January 9, 2008

Unconscious Imitation

Today we come across an individual who behaves like an automaton, who does not know or understand himself, and the only person that he knows is the person that he is supposed to be, whose meaningless chatter has replaced communicative speech, whose synthetic smile has replaced genuine laughter, and whose sense of dull despair has taken the place of genuine pain. Two statements may be said concerning this individual. One is that he suffers from defects of spontaneity and individuality which may seem to be incurable. At the same time it may be said of him he does not differ essentially from the millions of the rest of us who walk upon this earth. –Erich Fromm

At times my life is a soap opera, but I'm not acting. It’s kind of like one of those out of body experiences (thanks to 8th grade health I always associate those with date rape drugs) I watch myself in the most stereotypical dilemma listening to the most stereotypical dialog. I partially hope you don't believe me because it is about the most pathetic thing I have ever heard but unfortunately it is true. Some situations and conversations have left me in awe of a person’s capability to converse and act with such predictability. I notice that our responses are often a product of something we have seen in a movie (or multiple movies that have the slightly altered wording). We pick the fictional character we would like to be and when a situation comes up we can't help but ask ourselves what would he/she do? Because of the process of learning, it’s nearly impossible to live in this society of media without unconsciously imitating the people we have seen and the replies we have heard. Soon enough we are laughing and making jokes about things we would not have originally found humorous but the majority does. True originality is difficult to come across and the seldom times it does, someone else is right behind them to take it as their own until no one really knows who the creator actually was. In the book I am reading, it pushes you to shift your thinking into the most “effective” form of thought process. While I understand this and think it could be purposeful I can not help but think of everyone one else that has read it before me. If I were to take these principles to the extreme, my individuality would be stripped from me and I am left wondering how I could buy into someone else’s way to respond to life. The truth is we are not in a movie, we are not acting and there is no "right" way to respond except your own. We are not supposed to be anything but who we actually are, unfortunately few know exactly who is under all of the imitations and most are unable to grasp the reality of those standard responses that have been burned into our minds.

We start out so open and spontaneous. We're real individuals. Then somewhere along the way we're drawn to conform. It's as if we're conditioned by programmed responses but sometimes you can alter the programmed response just by changing some of the conditions, altering the parameters. - from the movie Patch Adams

2 comments:

ArrogantBlogger said...

Exactly, this is me doing my part in conformity.

cmelton said...

Perhaps the most depressing part is when the predictability of those mentioned reaches the point that you know what's going to come next. You know what's comming and you still can't stop it. Not only that, but they so avidly live that way, that you can never reason with them to help them gain conciousnes of their actions.

Ayn Rand once wrote: "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone."

hahaha. :]