Posts Tagged ‘long form’

ssrlogo2ajclogo2by @anarchyroll

(The following article is a paper I wrote for a communication studies course in college. In fact, this is the last paper I wrote before receiving a BA in Media Communications. I will be recording a short podcast on the space between stimulus and response which is also the name of my personal development blog. I wanted to have some writing with teeth, that I wrote, posted here to reference people to. It is a long read, about six pages in a word processor. The podcast about symbolic interactionism and the space between stimulus and response will be less than six minutes. The sources cited throughout are listed at the bottom. Each of which was a scholarly article found through the university database. I look forward to writing more, albeit in shorter form, about symbolic interactionism in the future.)

Human beings are not slaves to reactions who think and act in a vacuum. We socially construct the lives we live and worlds that we live in, one choice at a time. This is symbolic interactionism, a Chicago contribution to the world of communication theory, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Within the theory is the concept that in between stimulus and response lays a space to choose our interpretation that is unique to humans. Evaluating, studying, and understanding the causes and effects of how and why people use this space for interpretation is where the theory places itself at the front of communication studies. People and how they communicate with themselves and the world around them are not studied from afar, on an emotionless pedestal. Researchers are made to get up close and actively empathize with their subjects as human beings, not lab rats. This ability to look at people through a large scope of empathy rather than a narrow scope of universal morality goes a long way in helping researchers better understand their subjects and reach practical conclusions on why people do what they do. Consulting a series of scholarly articles on the subject shows that symbolic interactionism is as foundational a concept to behavioral sciences as any that has come before or after it.

Whether a long and detailed explanation of the theory (Grayson, 2008), a brief summary of the theory’s application to public relations (Domingo, 2003), combining the theory with other psychological and sociological concepts (Burbank, 2010 & Rosenbaum, 2009) or a combination of all of the above (Solomon, 1983) there is a general consensus among all of them in relation to symbolic interactionism. That consensus is that any study of human action begins at the micro level, using active empathy, and respecting the inherent ability of human beings to choose how they respond to internal or external stimuli. Whether it be for better or for worse, to help or harm, with themselves or with other people, humans have the choice of how to socially construct the world they live in whether they are conscious of that choice or not. It is striking how symbolic interactionism is truly foundational to understanding why people do what they do from buying things, to how we care for the sick, to understanding abstract relationships, to how people fit into organizations. Symbolic interactionism is the salt of the Earth in the study of how humans think and act towards themselves and the world around them both internally and externally.

All of the articles cite Mead at least once, it was refreshing to see the other contributors to symbolic interactionism be represented like Charles Cooley and Manford Kuhn. Though only one of them (Solomon, 1983) brought up William James’ four separately constructed social selves. The rest of the articles would have been better served if they plugged their summaries and conclusions into the material self, social self, spiritual self, and pure ego that James contributed to the theory. Though material and social are easier to define and assign than spirituality and ego. However, the failure of the rest of the articles to apply these four selves enhanced my understanding of the overall concept as a theory grounded in the science of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and communication theory. Spiritual self and pure ego are more philosophical concepts that although they fascinate me immensely, might not have a place in research/analysis based upon hard data and evidence.

However, though not wanting to include spirituality in their studies, the socially constructed pure ego self should have been raised across the board in these studies. The ego, unlike spirituality, is covered in psychological, sociological, and anthropological studies. It is not dabbling in the theoretical afterlife to incorporate the ego when trying to explain how people think, socialize, and take the actions that they take. When the majority of people hear the word ego, they think of pampered celebrities, millionaire athletes, and spoiled socialites gracing the cover of magazines, tabloids, and pop culture web sites. It is important that people be made aware of the ego and it’s practical applications to the way people socially construct themselves, the people they socialize with, and the world they interact with on a day to day basis. Going beyond selfishness and excessive self confidence into the realm of the majority of one’s thoughts and actions coming from an ego centered place can be as important as learning about the space between stimulus and response where humans are free to choose their interpretation. Author Eckhart Tolle brought studies and applications of ego centered thinking to mainstream culture in his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. The monetary success of both books shows a hunger by the population to know more about ego based concepts and spirituality.

The omission of spiritual self and pure ego is a rare example within these articles of failing to provide support for their claims. Each article provided detailed definitions of symbolic interactionism often times using word for word sentences and paragraphs to establish what the theory is according to Mead although Cooley’s looking glass self concept is also well represented. It was surprising how well proportioned the definitions, applications, and conclusions were between each of the articles. Some used the definition and history of the theory as a starting point (Solomon, 1983), others interjected them along the way as applications of the theory was being presented (Domingo, 2003). Detailing the history of the theory along with the different people and schools of thought that have crafted it over the past century provided a flow from theory introduction, to application, to conclusion piece by piece. Credit to symbolic interactionism as a foundational way to study the social psychological aspect of the human condition was paid throughout and added credibility both to the theory as well as to the authors plugging the theory in to both micro and macro level problem solving applications.

