Friday, September 12, 2014

What's Your Social Template? Everyone's Doing It!

It seems to me that human reactions are largely programmed.

Behavior in certain situations demonstrates social engineering, or maybe it's just an artifact of our species.

When someone dies, friends and family mourn, remember, laugh, cry, wear black, dig a hole, and so forth--and people say catch phrases like "sorry for your loss", which is absurd and meaningless.

Yet people on their way to a funeral sometimes seem exasperated at having to get dressed up and waste time around dead bodies and sad people.  Why go?  The dead person certainly doesn't seem to give a shit if you're there or not.

Maybe it's more about what other people will think regarding someone not showing up to a funeral?

That's really what it comes down to: worrying about what everyone else thinks.

It affects how we behave, or are expected to behave, in a given situation.  If we truly didn't care what anyone else thought, none of these social reactions would exist--maybe society wouldn't, either.

And we love to say that, don't we?

"I don't care what they think"--but we do, ye gods, we do.  Someone declaring that they don't care is a clear indication they deeply care about what someone thinks, even if it's not you.

The rebellious "be yourself" nonsense is common and makes us feel like important individuals rather than pre-fabricated, behaviorally-engineered talking monkeys.

Why congratulate someone on a new baby?  Are you really happy for them?
That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I'm not you.

Do you really respect someone that went from eating out of dumpsters on the street to a big-time career?  Why?

After talking with people, trying to understand why they think what they think, it appears to me (without arguing or debating, mind you) that most people have no idea why they recite these ritualistic phrases.  "That's what your supposed to do," is something I've heard as a reason, which is a fairly honest answer.

Even hardcore groups, like inner-city thugs or yuppy socialites, have their own set of behavioral norms.  Violating said norms within that social template is likely to gain some sort of negative reaction.

It's fascinating to watch the reaction exhibited toward street preachers (evangelists?) that go out there, preach the Bible, hand out pamphlets, and get some incredibly rude and shameless remarks.

What's the point of insulting or instigating something if you really, truly, don't care what they think?

Most of us don't think about it, so it's irrelevant to our everyday lives, but let's give a pause and think about what it means.

Everything we do, how we react, all behaviors, are predetermined by factors initiated at conception--or even eons ago when life started and the code was written.

Most of us will never shake these templates out of our soul.  There are such templates still at work today, regardless of modern movements or attempts to eradicate them, such as racism, religious hatred, gender equality, and a bunch of other crap.

We adopt social customs without ever caring, wondering, what they mean and how they will impact our own life and the future of humanity.

Smartphones are relatively new devices; the cell phones of my childhood were large, brick-like devices with an antenna that could impale a buffalo clean through.  Yet everyone from cradle to grave seems to have one now, and they use it as much as possible--like standing in line at a store, driving, taking a dump, and even at funerals.

Not long ago, privacy was prized above a great many things--live and let live, as it were.

Now, our entire lives are spilling onto digital bulletin boards for anyone to see.  Make no mistake people, every piece of digital information you create is available to the world, regardless of privacy measures or security.

Is it not astounding how fast we've become comfortable with airing our dirty laundry online?

In the end, nothing will free mankind from social engineering.  I'd like to say death will do it, but I don't remember ever dying so I can't offer any rational thoughts on the matter.

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