We are a product of what we want to be and what the society sees us as. This leads to ambivalent situations. We tend to live in a confused state because it becomes difficult to decide what to do. Torn between the desire to do something and the notions of the society, the mind is always in a fix. Facing mixed emotions and having contradicting thoughts regarding everyone and everything it becomes very difficult to make a decision.
You see a colleague or acquaintance at a market place or at a movie theatre or some café and you are in a fix whether to acknowledge his presence or altogether avoid it and do your business. The problem isn’t going forth and greeting them. But the is whether that person will appreciate it or feel intruded. Our hearts may want to go ahead and say hi but our socially trained minds wish to keep a distance. Why?! Because the social norms say that you should mind your business. But these norms also portray a person as ‘arrogant’ if he/she doesn’t get acquainted with people.
Here is when everyone of us gets confused as we are not sure which norm to follow. We fear that if we go up to them and say hi, they would think of us as gossipmongers and if we avoid them then we will be portrayed as arrogant and proud. And so we end up stealing glances in their directions more than necessary and when we are caught we smile awkwardly and make it embarrassing for both of us.
Social norms have been formed to keep at bay certain misconceptions and to constraint social evils. They are the flexible rules that you should follow in different situations. They are the pro bonos. They might be indefinite but they aren’t mandatory. They have been made by our ancestors to guide us and like the laws they evolve with time.
So, next time when you are met with a similar situation, first think of the type of relationship you share with them, assess the surroundings and then go ahead and greet them. If you have shared a good laugh, they will not mind you intruding their outing but sometime in the past if you have had a spat, they might not like you to approach them unless it is to make things better. Sometimes it also depends on the person’s nature, they may or may not like socialising and you can also base your decision on his nature.
Thus ambivalent perception creates awkward situations but unambiguous perceptions lead to acceptable gatherings.