Beyond the Lens of Social Conditioning

Most people interpret their surroundings and their interactions through the lens of social conditioning. There are a largely unwritten set of rules for this conditioning, and it has variance between generations. The youth of today are conditioned differently to the youth of my Jurassic days. My generation did not grow up with either the internet or mobile ‘phones. Because I was an aspiring academic I learned about FTP and supercomputers in my early twenties. Strangely enough I was amongst those with relatively early uptake of a tri-band mobile phone.

This social conditioning is conditional and has many shoulds and oughts. These are foisted onto others in a you must conform judgmental way. Right now, there is some bizarre hullabaloo about choice of pronouns. Would people let me use it and its? What longevity this folly has, remains to be seen. Trying to condition others to behave the way we think they ought to, they should, is not liberation it is about a kind of herd like slavery. It is inflicting onto a another being one’s own prejudices and dogma.

Whilst people subscribe to things like “I must have huge expensive house” and implied, a mortgage, it is difficult to escape social conditioning, because conforming to social conditioning makes it easier to have and keep a job that pays sufficiently well to cover mortgage costs. People are beset with the fear of missing out and thereby in general are very busy. There is little time to stop, to pause and reflect. There are a lot of time wasting escapist activities. This is because people, in general, cannot hack being alone by themselves, with themselves with nothing to occupy and divert their minds. The silence of an empty calendar and lack of Pavlovian response to incoming text messages, is terrifying.

If your mind is like the Circle Line Underground Line with trains of should and ought endlessly circulating it is impossible to think. Your internal dialogue has you. If you are worried whether of not you are conforming to the social conditioning dictates of others, you are in no way free.

There is a template for social conditioning. For example. One should socialize and one ought to advance. One should have a partner; one should not be a loner. One should be hot; one should like sex. One should go down the gym, one ought to like yoga. One ought to explain every choice of action with a string of pseudo-rational justifications and bullet points. “We went to Malta because it is nice and warm and there is plenty to do and see and they understand English.” Is a more socially acceptable explanation than, “I went to Malta to try to restore my memories from my life as a priest/knight two lifetimes ago.”

Social conditioning has taboos. These taboos can be for the heinous or simply the mundane.

If I don’t doff my cap at someone who is a position of power and I treat them as an equal. That is taboo. If I say that many people are very selfish and egotistical {in other words normal} that too is taboo.

In hospital yesterday the wife was reading out a guide to negotiate a house purchase. It had the usual things. If you want fifteen grand off, make an offer thirty grand below the asking price and then negotiate. The vendor can meet you halfway. Why?

What is socially acceptable is a time varying thing. It is volatile and therefore not real. It is made up in the minds and by the gossip of mankind. In my days it was OK to wear a pair of budgie smugglers, taboo now unless you are an athlete.

Socially conditioning is demarcated by expectations. If you don’t conform to these made up things, expectations, then you are suspect. Twenty odd years ago there were a set of expectations about me. Things did not turn out according to that made up stuff. The expectations were demonstrably inaccurate.

There is this TV programme “Ben Fogle Lives in the Wild” or some such. He goes off to visit people who have apparently slipped the net {todatsu} removed the knot of society. The programme is formulaic. He explores the tribulations and the freedom and then nearly always concludes that the protagonists would be better off back home, in society. Go and put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea.

You can live ostensibly adjunct to society and yet not be hemmed in by social conditioning.  One does not need to make a drama. One can meet mankind in the midst of their folly. It is a state of mind. I can say that there are things that I might do which are taboo in the context of social conditioning. There is no point in showing off. If I sat down in the middle of the supermarket and started chanting, that would raise eyebrows and maybe a short call to the gendarmes. It would not bother me if someone did this chanting, I might even join in.

I mentioned before that the underlying cause which made my personal transferrable skills courses for Ph.D. students untenable was because I had renounced a career which many of them were aspiring to. I had broken expectations, people with a tenured job at a top university do not jump into virtual unemployment. In the social conditioned world this kind of thing does not happen. It is a non sequitur, a does not compute.

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”, sung John Lennon.


When you look at the world do you see it how it is or by reference to how you think it should be, ought to be?

Is your perception in any way coloured by your social conditioning?

Do you have expectations, if so, why, for what purpose?

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