Critical Thinking Session

Mirroring effect is bigger than you can ever imagine

     Let's just cut to the chase this time: We all live in the world of mirrors, and we also have become a part of those mirrors, but those mirrors are often not best qualified that they easily cause some social problems. Agreed, or not?


    First of all, some of you might not be with me on the premise that we live in the world of mirror. So, let's put it like this. You made a speech in front of the crowd. As you made a funny joke, supposedly enough, they burst out laughing to confirm that your joke was a good one, and as you had been through this experience repeatedly, your confidence in your sense of jokes had solidified. However, when you, for the first time, made a speech before the audience from different cultural background, you may get shocked to know that your joke wouldn't evoke any response at all. Baffled inside, you may make a desperate efforts to entertain your audience just to find yourself being too insecure. After you learn that any of your jokes wouldn't reach your audience, you have to admit that your way of communication to be dysfunctional. What would you do in such a situation?


    You might be one of those strong-minded individuals that press even harder to let your way of communication go through, but most people would find it to be vain and ineffective, because none of the audience would stand on your side. Then, what? Almost the only way you can take in this context would be to start learning by observing your audience carefully. The points they find funny and laughable, the points they show no interests, and the points they applaud. Like a newborn baby, you would start over and install different set of communicational rules from your audience: your new set of mirrors.


    As we've seen, we are all living in the world of mirrors. We always get feedbacks from others to decide how we should behave in a particular setting, and this is so-called socialization. Once you had been socialized as a Japanese, you probably started to see and judge everything through Japanese-colored lenses, which would give you a sense of security as long as you are surrounded by the people who also wear the same colored lenses. You know why? Because you are becoming more of a mirror itself than the subject reflected on it, not that creepy dancer caught and judged by objective mirrors, but a cold and invisible wall standing in front of those who dance like a wild thing. Are you a mirror, or are you a weird dancer bouncing around to find yourself caught in the mirror?


    When you're on the side of those mirrors, for some reason, you, the object, would feel superior to the dancer, the subject, in front of you. It's like the feeling that rests in the mind of umpires that judge, rather than being judged, to enforce the rules in a game. They are not the players who play the game over winning or losing, but they judge from a safe and secure place, maybe with a glass of wine. Now look into your mind: Are you on the side of those players who play the actual game, or on the side of umpires who are there to judge the players? I bet, 99% of us have a preference for judging others, being a mirror, than dancing yourself to be judged.


    However, the question is, are we all qualified to be a mirror that can socialize others?


    Well, this is a difficult question, or maybe it's even meaningless to ask, because no matter how of bad quality the mirror might be, it just works as a mirror for others even without knowing. That said, it may be meaningful for us to be aware of the power of influence we have, as a mirror, on others to be supportive for others than hurting them unintentionally.


    I often see some people trying to enforce some commonly shared and yet wrong ideas by saying things like this.

"You should always keep traffic signals (and never doubt the system)."

"Freshmen should run errands for senior members."

"Seniors should pay for everything when you go drinking with younger workers."

"Younger workers should refill their seniors' mugs when they're empty."

"Never question your boss's orders."

"Who-says-it is more important than what-it-says."

    Those are all bullshits, and yet passed on over generations for decades, if not centuries. Why? Because the mirrors are malfunctioning.


    When you are surrounded by trusted and open-minded people, you also become such a person. Vice versa, when you have mean and judgy peple around, you also take after their traits. Yes, because they are your mirrors, and you will teach others who they are and how they are supposed to act properly just like your mirrors would do.


    How do we conclude? There seems to be no bottom line, but only thing I can say is: Choose who you want to have as a mirror, and be careful when you are unconsciously mirroring others, because you certainly don't want to pass on your bad quality but the best of you for the rest of the world.



1. Who are your mirrors? How have they affected your way of thinking?


2. Who do you think you have influenced acting as their mirror? Do you think you are a good one? Why do you think so?