How many of our decisions are made by emotions instead of reason and then where does that lead us?
Consider how many decisions you’ve made over the past week. How many of them were driven by what felt comfortable? I don’t think that basing a decision on what feels familiar has to be bound to reason. So if most people behave on the basis of what’s comfortable, isn’t this leading a life defined by emotion rather than one of reason?
I’ve often thought about how many people subscribe themselves to a life of irony — a constant performance about what they don’t have and framing it in comedy. From what they post on Instagram, to what they watch and read in their spare time — how much of the lower and middle-class finds most of their entertainment in the discrepancy between expectations and reality?
This type of humour isn’t exclusive to those that simply can’t create a reality that matches their expectations — but it seems it’s far more pronounced and encouraged in lower and middle-class communities. In fact, because of its prevalence and the general compulsion to conform to social norms — it’s possible that such humour is a self-reinforcing cycle, and its adoption ultimately becomes self-destructive. After all — the most you can achieve is the most you can perceive.
Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s Émile describes the translational effect educational system has on children by transcribing the social norms of today into the foundation-layers of tomorrow. Perhaps it's the unquestionable value of community-building that we prescribe in the schooling system that spawns such a reliance in children to bind themselves to the expectations of today’s generation. Consequently, before this generation can progressively develop themselves, they’ve already succumbed to the influence of the older generation and surrendered themselves to a life of irony — forever laughing at what they feel they can never achieve.
One of the scariest realisations I’ve had over the past few months is how many people define themselves at around 18 years old. After school, many people have a small amount of general independence and I think many use that as an opportunity to formulate a sense of self despite the obvious limitations in resources and experience. But then if someone starts to begin pursuing a path of what they think is “their” path — at what point do they ever deviate from that path, let alone realise this is not “their” path. I don’t think many do because of the confounding effects of having to abide by social norms — that are often established at two primary time periods: at the beginning of high school, and the beginning of university.
So the unfortunate question for many is how young were you when gave up on aiming for more?