Collectively, the articles address the fact that people aren’t aware of their inherent choice in being able to socially construct their individual lives and the world they live in. The writers are writing to inform on the specific applications and conclusions to various questions and problems. But it boils down to making people aware that they always have a choice. It is made very clear that it may not be easy for people to be aware of the choices they are constantly making inside their heads, nor is it portrayed to be easy to habitualize the awareness of making certain choices to improve quality of life or solve societal problems. Whether concepts like the looking glass self are referenced it boils down to the choices we make when socializing on an intra and interpersonal level. Other theories like social exchange (Rosenbaum, 2009), grounded theory (Jeon,2004), or critical perspective (Burbank, 2010) are used to combine with symbolic interactionism to reach a micro and/or macro level conclusions . But even those studies build upon the foundation of human beings socially constructing their identity, the identity of the people they socialize with, and the environments that they socialize in.

Across all of these articles, the concept of active empathy is stressed when applying recommendations and drawing conclusions. The need to understand each individual person, how they think, feel, and act towards themselves, others, and their environments is crucial. People are not numbers on a spreadsheet, rats in a race, or sheep on a farm. The space between stimulus and response at the heart of symbolic interactionism dictates that people be looked at with respect and dignity. The internal tenderness of people is often ignored in modern society in the name of being first to make a point or draw a conclusion. These articles pay the respect to the human condition that the theory requires. The understanding of the theory shown in the articles gives them as much credibility as the data and evidence they present. Whether making therapeutic recommendations for unconsummated marriages (Rosenbaum, 2009), trying to help people understand their meaning in an organization (Grayson, 2008), or showing a correlation between a person’s social identity and product purchases (Solomon, 1983) people are observed and reported on in a positive light that only active empathy allows to shine.

It is inherently understood and communicated by the authors that if people are flawed they are not willfully, and are not doomed in any sense of the word. Simply awareness and understanding of the theories, concepts, conclusions, and applications will do the bulk of the legwork for people to enact any micro or macro level changes within themselves, their social circles, or environments at large. Delving more into the spiritual and ego selves could have provided a deeper insight and understanding to the theory’s application to each individual article. However, the inherent belief that people are more than even their repeated actions across all the articles shows a philosophical understanding and enlightenment that is as subtle as breathing. It doesn’t need to be brought to the forefront of attention, it is so foundational it can be assumed.

Symbolic interactionism explains that people do not think or act in a vacuum. We have a space between stimulus and response where we are able to exercise the freedom to choose our interpretation. That interpretation is dependent on the social construction we have of ourselves, the people in our lives, and the environments with interact with. Every aspect of human communication is unique to the people and situations involved. Active empathy on a case by case basis is needed to understand the problem and formulate a solution. I now have a greater understanding of this foundational communication theory. What I felt was missing from the theory was a philosophical/spiritual aspect that dealt with ego centered thinking and living. To learn that it exists within the theory was a moment of enlightenment.

Though the articles neglected to go in depth on the ego and spirituality, to know that it is there and has been written about by authors like Charles Haanel, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield, and Tony Robbins provides a sense of inner peace that I did not have before investigating this theory formally. The informal research I have conducted on my own time by reading books by the authors listed above has allowed me to cultivate a heightened sense of awareness of space between stimulus and response within my own mind. My biggest quest in life over the past two years has been to dissolve my ego and achieve a level of mastery in self actualization. To know that the knowledge I have consumed and been applying to the way I live has a foundation in credible behavioral science and in the universities within the city I was born and raised in is shamanic feeling. I am happy and grateful for this knowledge and only hope I can contribute to others’ understanding of it going forward as I graduate college and begin the next chapter of my life.



Burbank, P. M., & Martins, D. C. (2010). Symbolic interactionism and critical perspective: divergent or synergistic?. Nursing Philosophy, 11(1), 25-41. doi:10.1111/j.1466-769X.2009.00421.x


Domingo, B. (2003). Stop Slammin’ Sammy: A Theoretical Approach to the First 24 Hours of a Communications Crisis in Sports. Public Relations Quarterly, 48(4), 20-22.


Grayson, C. (2008). Understanding Organizational Ontology: A Symbolic Interactionism Approach to Organizational Sense-Making. Conference Papers — National Communication Association, 1.


