Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Most people do not understand their own enculturation. Enculturation an anthropological term (anthropology is the study of human beings), and it is one of my favorite words because MOST people (nearly all, in fact) don't even realize they are enculturated.

Everyone is enculturated. You, me, EVERYONE (the exception is feral children who never had the the chance to really learn, and act like animals by grunting due to a lack of enculturation).

Culture is learned behavior. Victimization is part of our culture.

Enculturation is how we learn it... it's what we repeat (habits/habituation) because we've learned it.

Everything from speaking our first words as babies, to having "instinctual" reactions as adults, to our attitudes about politics, how to handle money, what we expect our clothes to look like for certain social situations, etc., is learned. Sometimes we learn it on our own, but almost all of the time we have picked it up from someone, somewhere.

Victimization is also learned behavior. People usually feel victimized by someone who has power (often someone they see as "better" or has "authority") over them, and hurts them in some way. Sometimes this occurs by force, but also, often, it is done by agreement, even if it is not consensual. What do I mean by this? It means that...

Victimization is a choice.

Yes, there are times when one cannot stop a force stronger than they (sometimes it is like trying to stop a tsunami by standing on the beach in front of the wave with your arms out to prevent the wave from going past... it's simply not going to happen!). The US criminal "justice" system can be like this by overwhelming innocent people. On a smaller scale, individuals can overpower others, such as a rapist threatening to kill their victim if they don't do what they're told. In circumstances where the powerful override the powerless, it can be devastating. Still, to remain in a victim mentality, rather than become stronger for it, is a choice.

In a situation that is less ominous, such as when we refer to other people who we think of as "experts" or having some kind of status or heavy weight (leaders of the country, public figures, authorities on certain subjects, and so on) in things they say, then it becomes even more obvious that we simply agree with them, because we've been conditioned toward that slant or POV (point of view).

It is not just group behavior that follows the leader(s), but individuals as well.

With few exceptions, almost all people mirror others they agree with, even if the ones they agree with are a minority. Consensus gives people a feeling of belonging, or a sense of exclusivity within rare or unique groups, or even a feeling of commonality and normalcy for the rest of society. This can be within a country, or community, a church, school, job, AA meeting, women's defense class, a club or group meeting, etc.

It was once "normal" and "right" for American society to own people (slaves/men owning women, etc.), and now it is "normal" to not have slaves (being against the law, plus womens' rights groups enculturated the masses through education) and so these things are now considered "wrong."

Our society has changed those views because the trends have changed, and the attitudes with them. When we are in agreement with others it makes us feel complacent, and comfortable, and that things are "right" with the world, and of course all these things are relative to the time and place and society in which each culture is shared. There is nothing wrong with feeling a sense of belonging, but we must also realize that we are enculturated through that process, for better or for worse.

Some people, who are addicted to feelings of superiority, or have a lack of respect for authority... or think they are the authority, such as choleric (aggressive/bossy) type personalities who must be one-up over others. These independent or rebellious types of people typically only feel "normal" by taking an adverse position to the rest of society. What some consider leaders are actually just anti-authoritarian, because they merely think their way is right, and it justifies their position to have people agree with them.

There are always a ton of "sheeple" around who are willing to follow their lead.

Religions even do this, and pit one view against another, each thinking they are the correct or only "true" belief system or set of practices. In politics we fine the same phenomenon, which is why Americans, in particular, are so split and divided amongst themselves.

Individualism--common in western society--promotes self-reliance (although groups will grow upon factions), while collectivism--common in eastern cultures--is usually of the big reasons for groupthink.

There is nothing new under the sun... but the sun will rise tomorrow.

Any thing that you see happening now, has basically happened before. Countries come and go. Leaders die or are kicked out. Parents get old and die and the next generation takes over. It all boils down to cycles and patterns.

You have periods of stasis, and periods of change. For societies, political upheaval brings quick change, where stasis brings a sense of peace and productive living (if it is positive stasis), or prolonged periods of horrid living conditions and attitudes (if it is negative stasis).

Stasis (no change) can be good or bad. Upheaval (change) can be positive or negative, or somewhere in between. It is all just cyclic, and relative.

The labels we assign to whether it is "good" or "bad" are dependent upon circumstances and our relation and attitude towards it.

For instance, take the real estate market... you have periods where selling of houses is declining, or sitting still, or on the rise. It is pretty predictable. Real estate investors prefer to "buy low" and "sell high" in order to make a profit. Sometimes it is better to buy-and-hold, and other times it is better to do a rehab and sell right away. The smart ones recognize and can predict these things, and go with the flow by doing what is needed at any given time in any particular cycle.

People and attitudes, revolution, or support for the status quo, are all "normal" no matter what position they are in, or what part of the cycle they are in. It all still falls under similar patterns of normal human behavior.

Most people are enculturated to follow rather than lead.

Most people are followers, not leaders. Average people, therefore, are also more likely to fall into victim (follower) mentality or mindsets. Only the few tend to lead the masses. This is partly enculturated and partly groupthink, and partly how people are designed--personality traits are built-in from birth. Yet it is what we learn--our culture--that defines how that is directed, and so culture is far more of an indicator as to what people will do, and how they act and react, than biology is.

