Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Individuality?

What is individuality? As a population, we would like to think we have free will, and that we are all special snowflakes since these thoughts comfort us as we sail our giant rock through the incomprehensibly large oblivion of space. Especially in a country like the United States of America, we especially value our freedom and chances for opportunity very heavily. The real question is the following: how much individuality do we really have. Sooner or later we all become what society tells us to be to an extent. If we took a human and raised said person in a society in which no one ever married each other, and free love was normal, then they would be completely and utterly shocked by our customs. Now I pose the question: what are we other than society's expectations? Sure we have some control along the way (assuming free will over fatalism which is an entirely different debate) seeing as how we can choose which job we want and where to live to an extent, but society's expectations and a majority of peoples lives go like this: birth, lower school, middle school, high school, college, (some like a gap year yet it is fairly uncommon), job, get married, have kids, kids go to college, retire, die. Sure, day to day interactions vary and whatnot, but even where we go to college, what jobs we do in life, and who we would marry is fairly laid out for us. For example - Kowalski is good at science and math, he is now recommended to an engineering school. After having everyone tell him to go study engineering, what a surprise, he goes into engineering. Once he hits age 40, his mother and all of his friends start bothering him to get married and have kids. What a surprise, he does that. Why? Because we have an innate desire to fit to society's standards. It isn't the world that teaches us to fit in, we want to fit in. Sure some might desire success, but they don't want to be weirdly different necessarily. Much like ants follow what they are best at in their careers and daily lives, so do humans. While we might think we have a choice, I challenge you to turn the tide against society without emergency money at your disposal. How are we that much different than the ant? Sure, we have personality and views on issues. However, you are following the same societal expectations that an ant would follow in their respective society. If you wanted to point out a country undergoing a revolution, since surely this embodies an act of individuality. I'd respond no again. We are simply going with a revolutionary society's expectations now, and oftentimes those expectations are based off of other nation's.

In conclusion: Overall, complete individuality is dead

4 comments:

Iris Mire said...

This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend of mine about art and how there truly is no such thing as "original" art. Everything we do is in some way, shape, or form a variation of something that has already been done. While that's a little depressing to think about, it's also slightly comforting to know that you are never too far away from something familiar that you can fall back on. For a society that places so much emphasis on individuality, we don't actually have much originality. The "originality" of art comes from taking things that have already done, either materials, techniques, or subject matter and combining them in a new way.

Sri Korrapati said...

I think you both are absolutely right. In our society, we have to fit in; we want to fit in. Why is this? What takes away our individuality and is telling us what to be instead. I propose that it's the media. Are harmless Downey ads telling us that women are meant to do laundry? Are Old Spice commercials telling us that everyone has to wear Old Spice to be manly? It's really interesting thinking about a time where people didn't have the internet. Without such exposure, I think they could be more individualized. They could come up with art that has more originality. Although, if you teach a baby to paint, it's only going paint how you taught it. So is it impossible to be original? Or is it the fault of social media?

Ross said...

Another question that comes up is how much an individual can change, whether that be towards societies standards or otherwise? The Underground Man expresses quite clearly that he thinks that change in an individual is extremely hard to accomplish, yet we see people changing all of the time. I mean, can you honestly say that you are the exact same individual that you were in seventh grade? If so, I will pray for you. If not, then that just means that you have changed who you once were into who you are now. But then, you may ask yourself, why did you change? The answer is simple and very close to the point that Alex is getting across, but with slight differences. In truth, the way you act is most likely determined by two things: your guidance and your experiences. Focusing on the latter of the two can pinpoint certain changes rather specifically because what you experience generally affects how you act. For example, let's say that you skip class for three hours and receive punishment/whatever accordingly. This experience would teach you that what you did was not acceptable and MIGHT make you less likely to do it again. I emphasize might because there is always a small bit of you that remains the same no matter how much you change: your core beliefs, which are decided by you throughout your life. You are born as a unique snowflake that begins morph and melt before it reaches the ground, but in essence you are the same. Furthermore, your core beliefs could actually make you go against what society sees. For example, if Kowalski is told he would be a great engineer, but he truly enjoys making figurines out of wax, he still has the decision to make wax figurines.

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I think that this idea of change and individuality is really interesting, and I think that Alex and Ross have a good point. I definitely think that people often base who they are on society's ways and conform to its teachings, but at the same time, I think that within a society today, there are so many different ways, beliefs, and lifestyles of people have more of an ability now to shape their own individuality. I think , now more than ever, it's more difficult for a person to only rely on universal standards that have existed for years when there are now more differing opinions a new ways of life to chose from. Like Ross said, through experiences and with an influence from people who guides us, we shape are individuality.