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My Ideal Social World:
While having a discussion in which I voiced numerous frustrations about how the structure and culture of our society made it difficult for me to have the sort of social life I wanted, one of my friends asked me what my ideal social world would look like. I started thinking about it, and decided to write this piece.
- For more people, social life would center less around alcohol. Alcohol would be more integrated into our culture in a more natural way; there would be a lower drinking age and in all states, alcoholic drinks would be available in supermarkets. But as a whole, people would drink less, and binge drinking and alcoholism would be especially rare. People would not rely on alcohol as a social crutch. There would be fewer bars, although there would still be an active scene of artisan beers, wines, and other drinks. Because people were not relying on alcohol as a social crutch, they would grow more as people and become more self-confident actually opening up without having to rely on chemical disinhibitors. This would make people much easier to approach casually in settings when they had not been drinking. People would also learn to be zany and goofy in their daily lives, including in a professional setting. The world would be a lot more quirky and colorful.
- People would be less influenced by mass media and mass popular culture. For example:
- Instead of being interested in and putting a great deal of money, effort, and mental energy into the world of professional sports, people would actually play sports and games with their friends. There would be more casual sports leagues in neighborhoods, as well as more pickup games of soccer, basketball, and various other sports and games.
- Instead of buying MP3's online and listening to music on their iPods, people would spend more time listening to live music in cafes and restaurants and bars, and playing music of their own. Instead of paying a lot of attention and thinking a lot about celebrities, people would be putting more effort into bettering their own musical abilities, and paying more attention to people who actually lived in their communities who were making music.
- Instead of watching television shows and movies, people would be paying more attention to the lives of their friends. They would be out in the world, experiencing life, and telling each other stories of things that actually happened in their direct experiences. They would be talking to each other more and getting to know each other more. This would make the breadth and depth of each person's experience richer. People would have more knowledge and wisdom about life, and they would also have greater perspective which would make them more tolerant. As a whole, these factors would all make it easier to connect richly with other people.
- Most people would not work more than a 40-hour week, and very few people would work more than 10-20 hours at a job on top of full-time school. However, as today, some people would have normal 9-5 type schedules, whereas others would have more irregular types of schedules. Because people would have more free time, there would be (a) more fun and social activities to do and (b) more businesses catering to social activities. People would also be more involved in their communities. Also, because people were working fewer hours, they'd be less stressed, and this, combined with more community involvement, would result in them feeling a greater sense of general solidarity with and positive feelings towards other people in their neighborhood. This would make neighborhoods friendlier and make it easier to meet people casually in one's neighborhood.
- People would generally not be "plugged in" to their technology when in public. For example, people would rarely be using headphones on the street, or while sitting in coffee shops, or on buses. This would make it easier to strike up conversations with people casually. It would also make people more in tune with the natural world.
- All larger apartment buildings would have public common areas for socializing, and common areas to post things, like bulletin boards. There would also be more electronic resources, such as directories and email lists to help people connect with others in their building.
- Churches and religious organizations would not have a gap of single young adults, as they do, so I would not feel so uncomfortable as a young single adult going to church. Religious organizations would not get caught up in the pissantery of thinking that their one religion was correct and others were wrong; any religion claiming this would quickly wane in popularity and influence as its members left or died out. Young, intelligent people would not be driven away from institutional religion as the culture of institutional religion would be more open minded.
- Communities would be more integrated with respect to age, race, and socioeconomic background than they are now. The age integration would help pass knowledge down through generations. This would help older people to remain more open-minded, up-to-date with technology, and progressive. It would also help young people to more quickly gain wisdom and experience, and to learn the history of their community and culture and society. The integration of people of different races and ethnic backgrounds would greatly enrich many aspects of culture, especially food culture. There would be more different types of food available, both in restaurants and in stores and markets.
- Although there would be a broad range of lifestyles and schedules that people would choose to live with, compared with our current society, more young adults would keep earlier schedules, going to bed earlier, getting a full night of sleep, and getting up earlier. This would make them happier, healthier, less stressed, and more productive. It would also result in there being more events for me to attend which fit without having to stress myself by losing sleep or keeping an irregular schedule.
This is what I would like the world to be like, and I am hoping to do some things with my life that will help bring some of these things into being, or at least, push them a bit more in this direction.
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