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Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Validation Circle & Cliches

Maybe I'm a little bit jaded, but I've noticed over time someone will make a post on Facebook or another social media and like clockwork, there are the same set of people which will complement the post or the poster.  In many cases, I do believe it is heartfelt and they really do think the person listed as beautiful, smart, handsome or whatever.  Similarly, they will express the item or experience being posted as nice or whatever would fit.   Similarly, I noticed when someone has passed away they are often portrayed and characterized to the surviving family/friends at their best even when let's just say their reputation in life was highly flawed.

I don't mean to imply that the compliments, words and the like are necessarily insincere, but I do believe that sometimes they are said with mixed motives.    This begs the question, "Why do we compliment on social media and in life?".

  • We are sincerely moved or touch to do so.   Who or what we are complimenting or speaking highly of really does compel us to speak well of it/them.
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice looking someone in our circle or their kid is.  
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice someone's house, boat, car, etc. is.
    • We may be really are moved to tell someone how much their loved one meant to us.
  • We want to be polite or proper.  In other words, it is the proper thing to do, even if we aren't necessarily feeling it.
    • We may be paying our respects as we feel it is the proper thing to do.
    • We see that something is important to someone in our circle and we just understood to compliment, speak well, etc. of them is the proper or thoughtful thing to do.  Appearance or face isn't our goal, but being kind, appropriate or proper is.  
  • We want to look thoughtful or alternatively not look like a jerk for ignoring.
    • We see complimenting someone or something that is important to them is a way to appear thoughtful or to ingratiate ourselves with them.  Even if we don't necessarily feel it, it costs us little to 'look good' in the other person's eyes.   After all, who doesn't want to hear a compliment about themselves or what is important to them?
    • We might compliment them on their car, hair or dress or something like that when in reality we really don't care that much.
    • We may notice everyone else in their circle is complimenting them or what is important to them and we want to be sure that we don't look like a jerk and 'properly acknowledge'.  If we believe others or paying attention to how we respond or don't respond to them, we may feel compelled to sound 'approving' or complimentary to make sure we stay on their good side.
  • We (consciously or subconsciously) anticipate the compliment will be returned.
    • We may realize that if we ignore what is important to another, when it comes our time to get hoped for praise, it may not be forthcoming.
    • We are consciously seeking credit for 'properly acknowledging' in anticipation of one day expecting the same--proper positive acknowledgement--from someone in our circle.

The first two motives usually are considered more noble or selfless.   After all, most people welcome sincere compliments and find them uplifting.  Likewise, it is very respectful to treat others and what's important to them, even if you don't totally feel it.   Compliments won't kill you and even if you aren't specifically seeking it, a kind turn will often be returned.

The second to motives are usually considered self-serving.  Though they may not say it, people often see through insincerity, virtue-signaling, and the desire to be credited for what they say or don't say especially when it is said with less than full sincerity.


Now that I spent time mulling why people compliment each other let's consider for a moment why people put out themselves or what is important to them in a public setting or forum.   In other words, why do we share?


  • We are moved by what we share.   We think what we are sharing is uplifting or will be a happy thing for all.
    • We might want to lift someone else up whom we are proud of for example.
    • We might think we are sending an important message, such as it is important to fight for what you believe in or to never give up.
  • We are seeking approval, praise, or compliments or to be thought of well.
    • Sometimes we just need a little uplift or to know someone cares.  We don't want to ask for a compliment or approval straight out and we hope by our share, we will give positive feedback.
    • We might be seeking validation too hard.

The last point kind of really comes full circle to my original idea for the post.   I believe that in life and on social media we compliment and show approval as part of what I call a "validation circle".   We give props, compliments and approval sometimes to things that we could care less about--if we were honest to ourselves we could care less about.  Sometimes we may care, but are not as impressed as the one who posts or shares.   No, we may not think there kid is as cute as they do.  We may not be too impressed with their new set of wheels.   We may not really think their significant other is all that.   However, I believe sometimes the 'validation circle' dictates that we show approval anyway.   That is to say, it is an unwritten contract that says you compliment what I share and I compliment what you share, regardless of how we actually feel about it.   But, then again, maybe in our individual groups, our clichés, our 'validation circle', we are just engaging in behavior that nations engage in: diplomacy.   I think sometimes if we read between the lines we can actually see this process in motion.

To those reading this, I'm just the messenger.   Yes, I care about everything you pose or share.  Whatever you share is the coolest, most important, most attractive, funniest, most touching thing I've ever read or seen.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just for the record, I EXPECT, my readers to VALIDATE what I post IF they expect me to validate what they do...

-- Rich

In this song, I believe the writer/singer recognizes the truth of the transaction.  Namely, he acknowledges and validate their feelings and well he gets his own 'validation'.

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