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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 36 - Superiority Complex

Hey guys! This time I wanted to talk about the superiority complex that I've been noticing is becoming more apparent especially in the current state of the world. So I think a good place to start with this is the definition of superiority. A quick Google search will yield the definition of “displaying a sense of being better than others.” People normally feel that they are better than others when they are in positions that are held to be more valuable and exclusive. I want to relate this topic to how those people in high positions aren’t willing to give up their positions easily. There are multitude of ways people can be seen as better than those around them. In some cases it is hard to determine superiority unless there are measurable stats to discern things like level of ability or else superiority becomes a perspective based decision. If you are a good soccer player and have racked up goals is can easily be determined you're better at soccer than a rookie but when it comes to things like popularity, superiority is based upon perspective and how you measure up in the eyes of others. There are plenty of ways to test who is better at things over others like competitions. It can be usually safe to say that those who emerge as victors some way or another are superior to their competitors.

One important thing to address that ties in with the superiority discussion is the fact that life isn't fair. People will usually have an advantage over others or a leg up that they will most likely exploit if they really care about being seen as superior. Not everyone starts out at equal positions and each one is unique like how you were raised and what resources you had were different than everyone around you. If you are born with a silver spoon or your parents are celebrities, you will most likely have an advantage over others. An issue that has arisen by having advantages is that utilization of your advantages could be considered unethical and at times even cheating. Using steroids will give you an advantage over other baseball players but you will be cheating and they can sometimes have negative effects on the user like with Barry Bonds. In order to prevent things like cheating, many precautions have been taken in certain areas to level the playing field. The SAT's for instance, do almost everything in their power to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed on the test. In a perfect world everyone would be equal but we don't live in one so to make things equal, authoritative powers try to take away an aspect to help even things out and give others the opportunity to shine. However, it isn't always possible to make everything fair and it most likely will never get completely even. In the case of competitions, these advantages can lead to David vs. Goliath situations where the one competitor is usually outmatched in almost every aspect of the competition. The newcomer usually has the odds stacked against them from the beginning because they have no base of real audience. The whole experience also plays a role in these situations where if you're a rookie just starting out, you will probably need time in order to develop your potential to take down that reigning champion. You probably aren't as familiar with the proving ground which will probably lead to you losing. The good news, like I've said before, is that you can learn from the mistakes you’ve made and progress as a person. In the case of the challenger winning, these stories make the plot for some of the best underdog stories because they inspire hope into the everyday person that they can achieve great things even if the odds are stacked against them.

These moments to shine are situations where you are put on the spot and people are watching you. The bigger the moments the more pressure that becomes apparent and the more chances that moment can make or break you. This relates a lot to the note I wrote about moments to shine so check that out if you want to read more about that. Anyways there are many places that you don't even recognize are places to shine. These situations are what I like to call proving grounds because if you prove your worth you can climb up the chain to superiority. These proving grounds occur to you almost every day. One instance could be in the classroom and you get an A on the test and everyone else didn’t, then you are superior and that can mean a lot of things like you are superior in the subject or just the subject matter of the test or you just got lucky. Besides the implications of these proving grounds, these places aren't necessarily against the rest of the world like trying to prove your worth to others around you but can also be to prove to yourself. I think Mr. Burke's quote, "Good Better Best. Never rest, until your good is better and your better is best" can apply to this situation.

When people succeed in these proving grounds, depending on their character, they might publicize their ranking among their peers. These rankings are used to categorize the level of who's better than others. While these rankings can be pretty accurate most of the time, they aren't always a sure fire way of telling who is better than others. Publicizing your rank is a way to display your superiority over the competition. They are used to show that they are better than others and can be useful in many ways. Your character determines the way you will publicize your superiority. Some people are showoffs who display their skills in order to impress others. Another way is to be conceited, being so proud of yourself that you think you are better than everyone in basically every way. If you are intelligent you can also look like a smart ass and make everyone else look dumb. Other people are more humble about their superiority. Companies show off their superiority by utilizing their rankings to get business because they are "proven" to be better than others so you should choose them first when buying a new product. These rankings aren't just based upon ability but also status like having more money, better friends, job, etc. There are almost limitless mediums of superiority and ways to show it. Like I said before, you are sometimes born into and given superiority but not just with things like wealth. Your parents could have provided you with the genes to be biologically superior. You could be born to sing or built to play sports. Who you know not just what you know or can do, can also play a role in superiority like knowing a celebrity or an agent to get you signed into a successful career.

Proving grounds provide you with tests in order to help determine who is better than others. These tests aren't definitive. One major problem with these tests is that they could be looking for the wrong things to test for. I read somewhere that when doctors test you to see what ailments you have, they're missing a huge factor that can contribute to your diseases which is the habits that you live with because these habits can increase your susceptibility to things. By not considering certain factors, the perspective of who is superior or not can become skewed. Superiority can be sometimes hard to test as well because it is hard to find these variables that have the potential to contribute to superiority. For instance, testing intelligence using the IQ test is limiting because there are some many factors and variables that can affect results and different variations of intelligence. There is street smart as well as school smart as well as many of facets of intelligence that it can be hard to precisely say who is smarter than someone else. Because we are human, things like off days need to be considered when ranking superiority. It is hard to judge based upon a single moment to decide who is better at something because one could have choked or plenty of other possibilities. You can say someone was better at an exact moment but it doesn’t represent the whole scheme of things as your perspective is limited to a small scope.

Superiority is also an ever shifting topic. Times change and because of this, so does superiority. As you get older your abilities start to decline and those younger than you start to become superior to you. If you are superior one moment you can lose it all in the coming moments. It is also harder to gain superiority than lose it because you need to work hard to become better than the competition. You must train constantly and stay atop the changing times in order to stay superior. Superiority is also based upon experience. You need to be around people in order for them to form a solid perspective about you. If you are around someone like in school for the past 3 years, they can better determine if you are smarter than them. It allows accuracy but times change so it can be almost impossible to get a completely accurate measurement of where someone stands when ranked with their peers. By knowing where someone stands in the measures of superiority, you get a sense of benchmarks for what is considered good or not. In a way it can be like a bar that helps set a goal where, if you want to be successful in a certain area, you must beat or be better than the current record holder or person to beat.

Your strengths and weaknesses are what help form your ranking. When you get an idea of what someone is bad and good at you can better exploit them to find other areas where you can show off your abilities. Knowing where you rank with others can allow you to find things that make you shine when compared and allow you to be special and superior in different ways. The thing you need to remember is the fact that there will always be someone out there who is better than you at something and always something that you're better at than others. In my opinion there are plenty more singers out there than Justin Beiber but that statement is just my opinion. The important thing is that someone in a high position discovered his "talent" on YouTube and that made him basically a household name now. I think a part of superiority is accredited to luck where you're just at the right place at the right time to get noticed. You get superiority because nobody else got the opportunity to shine or at that moment you were the best out there or just fit for the job. The main thing I want to get across is that it isn’t always about being better. I feel like superiority is more of a self-esteem issue than anything else. With recognition comes being placed in a ranking. If you are recognized as the best you are superior. The sense of pride that comes with superiority is something that reassures and reaffirms a person’s sense of worth. To be recognized you must separate yourself from the rest and your motives for trying to become superior can range from many possibilities. Whatever you try to become superior in, try your hardest and try to reach your potential and then the sky is the limit. You shouldn’t always compare yourself to others because what you do isn’t always reliant on what others do as well. Your personal best is all that matters and if everyone put out their best effort, the world could become a much better place.

-Allan Nicholas

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