Monday, December 27, 2010

Social Contracts

If you watched this episode of House, you will already understand what is meant by Social Contracts.  If not.... here goes.  He probably did a much wittier job of explaining it than I but...


Social Contracts are what make you say "How are you?"  when you don't really have the time or the inclination to listen to the answer.  


Social Contracts are what make you answer "Fine,"  even when you aren't really fine, because you just finished talking to an elderly couple who is facing the imminent death of their beloved pet and there is NOTHING that can be done to change the outcome. 


Social Contracts are what make you say "Yes the chicken was delightful" even when it was dried up and chewy. 


Social Contracts are what make you say "How was your holiday?" the Monday after Christmas...


But do you really care?  In the grocery check out line, does it really matter to you how your clerks holiday went?  At Doc-In-The-Box, are you REALLY going to tell the receptionist how your weekend REALLY was?


Social Contracts keep things moving - keep the mood light and superficial.  It is socially acceptable lying.  Heck, it is socially PROMOTED lying.  It makes you feel better that you feigned interest in someone else's life, and they did the same right back... that means everything is fine, right?  The world outside may be messy and nasty, but in your bubble, it is safe and warm and cozy.  


That is what Social Contracts are about.  Making sure we are all feeling warm and fuzzy and our bubbles are all safe.



I know I won't stop participating in Social Contracts.  I can't and still keep my job.  And for my friends, when I ask how are you, it is because I REALLY care and REALLY do want to know... That is a whole different realm.  I want to know whether your bubble is leaking or if you need help getting back to warm and cozy.

There are times though, like now, that it seems that Social Contracts just feel like a waste of time.  Lately too, though, it bothers me because it seems as though we're lying to each other day in and day out...




Don't get me started on Social Customs.  What are those, you ask?


Well....


How many Christmas gifts did you buy this year where you wondered, "Why in the world am I getting THIS person a Christmas gift?"  


Because the Social Custom makes you....


That's what Christmas is all about, right?  Those gifts?


Isn't it?


That's another story.