The Impacts of Social Conditioning on the Individual Freedom
40% of food worldwide is thrown away because of fear of expiration dates. People gravitate towards the idea that nurses are mostly women or that money buys happiness. All these misconceptions and gender stereotypes in today’s society occur because of the impact of social conditioning. Social conditioning has developed its way through countless generations and has been a leading influence on the way people behave. How individuals treat each other and each action they take is a form of psychological manipulation. Today’s society influences and aims to change people’s mindsets. Therefore, collectively it can be argued that people tend to adopt the behaviors of the majority of the population. Parts of the socially conditioned society relate with Brave New World and 1984 because they are manipulating their citizens to follow their commands without any questioning. Social conditioning is a crucial problem in society because it limits human individualism and controls the beliefs and choices of people.
It is important to acknowledge that this form of manipulation begins with childhood conditioning. All the values and beliefs that children were taught at a young age will remain close and guide them as they start making their own decisions. Therefore, it is beneficial that they receive the correct advisement from their parents. As stated by an article on how conditioning shapes people, ‘It is so undeniable to say that whatever we are today it is a collective outcome of how we were brought up and the circumstances of our childhood.’ The role of a parent is important because it is their responsibility to help develop the social and academic skills of their child. Parents give a foundation for their children to build their life upon, therefore if the wrong morals are taught, it can cause a major toll in their acceptance of other people or how they interact with them. Social Conditioning also has an immense effect on a child’s personality development. If attributes such as showing emotion in a family are considered negative, the child will grow up to have a lack of empathy and concern for others. Additionally if parents are overprotective of their children, in many cases it will cause them to be introverted and afraid to take risks. Furthermore, an article portrays the consequences of social conditioning in relation to jobs, ‘The basic inputs that are to be put in childhood are deprived due to social conditioning, such as the aptitude to appreciate art’. From a young age children are told to take up a career that will result in money and success, such as doctor or engineer. Although it is true that having these types of jobs will result in a decent salary, it deprives them of their passions and enforces that the money means happiness. It manipulates children into thinking that other areas such as arts, television, and culinary should not be further explored. Instead of the ideology that these jobs’ outcomes is poverty, they should be taught how determination and hard work lead to success. Additionally, children are being socially conditioned “with ego and guilt”. Parents can manipulate their children to do what they say out of guilt or fear. If the child doesn’t do as well in academics or sports as their friends, it tarnishes their reputation as a parents. Although not all cases, most parents want their child getting good grades in school and then proceed to get angry at them if they don’t. This is understandable as having a good GPA is important, but children should be able to explore and go beyond the boundaries for their passions instead of a predestined path. They study and work harder out of fear from parents. Similarly, parents ego in denying a child’s dream is overpowering and limits creativity in a child. Essentially all values and morals that were taught at a young age have a significant impact on adulthood.
It is common for people fall into the trap of social conditioning through peer pressure and the need to comply with the popular choice. Individuals are psychologically manipulated to behave a particular way that is accepted by society. Because of the effect of this conditioned society, ‘…. the man we are now presented with is Social Man – – completely a creature of his environment, guided almost totally by the whims and prejudices of the group, and incapable of any real self-determination of his destiny.” People are so pressured into following the trend of the majority to appear likeable and gain attention, that they forget to concentrate on themselves. As clearly illustrated in Brave New World, it contributes to the loss of creativity and originality. In the novel, Bernard is forced to follow the procedures of the New State, and therefore is deprived of his cunning intelligence that could have lead to major success. Citizens solely dependent on others to give them validation, resulting in a society where their fate is being chosen for them. In a famous quote by James Patterson he emphasized, ‘We don’t even pause to step back and examine our basic assumptions and beliefs in life.’ The consequence of letting people control the lifestyle of others, is that one can easily be manipulated to believe simple assumptions are equitable. Each action or thought that is made is greatly influenced by the majority of the population. Continuing this type of behavior further escalates social conditioning and will result in society deeming social norms as the truth. Moreover, Mark Twain claimed, “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” The ability of independent thinking is taken away because people are constantly following majority. They let their choices be controlled by others around them and allow society to manipulate their emotions as they see fit. It is important for people to be confident in who they are and take pride in their own beliefs and passions. The only way to limit social conditioning is by individuals taking the risk to be different and acknowledging that social norms don’t hold the full truth.
It is argued that that social conditioning is essential for disciplinary measures and to establish correct morals. As children grow up, they need to be introduced to basic ways to live by and how to act with others. It may be true that children need to be disciplined to learn problem solving skills and good human behavior. However, some beliefs that are taught interfere with individualism and expression of oneself. Children are told to pursue a certain career or experience gender biases while growing up. All these attempts of conditioning, limit a child’s individuality and trap them in place where they are forced to follow society’s guidelines. As stated by a young female activist Zaira Wasim, ‘socialisation plays a strong role in determining individual choices, and threats, veiled or otherwise, fatwas, religious nasihat or guidance and pressure from the community and relatives act as the ecosystem of duress that some individuals find tough to beat,'(Reluctant Superstar). Social Conditioning limits creativity and imagination and has a major influence of the actions individuals take. People, including Wasim are manipulated to act like what they were taught through conditioning. She describes the struggles she was going through, including resentment from her community and depression, as she was highly discouraged to pursue a career in acting. As mentioned, lack of individual freedom can cause mental problems and issues with self-esteem. Suddenly because one does not fit in with the rest of the society, their confidence drops and they feel as if they should change to be accepted. Although it is important to have morals and rules, people should be able to express themselves however they want and not be restricted to only those beliefs.
Overall, people’s individual freedom and ability to act upon their destiny is constrained because of social conditioning. This type of social influence is represented in Brave New World and 1984 because they manipulated their citizens to blindly follow the government without questioning whether the beliefs were accurate. Individuals should be able to think independently without worrying about being accepted. They should focus on their passion, explore their creatively and strive to be different. Following social norms is what the society was taught, but to go beyond that to achieve success and life a happy life is a skill. Learn to be different and seek for the truth, instead of getting sucked into a society where social conditioning is the norm of life.
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