I was walking through Ikea today, when I kept bumping into/across-from a group of guys walking together.
One was black and the other two were white (You’ll see the relevance momentarily). Nearing the end of the store, I somehow caught up to them again, and decided to pass them by. As I cross their path (again), I hear one of them (presumable the black kid) ‘whisper’ to his friends: “What would you think if I did that?” After that point, I tuned out the responses as I thought to myself – why do you even need their approval? By ‘that’, it would be safe to presume he was referring to my hair; as a mohawk isn’t something you see regularly on a black guy.
In Sociology, we learn that although our society enjoys thinking that all problems are derived from underlying individual problems (i.e., he got fired because he was a terrible employee, they broke up because they weren’t a match for each other, etc, etc…), we also open doors to the idea that society has a greater influence on our decisions and/or choices (i.e., the economy is bad – so the company had to lay someone off with a high salary and hire someone who would work for less; they moved into a community where there was an increased ratio of single and genuine bachelors/bachelorettes). Whether we choose to believe it or not, our interaction (or lack-there-of) influences what we buy, our career path, our level of education, etc.
I like to think that my choice to enlist into the Marine Corps was a choice I made on my own, but as I thought about it even more I came to realize that it wasn’t. I didn’t consult any friends or even my mom, or immediate family on the matter, until after I had come to a firm decision that I wanted to enlist; and it wasn’t until today, did I realize that this choice was influenced onto me by society, because two of my close friends already enlisted into the armed forces. Although we talked regularly, I never felt pressured to enlist, but it was through our interactions together did I realize, I wanted to do something greater with my life. The symbolism used to portray the men and women in uniform was something I wanted to be worthy of, not-to-mention I wanted the opportunity to give thanks to a country that offered me so much freedom and liberty.
As my friend Daniel Leyvadiaz stated, “We are social animals.” It’s true. So in a sense it is almost impossible to refute that what we say, think and/or do can be directly connected with the society we interact with everyday.