This TED Talk made me question my whole life. How many decisions have I actually made on my own? I came to the conclusion that the answer is zero. This terrifies me. Dan Ariely made me very aware of everything that influences each of us, and how we only THINK we are capable of making our own decisions. It’s an interesting thing to think about, but it is also very odd. The only comfort I took from the whole thing is that I am not the only one being influenced by my environment.
During his talk, Ariely said something along the lines of, “We don’t know our own preferences, so we’re totally susceptible to our environment.” This was one of those things that I knew was true, I just never had had it brought to my attention before. Discussing this leads into the question of whether or not free will is real. Many psychologists will say that free will is an illusion, and any choice or decision a person makes is one they have been conditioned to choose.
A typical way people are made to choose a specific thing is by providing a ridiculous option. Making one choice look inferior makes another look superior. Many companies and places that try to sell things to people are very good at getting people to pick exactly what they want them to.
Social Media also has a HUGE influence on everything a person does at any given point in the day. This relates back to tragedy because even then there were many things that influenced people. In “Oedipus Rex,” Jocasta chooses to commit suicide because she cannot prevent Oedipus from discovering the truth. Oedipus gouges out his eyes because he is so grief-stricken and feels guilty. The prophecies influence Oedipus’s choice to leave his adoptive parents, and Oedipus’s parents decision to kill Oedipus before he grows up. Everyday we are faced with choices, and everyday we succumb to the influences of the world around us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is much better to be aware of it than to be ignorant.