Likable People

Sometimes, I can know that I won't get along with someone before I've even met them. Or should I say, I don't know that I won't get along with them, but based on my track record, I suspect it. I suspect it because I have heard many good things about whatever person it is. The person is fairly popular and well-liked. I have been informed that I should meet this person because they are very likable, and I will get along well with them. I really don't know where people get the idea that I'll get along with likable people. So today, I'll be talking about this type of person. I'll be explaining what I mean, and why I don't tend to get along with them. Part of it is my fault, and part of it isn't. I'll explain more on that later.

The first question to be asked is, what makes somebody likable? Obviously, different people have different personalities, and interact with others in different ways, and get along with different people. (Apparently, I can't get rid of that word, whether on my blog or on YouTube.) So a likable person would have a personality that connects well with a wide variety of other personalities. But a personality isn't all that a person has. There are also questions of politics, religion, and any number of other controversial issues. Of course, it's not a question of what you think about these things, but rather, how you think about them. How do you look at your own opinions? How do you look at the opinions of others? How much are you willing to compromise?

Because I believe that we have a sin nature, I have a rather low opinion of humanity in general. Our instincts are not to better ourselves, but rather, to justify ourselves. Of course, this doesn't mean that there are no people who learn when they need to learn. But people tend to like something if it doesn't particularly challenge them, or if it only challenges them in specific ways. And if someone, for example, gets up in your face and starts shouting at you, that person gets thrown out the window. (As it turns out, I have a friend who did once get up in my face, literally, and started shouting about my attitude towards my hat. But my attitude didn't affect him in any way. He was doing this for my benefit, to challenge me, because I was being stubborn and wouldn't listen any other way.)

This is part of why I have trouble getting along with people who are described as likable or popular. They tend to be, for lack of a better word, weak. They don't tend to challenge people, or ask the tough questions. They are very willing to adapt to what people want, and thus, are less likely to stand up for their controversial beliefs, whether because they back down, or because they just don't talk about them to begin with. Now, I'm not saying that people should be argumentative, but they should be willing to defend their viewpoints in a reasonable manner. Most people, of course, take a defense of an opposing opinion as being unreasonable, regardless of whether it is or not, and thus, would not be inclined to describe such a person as "likable."

Of course, not all "likable" people are like this. Obviously, I do like my friends, and some of them could even be described as popular, or, at the very least, extroverted. It isn't wrong for someone to have many friends, or to be an enjoyable person. But when somebody is described to me in that way, I find myself unable to get along with them. Not that I end up hating them, but that they end up rubbing me the wrong way. And I think that it's because being an enjoyable person isn't merely an attribute that they have, but rather, the attribute that is so overwhelming that that's how people would describe them to somebody else. Not as intelligent, caring, strong, introspective, considerate, or any number of other adjectives, but as having popularity as their primary trait.

But, I will admit, part of the reason that I don't get along with likable people is my own problem. To put it bluntly, I get jealous. People are social beings, and tend to desire affection in various forms. By attention, compliments, or whatever else. To hear somebody mention someone else in a positive light isn't a problem, but often when people talk about somebody likable, they're not just mentioning them. Often, they end up gushing a bit. Because I'm somebody who doesn't mind the spotlight, and even enjoys it, having the attention put on somebody else causes me to get a bit annoyed.

Jealousy of attention that others receive isn't a good thing, and it's something that I need to work on. But, at the same time, I do still believe that there's a problem when somebody's primary trait is their popularity. When the way that people describe someone is as "likable." After all, there are times that someone like this rubs me the wrong way before I've ever even heard them described. To get along well with many people is not a bad thing, but if it becomes the primary trait that people assign, it indicates, in my mind, that this popularity is coming at the expense of other things that are more important.
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)."
-Mark Twain

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