To Climb Up the Ladder or Not?

This is Part 4 of the Social Hierarchies Series

As with any structure, there is always a form of categorization and strata which separates people from each other as defined by their functionality, prominence, and importance. In several instances, there is a possibility to jump from a lower level to a higher one.

First off, it is a rather messy and complicated and time-consuming prospect, and we’re not even sure if it’s worth the effort. What are the things you need to do in order to be able to qualify for a “promotion”?

It’s also a quirky territory to tread on, since the jump differs massively from one hierarchy to another, and more so about the requirements you need to have with you. I listed down below several general truths about hierarchies. Note that these are all generalizations and may or may not fit with the hierarchy.

  1. The more prestigious the hierarchy is, the harder it is for you to climb. You should be aware of this one already. More prestigious hierarchies invite more brilliant individuals also vying for the jump you’re eyeing on. This truth applies to the academic hierarchies (Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard), scientific hierarchies (Royal Society), and showbiz hierarchies (Hollywood).
  2. Larger hierarchies are much more challenging to climb. A smaller mountain is easier to climb than Mt. Everest, seriously. A hierarchy’s size is a major factor in determining the probability of you being able to climb. This truth applies to international hierarchies and companies.
  3. Prominence may dictate your shot. Famous persons are usually treated specially, be it in a company or club. Special people are generally at the upper levels thanks to the prominence factor that they have.

Given that you had been presented with the opportunity to climb up and you have all the requirements you need to do so, will it be worth climbing up?

There are reasons why you should and shouldn’t take the risk and jump. I grouped the reasons and hope you have a good idea on what you should do.

Reasons why you should jump.

  • A jump, or promotion in other hierarchies, is a good opportunity to show off your developed and innate skills. It may be a research or a highly coveted movie role, but whatever it is, it provides a path towards the higher levels of the structure.
  • Further, climbing up can provide a greater financial benefit, meaning that you can afford more luxuries than before.
  • A promotion also allows you access to managerial roles and test your abilities as a leader.
  • More services are also available to you since you are in a higher level than before.
  • Authorities also treat you as more capable of handling the tasks they give to you.
  • You can explore a broader area of the structure than before.

Reasons why you shouldn’t jump.

  • More responsibilities are given to you and higher expectations are demanded.
  • More taxing tasks are assigned to you and you are expected to work them through excellently.
  • You become a member of a planning team and are expected to perform well.
  • Your work and performance are subject to more scrutiny both by those above you and below you.
  • More attention, time, and effort are demanded from you, especially during particularly busy time periods.
  • It’s risky. One too many false moves and you’re basically out of the hierarchy (if it’s hostile) or you’re demoted and generally shamed (if it’s beneficial).

As you may have observed, the reasons why you shouldn’t jump revolve around your performance, time, and effort, especially with sensitive work and event preparations. However, granted that you are a natural when it comes to leadership and excellent workmanship, then these shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s also worth assessing your purpose on taking the jump and climbing up. It’s okay if it’s for self-gain, especially with the financial aspect, as long as you don’t come off as manipulative and coercive. It is good to note that climbing up a beneficial hierarchy usually provides much better opportunities and experiences.

When you do decide to climb, remember that the state of your subordinates define the state of the quality of your work, regardless of whether they directly or indirectly affect your work. Keeping a good eye on them will prove useful.

Stay tuned for the next installment in the Social Hierarchies series!


Identifying the Nature of the Hierarchy

This is Part 3 of the Social Hierarchy Series.

Last time we’ve talked about the effects of a hierarchy, be it hostile or beneficial. As a quick recap, a hierarchy’s effects can be seen on how an individual functions and interacts with other members of the hierarchy. This time, we will be talking about the nature of a hierarchy.

First thing’s first: What do I mean by the nature of a hierarchy?

A hierarchy’s nature is different from its effects, although the nature of the hierarchy defines how it affects its members. A hierarchy’s nature defines how it is labeled. A hostile nature dictates a hostile hierarchy and a beneficial nature dictates a beneficial one.

The signs of a nature are seen on its effects, so it is important to read about the effects of a hierarchy first here.

