A Whole of Lot BIRGing Going On

One of the many strategies we all have to boost and maintain our self-esteem is Basking in the Reflected Glory of others, or, as it's known in social psychology, BIRGing. We can do this on an individual level ("my friend just won a gold medal") or as part of the group ("my football team won this weekend!"). One of the puzzling aspects of this phenomenon is that the person doing the BIRGing has usually done nothing to assist the other person with the success or good fortune, but somehow finds pleasure in knowing that they are connected to this successful person in some way. By the way, the opposite of BIRGing is CORFing (cutting off reflected failure). One famous social psychology study found that Ohio State students were much more likely than normal to wear their OSU apparel on Mondays following a win by their football team, but they were also less likely to wear such clothes on Mondays following a loss. Both BIRGing and CORFing have a very public element associated with them--our friend (or team's) success (or failure) has special value when it is broadcast to others. Well, what follows is a bit of such broadcasting, but I am going to stick to BIRGing for now...

Over the years I have been guilty of BIRGing along two general categories--my friends' connections to the famous and my friend's noteworthy successes. As examples of the former category, my friends have included (a) a relative of Allen Ginsburg, (b) the target of a pick-up by Tori Spelling (my friend refused her advances, btw), (c) someone who was employed to be a "friend" of the daughter of a famous billionaire, (d) the daughter of a Hollywood film director, and (e) someone who lives in Kevin Bacon's building (which gives me all sort of "six degrees" connections!). The other BIRG category is probably more impressive, as they include a friend who is a successful TV and film actor, the bass guitarist for a great '80s/'90s band, many highly productive academics, a top journalist, a successful artist, and several friends who are now department chairs or deans. Today I can add another high school classmate to the list--Dan Gesmer, who runs a successful skateboard business and is a performance artist. Dan invented a style of freestyle skateboarding that you can see in this video. What's more, he was recently asked by Cirque de Soleil to become part of their winter show, Wintuk, in New York City. This is the first Cirque show to feature skateboarding, and it looks like they specifically recruited Dan to perform based on some of the videos he has made.

Wow! I know someone who has performed with Cirque de Soleil!! I'm on BIRG overload today!!