Monday, January 14, 2008

High School Experiment

I was watching Oprah a few weeks ago. Before I explain why this particular episode stood out to me, let me first say I really am inspired by Oprah. Not only is she an intelligent, powerful woman, but she talks about real issues. Not that paternity tests and "my boyfriend slept with my uncles sisters cousin" isn't important, but she really does address current issues facing women and society as a whole. Sometimes she tries to create a little controversy, but not like Tyra Banks who turns a 'daddy daughter date' in to some sick and twisted idea.

The particular episode I watched was a high school experiment at "Monroe High". They took a large group of students in to the gym and asked them questions. If the answer was 'yes', they were to step over the big black line. If the answer was 'no', they stayed where they were. I can't say I was suprised when almost everyone crossed the line when asked a question about abuse by a family member, friend or teacher or when asked about being humiliated in the classroom. I guess that is really the foundation for the title of my blog, "We're not so different; You and me." I think sometimes we try to identify ourselves by being 'different' than those around us because somehow that makes us special. Believe me, I like to tell everyone where I'm from and the experiences in my life that I think make me unique, but when it comes right down to it - no matter where we're from, how much money we don't have, or what types of clothes we wear, we have experienced some of the same things and I think more often than not, those are the things that shape who we are. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that instead of trying to identify ourselves as being so different and unique from one another, maybe if we tried harder to find what we have in common and learn from each other for those things, the world would be a happier place.


bub said...

Glad to see you have a blog. I've bookmarked it as a Favorite.

The premise of your blog is interesting, what it means to be "normal" or how we are all alike.

Just as a note, when publications talk about "normal" individuals, what they really mean is "the average person," which simply tries to capture the expected behaviors of a population, be that a family, neighborhood, city, state, etc... Incidentally, news is made when people act outside those expected behaviors, which is why news is criticized as being negative or focusing too much on crime.

But your blog isn't about news, it's about who we are (who you are) as people. What makes us different is also what makes us human. The same can be said for that which we have in common.

We can't forget that people are individually unique, but we also can't forget that each unique individual is part of a whole (a family, a student body, a society, etc.). The character of the whole is greatly influence by the perceptual orientation of the individuals within it. Look around and you'll see why our generation is referred to as the "me" generation.

How we are defined is a different question altogether, because we are really defined differently depending upon our frame of reference. George Herbert Mead, a social philosopher in the early 20th century proposed that the "self" is made up of the "me" (how we see ourselves based on how others respond to us) and teh "I" (our responses based on what we have learned from our perceptions). Wikipedia has a good summary of some of his work. Keep in mind, though, that he is not the only one who has written on this topic.

More importantly, though--and depending on who reads this, they may agree or disagree, but I don't really care--is the discovery of who we actually are, as opposed to how we percieve ourselves. And this is a spiritual matter.

Sorry. Your post was thought-provoking. But hey, you ASKED for comments.

I agree with you, though, K. I think we should focus more on commonalities among us, rather than trying so hard to exhibit our differences. I think the fact that we are the "me" generation is a symptom of massive identity crisis, one that can probably only be solved by the honest and heartfelt exploration for our true identities. But I don't think those will come out until we "lose ourselves," so to speak.

You know what I mean.

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