Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Anthropology today

The first in an occasional series.

Here's something I've struggled with for a long time: individuals vs. groups. Allow me to explain: it seems to me that many humans spend their time and effort doing their utmost to be as different as they can from any other human.

The riceboy bolts more and more things onto his car; the goth bolts more and more things onto his face, all in an effort to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd.

What is the result? Rather than standing out, they become more and more like the rest of their group (whatever that may be). I'm no different - all the time I buy things and do things that literally millions of other people do, all to try and individualise myself.

Even those cultures that supposedly celebrate diversity really don't. Look at the hippies - "be whatever you want to be, man, take it easy, do what you like - but make sure you smoke dope and have long hair or we'll ostracise you, you square."

It seems like we all want to be unique, but never really can be. Just as well, too - if you end up too different from the people around you, things can go bad.

Far from being depressed by this, I find it a hopeful thing - if humans can continue to strive for something that all the evidence points to as being unreachable, we might just get somewhere.

This has been brought to you by the letter "#".

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