Be Careful Of Social Controls

In the West, we like to think we’re unique, with our very own set of values, original ideas, and dreams. But not everything at first is always as it appears to be.

The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Whatever they may think and say about their “egoism,” the great majority of people nonetheless do nothing for their ego their entire life: what they do is done for the phantom of their ego which has formed itself in the heads of those around them and has been communicated to them.”

Nietzsche argued that that our sense of self is not our own, but is something that is constructed, primarily by the people in our lives such as our teachers, our friends and even our own parents.

Our sense of self then is actually a product of society.

You see this all the time such as when parents tell their kids what they should be when they grow up instead of considering what their kid actually wants to be.

This benefits society as a whole, but not always the individual.

In the book “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect,” Matthew D. Lieberman, a professor at UCLA, says that we are profoundly social creatures.

Lieberman says, “The social world imparts onto us a collection of beliefs about ourselves. And because of how the self functions, we often cling to these beliefs as though they are unique ideas we came up with for ourselves.”

Ideas such as what’s considered to be a successful life.

Ideas like this are called social controls, ideas that society tells you how you should act so that society will benefit, but you must learn to be aware of these social controls because if you’re not careful with this, society will force itself onto you.

If you want to start a business for example, be careful when society forces you to go get a conventional 9-5 job.

If you’re a singer or a painter at heart, be careful when society tells you that you should be a lawyer instead.

Be aware of the social controls that go against your own values.


5 thoughts on “Be Careful Of Social Controls

  1. when we are young we usually tend to follow the norms and the rules set by our parents and society. As we age we find the ones that fit what we find we want to do and be who our heart tells us is right for us. When we become a senior we get to discard all the things that no longer fit or follow what is our norm and that may not be anything like when we were 10 or 20 or 40 or even 50.. Age comes with wonderful gifts like getting to finally become who you were meant to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with Nietzsche though in that the majority of people will never do anything for their own “ego” which is why the top 5 regrets of people who are old is that they never chased their dreams because of these social controls.


  2. I just finished taking an ethics course and we learned about Nietzsche. I do somewhat agree with the idea that society shapes us as individuals in many ways. But at some point we have to decide to be who we want and go against the grain. You should check out my post “Don’t Follow the Norm.” Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. completely agree, the problem is though that many people will never decide to be who they want and will always be a part of the norm, which is disappointing. and alright, I’ll read it:)


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