By Lea Meraku
The world as we know it, is a giant orb infused with millions of cultures and societies, each varying from the other. Therefore, diversity is a primal component that makes our universe so astounding. Even though generations upon generations of the human race have been living in different concepts of tradition, there is a prevalent factor which unites these people, especially the youth: the impact their community has on their everyday life.
It is common knowledge ever since the initial concepts of a society; people have followed sets of rules established by the community. The reason behind the obedience they have shown towards them is perhaps the mere concept of a human thriving in a society and their consequent desire of being accepted. This occurrence is especially present in the younger generations. The Pew Research Center has listed that the ability to “get along with others” is one of the crucial skills young people need to succeed in life in a study done in 2011. Many sociologists say that humans are hardwired to crave social acceptance, ever since ancient tribes and civilizations which all had specific rules of social conduct followed such as Ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Mayans, leading up to today. “More people behave ‘as expected’ if they have to take a moral decision in front of someone”, says Anna LeMind, sociologist and founder of LearningMind.com.
However, is that the answer to sociology? Are we nothing but a pack of followers destined to follow unwritten laws of social conduct? In order to analyze this topic, three young students from different places around the world give their opinion on social benefits and limitations and how they depend upon the community around them.
Jordan is a 16-year old from South Africa who is currently graduating in Ankara, Turkey. She praises Turkey for the freedom it provides compared to her home country and also adds that she has interactions with people from all around the world. However, she states that her biggest concern and factor which affects her is the political conflict. “Sometimes we will get warnings to stay out of a certain area” she adds. In terms of the culture and how it affects her social circumstances, she elaborates on how foreign it is to other places she’s experienced. “I travel very often but have never found a country quite similar to Turkey. There isn’t much diversity [overall], but it’s good because it forces Turks to traditional things.”
Moving over to the USA, Alexandra, a high school student living in Nebraska, shares her liking for the Midwest, where she explains the people as “very nice and hospitable”. Because of the wide array of nationalities in her school, she says that diversity does not contribute to everyday life. She weighs in on what she thinks is the biggest social problem in her school: consumption of drugs and alcohol, a topic widely mentioned. “I think people don’t have trouble fitting in but a lot of people believe that if they want to be popular then they have to have drugs and alcohol. That is such a big problem here.” Alexandra adds. Many researches has been done about the issue Alexandra mentioned, with the “DoSomething” movement stating that by the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana. They also describe THC (the active ingredient in the drug that causes addiction) as nearly 5 times stronger than it was 20 years ago, a factor which could significantly worsen the situation.
Japan is known as an extremely homogeneous society with non-Japanese, mostly Koreans and Chinese, making up only about 1% of the population. Linde, a Belgian student living in Tokyo, speaks highly of this side of Japan. “I like how Japan is very much invested in continuous technological advancement yet always places importance on traditional values” she says regarding the connection between modern everyday life and social cultures. Furthermore, she states that the Japanese culture is “very peaceful” and that everyone has a “polite nature”. Despite these benefits of the community as a whole, she believes that one of the biggest difficulties young generations face is social expectations of reaching success in terms of their career, this way struggling with “breaking apart from what is expected of them.
With the world continuously expanding, experts have estimated that a quarter of a million people are being added to the world every day. These people all derive from wide range backgrounds, eventually leading to the further diversification of the human race. With this in mind, it is only logical that the environment plays a huge role on the average human being. This impact is notably amplified in young people who find themselves in one of the most crucial stages for building their unique personality. Even though the life of someone reading this may differ completely to the people in this article, that doesn’t change the importance of humanity and one of the goals of countless leaders and movements: ending cultural stereotypes and “tribal stigmas” explained by Erving Goffman, a Canadian-American sociologist and writer, who is also considered “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century”.
Despite the daunting ideology of the high-demand life in the 21st century, it is crucial to our wellbeing both as individuals and as a community to accept and embrace these societal and cultural differences. People and industries alike need to realize once and for all that our species derives from the array of traits and characteristics displayed all around us. Therefore, we need to realize that the assimilation of these cultures would lead to the eventual demise of human character as we know it. Accepting and being content with these ideas does not require much, except the human realization of the beauty that lies in our ethnicity.