Types of People Stoics should be Weary of
“He who is everywhere, is nowhere” - Seneca
The stoics have a popular statement, saying that we should surround ourselves amongst those who are likely to improve us. This is more true today especially as we have become more connected with technology. We have the potential to connect with people from all over the world, or go to large cities that dwarf what the ancient stoics encountered. There is more opportunity to surround ourselves with good individuals, but also very bad ones. Culture and society are another topic of discussion in the modern world but if there is one thing that is certain, it's that mass media and regions shape us. It goes without saying that who we surround ourselves with has never been a more important task, but also a very easy one when you boil it down to what you are willing to allow. Which is to say, what are your "red flags"? Or what are some things that you avoid? What are your boundaries? Does it make any difference when you want to maintain your Stoicism?
What kind of people should we, as Stoics, be weary of? I’ve broken it down to 3 types of people (obviously if they have all three then stay clear) and you can definitely expand on these on your own but the purpose of pointing this out is for us to understand that you should always be questioning whether those around you are serving your higher purpose, your higher goal, making you a better human.
People who are constantly moving
These people are individuals who don’t find time to relax, they are always finding the next party to go to, the next event, the next group to hang out with, the next hobby to take on. They are not still. A modern way of defining this person would be someone who has FOMO, a fear of missing out. Now I do want to make a distinction here, there is a difference between someone who has their schedule booked for important things, like a CEO, business owner, someone who works multiple jobs, but they also schedule time for themselves and their family, when possible. I’m talking about those who are diving too hard into escapism. You see, we all need moments of rest, we need to dive deep within ourselves, to analyze our actions, our next move. Looking at our own person, what kind of habits am I taking on? What kind of life am I building? If you don't make time for these moments, you end up being molded by society and culture, not by your own values and principles. A lot of times, there is a moment in life where you realize, “who am I” becomes a startling realization. This is why this is especially important to note in the people you hang out with. When someone is constantly moving, the "who am I" question turns into, "where do I find myself". We as Stoics understand that we have to create ourselves, we don't turn to things to mold us, we take wisdom from things and experiences to create! The downfall to being with someone like this is they take your creation mindset in favor of filling a void.
People who are easily manipulated or swayed into what to think
This is not just political or education but is related to someone who follows the leader without questioning them. Generally this individual for example would ask for help and wants to be told what course of action to take rather than seeking advice from an outside perspective. It's completely fine to ask for advice, nothing wrong with that, the concern comes when every action they seek requires a decision to be made by someone other than themselves. The goal of asking for advice is getting an outside perspective, so you can then have the opportunity to challenge another way of thinking that was not already presented to you. No one knows you better than yourself so it stands to say that advice does not need to be taken, we just need to have more conviction in our actions. The reason this is important is because you end up raising the person, instead of them learning to raise themselves. There's nothing wrong in mentorship, but raising someone is far different than taking on a mentorship role. We have to ask ourselves, what value do they bring to me? The real value in mentorship is them taking advice and leading the life they want to lead, not being told what to do in order to live. This way of thinking could be harmful for your development in the future because when it comes down to a political level, they have not learned to question, they take on the ideals of what feels good to them instead of what is critically good. One day, they would turn their back on you or grow resentment for you because you no longer feed into their ideals of what they think. We grow with friends when we understand how we think and how we challenge one another.
People who are easily offended
This is obviously easy to point out, right? The thing is, we need to understand that being challenged logically is a gift, I’ve said this on the podcast (and blog) before, I’ll say it again, unless you're being outright attacked, most times when you are questioned, it's generally due to a decision that was done with logic. Now that's not always the case but a simple way to see this is if you present a way of thinking, or an argument and you are questioned on it, your initial response should not be emotional. It’s not an attack on your character, but your logical conclusion. It's difficult to communicate with someone who is offended easily because you end up holding yourself back, holding your thoughts, which we as stoics should not do if we are trying to spread wisdom or better our friendships.
So then this begs the question, I’m sure your list may be longer based on your values and principles, but how easy is it to find your preferred group of people? Well, it's easier than ever! We live in a world that is more connected than ever. Follow my instagram page for example, interact with people who propose their thoughts on quotes. Unfollow pages that don't serve you and you will find a community. There are apps like “meetup” that are specific to your interests. Facebook, reddit, YouTube. The way to build and be a part of a community, we must have the courage to stand out and put yourself out there to filter out the people that do not serve you in favor of those who will are likely to improve you.