Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about social norms. Defined as a culture’s customary rules that govern society, I’ve been thinking of how they act as cultural policing over people’s ways of thinking and behaviour. Moreover, I’ve been thinking of how social norms have come to dictate right and wrong thinking and behaviour – and not always for the better. Why don’t people question them? And think critically about them? At times, it can really frustrate me when people automatically take social norms as the right way to think and behave – and build a life by going with them instead of actually thinking whether the path they may lead them to is right for one for them. Hence, in certain situations, I strongly argue it is perfectly fine (if not necessary) to question them. To think critically.
This is an issue, I find important to highlight. In this sense, let me clarify that I’m not talking about questioning the social norms linked to crime or anything high scale like that, however, every day matters – lifestyles. An example from my personal life could be when I tell people I don’t want to have children in my future, not only are most people stunned (how could I possibly not want to continue the line of human beings in a world that is already overpopulated, right!?), however, people also automatically characterise me as selfish and as rather egocentric… Simply because I have chosen to live a child free life. I find this rather interesting. I mean, all choices we as human beings make are egocentric in one way or another, right – to feed a need we have. Whether this need is in our own best interest or not, isn’t there always a personal need that is fed? So how come that I am characterised as egoistic when people who choose to have children are not? Both choices are personal choices we make based on a need. Not to point fingers, however, isn’t my choice more human in a way considering what overpopulation does to our world – even if it is based on an egoistic no-need for children? Shouldn’t people really be content with me not putting children in the world, as future generations might have to deal with less polution etc. as a result of my decision? More importantly, though, why do I have to justify my decision to not wanting children? Can’t people just accept (and respect) the fact that I don’t want children as part of my future? I mean, it doesn’t affect anybody but me. Not all women are programmed with a maternal instinct nor do some women feel the need for children. For some women personal ambition especially regarding a career is just more important (not to say that children necessarily prevent a career, of course).
In truth, this issue of personal choice can be related to any number of issues concerning lifestyle be it within the fields of for example clothing style, education, eating habits, sexual orientation (although not a choice, really, but discussed as one by some people), climate change etc….you name it! My point, though: To me, it seems that as long as a person goes with social norms, everything is okay – nothing is questioned. However, when a person go against social norms, everything is not okay – everything is questioned. As a result, people that go against social norms are somehow required (sometimes even demanded) to justify themselves and their ways of thinking and behaving – their lifestyle choices. Isn’t it time to question social norms instead of just automatically perceiving them as right!? Think critically… I think so! I mean, if everyone thinks alike, then are we actually thinking at all? What do you think?
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