Face to Face and Non-Face to Face Social Settings
When an individual is in any conversation with another person or group of people, he/she tends to make a substantial impression on the person or group through different modes i.e. personality, manner, style of talking, grip on the subject etc. whereas, the other person or group of people try to get more information about the said individual. According to Goffman, all the contributors to the conversation try to avoid embarrassment, or if they are well cultured, they don’t attempt to embarrass others either(Goffman 1959). This is the reason why Goffman felt there is a connection between the activities of daily lives of people and a theatrical performance. The social interactions, as well as dramatic acts, have a front stage that appears to people, where positive aspects are shown while at the back end or backstage where people act differently from their roles (Goffman 2006). Therefore, keeping in mind Goffman’s analysis in the relationship between life and performance, I have staged face to face social settings and non-face to face social settings. In face to face social settings, I had a half an hour conversation with five people about smoking and its effects covering the concept of symbolic interaction theory, conflict theory and critical theory. In non-face to face discussion, I sent an email to my team of four members conveying to them about their poor performance last month as the company couldn’t achieve its target.
Setting # 1
There are two benches in a park, six people are sitting on them including myself, and they are between the age of 18 and 25, two of them are unemployed and looking for a job while three are full-time students. All of them are smokers and smoking at the moment. I am asking them the reason as to why they smoke and what is their viewpoint on smoking irrespective of the general perception. My role in the group is to present the adverse effects of tobacco and to stress on giving up smoking. I asked them pleasantly as to why they smoke and what pleasure do they get out of smoking. I was continually observing myself. So, I noted that the way I presented my question, the participants found my style exciting and impressive. They started giving their opinion one by one. A student gave an interesting reply that smoking takes him out of the world which is far better than the world he is living in, this was purely a symbolic interaction theory (Miller 1995).
The answer was in contrast to my belief and viewpoint that is why I didn’t like it at all, but I remained composed and cool-headed. I smiled and asked him how? He said there are is not much excitement in my life, my parents have separated, I live with my mother and college routine is hectic, and I don’t go along with my class fellows, and the whole situation is so stressful for me and under this situation, smoking relieves me, it takes me out of the stress I am facing, if I don’t smoke, I may fall sick, this is probably my best companion or the source of my peace. He said all these words in flow and I was under the impression that he was using these words from his heart, he really meant every single word that he spoke. I heard all his conversation and gave him a friendly smile, though he sounded a fool. I said to him my friend I understand your feelings very well, I know what you are going through, you are getting emotional pleasure out of smoking but please don’t overlook your health.
The most important thing that you have is your health, my friend don’t ruin it, think about your future, use your willpower, you don’t know you are risking your health, to make yourself clear, once view the x-ray of your lungs and consult your doctor that how smoking is affecting your health and daily life. I know giving up at once is not an easy thing to do but at least you can minimise tobacco, and with the passage of time you’ll be able to relinquish it. While delivering all those words, I was considering myself his right mentor and well-wisher, I tried my best to be very polite and gentle during my conversation as I wanted to portray a correct image of myself. I further added that the average life of regular smokers are less than that of non-smokers, you are young, and you have to live a good and healthy life.
I was trying to apply the concept of critical theory as I said to him, I wish to transform the lives of all the smokers, and if I have authority, I will give a suitable replacement to every smoker so that they can’t think about smoking ever in their lives. I was trying to notice the facial expressions of every single participant in the conversation, and I noted that my words are falling on their ears and they are making an impression, deep inside I was feeling positive that at least these guys were considering my viewpoint. The same boy argued it’s not an easy thing to do, and others also supported his perspective. I said my final words with expressions of smile and hoped that you all are intelligent people and you’ll give up smoking, with these words I left, but I had a feeling of achievement as I knew that my words proved to be useful for them.
Front and backstage Areas
For this conversation, I prepared a lecture on the disadvantages of smoking, and I said to myself that I’d remain composed at any cost. Although I am a non-smoker that is why I don’t like smoking, but for this particular conversation, I prepared to portray myself as a decent person that is why I chose proper and formal dressing to attend the discussion, I wanted to look different from other participants, and I succeeded in my approach. I worked on my expressions as well as I tried to remain calm and composed during the conversation, I practised friendly expressions before going at the front stage. After completing all my homework, I went for the discussion with an attempt to assert my viewpoint that is stated above.
I wrote an email as a team leader to all four of my team members expressing my feelings about not achieving current month’s target, in the same email, I also conveyed the concerns and reaction of higher management about not completing the goal. While writing my worries in my email. That particular email was a strict warning to them that their non-serious and unprofessional attitude towards work will not be tolerated next month. Although I tried to be relatively calm I felt I didn’t keep my cool while writing an email. The reason behind this approach was that the management was not satisfied with the overall behaviour and working style of my team and I tried to use labelling theory in my conversation. Since I was angry, I didn’t follow any particular sequence,
Front and Backstage
I was apparently upset, and my facial expressions were not usual probably these were the expressions my team members had never seen during face to face conversation I tried not to use too harsh words in the email but somehow I got a bit strict and I used the words which I would not include in my general conversation with them. I didn’t use any particular sequence or script in the email. All I wanted was to convey my point and make them realise my anger and higher management’s concern. While writing an email, my expressions were really rude, and if someone watched me at the time, they would be under the impression that I am about to fight with someone. As a team leader, I always tend to avoid such expressions in the workplace.
In both, the above scenarios, presentations of myself were in contrast to each other. In setting 1, I acted calmly and with composure and I was in full control of my emotions and expressions. Whereas in stage 2, I reflected anger in my email, I used the words which I usually would not include in my conversation. Since, in stage 2, my team members were not present, therefore, somehow more anger took me over while writing email, even after completing my conversation, I felt, I should’ve been much more relaxed which wasn’t the case.
Out of both stages, I liked myself in stage 1 as I acted very decently and with maturity. I was fully prepared about my conversation, I was composed and asserted my viewpoint in a kind, gentle and convincing way whereas, in stage 2, my anger was all over the communication even I forgot to highlight some positive points in phase 2. I learned lessons from both the steps and when I compare, I think I should further enhance the skills I used at stage 1 as this was the positive side of my personality and I want to go along with these characteristics.
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