It is important to identify the ruling power in the hierarchy, as their own nature and personalities are often the defining factor for the identity of the hierarchy’s nature. It isn’t really a difficult task, since the leader is almost always made known to you as soon as you enter a hierarchy or if you’re planning to join one.

Observing the ruling powers for some time is an effective way to determine their natures. However, it might not always be a fruitful method as there are people who are able to effectively conceal their true motives.

Generally, by looking at the power’s history, achievements, controversies, and certain methods of implementation (rules, projects, etc), you can build a good picture of how the ruling power functions.

A hierarchy’s nature can also be identified through its background and history, as well as how its members, both present and former, describe the state of the organization. Nothing else is more effective at identifying the former and present nature of the hierarchy than by how the members describe it. Talking with its members will provide a good picture about the hierarchy itself.

Third, it is also a good way to look at the hierarchy’s mission and vision. A hierarchy always possesses both, whether they are clearly defined or not. The vision describes the hierarchy’s goal or ideal state. Its mission defines why it exists and also paints how it plans on achieving its vision.

For example, a hospital’s vision may be to build a community where people are healthy and far from diseases, while its mission talks about preventing and mitigating casualties from diseases, hiring quality personnel, obtaining excellent and complete equipment, etc.

Apart from these, it is also worth identifying how the individuals are functioning under the hierarchy’s rule, as we’ve discussed in the previous article.

Using these four techniques, it is possible to accurately identify the nature of the hierarchy and escape the hostile ones. There is one thing which is common among these four techniques though: Observation.

By observing its ruling powers, its history, its purpose and vision, and its members, a clear picture of the hierarchy’s nature arises into view and helps fuel your decisions of joining one or not.

Stay tuned for the next part of the Social Hierarchies series!

Time Immemorial

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For we are nothing but leaves on a tree, each passing and going, leaving behind our wake the things that we have done for the people surrounding us.


Who doesn’t have them? Even those who had amnesia or Alzheimer’s remember at least something. But how important are these memories? Are they even worth remembering?

To answer the third question, yes. Memories are worth remembering. That is their purpose.

So, what gives?

There are several things you need to know about the nature of your memories.

First, they are subjective. No, that does not mean that whatever you thought you remember actually happened. Our brains process the memories more to suit what we wish happened. The memories which we think are rigid and cannot be edited, is actually edited by your brain each time you summon the memory. It is further affected by our current situation and whatever thought or stimulus lead to the triggering of the memory.

Second, these things are cued in and made more unforgettable by the number of sensory stimuli we feel. I’m sure you are already quite aware of this. You probably heard a particular song and remembered someone who loved singing to it. That, is the power of cues which arise from other sensory inputs.

Third, memories which bring more impact tend to be more unforgettable. That car accident you experienced several years ago? I’m pretty sure the memory is still vivid until now. The more gravity an event contains, the more likely you’re going to remember it.

Okay, we got that covered. We already know that memories aren’t the perfect movie scenes we imagine them to be. So, a particularly ominous question arises, are you fooling yourself?

Probably. It depends.

A good memory (be it positive or negative) is something which isn’t easily forgotten. These things last in our minds for probably our entire lifetime. But with our brain constantly changing and editing our memories as we replay them, we tend to ask how we can ensure that whatever we remembered actually happened.

You ought to do the following:

