seems to me there are things you can tell close family members, a therapist or religious counselor you should not tell your serious girlfriend or wife. Frankly they don’t want to hear about your issues, even if they say they do, and it just scares and upsets them because they think they should be able to do something and they can’t, or you are supposed to be the big strong man and showing too much hurt ruins this for them.

I am working on my outer layer. My boss it turns out actually likes to provoke me, so I am just telling him “ain’t gonna do that, tough shit” and he has no choice but to buy it. My lack of inner layer management has probably ruined a couple of relationships with foreign women so I will have to go back to the well there.

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3 Responses to Layers

  1. jmkaye says:

    Shrek was Dreamworks, not Disney.

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