Jeon, Y. (2004). The application of grounded theory and symbolic interactionism. Scandinavian Journal Of Caring Sciences, 18(3), 249-256. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2004.00287.


Rosenbaum, T. Y. (2009). Applying theories of social exchange and symbolic interaction in the treatment of unconsummated marriage/relationship. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 24(1), 38-46. doi:10.1080/14681990902718096


Solomon, M. R. (1983). The Role of Products as Social Stimuli: A Symbolic Interactionism Perspective. Journal Of Consumer Research, 10(3), 319-329.





I am still in a happily subdued state of shock that Brian Danielson is now officially, without any doubt, of any kind, the man who will replace John Cena and take a place in history alongside; Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Sting, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Goldberg, The Rock, and Triple H. How awesomely surreal.

The leader of the “Yes Movement” has come a long way from the Rexplex in New Jersey. The man who is undoubtably on the Mt. Rushmore of Ring of Honor is can now make a completely legitimate case to be put on the Mt. Rushmore of WWE and the history of professional wrestling. Make no mistake, Daniel Bryan and his “Yes! Yes! Yes!” gimmick is that mainstream. Just as mainstream as anything that John Cena, Steve Austin, Ric Flair, or Hulk Hogan have done before him. And he is just getting started.

Daniel Bryan has at least five years as the face of the WWE left in him and five more years after passing the torch to the next guy whenever that is. Nothing short of a freak of nature accident can stop that. He is not going to burn out because he would have by now. The people aren’t going to burn out on him because if they were, they would’ve at the Royal Rumble. Now, he is the champion of the people just as much or more so than DDP or The Rock ever were.

How awesome is that?! The American Dragon is now The Man in the world of pro wrestling and sports entertainment.

I used to be an anti-Brian Danielson fan. I would boo him at ROH shows that came to Chicago Ridge. I would heckle his fans who thought the sun rose and set out of his ass. I would get into shouting matches over how he didn’t deserve to hold the ROH Title for over a year. Ironically he won me over during his ROH farewell tour which was dubbed The Final Countdown. That tour was chronicled in the awesome wrestling documentary “The Wrestling Road Diaries” staring Bryan, Sal Rinauro, and Colt Cabana. During that tour Danielson had two matches that completely blew me away as a wrestling fan. One I saw in person against Austin Aries, the other was his last match in the company against Nigel McGuiness. For me personally, and what I find entertaining, those two matches were borderline perfect and they took place within weeks of each other.

“The Wrestling Road Diaries” showed that Danielson actually had the one thing all of his critics (myself included at the time) said he was devoid of, personality. It also showed that I had blinders on as a hater, by showing him cutting quality promos in front of the curtain. The documentary came out after Danielson reported to WWE developmental, where he didn’t remain for long as he was soon thrust into the spotlight for the ECW on Syfy replacement NXT (which has since become WWE’s developmental territory.) I have, to this day, watched only a handful of NXT episodes. The bulk were during the first season of the Syfy show. It was immediately apparent to me that the now rebranded Daniel Bryan was head and shoulders the most talented person on camera. Chris Jericho as a heel, World Heavyweight Champion, broke character on an episode of NXT to say that Daniel Bryan was “a superstar already” in advance of a match they would have together a couple of weeks later.

In a weird way it always seemed to me like Bryan was being groomed to be the top guy, but that was probably rose-colored glasses. I am still under the impression his “firing” in 2010 was/is a work. His first show “back” he main evented Summerslam, the next month he won the US Title, a year later he won Money in the Bank, six months later he was World Heavyweight Champion, he was involved in one of the two world title matches at WrestleMania 28, spent the following four months feuding for either the World Heavyweight or WWE Title, then held the tag titles for eight months, shortly before main eventing Summerslam again and pinning John Cena clean for the WWE Title.

Bryan hasn’t just fought against the odds, he has leveraged¬†fortuitous events against the odds being used to hold him down. Bryan leveraged WWE’s desire to erase the history of Chris Benoit in his favor by being cast in history as the new Chris Benoit without the steroids or skeletons in the closet. Bryan leveraged his ability to make a middle class living on the independent and international wrestling scene(s) to not be just another mid carder walking on egg shells, not being afraid of losing his job and therefore willing to take the risks necessary to win over management. Bryan leveraged his personal happiness by having a successful romantic relationship and a strong family life (as shown in WRD) to not let the business drag him down when things weren’t going his way. And finally, Bryan leveraged CM Punk’s decision to walk out on the company and the live crowds’ habitual revolt against the product being put on before them to save the day when WrestleMania XXX was left without a featured match and with a proposed main event guaranteed to get booed out of the stadium.