  1. Write. Writing is powerful, especially if used to express something you feel and experience. Called expressive writing, putting down your thoughts and whatever experiences you feel is not only relieving, it also improves your health and psyche. This is especially true for traumatic or emotional situations. Although it may seem counterintuitive to write something which troubles you, studies have shown it has positive effects on your well-being. So, write your thoughts and experiences, as they may lapse into memories and paint a much more vivid and more comfortable viewpoint on the things you’ve seen or done or experienced.
  2. Record. Be it taking photos or videos, recording the things you see and experience provide more comfort since they trigger visual inputs that may have otherwise been corrupted by your editing brain or forgotten in the recesses of your memories. Watching these things seem to teleport you back to the time and place, all unchanged and where the emotions are much stronger. They also provide glimpses into a point in space and time you no longer recall, as shown in Ron Haviv’s The Lost Rolls Project where he uncovered over 200 rolls of film which have never been developed (read more about it here). Compile photo albums and video tapes, and when you’re in the distant future wondering about what you had back then, you can always return to those events by watching them unfold before your very eyes.
  3. TalkThere’s no better way in retelling your memories than telling it with those who were involved. You may talk about your wonderful class memories when you reunite with your former classmates. You can record the memories by talking about it in your phone’s audio recorder, or better yet, an old cassette. Then, when you feel like it, you just pop the files into the player, sit back, and listen to the raw memory or to you narrating the events. It’s a comforting and soothing experience.

As you may have noticed, all three ways of storing your memories for a more realistic retelling involves stimulating your senses. Writing affects your eyes and hands, watching involves your eyes and ears, and talking involves your ears. Combining the power of the senses provides a more picturesque and nostalgic feel.

Memories make up who we are as a person. They are unique to us. Even if two people watch the same game, they will have different memories. It’s all in the perspective, and perspective is a powerful ability.

So, what are you waiting for? Memories constantly happen around you, whether you are a passive or an active participant. Record, record, and record, so that when the time comes that you feel lonely and down, you can always listen to your past joys and sorrows and learn from them. And whatever you learned from them, you can use to become a stronger, happier, and more satisfied individual.


Differentiating the Effects of a Hostile and Beneficial Hierarchy

Part 2 of the Social Hierarchies Series

Last time we talked about social hierarchies and its different parts and how they interact with each other. Before we deal with the nature of the social hierarchy, let’s take a look at how you may fare in each type.

As stated before, social hierarchies are present almost everywhere. It’s likely you’re in one right now. One of the most basic social hierarchies exist in our respective homes—our families.

Many families produce happier and much more productive offsprings, while others don’t. So what does this have to do with social hierarchies? Simple. It’s the effect of the nature of the hierarchy they are in that ultimately impacts how well they behave and perform in the general society.

Although there is a huge number of social hierarchy settings, they are generally categorized into their effects on its members, particularly those who are on the lower levels of the strata. These effects are grouped into two—the hostile and the beneficial.

Let’s begin with the hostile social hierarchy.

A hostile hierarchy may or may not reveal its hostility to its members. It may be masquerading as a beneficial hierarchy (e.g., a corrupt church system or an office setting where your colleagues are “helping” you out) or showing you plainly its nasty colors (e.g., in a school setting where you are almost instantly picked on).

Its members may or may not be aware of its nasty effects, and if they are, they are blinded by the nature of the hierarchy’s leaders.

So what are the indicators of a hostile hierarchy?

The tree is known by the nature of its fruit. The same is true for any kind of social hierarchy. It sounds plain and simple, but in reality, it is a deep and complex interconnection between members and how the connections interact with the hierarchy as a whole. Sounds complicated right? It is, so let’s tear it apart.

A hostile hierarchy is usually run by an elite and small group of people at the top. Although it may look like your opinions matter in the formation of decisions, it’s merely a decoration to help hide the hierarchy’s nastiness. And what happens when there are only a few people who makes all the decisions? Selfishness and polarization of interests.

Just like any other hierarchy, a hostile hierarchy requires a source to feed on, and in this case, its members. A hostile hierarchy keeps a tight grip on its members through the use of manipulation, be it covert or plainly shown. What do I mean?

Imagine this situation. You are short on cash and your kids’ schooling demands more money. You decide to work on this company who knows your problem and “helps” you solve it. The company manipulates you and gives you way more work than what your regular load allows. You’re forced to go overtime but receives the same salary. And if you threaten the system by leaving? They simply remind you of your children’s fate if you leave. You are then forced to stay, no matter how irked you are, because you couldn’t find a much better system.

A hostile hierarchy is usually overrun by individuals who have crab mentality. Crab mentality is a selfish trait where people follow the notion “if I can’t have it, then neither can you.” These people desire personal gain over the collective improvement of the system. They pull people down because they cannot afford to see everyone else succeeding while they are still failing.

