The university of life


Embarrassment seems to be the main motivator that drives human social interaction and action.

There are some other powerful motivators, such as the three L’s: love, lust and laziness, but they will not be discussed here. In case of embarrassment we can make a broad subdivision: One can be the source of embarrassment to someone else, and one can be embarrassed.

To be a source of embarrassment to a third party can be very destructive to your social life. In the case that you embarrass your partner this would mean that he/she is constantly on her/his guard. Although we used he/she in the previous sentence the Source of Embarrassment Syndrome (SES) is most prevalent under the male population. It has been calculated that the female population loses at least 6 years of their life expectancy because of stress induced by dealing with men exhibiting SES.

Some evolutionary biologists have cleverly pointed out that the SES could have evolved as a defense mechanism in the male subpopulation to ensure that the lifespan difference between men and women remains limited. A similar point had been made in the now classical study by Snautzweitzer that showed why women get pregnant and not men. Again this was a sneaky evolutionary attack of male genes to ensure that the superior physique and genetic coding of women did not automatically mean a longer life expectancy.

Genetic jealousy has since become a hot topic in biology, but at the UOL we are afraid that all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

But to return to our topic, it is clear that couples in which one partner shows signs of SES have a reduced social life compared to couples with no SES. Strangely enough the negative effect of SES is cancelled out if both partners have SES. Embarrassment in these cases becomes the standard and is not seen as abnormal anymore by either partner. In the long term there can be a decline in social activity especially when the social community of which the Double SES (DSES) couple has a rare incidence of SES. The community will therefore be embarrassed by the DSES couple.

We have noticed that we don’t have enough room anymore to discuss the case in which one is embarrassed, which is slightly embarrassing to us, and we will save this interesting topic for another time, if we are not too embarrassed by all our actions in the past.


Professor at the UOL

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