We are brought up with the notion that the most important part of our development as people is based upon us becoming individuals. We are taught to strive to be unique independent people and throw off the conformist bonds of society. We are taught to embrace diversity and differences and respect everyone else’s culture whatever it might be. Despite this whenever you meet someone who you don’t know you the first thing you ask is "Where do you live?" "What do you do?" "What movies do you like?" We pry people for simple information that we can make a connection to. "Boston? I used to live in Boston!" "You’re a teacher? My Mom was a teacher!" "You like the Cohen Brothers? I love Cohen Brothers Movies!" We feed on familiarity.
Instead of embracing differences we look to destroy as many differences as possible in people that we associate with. We try to make the people we associate with as similar to ourselves as we can. To make matters worse people are receptive to this destruction of their unsatisfactory self in order to feel more comfortable in their surroundings. This process of social molding is what drives most social interactions and is what leads to the large scale cultural trends. So how do we deal with this constant threat to our individuality? We could give up and admit that we are not in fact individuals but merely products of our surroundings just absorbing whatever our surroundings give us. Doesn’t sound so appealing. We have another option however, if we are able recognize society’s trend towards sameness we can use this to our advantage. We have the power to influence our surroundings just as much as the next person so we have the ability to give as good as we get. We have the same effect on everyone else’s reality as they have on us and despite having been influenced by our past surroundings we still have unique individual interpretations of our past. Everyone, no matter how socially brainwashed, has the ability to create real individual thought but most just choose not to.