In general, members of a hostile hierarchy feel the following:

  • Ripped off (i.e., gaining less than what you deserved)
  • Manipulated/forced
  • Pushed down
  • Worthless

It is also worth noting that a hostile hierarchy acts like a narcissistic entity. It craves attention and a source to feed on. If you have trouble seeing through the fuzzy fog and comprehend the real effects of the organization you are in, it’s best to seek the opinion and advice of your friends and loved ones. They aren’t as blinded as you are and can provide you with valuable inputs which you can use to escape from the clutches of hostility.

Let’s move to the beneficial social hierarchy.

A beneficial social hierarchy is a place where the interests of the collective group are prioritized more than the individual motives of its members. It isn’t flawless but at least takes into account the needs of its members.

Unlike the hostile hierarchy where power and influence are polarized on the upper parts of the strata, the beneficial hierarchy ideally has the powers spread equally throughout the different levels.

Each opinion of its members are considered before making a final decision. As a result, its decision making is much slower but the satisfaction gained by the collective group is much higher.

A beneficial hierarchy is typically described as warm and accommodating, although it may not always show this trait. Some hierarchies, especially those which are broad enough or its members are too widespread, do not exhibit this trait. An example will be the United Nations, which, although wants the best interests of the collective group, doesn’t usually exhibit the trait. This is particularly evident in situations of high tension.

The moral system of a beneficial hierarchy is usually based upon the ideal state of human ethics and behavior. It treats its members in the way that emphasizes and upholds the highest state of human satisfaction.

For example, a beneficial company desires the well-being of its employees. It provides social activities designed to strengthen connection between its members (e.g., team building exercises) and provides good and concrete guidelines to be followed by everyone (e.g., good guidelines on sick leave, vacations, work load, and salary).

Unlike the hostile hierarchy which is described as a narcissistic entity, a beneficial hierarchy may be described as a democratic entity.

Members of a beneficial social hierarchy typically feel the following:

  • Satisfaction and/or happiness
  • Social growth and development
  • An overall sensation of well-being

Conclusion and Side notes

It is important to note that the beneficial and hostile social hierarchies are not as defined as black and white. Rather, they belong to opposite sides of a continuum. A beneficial hierarchy in one setting may be a hostile one in another.

There are also settings wherein one type of hierarchy is much better and well-suited than the other. Take for example a classroom or school which should be a beneficial social hierarchy while the military is much better with a hostile one.

Generally, strict rules and regulations demand a hostile hierarchy while those built on the foundation of development and cooperation require a beneficial one.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Social Hierarchies Series.

Social Hierarchies

Whenever you’re in a club, office, or school, you can never shake the presence of a social hierarchy lingering in the air. Its very presence defines the movement of individuals into and out of the system.

Also called as a status hierarchy or social class hierarchy, social hierarchies exist where a large number or population of people are commonly found. These people make up a society, be it a new one isolated from the rest or a faction coexisting with other hierarchies.

And, humans that we are, we tend to structure and classify ourselves into whatever we see fit. That means that those with executive leadership and more important things to do are at the upper levels while the ordinary members are at the lower ones.

Social hierarchies structure individuals based on how important they appear to be, but the structure doesn’t necessarily mean the polarization of power on the upper parts. So, how do you deal with them?

Here’s an important thing to note: social hierarchies aren’t always bad. Some hierarchies are more encouraging while others tend to border on hostility.

This can be visualized using two office hierarchies. In one, which we will name Office A, has a warmer and more caring environment. It treats neophyte workers with respect and gives everyone a fair chance of performing and moving up the structure. Okay, that sounds good. Now let’s turn to Office B.

Office B has a hostile and cold environment. Those in the higher strata typically treats those below as servants and people undeserving of respect. As a result, people wouldn’t be able to function as well, especially for those who are lower in the structure.

Before you deal with social hierarchies and start spouting lines from your great hero-gets-bullied-and-survives movie to defend yourself from apparent attacks, it is important to evaluate what the social hierarchy really stands for. And before that, we need to explore the basic things in a social hierarchy.

