Being on your own: a youth and culture dilemma

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Image: Pixabay

I would like to point out how the youth segment of the population is indoctrinated within the social aspect of their lives, but how this indoctrination is portrayed as cultural differences. I’ll point this out through a debate lens:

A debate we have with ourselves or are asked at least once in our lifetime. Respectively, do I enjoy being by myself or do I enjoy more/ feel better in the company of someone else? (ex: best friends, parents/other relatives, siblings, partner, spouse, lover, pet etc). Even if you did ask yourself that already, do it again.

It is known world-wide and it was expressed through many resources that the western and the European cultures are prone to the ideology of being united and doing things together. Compared to other cultures found for example in nations like Japan, China, in northern countries like Sweden and Finland, and in generally very cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse countries.

Imagine this as a visualisation exercise:

Let’s call them the Western side and the Divergent side.

Regarding the Western side, there is this predominant mindset of “why do that alone when I can do it with someone”.  For example:

  • I have to buy some new pjs but why should I go alone when I can call up my bestie and do a shopping day together;
  • I want to go clubbing but so far it’s just me and my flatmate, we have to organize for the rest of our friends to come in order to have more fun;
  • I want to try out that new restaurant in town but it would be so weird to go alone, let’s see who’s down to join me;
  • I want to start going gym but I need a gym buddy to have motivation.
  • I want to have a boyfriend/girlfriend because we can do everything together.

And we could go on and on and on. These examples are very cliché but they are common and relatable type of thoughts the youth has. If you ask me, there could be religious inclinations towards this type of “togetherness”, but most importantly I think there is the inclination towards the need to and the strong mindset of multi-tasking and being able to do that, that was instilled in us. Let’s take one of the examples above again, and break it down. “I have to buy new pjs and I think I will call my bestie to do shopping together”, this means you can spend time together and catch up at the same time, hence multi-tasking. However, when you call your bestie you will also be more care-free and most probably will buy more things, maybe go eat something and maybe watch a movie at the cinema afterwards, a.k.a indulging in consumerism. Do you start to see the fine line between cultural difference and indoctrination?

Also, let’s not forget about the increasing insecurity of the youth to enjoy being on their own, enjoy and have the confidence to do all these things alone and feel good, to stand up to who they are and not feel judged or looked upon when being alone, and to have these means and resources that help with establishing that.

Regarding the Divergent side, we have exactly the opposite. People living in these countries take time with themselves, enjoy that time, and find peace in being on their own. They go alone to eat, alone to the cinema, alone for strolling in the park, alone to the gym, and anywhere there is something that can be enjoyed together and by ones-self. There is strength of character in that, but also there is the importance of focusing in the present and on what you are doing. If you are eating you have to think about the food and feel the taste, not watch tv or talk with your friends. On the other hand, these cultures also have the necessary means to be able to do those things without feeling ashamed or judged about it, for example: there are restaurants with 1-person tables, or cinemas with 1-person seat rows, or even popularised concepts of social events like silent parties.

However, they experience another type of downside. These type of cultures seem to be more estranged as people, to each other. There is no warmth like hugging when meeting someone or over-sharing to break the ice and bond, and socially crowded experiences have a more awkward vibe around them. Of course, this is all general talk, there are specific traits to specific nations and more subjective differences. For example, Japan, was an isolationist country back in the day so you could say that self-sufficiency and being on your own is kind of rooted in their tradition and ideologies.  

Here comes the gap that supports the dispute. There are thousands if not millions of people that have the opportunity to travel in their lifetime to both type of cultures, understand the differences and adapt to both. They usually have a likeability higher towards one of them, but it doesn’t matter, they still prove that humans are actually flexible and capable of doing both things if there are no external influences, and if they learn to love themselves and enjoy spending time on their own. It was also proven that these qualities and mindsets are formed or moulded only towards the mid-twenties and uphill from there. Why is that? Because that is the time we are in our prime both mentally and physically and we take the most free-will decisions.

I hope this was an interactive and intriguing perspective including the themes of indoctrination, cultural difference, demographic influence, and most of all self-love.

 (Image: Pixabay)


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