Recently I’ve been amazed at how many things there are which affect us, that we can be completely unaware of. For example, people with food allergies are often unaware they have an allergy. They just know they feel tired, their stomach is upset, and maybe they get sick a lot. What’s really shocking to me is how these things can spiral into something so much bigger. Someone who has a bad commute every morning approaches the office grumpy, which then affects how other people perceive them, and then affects how they are treated at their job. All because the guy, who may have previously been quite happy, had to constantly deal with traffic.
What’s particularly mindblowing to me is that when we are unaware of these things that are affecting us we often blame it on ourselves. I do, at least. I begin to redefine myself as someone who is quiet, or someone who can’t focus, or someone angry. In reality of course, I’m none of those things because I’ve had times in my life when I wasn’t those things. It’s dangerous to make rules about what you are or are not because they can limit your potential.
I think about these things in a societal way as well. What affects does a 7 day week have on us that we are unaware of? What about work hours? It’s not impossible to think that we could instead be working from noon to 8 PM every day.
In a societal way, people also draw rules about the way people are and create limiting rules about those groups of people. Racism is apropos example. It also extends to any group including cultural stereotypes and ideas of masculinity or femininity. Society saw a group of people behaving in a certain way, it became opinion that that is how those people behaved, and now those group of people themselves behave that way, only reinforcing society’s opinion – it’s a tough cycle to get out of.
Thankfully people do look out for this sort of thing. It’s difficult to know which advice to follow though, which I guess is partly helped by Waypoint. Global warming is a really good example of something societal that has consequences we were unaware of.
As best I can tell, things with unintended consequences are things that happen regularly and have minimally noticeable affects at the time. It’s more than just your personal habits. Below I’ve got a list of some ones I’ve thought of, what are ones that have affected you?
The people who surround you (their optimism, the conversations you have, how much they care about you, etc)
Your daily activities (work, school, etc)
How regularly you smile
The colors you’re surrounded by
The culture you’re a part of
What your computer password is (wrist issues can arise from a complex one)
How well the clothes you wear fit you (and if they don’t fit, what your body has to do to compensate)
And so many more!