The Nature of an Individual’s Status

There are two types of status in a society. One is ascribed and the other is achieved. Let’s differentiate the two.

  • Ascribed Status

A person with ascribed status is someone whose status they obtained from birth or unwillingly acquires some time later in life. These things may be nonnegotiable, like gender and race. Or it could arise from someone else’s social status, for example, the daughter of a rich couple is automatically rich because of the presence of her parents’ status. The thing with ascribed status is that the individual doesn’t chose.

  • Achieved Status

Achieved status is a status that someone has earned. In a school environment, athletes are typically regarded and admired by the society as a whole, especially if the athlete has obtained or won many awards and distinctions. The same goes for any other trait, be it positive or negative.

Social Stratification and Stigmas

It is also worth noting that the statuses above don’t define an individual’s place in the hierarchy. It is also influenced by his socioeconomic status and whether society deems him as perfect or not.

Social stratification is based on a person’s job, occupation, income, wealth, class, status, and power. A person who is rich is automatically a powerful person, since he can influence a broad range of people. The stratification is usually divided into three: upper, middle, and lower.

Social stigmas are the society’s perception of an individual’s “state of perfection.” A society that favors the supermodels and the hunks are more likely to irk at an out-of-shape person.

Stigmas are basically characterized into three forms.

  1. Physical deformitiesThis includes hereditary “flaws” such as a short height and a tendency to store weight around the midsection, physical disability, diseases, and acquired injuries such as burns and scars.
  2. Inconsistencies of a person with the norm of the society. This type of stigma includes criminal background, drug and alcohol abuse and/or addiction, and mental disorders.
  3. Group stigmas. This is a broader form which encompasses a person’s race or skin color, religion, nationality, etc.

That said, we can begin exploring the nature of social hierarchies and how to deal with them. This is going to be a series which may take a while, but the result is a much deeper understanding of social hierarchies, how they work, and what to do when you’re in a hostile one. So I hope you have a wonderful ride as we delve deeper into the stacks, exploring each nut and bolt, of a social hierarchy.

Here is the partial listing of the topics and parts in the Social Hierarchy Series:

  1. Differentiating the Effects of a Hostile and Beneficial Hierarchy
  2. Identifying the Nature of the Hierarchy
  3. To Climb Up the Ladder or Not?
  4. When the Hierarchy Becomes Toxic
  5. Breaking the Norms of a Social Hierarchy
  6. Maintaining Individuality in a Hierarchy

Caring for the Little Kid Inside You

In this world filled with noises and lights and stress and unwarranted violence, it’s pretty easy to lose track of yourself—your passion, hobbies, wants, and needs.

Many people consider themselves adept at handling these kinds of things, juggling one task with ten more other tasks, all at the same time. What they do not realize (or they do, they just don’t care that much) is that they are sacrificing one thing in return—their own sense of self.

So basically I’m saying quit doing this things and focus on your self? Not quite.

You see, it’s much more complicated than that simple answer. Yes of course, you can just drop everything and live like a nomad, but that’s just plain selfish. There are people, whether you’re aware or not, who depend on you. Just dropping them down all of a sudden isn’t exactly what I want you to do.

So, what am I exactly saying?

All I’m saying is for you to drop the guns once in a while and give yourself some slack. Not just any slack. I’m talking about the productive slack.

How can you do something while doing nothing at all? Simple. You find what you’ve always wanted to do, or something you once did but couldn’t now, and do it.

Productivity isn’t just done by working. It can also be done while relaxing. It’s actually much better when you’re doing it for relaxation because your creative side starts doing what it wants to do.

At the end of the day, nobody else will matter to you more than yourself.

Okay, it sounds simpler than it actually is. For one thing, work and other priorities jostle each other for your attention. This is especially true for students (*cough* hell week *cough*). But it’s also pretty common with adults. That ultra-mega-hyper-super-BIG report due by next week is definitely much more important than waddling in a spa right now.

So what are you supposed to do? I’m listing down several things for allowing the little kid in you to come out and play.

