Five Traits That Interfere with Social Awareness

As voters get ready to approach the booths this November, concerns ranging from healthcare to education to government fiscal responsibility will be on voters’ minds. With a historic election on the horizon, it is critical to remain level-headed as everyone casts their ballot. Still, there are five traits that could potentially hold citizens back from getting a wonderful government and the most out of their relationships with others.


This is a strategy that some individuals use to “moderate” or control social interaction. It includes censorship, defining others’ experiences for them without their permission or not accepting their narratives, and telling those you interact with that they are not allowed to choose the method and the regularity with which they communicate their concerns. Moderation is great when deployed during a roundtable discussion or some other formal circumstance to which all parties agree, but can tread dangerous territory when it harms instead of help.


Solipsism is defined is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing.

The problem with solipsism is that it rarely, if ever, leaves room for new ideas and other perspectives. If one thinks their experience is the only one to be had, then it is hard to respond to social issues in a responsible manner. One of the most common results of solipsism is an inability to reach an agreement with others, resulting in a tug-of-war.


In this case, definition is the act of defining others’ identities, rights, concerns, needs, wants, and narratives on their behalf, particularly when they have not asked for assistance. It is important to hold authentic space for every voice — by due process and due diligence.


Most, if not all of these habits come from fear. Fear can manifest as the inability to introspect and see how alienating certain behaviors can be, making choices from an impoverished mindset, and questioning rights granted to deserving, otherwise unprotected groups. Fear foments hate organizations, dismantles critical thinking, and drives a wedge between factions that would otherwise interface with each other.

Intellectual laziness

In the 1970s, 60% of 12th graders read a book or a magazine every day — in 2016, the statistic was only 2%. Asking questions, reading, listening — these are all tools in your arsenal against being fearful and dogmatic. Even if you do not agree with the subject discussed, learning about other opinions and facts can help you refine your stance on certain topics. Examine your cognitive biases and steer clear of logical fallacies when listening to or making your arguments. 



  1. really important info and great fodder for thought. i liked the inclusion of
    intellectual laziness. something i was thinking a lot about.

    1. Thank you for your insight, Nancer. I think this is something that all of us can work on to varying degrees, and it’s great to have a space to talk about it.

  2. I must admit that you nailed it, again. Thank you. One challenge I have with the idea of “Intellectual Laziness” is the way it misused to impose barriers against black and brown folks in educational systems from K-12 all the way up to college. When it becomes a discourse about ‘rigor’ and a model of deficit thinking, it’s a problem. I like the notion of challenging ourselves to use our brains. I’m all for that kind of intellectual introspection.

    1. Thank you for your valuable feedback, Edissa. I thought it was really important to include that because as you have stated, claiming “intellectual laziness” has been a form of policing. Black and brown people have to maintain objectivity and critical thinking in order to remain psychologically, emotionally and socially free.

    1. Daimon,

      Absolutely, you hit the nail on the head! There is nothing wrong with knowledge, but knowledge and its context changes everyday.

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