Should you Step out of What you are Used to?
The Socialisation of one shaping their interactions
A fundamental tenet of the study of society is the process of Socialisation, where individuals form their sense of self through their social environment and the people they interact with within it. This forms the individual who interacts with the world in relation to those they socialise with and their resultant effects upon them across their lifetime, essentially forming people who are products of their cultural experiences. These agents of socialisation can include anyone from family members to that one talk show host you make a point to watch every evening without fail. Throughout one’s lifetime, various roles and perspectives are adopted as they navigate through the dynamic nature of their life and are constantly resocialised.
Considering myself, I recognise a great number of such agents of socialisation emerging from extremely diverse backgrounds, be it with regard to ethnicity, class, educational background, country of origin or discipline. For one, my immigrant Indian Muslim middle-class family produces a completely different social environment as compared to the predominantly Chinese Singaporean one I occupy within the larger Singaporean society. Interactions with different groups of people shaped by their very own life experiences which have inculcated a set of values and perspectives within them serves to do the same for me as well. Notably, with an increasing proportion of one’s world existing within the online realm, one’s the primary agent of socialisation might even be in such a space.
It is crucial to acknowledge that one often exists within a very carefully curated bubble, which varies significantly across various individuals, where specific structures such as beliefs, values, and norms are constantly reinforced and reiterated. But is living in such a world alright? Do we really have to step out of this comfortable space?
Importance of Reaching out of your Bubble
The inability to reconcile differences in thought and opinion results in communication breakdowns and misunderstandings. This begs the question of what value does interacting with individuals who fall outside of the realm of familiarity hold- would it not merely serve as a breeding ground for seemingly unnecessary tension and squabbles?
For one, it is imperative to not limit oneself to particular methods of thought which are continuously appeased through specific interactions that reinforce the narratives someone already subscribes to, and the rejection of anything which serves to contradict it. Along with such a way of life being incredibly narrow-minded, it also is selfish. Exposure to various thought processes and perspectives opens up the sets of eyes through which one makes sense of their experiences, enabling the consideration of different points of views to form an increasingly empathetic and all-round better person with greater capacity to grow.
Understanding yourself better
I personally attribute the development of several of my values today to a very specific online medium; Tumblr. Within the fandom communities posting perfectly looped edits of Benedict Cumberbatch dancing with a corgi and gifs of the Winchester brothers from the TV-series Supernatural basically dominating the platform, were the many messages about feminism, anti-racism, LGBTQIA+ rights, and social justice. Such an experience of entering the platform for the sake of finding a community with similar interests, and emerging with the understanding of various thoughts and opinions that one might not normally have encountered in their physical world, is one which is shared across the Tumblr generation.
In the beginning, I faced certain disagreements with ideas I encountered. I recall encountering a post where a non-binary individual was expressing frustration over how many forms only listed "Male" and "Female" as an option for gender. At the moment, I felt something that I almost regret admitting today. I was annoyed and wondered why did they not just accept that that is just the way the cookie crumbles and move on? It was only with greater introspection and conscious learning did I realise that the erasure of one's very identity is not particularly great, and why does one have to accept it when others who identify as, for example, male, have that very same aspect of their identity recognised? The more I was opposed to ideas which challenged how I was socialised, my conception of what was right and wrong evolved.
Messages of privilege and social injustices were rampant on Tumblr, educating users and essentially acting as a social environment which subscribed to a particular set of values and priorities which valued a fair treatment of all. The resultant “Tumblr Activism'', as coined by a New York Times article, gave birth to a generation of teenagers and millennials who are willing to stand up against domineering power structures and injustices, as a direct effect of their socialisation on this medium. Tumblr was where I managed to interact with individuals from all over the world who differed from me in every possible way, which taught me what I truly valued to be the belief that everyone is different and no one should be treated in an unfair and disrespectful manner due to it. It is evident that pondering on different thoughts and beliefs enables one to gain a deeper insight into who they are as an individual, the evaluation of personal systems of belief which are either challenged or reinforced.
Though we are all socialised in completely different societies and environments, one thing certainly holds true: we only stand to benefit from reaching out to others who differ from us, regardless of the potential for disagreements and tensions. These interactions enable one to step out of their comfortable bubble to engage in a whole new form of socialisation, which impacts their ever-developing sense of self.
Written by Aseera Shamin
Edited by Koay Tze Min, Simeon Neo & Samihah Niquat Safeel