Are You Socially Conditioned?

Yesterday when we were buying some wine the lady on the checkout asked if we were going to drown our sorrows after Les Bleus got knocked out of a football tournament. Last night England won and a reporter at a fan zone said that the atmosphere was infectious, they meant there was an enjoyable and fun atmosphere, I heard potential super spreader event. My relative disinterest in soccer has caused a number of “awkward” social interactions. People have tried to engage me in conversation, and I say something along the lines of “wrong shaped ball”. It has partially excluded me from the “lad” culture which is so prevalent in England. People are socially conditioned to the notion that grown men kicking a spherical bag of air around a pitch is both exciting and very important.

There are vast amounts of socially conditioned aspirations and behaviours endemic in modern life, they do show variations between nations. What is “acceptable” under the unwritten dogma changes across borders, in the UK eating dogs is frowned upon for example. Getting on the housing ladder if possible is de rigueur there. Having a well looked after vehicle which is dent free is a social necessity if there are funds available. Here driving a car that is a cosmetically bashed up is fine.

Social status is import to some. If you had a professor, a lord and a labourer each alone in the jungle at night and a hungry leopard was on the prowl, would it care in any way about their status? No, they would just be meat on two feet. We are socially conditioned that this imaginary thing, status, is important and that it exists.

On one of my team development events I said that the manner of working at Imperial College was as a cold efficiency team. I.E. not all warm and lovey-dovey, not a lot of tree hugging there. A participant later complained that I was speaking badly of a former employer. I doubt anyone there would be upset at being called cold efficiency teams. They may even be flattered by the efficiency bit. The participant had been socially conditioned to not say some things. There are verbal taboos which are growing in number thanks to the tsunami of wokery.

Social conditioning is policed with the two most heinous words in the English language, should and ought.

“Tut-tut-tut you should not say things like that. You ought to be more respectful to those who have higher social status than you!”

THEY write the social conditioning dogma with language of a conditional voice. If you don’t behave as you ought, you could get yourself into trouble.

As a little experiment a while back whenever anyone asked me “how are you?” as a greeting, I told them in some detail. This conditioned them quite quickly to changing the greeting to something more suitable like Hi or Hello.

If you get cancer people are socially conditioned to feel sorry for you and many don’t like talking about it.

Social conditioning is NOT reality. It is a learned set of conditioned behavioural, emotional and mental reactions. It is Pavlovian. It is learned on mother’s knee and can be unlearned. We are conditioned to be afraid of dying. Why? It is one of the most natural things about life.

To find out how socially conditioned you are, may I suggest a little experiment?

Make an estimate of the number of times you will say should or ought in day.

Then count how many times in a day you say “should” and how many times you say “ought”.

That should keep you busy, and you ought to find it amusing!