it’s amazing that almost everything we do as human beings—except for basic eating/sleeping survival functions—we do to fit in with other human beings. almost everything i’ve ever wanted to do in my life seems to be defined by a desire to be accepted by my species. to be admired and appreciated by my societies and circles. to be approved of by those who seem more accomplished than me. to be respected. to be loved.
first the superficial stuff: the desire for nice things, looking good, being fit, dressing well—all for others. i might say they’re so i can feel good about myself regardless of what anyone else thinks about me—but if i lived alone (think desert island) or lived in a society that didn’t value these superficial things, these things would obviously not matter.
the desire for social acceptance in wanting to have friends. to fit in to certain circles that i can identify with. my desire for expressing myself through my art. for higher education. for career advancement. these all may seem purely self-serving. but honestly, they're really only to make me feel good about myself in relation to others. one may argue that they're necessary to make a good living, to have shelter and be able to eat. therefore, also a “survival function.” but seriously, i could survive on so much less. we all could.
last night i watched my friend’s three-year-old niece watching her and another friend of ours carefully. the two older humans laughed, and the little human immediately looked back and forth between the laughing faces. the curiosity and alertness on her face was astounding. she was processing information as she absorbed it. then they laughed at something on the tv. the little girl, seeing them laughing, immediately started laughing, too, while she looked at the faces of my friends - seeking approval.
it’s a basic, instinctive drive. we have a basic need to be accepted. to not be lonely. and we have a basic physiological need to be touched (think romanian orphans).
so i guess i should take back my initial statement. this seems to serve a personal survival function of its own. and it serves a societal survival function. after all, our societies punish and ostracize those that don’t fit into or break our societies’ rules. whether it’s through social isolation or through imprisonment. by the severity of the punishment, you can see which societies are struggling more desperately for survival. and almost everything that’s considered “right” or “wrong” in humanity seems to be defined by the need for survival and propagation of our species…
ever look at people in other cars while you're driving and wonder what they’re thinking of?
this is what i was thinking of on my way to work this morning.