We Choose a Path That Isn’t Really Our Choice: How Social Norms Control Our Generations Decision Making
When I was in third grade I joined a travel soccer team and a travel basketball team. I have played basketball and soccer all the way through high school. I was fortunate enough to be able to play both that long, but was often pressured to pick one sport over the other. All throughout my childhood I had to make decisions of which sporting event I had to miss and how to deal with telling my coach. Eventually the day game where I had to choose. Now, I play collegiate soccer and haven’t touched a basketball since my last game, which was my high school state semi-finals in March. Throughout my life, I’ve been forced to deal with pressure-filled situations that needed me to make a decision; preferably the “right decision”. Whether this decision was what sport to play, what to wear, how to act, how succeed; I was always pressured by society to make the correct choice. Ironically, the “right decision” always seemed to be the decisions that was accepted as a social norm in today’s society.
Monday, September 14th: “I was in my room getting ready for class. I decided to dress in what I call “normal people clothes” and look nice for class (since being an athlete I always wear soccer shorts and a t-shirt). I picked out white jeans and a flannel top. My roommate and two friends in the room started criticizing me since I was about to wear white jeans after Labor Day.”
In case all you fashionistas didn’t know, wearing white jeans after Labor Day is a fashion crime (don’t ask me why because I don’t know. It just is). After listening to them complain about it enough I ended up changing. This got me thinking about how so many other people in America and in the world succumb to the pressure of social norms in today’s culture. This was one small account, but through social standards, media, celebrities, morals, and even politics affect the way we dress and act. The choices we make on the daily are “our choices” but little do we realize a lot of them aren’t really what the individual wants and prefers, but what society wants and prefers.
Tuesday, September 15th: “Went to my core advisor meeting around noon to talk about how I’m doing and about my success. Talked about what I planned to do after college—what job I may want. I thought a lot and realized I didn’t know…Like I’m just trying to get through college without going into serious debt.”
In America today, you graduate high school, then college, get a job, get married, have a family, grow old, and then pass on this knowledge and past life onto the next generation. If you are an individual that doesn’t, you are going against society’s grain of what an acceptable citizen does and accomplishes. The culture around us has truly programmed us to think that this is the only option that will make you a successful and outstanding citizen. Even though we do live in the free country, our decision making is limited by the boundaries of social acceptance. Regardless of having the liberty to make our own decisions based on our preferences, we still fall in the confines of social walls our 21st century culture upholds.
Sunday, September 20th: “Currently in the airport in Chicago and decided to call Lauren (my roommate). We talked about Lauren and her boyfriend and how relationships are hard. Continued to talk about boys in general and how there is a certain way that girls and guys act around one another. Like I started freaking out about if it’s ok to double snap. (petty girl problems…I know)”
Relationships with family, friends, and significant others have a huge part in our own personal development and decision making. The way we were raised has a huge role in the way we act and make decisions based on our morals. The way we socialize with the opposite gender is very monitored and over-analyzed. The way we act around one another is partially due to the influence that our society and culture provides. So, the petty rules of how the guy has to ask the girl out and so on is largely due to what society has programmed to be viewed as acceptable. Technology has a huge role, as well. Now, young men and women talk over multiple social media sites. These sites have changed what are acceptable social standards. So, basically: you can’t double text, you can’t snapchat more than once, definitely don’t send out mass snaps, or friend the guys friends on Facebook, and when he comes over its ok to text you “here” instead of coming to knock on the door, you shouldn’t respond to a text message right away (even if you are right next to your phone), and so on. Even news channels are up to date and talking about these acceptable “rules”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/texting-crush-flirt_n_5185988.html
In the United States, Americans have the liberty to make choices based on each individual’s own preference. However, other people around the world don’t have the same luxury; they aren’t given the same opportunity to “choose”. In today’s culture, so much pressure is put among young adults to make the “right choice”. But what is the definition of the “right choice”? The “right choice” in today’s society is choosing the decision that agrees with the social norm. Ever since we have been kids society has programmed us to follow and make decisions that is considered acceptable in society. In society we are supposed to go to elementary school, then middle school, then graduate high school, then go to college, graduate, get a job, get married, have a family, go to work, retire, die, and pass on all the knowledge we have gained through our life to the next generation before we die. In every decision we make, we are pressured by society. So think about it: where does the cycle stop? When do we go against the grain of society?