Now Bryan sits on top of the mountain and isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, and we the wrestling business is better for it. Why? Daniel Bryan not just being a champion but being the face of the company means the following things that will have ripple effects on the industry for years to come:

  1. The era of the big man bias is over
  2. Independent wrestlers are and will be taken seriously as main event players
  3. John Cena’s run has finally come to an end

The corner has been turned, a chapter is being written, a new era has begun. The era of the next ten years will be led by a junior heavyweight indy guy! What a great time to be a wrestling fan.

Four years before Chris Jericho and six years before CM Punk adopted the moniker “Best in the World”, Brian Danielson had that title along with the ROH World Championship and defended both rigorously across North America, Europe, and Japan. It was assumed that he would always be just an indy guy, maybe the best indy guy ever, but an indy guy nonetheless. When he was signed it was assumed he would get the same treatment as his good friend Colt Cabana (toil aimlessly in developmental, only to be called up the main roster for job duty, and swiftly giving his pink slip). When Bryan main evented Sumerslam and won the US Title less than six weeks apart it was thought he was going to be a mid card mechanic for a few years at best. When he won Money in the Bank followed by the World Heavyweight Title both were dismissed as being token attempts to silence his supporters with pushes for the secondary title.

When he was bumped to the pre show and lost the opening match in consecutive WrestleManias, it was thought he was being used as a way by Vince McMahon to troll the internet fan base. When he became the most popular man in the company in a tag team comedy act it was thought he was achieving super stardom despite the WWE machine rather than because of it. That thinking was backed up when Bryan won the WWE Title and lost it less than five minutes later. After main eventing and not regaining the title over the course of the next three pay per views, Bryan was removed from the main event scene, his fate as a mid card mechanic seemed sealed.

When he was kept out the Royal Rumble, the fans revolted, and CM Punk quit the company; it was thought the most that could be hoped for was Punk’s spot in a mid card feature at WM XXX against Triple H. But something happened along the way, Daniel Bryan became a symbol, Daniel Bryan became a legend, Daniel Bryan became the leader of a movement. The live crowds are more hot for Daniel Bryan than they ever were for John Cena. They are just as hot for him as they were for Steve Austin. If you go back and look at the tape, the case can be made the crowd is as hot for Daniel Bryan as they were for even Hulk Hogan. I can’t believe that’s the case, but it is, it really is.

Now Daniel Bryan has pulled double duty at a WrestleMania and won two world titles in the main event of a WrestleMania that ends in a 5 or a 0. He is not just a made man, he is not just “The Man”, Daniel Bryan is now one of the greatest professional wrestler/sports entertainers of all time. He has raised the bar above the accomplishments of everyone who has come before him without exception. He has pulled the sword out of the stone and taken his place as the king.

During his WWE career that was much maligned up to this point Bryan was doing something very important that many of his supporters and critics may have missed. He became a COMPLETE performer.

He came to the WWE in 2010 as a mechanic who could wrestle literally any style. His work with The Miz and Michael Cole on NXT, his work with Kane in the tag division, his matches with Sheamus and CM Punk, and his program with Bray Wyatt each saw him take a full step forward as a performer. Every tool it takes to be both a great professional wrestler and a great sports entertainer Daniel Bryan learned and perfected. He swallowed his pride and got better rather than being stubborn and buying into his own hype earned performing on the indy scene.

Daniel Bryan is now as over with the 18-34 yr old male demographic as he is with women and children. He is safe for the PG era, does media, Make-A-Wish(es), and can be freshly monetized multiple times per year with more than just t shirts (towels, foam fingers). None of that was true and/or he wasn’t capable of those things even when he first won the World Title two years ago.

Bryan doesn’t do steroids or recreational drugs and doesn’t drink alcohol. He is a student of the game, a life long fan, and a wrestler first (as opposed to a football player or bodybuilder) so you know he appreciates the spot he’s in and isn’t in it strictly for the fame or the money. There is no reason, beyond individual, personal taste to not be a Daniel Bryan fan, supporter, and/or member of his Yes Movement.

It is because he is such a good human being, such a completely well-rounded wrestler and sports entertainer, because he is truly the best in the world at his profession by every standard; that he is now the Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion, face of the company, and leader of this generation of pro wrestling. Daniel Bryan symbolizes everything that is right about pro wrestling. We as pro wrestling and sports entertainment fans can be proud that he is the man and breathe a sigh of relief that he is at the top of the mountain. What a great time to be a wrestling fan.