Superficial Commitment

This post is sort of a part two of my last one.

disclaimer: I’m sure there are many sociological studies that are nicely complemented with psychological studies to explain this phenomenon. I have none of these expertise to offer, except for my own personal experience and studies.

One of my informal research method go-to’s has been YouTube. There are endless channels to choose from and join like a cult gathering. These channels range from educational to beauty to everything else in between and around. I love YouTube for this very reason. If I want something mentally stimulating, I am able to search a topic of my interest and tune in, instantly. If I need more information on how to cut men’s hair, I can easily look that up, too. One of my latest (mini) research obsessions has been skin care. As I enter into my mid-twenties, I feel that it is time to really start investing and preventing those wrinkles that kindly await me in my forties.

While procrastinating, I found that few channels talk exclusively about skincare, and instead will consist of make up and skincare, together. I am not much of a makeup wearer so naturally I don’t know much about it. As a byproduct of skincare research, I have also become more informed about makeup products. Almost overnight, I started to want to incorporate foundation, highlighter, bronzer, blush, primers, etc. into my daily routine. I have never owned any of these products, but suddenly now I needed them. This startling urge is what triggered a cascade of my thoughts on superficiality. I am pretty sure that once I start incorporating all this makeup into my life, a handful of people will really notice or even care. As a matter of fact, I am sure that if you take those handful of people in my life and make a ratio with the world’s population, it won’t even be a blimp. So why do I have an urge that is seemingly only satisfied if I make a visit to Sephora and clear out a whole section? Honestly, do we need more things to complicate our already complicated lives?

It simply goes back to those fields I’ve mentioned in my disclaimer: psychology and sociology. We as humans are extremely conforming (whether or not Western cultures sometimes like to admit). When we see people do something, it becomes a necessity. When we see a norm, we have to be a part of it. Deviating from it comes at much too high of a social cost. Another great example of this is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast on the underhand free throw. (I highly recommend you listen to this. I guarantee it will make your brain stir for a few days.) Gladwell talks about a phenomenon of how the entire basketball world seems to shoot free throws overhand when physics proves that shooting underhand has a much higher success rate. It all comes down to our need to fit in. We don’t want to be ridiculed.

If there was one word to describe humanity, it is that we are social. Even evil dictators, operate with a squad (a conforming one at that). So next time we have sudden urges that match everyone else’s way of life, maybe we should really do even more research incorporating these conforming behaviors. What are the benefits? Is it really something we truly need? Most likely not. Instead of accepting conforming behaviors that only benefit us, maybe we can put this social conformity phenomenon of humanity into good use. Maybe we can start setting trends on kindness and generosity. Maybe we can make it “cool” to help our neighbors and love our enemies. Now that’s something worth conforming to.

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bad news for women

Lately it seems that many of my friends are getting engaged or married. I have finally hit that time period of life where weddings are everywhere around me. Added on to that, with the new digital age of social media, people’s engagements have become accessible, even if you weren’t invited to the physical event. I don’t know how many of my friends would really consider themselves to be feminists, but the classic engagement question did come to my mind: why do women wear engagement rings when men do not? This question is easily google-able so I will save you the trouble of regurgitating an answer and just dive into my own opinion.

Whether I like it or not, I think women wearing engagement rings is quite sexist. It would not be sexist if men had to wear one, too. As a woman who loves jewelry (especially rings), I clearly don’t want to be the one to point this out. Whether I like it or not, it simply is playing into a patriarchal narrative.

To give a little back story, I grew up and went to college in Seattle—a fairly liberal city. While many people do not outright label themselves as feminists, I believe that many people have the mentality that equality is for all people. This is why it’s ironic to me that one of the most sexist, patriarchal concepts has not been challenged by anyone I personally know. Of course social media also adds to bolstering up this tradition by adding filters and glitter to glorify engagements.

Obviously I wish it weren’t this way. But no matter what angle I look at this, it seems that engagements are pretty sexist. What I think metaphorically raises my eyebrow is that no one I know challenges it. It’s really upsetting to me that we live so passively in our society, accepting things that maybe don’t align with our moral compass. It’s like we live and breathe cognitive dissonance. We don’t care to challenge society anymore. Then when a few people do happen to challenge society, we secretly think “social justice freaks” in a passing thought. Maybe a lot of women don’t challenge the patriarchal concept of engagement because they want a flashy piece of jewelry that they don’t have to pay for. Maybe women have been brainwashed to believe that you need a band with a huge rock on it to be deemed “loved.” Who really knows. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should challenge society at every angle, challenge the status quo, tip the scales. Social norms are implemented by generations before our time and they often don’t apply to the present. So why do we blindly follow them as if they align perfectly with our morals? Chances are, they stir up more cognitive dissonance than anything. Let us take more moments in our lives to reflect on what can and should change in our society. Then let’s go out and do it! On a small or big scale, every action towards change counts. Even if that means giving up a nice ring that we all secretly want.