Leaders typically will stand out in a crowd, or step up. Sometimes leadership is learned. Introverts have a completely different leading style than extroverts, and are not normally the ones who offer to lead, yet they often do a better job, at least in some areas.

Now that you've got a clear understanding about how people tend to be followers (victims of their circumstances, which are highly enculturated), rather than leaders, I can show an example of how this is true, even in something as simple as a speed limit sign. No matter where you live in the country, the keeping of the status quo (stasis of enculturation) is represented in the national speed limit rules for our general highways. It was once okay to go 70-80mph, but one day it was backed up by "evidence from studies" (an appeal to authority) that 55mph was "best" or "most efficient speed" and so the speed laws were changed.

This was specifically designed around the cars of the day--which were far more inefficient and heavy-bodied--and the poor gas mileage they would get. The savings in money due to reduced gasoline sales was incredible due to forcing drivers to slow down. Supposedly the roads were safer due to less accidents as well... at least this was what we were all enculturated to think. Cars are not made the same now as they were decades ago, and people break in their new cars differently (both variables of change), so that is why my own car (Hyundai) only gets 1mpg more in gas mileage at 55mph than it does at 70mph. Yet, we still have highways with signs that say 55mph (with the exception of freeways/interstates, which are set by the states, individually).

One day we'll have flying cars run by automated and pre-programmed GPS, and the rules will all change again. As in geology and evolution, where change is extremely gradual (gradualism), or where it occurs fairly rapidly, or has successive changes one right after the other (punctuated equilibrium), how this change for flying cars comes about will depend on society, and how fast technology is advanced, as well as how quickly the market keeps up and a system can be put into place for the masses. The year is 2013 and I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970's that we all thought we would have flying cars by now. Perhaps that idea was also enculturated by television and media? You better believe it! (but don't follow me and just believe what I say--check it out for yourself. Be aware of what you are taught, or accept)

Everything is relative when it comes to enculturation.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When driving in heavy traffic, do as the rest of traffic does. When I'm on the highway, and the speed limit is 70, it makes sense to do 70, especially if doing less is not saving me a substantial amount of money. It is more safe to go with the flow of traffic than to slow it too far down, causing road rage in other drivers, or by driving too fast, which can cause accidents as well.

When driving in Mexico it makes more sense to drive assertively and by their "rule" of no-rules, or else you get into accidents. Interestingly, Mexico and other countries with similar road rules, have few accidents even though they drive far closer (usually within inches or less, especially in the inner cities) than Americans or Canadians do... you may have noticed this in developing nations if you've ever driven in them. It's all relative to the culture, and the norms. The fact that we have so much space between cars is actually enculturated behavior.

Americans, in particular, tend to keep about 18" of space between themselves and other people when they are talking face to face. We like, and need, and expect (due to our upbringing and the norms within our society) respect for individualism, and that space between people. Other cultures in different countries will get up almost eye to eye and speak in your face, spitting while talking, complete with bad breath and funk emanating from their armpits (Americans also have an issue with 'smells') and think nothing of it. It is all relative. It's not that one way is better than another, it's just different. You can change your culture because you can change what you learn, and learn a new way.

Norms are not bad or good, they are just norms, whatever side they are on.

What is "normal" or "right" or "good" is completely relative to the culture in which is defined. The labels we assign are dependent upon the part of the cycle we are in, and what position we take within that cycle. If we lose a job we "love" and our house is being foreclosed upon in a declining market because it cannot be sold, then it is "bad" and we feel like a victim. However, if we lose a job we "hate" and we find a buyer in that same declining market, just in the nick of time, and actually make a profit due to having equity, then it is "good" and we feel like we've come out on top. Same cycles, different perspective, which is completely reliant (relative) to the position we are in. Most followers let their circumstances dictate their perspective.

The position we take in any cycle is relative to our ATTITUDE.

I've lost everything in the past.. my kids, my home, my husband, my job, my freedom, my sense of self-worth, etc. My attitude was very negative and I became a victim of my circumstances at the time, and I wound up with PTSD due to the extreme stress and bottoming out with a nervous breakdown. I whined and complained, I cried and made excuses. I acted out the part of a complete victim. I WAS the victim. I also chose it because of my attitude. I didn't know my own power.

Today, it appears that I've "lost" it all again... my kids lived with me and now they don't, the husband I lost the first time I wound up divorcing because we could not be together the last four years (so lost him again), I was laid off and on unemployment, could not afford the house I lived in so had to move out, and so on, but this time I am stronger for it. This time I have let go of hanging on to old notions or things that seemed important to me. I refused to be a victim of my circumstances. I made wiser choices with a goal ahead of me rather than cry because things have changed from the past or situations I could not control.

In fact, I did find I had a fair amount of control over my destiny, and moving out of my house has FREED me from being stuck in a follower/victim mentality of having to have "more" and I am actually so much happier having "less." I have found that these changes are definitely for the better!

I've learned that the mindset of victimization is enculturated in our society, and that loss does not have to be "bad." My 80 lbs in weight loss (so far) is a perfect example! Sometimes it is the necessary ingredient for lasting change. Change is good. In fact, change is the only real constant... the only thing we can definitely count on. I welcome change. I also welcome a new enculturation that I either teach myself, or learn from more successful people whom I emulate. Sometimes following is a good thing. We follow a new way so that we may lead others in it.