You are Known by the Company You Keep

Guest Post by Michael Chambers

This is not an advertisement for New York Life. Your parents may have advised you or you may have advised your own children that the people with whom they associate will reflect on them and, fair or not, they will be judged by those associations. This is referred to as associated stigma. These are more insidious than they initially appear. They may be the result of unintended or incidental associations. Often, associations are judged through deliberative reactions. Deliberative processes require the individual to actively think about the situation prior to arriving at a judgment, as in the case of casting a ballot during an election. How many voters believe in the simple application of the adage “birds of a feather flock together?” This is especially true when a relationship appears to be voluntary as in the case of friends and partners. The assumption two people in the company of one another share similar characteristics is easier on the mind than having to reconcile the ideas that they might be markedly different yet opt for each other’s company.

“If you align yourself with people who are arrogant, rude, negative, unmotivated, or who lack a moral compass, you will be perceived similarly. That is a FACT.”

How do deliberate, repetitive associations affect a person’s reputation during the Internet Era? It is easy to remember the Eddie Haskell character or a dozen others from television and movies. Such characters gave visual cues to others. We may all have had some less than desirable characters with whom we have associated in our youth. However, this is the Internet Era and we are no longer impressionable youths. We have a lifetime of experiences by which to judge healthy associations, as opposed to negative associations. Here are some Internet character traits to watch:

The Activist
Always ready to fight the cause, no matter how near or far away or how relevant or otherwise it is to their everyday life. Social media has given them a voice and they intend to use it.
The Joker
They can be entertaining at first, but a stream of jokes that range from funny to daft to offensive with little of substance in-between will eventually bore or offend you enough to remove yourself.
The Know-All
Think of a topic and they know all about it. Doesn’t matter that their professional expertise is in one area, they know all about everybody else’s business too – and they make sure that everybody knows just how great they are.
The Complainer
Big fans of naming and shaming, they complain openly about others. Then they try to encourage all their social media “friends” to join in the chat too!