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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food waste: the greed of humanity

I am currently taking a nutrition class that is described as “food studies”. It looks at the harvest of food and how it impacts health. This class has taught me so much in a short five weeks. One of the biggest take aways I had from this class is how ignorance is not bliss. “Ignorance is bliss” has brought us to wreak havoc on our planet, and our own bodies. “Ignorance is bliss” has detached us from a basic human need that was once enjoyed as a social and communal practice. “Ignorance is bliss” has created a generation of people who are unaware that there are different species of tomatoes. So what’s next?

The film that created the most angst in me so far is called Dive! This documentary film talks about one man’s journey of dumpster diving. He finds meat that is still in its packaging, bundles of bananas, cartons of eggs, crates of strawberries piled up in dumpers. All of these items are thrown out due to a nearing expiration date, a few dark spots on a peel, a cracked shell, or one bad berry. This produce can be donated, but often is not because it takes too much effort. This documentary is relatively short, with a running time of 55min. I recommend everyone go see it. It leaves you thinking a lot about food waste and small ways that even we can make a difference; it can really start at our own homes. Small things such as planning out meals so no food goes to waste or educating ourselves on food so we stop throwing out produce that is still good to eat will go a long way. 

All of this led me to think about the greediness of American culture and the wasteful aspects that permeate every corner of our culture, media, social actions, thoughts, and more. This culture is a stark contrast to other cultures of this world and it saddens me. I don’t blame the American people as much as I blame the culture that continues to take over us like a silent monster. Culture is something that is carelessly tossed left and right as an excuse card. “Oh it’s just how the culture is here” we say. “That’s just how I grew up” we claim. “Everyone else thinks like this” we believe. Culture can really become debilitating–to the point we don’t act against the current even when we know it’s wrong. I think waste has become a key example of this aspect of American culture. We waste because we do not see the value in the things we consume. There’s fast food, fast fashion, fast services, fast everything. For pete’s sake we have Amazon delivering anything we want to our doorstep. This kind of culture is so convenient, yet it is fueling a silent monster that continues to embed the idea that “ignorance is bliss” into our brains. How can we fight against this monster and continue to support the innovations of convenience that new technology brings? That is something we should all ponder on and act in order to bring forth change. It is harmful to think that we have to achieve our goals overnight because in this case, slow and steady will win the race.