Living up to Expectations

"You know you've had enough of winter whe...

“You know you’ve had enough of winter when…” you make a snowman committing suicide. I get bored easily. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few things have come together lately, from an interesting collection of sources. I’m taking an online Intro to Sociology, and our weekly readings give great insight on human behavior and some of the causes for that behavior.  Especially the movie Quiet Rage about a social experiment in the 70’s at Stanford University.  College students assume the roles of guard or prisoner and embody their roles based on perceived expectations, having not been trained for these roles.  I also read an article suggesting that stereotyping is to blame for having fewer women in the sciences.  As a female engineer, I encourage all women to think different that what this stereotype suggests.

And a few conversations with friends touch on similar points, how college life seems to be defined by what people see in movies and on TV.  What about “dying up to expectations”? I read in The New Yorker that people in Greece have been committing suicide because they are unhappy with personal effects from the austerity measures?  Japan has a history of suicide that is also influencing their 20 somethings to take their own life during this recession.  What in our brain tells us that suicide is better than tax debt, if it’s not peer pressure and influence from seeing others take that action.  Researchers have found that suicide and car accidents increase when a suicide is reported in the news.  And many sociologists are researching the unusually high rate of suicide in Micronesia.  It almost sounds like the kids think it’s a cool thing to try, and relate to the celebrity aspect of being in the news because of suicide.

People are social creatures, having most of our likes, dislikes, and preferences influenced by the society around us.

So what would happen if we collectively change our expectations for the way we interact?  That is kind of the story for success behind the program Ceasefire which quieted the inner city violence related to gangs in many US cities.


3 comments on “Living up to Expectations

  1. This is cool! I always wonder if we could “collectively change our expectations” about something. I guess it does happen all the time, but is it ever intentional, or always just a broad cultural sort of pattern thing? I miss sociology, sounds like an intriguing course!

    • Look at the changes between generations, things we believe and things we do as normal that our parents did not. We certainly can “collectively change our expectations.” The question is, who is controlling that change?

      Here is what I would like to see change next: Can we think about what we need to live/survive (food, shelter, education, healthcare, and freedom) and use our excess to work towards helping others achieve that minimum quality of life?

      • I would love to see that too, especially because many people who live in excess right now would probably find that the “minimum quality of life” helps them feel much more deeply satisfied by the quality of their relationships and of just being alive, rather than having too many expensive distractions. And the people who are in need and do not want to be would enjoy the wonderful aspects of having “enough”. Things are changing so fast, maybe we’ll get to see it happen 🙂

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