Saturday, May 17, 2008

Imitation

Is the sincerest form of flattery, so I've heard. Is this still true when the imitatee is being mocked? That's a really tough question, but points out something interesting: we humans place a rather high societal value on being able to imitate somebody – a gesture or facial expression, or how they talk. Why is this?

My theory is that being able to act like others shows both strong self-control and social awareness. The imitator has to pay close attention to the idioms and nuances of the person in question to properly pretend to be that person. The other powerful aspect of mimicking is that (horrible as it may seem) it allies people around the one isolated person of group of people. It has a fellowship effect, making people become closer because of their similarities
– or lack of differences.While this is a good thing in some sense, it can make the lone person feel very separate from everyone else. Some people prefer negative attention to none, so I suppose they would actually like it quite a bit.

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