The Paradox of Society

The Paradox of Society

by Rubén Sebastián Muñiz

Society is a living contradiction. One’s entire life is nothing but a repetition of things one has seen from your first memories until your last breath.  On the one side there is order, conformity, hierarchy, all based on this quote: “If you play by the rules, you’ll go far in life,” – Every teacher ever. On the flipside of that, there is the urge to be different, the thirst for freedom, the quest to break free from the shackles of this superstructure formed over the base of human relationships.  The paradox of society is simply this: one has to mix and match allegiances, personal preference and priorities into one’s words and actions in order to create a unique mix of highs and lows, yes’s and no’s, stops and go’s that signify that a person truly is who he or she says she is. You have to fit in, but be different at the same time. In a way, high school never really ends.

There are two sides to every person. One can say good and evil, but I disagree with using those terms since every person has the potential to be either. All people really want from any situation is good. No one wants bad from any situation.  I see society today as most people see it: politics. Politics can mean anything involving negotiation, opinion, and power. There are two sides of a person, a side that is cautious and a side that is adventurous. Usually one is not as cautious as one is adventurous. Most people fall more to the cautious side or to the adventurous side depending on one’s actions as well as the opinions others have of that person, as well as the power that each opinion holds over the others’ opinions.

For example, for all we know as the general public, actor and TV personality Russell Brand could come home from his TV show’s filming to a lovely home with a white picket fence, 2.5 children and a pregnant wife in a sundress cooking him and the family a nice, wholesome meal.  BUT, we all know that this is not the case, because of his actions documented by media outlets and in his roles in film as well as the people’s opinion about him based on the former.  This forms a cycle in which public opinion is created and re-created. Media, people, media, people, media, people. This is not exclusive to celebrities either, especially not in today’s world where one can literally become a celebrity overnight via the internet and everyone has a smartphone.

I digress. Well, not really. How well one does in society, to me at least, is no more than the opinion of the people about one’s actions based on the media and in turn how the people react to the media about one’s actions, forming a cycle which is gauged by the opinion that the general public has on each person involved in forming the opinion of the general public. Confused? Even if you’re not, I kind of am after writing all of that, so I’ll use an example more so for myself:

www.RottenTomatoes.com is a site which compiles all the ratings of other critics on the internet about recently released films. The way the site works is kinda like the way society works; a percentage from 0 to 100 is calculated for each film on the site depending on how well or not so well the film was received by critics who published reviews of each film online.  Keep in mind that not everyone knows about Rotten Tomatoes. People who are not on the internet, for example, may see an ad for said film on TV and may want to go see it despite a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. People who don’t watch much TV may hear about the film through their favorite radio station on a commercial break with a favorable quote from a renowned critic in the ad, and then the radio listener may go see the film.  There are people who will go on Rotten Tomatoes and see the 20% rating and will hear a much more favorable review from their best friend, and then will go see the film anyway.  Or people may just wait until it comes out on live stream with Netflix. The point here is that the media and the general public influence and create one another through the exchange of ideas and opinions, and that each opinion is weighted differently from one person to another.

The media can be anything. For real, anything. The word media is just plural for medium; the way there is a middle man in a financial transaction, the media is anything used as a ‘middle man’ for communication. Hence, when my major was journalism coming into college, the industry of reporting the news, it fell under the field of communications.  The most accepted forms of the term media are publications; newspapers, magazines, and blogs, like this one. Media could also be a debit card, which carries information about one’s finances. Media could be a flash drive holding information like a PowerPoint presentation for work, or an illegally downloaded album from your favorite artist or musician.  Back in ancient times, media was found on walls, like hieroglyphics, or on messengers sent from emperor to emperor, king to king, etc. in forms of engraved stones or knots on a rope.

The most basic form of media is word of mouth.  Even first graders, for example, have conversations about one another, about their teachers, their older brother or sister, etc. The opinion of a first grader on the people in his or her life works the same way as an 80 year old: opinions form based on what one thinks and what the people in their lives think.  Society is a conglomerate of thoughts.

The problem here is that society naturally becomes a war of opinions from different groups of people. If Bob fits in with Group A more than Group B, than Group A may label Bob as someone from Group B, even though Bob really is a Group A kind of guy. Bob may even cross paths with Steve, who’s in Group C. Groups A and B don’t know too much about Group C so by reflex, A and B call Group C incompetent. Then Group C shoots back at Group A and B –see what I mean? Society is just a war of opinions, bro.

One of my favorite bands, Incubus, has a song with the lyrics “I guess it’s true when they say high school never ends.” Word to Incubus. If you ever thought you can escape high school, “Ya dead wrong,” – Notorious B.I.G. In terms of keeping up with The Jones’, trying to win over the approval and interest of others, and trying to find one’s own identity, ‘high school’ will never end.

So while you’re in ‘high school,’ you might as well go to the dance, and bring a date if you’re sweet enough of a talker to have one. Wear your favorite sneakers, not because they are cool to everyone else, but because they are cool to you.  Don’t worry about the jerks that try and push you around in ‘high school,’ because they usually get sent to ‘detention.’ Fit in. You need to. But I suggest that you fit in the way you want to instead of the way everyone else wants you to. That way, just like everyone else you fit in but are different at the same time. The difference is that if you fit in the way you want, you will actually be happy, unlike the posers. Don’t be a poser. Be you. – Rubes

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