  1. Settle your important priorities first. Like what I’ve mentioned earlier, you just can’t head to the beaches now when you have something important to submit tomorrow. Settle your significant priorities now before you indulge yourself. Doing that can save you your work and your conscience.
  2. Do it for yourself. No, just because your friends or your [toxic and manipulative] boyfriend/girlfriend wants you to try it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it. Write because you want to. Paint because you want to. Travel because you want to. No one (I repeat, no one) should interfere with your thinking and influence you to do something you don’t want to do. Do it for yourself.
  3. Productive doesn’t necessarily mean good. Err on the side of caution. If you have a weak heart and you’ve been dying (no pun intended) to try bungee jumping or skydiving, don’t do it. Not because I’m killjoy or superstitious, but because you need to live through it. Of course it’s productive. You get to add one more experience-filled event in your journal, but it just might be your last. Always err on the side of caution.
  4. Let your inner child guide your decisions. It only appears whenever you’re relaxed or in a good mood. Your inner child knows you more than any other human, and it is one of the best indicators of your likes and dislikes. Allowing it to decide for itself what it wants is going to make you more fulfilled than if anyone suggested it to you. But always maintain a close eye on its decisions or else it will run rampant.

You are, after all, your greatest priority. At the end of the day, nobody else will matter to you more than yourself. So I leave this one question to you: Is your inner child happy or not?

Dealing With That Uncertainty Down the Horizon

It’s been a long time since my last blog post, thanks to school and personal projects I undertook. Now that I have a freer schedule, I decided to post about one thing I’ve been facing for several months now

First thing’s first: Life ALWAYS changes. Be it the change in your status, change in your lifestyle, change in your perspective, life never remains static.

As such, it sometimes gets difficult when we’re facing something we never anticipated (or anticipated, you’re just being plain paranoiac). Life throws something you’re not sure how to deal with, like a cookie fresh from the oven with your bare hands. And your skin is sensitive. And the cookie’s burning. Stuff like that.

No matter how hard the problems may appear, remember that nothing is stronger than your will if you’re willing to face it head-on.

Stepping out comfort zones are good. Being robbed out of your comfort zone while facing a zombie apocalypse? That’s another story.

What exactly am I talking about anyway? I’m talking about things you know are coming, but still don’t know how best to handle that shit. Like a loved one dying, you moving into a new home, entering a dark and low phase in your life.

So what are you supposed to do? I’ll offer some pieces of advice to let you see the edge of the light. Take note that these are merely generalized advice; seek a close and trusted friend for a more tailored advice.

  1. Don’t overthink it. Most of the problem resides in your head. Imagine seeing a huge monster shadow when it’s actually just the shadow of a rat too close to the light. When you think you’re faced with a thousand soldiers, calm down and let your logical brain point out the flaws of your thinking. Is the problem really that bad, or is it actually you who’s making it look worse?
  2. Gather enough information. Just enough. Not too much. Too much can make you complacent and hang around, chillin’. If the problem is about you moving into a new neighborhood and you think it’s filled with rednecks and troublemakers, do yourself a favor and research. Ask the inhabitants. Don’t wallow in your thoughts, do something about it.
  3. Seek guidance. Be it from above or from close friends, always ask for guidance. They’re there, giving you the privilege of drowning their clothes in tears and snot and saliva. Ask them for help. Let them accompany you in this particularly bouncy transition.
  4. Form a plan and execute it. It doesn’t take much to pinpoint what to do, especially if you’ve done the things above. Form a viable and effective plan to address the issue and execute it step-by-step. Don’t wait for your friends to coax you into doing it, take control of the situation.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the change is bad. It can spell disaster for your current psyche, but we humans are meant to adapt and take control. No matter how hard the problems may appear, remember that nothing is stronger than your will if you’re willing to face it head-on.

Who said transitions are pleasant? A caterpillar waits inside its cocoon, enduring the harsh conditions, because it knows that it has to undergo that process to become who it was really meant to be.

So, gather your armors and friends and march down into the cloud and into a place much better than where you started.

A collection of my insights on humanity and the things that make us human