Why are people “trained” to behave a certain way?

When I  asked for feedback, one of my co-workers at my internship this past summer told me that I do a lot of things (like asking a lot of questions from people kind of like Socrates used to) that make me come off as a child — things that are totally considered weird/not normal in the “adult world”. He said that going to high school (something I dropped out from) gives you some training of social skills and what is acceptable and what isn’t because you hang around with other people your age who will mock you and exclude you from social circles for not fitting the norm and behaving normally.

This is something I disagree with. Why would you want to end up in a world where everyone is literally the same and says the same stuff based on “acceptable” ideas and acceptable social behaviors? Diversity in thoughts and in behaviors (as long as those behaviors are not illegal) should be encouraged because then we live in a world that is not totally vanilla.

And this is another reason I’m glad I didn’t go through high school. I shouldn’t change myself to a worse version of myself to get accepted in more social circles. I think I enjoy hanging around with people who appreciate eccentric people like myself.

After this incident, I spoke with Tyler Cowen about it and he mentioned that in his experience, most of the very successful people he’s known had excellence in something and were socially unorthodox in some way.

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Why are people “trained” to behave a certain way?

  1. 1) One of the few life lessons that has helped me and I hope it will help my children once they accept it: “It is ok to be different”.
    2) At the same time, there has to be some basic set of social norms for us to live together and make progress as a society. Those rules are arbitrary and often set from some kind of group enforcement. Most (not all) peaceful, happy, prosperous societies have strong social norms.

    The tension between (1) and (2) is not always easy to manage. Locating that sweet spot is the an ongoing process.


  2. Diversity in thoughts and behavior can be interesting but diversity in values can get tricky, especially when such a thing exists between partners in a relationship. For example, if one spouse believes in the pursuit of professional goals, even at the expense of family life, while another spouse doesn’t care about professional or financial accomplishments but places emphasis on being a good parent, that would likely lead to all sorts of marital problems. There are other examples I can think of, that go beyond just a couple in a relationship.


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