Question

Individuality in Modern Times

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I often think about how culture has affected the way I think and the things I do. Now that I am far from home it is a lot easier to see the differences between my culture and others. Especially when am with people from my own country, it is clear that we are different from the rest. This is interesting to me because when I was home, I never felt like I fitted in. Neither language or religion made me feel like I belonged anywhere. I only bounded with my family and people that, because of school or other activities, were forced to interact with me. They did have an impact on who I am and the choices I make, but why this doesn’t match the idea that I have of society? Maybe society is not an abstract form of social cohabitation; but a collection of interactions: very specific individuals with very specific beliefs and lives at a particular time. These do not impact directly on a group consciousness;  rather, the individuals after accepting certain terms have agreed to construct a social fabric. In the past it was not uncommon to have a sense of belonging to a group, a community, or state. In fact, very possibly our survival depended on it. Communities were smaller and the means to share information were significantly limited, preventing them from intellectual conflict and therefore segregation. Our modern times brought us apart from all our technological advancements, rational thought. By allowing the decay of religion, our sense of self evolved to search for individuality. Individuality  led us to fragment the social fabric, segmenting social groups. Sometimes these phenomena create experiences, unique to ourselves. As society loses most of their customs and traditions we are blend in a society that is influenced by random elements found in the vast networks of information that we had built.

 
 
 Things such as books, podcasts, newspapers and the internet share information that regardless of their veracity, have a profound impact on people’s consciousness, and depending on how we are affected by those elements we build new social fabrics. This is why I  think that connection in society nowadays is rather limited. Society became an expression of our individual choices and who we choose to associate with. Even some researches like Simon Sinek claim that the popularity of social media is due in part for the need of individuals for social Connection, almost non existing in our globalized culture.
 
We must understand that our Society is not something different from us,it is the collective decisions we make, and how we decide to relate with the people around us. It takes real courage to admit that even if we can’t control every detail of our everyday life, there is a lot that we are responsible for.
 
 The connection between society and consciousness for me is very clear: a constant fight between the will of the group and the will for the individual, shaped by the decisions we make.
 
To say that because of our culture we are fixed to act a certain way is ridiculous, In fact, it goes against our very primary tool of evolution, adaptation.
 
Even things that determined our behavior that we believed to be fixed in our ourselves, like genes and so forth, can be modified. This is critical because it affects every individual in a very personal level.  It also means that society or the social fabrications we built can be ultimately altered. 
 
This tool can be used to change hostile tendencies in groups, find a better job, or fight depression and addition.
 
I remember being in the car with my uncle one day, (he is a guy that has had financial struggles all his life but always manages to get back to a decent living).
 
We were just talking and a homeless guy knocked on our window asking for money. He pulled down the window gave the guy some money and when we got going, he said, “I feel sorry for people that think so ill of themselves, that they think they can’t do any better than beg, but I think you can get a valuable lesson out of this.”
 
He turned the car around the corner drove and back to the same spot where we were in the first place. This process took about three minutes, but when we got to the place, the homeless man was holding a brand-new bottle of cheap liquor he had just bought at a store right in front of him.
 
My uncle approached him, and gave him a speech about how he could make better use of the money, and perhaps his life, to which the man replied, “I am already an addict.
 
 There is nothing I can do about it.” This is a perfect example of how blaming external factors can prevent us from achieving our goals.
 
This is no new concept; it is an element present in of the religions and philosophies of the west.
 
 When Plato’s and Seneca’s texts influenced Christianity, we got a strong sense of moral responsibility than is not present anymore. It seems to be that by rejecting religion we have rejected all virtuous value.
 
 We should remember that in order to function to as a society we need to have a strong social fabric ruled by expected social contracts.
 
Now that the previous social fabric and social contracts are fragmented, and we understand that our individual choices affect ourselves and others, is a great opportunity to create new ones that fit our needs.
 
Our social groups are the manifestation of our thinking and actions and we are responsible for them. This also allows us to have a stronger sense of self, so valued in these times.
 
I believe that even if all the problems of our constructions don’t bring us together, the result of our previous fabric, “climate change” will.
 
I look forward to seeing how human social contracts will evolve when we are forced once again to bond for survival.

 

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