Within Sociology I find comfort and motivation. It is a natural human interest to study the socialization of society. In today’s world, it is all about being in other people’s business. Look at Facebook and Twitter; websites designed specifically so that you can stay up to date with what people are doing. How pathetic, am I right? Throughout life, people earn a label for themselves. It is called fitting in, or being a function of society. Conflict exists to make life interesting. Without social drama, the world would not be the same place it is today.
The media fiends off celebrities screwing up, and purposely works hard to expose the truth behind people’s lives, which honestly, I do not care about. Why is it we have to be so nosey and curious? There is no clear answer for that question. People have acted like this forever, and my guess is history will keep repeating itself. Last weekend a few friends and myself took a trip down to Champaign to visit a girl friend of ours at the University of Illinois. It ended up being a great opportunity with having a few sociological experiences. On Friday, we decided to go out to a club called Bradley’s.
As we pulled into the parking lot, we were driving down the first row and I began to realize the variety of cars already parked. One after another would be these old style Chevys with twenty-two inch wheels covered in chrome. At first I was baffled. It struck me that I was most likely going to see black people, and it seemed like a lot of them. Let me state for the record, I am not at all racist, anti-gay, sexist, or etc. We parked and began walking up to the entrance. I could already see a short line out the door, and already everyone was black besides the bouncer.
This next part blows my mind. As we came closer to the line, the bouncer yells out to us, who keep in mind are the six white kids and one larger white girl, “Hey no hats allowed! ” We were wearing those new in style, flat brimmed hats that were popularized by the black culture. So they tell us to take them off, because it could symbolize gangs, but a majority of the black people in line were wearing them also. I felt as if since we were going to be the only white people at this bar, they wanted to prevent anything from possibly occurring later; such as a fight or shooting over colors.
Honestly, I am not sure; but when we were forced to take our hats off, I was in awe. It was strange, and I consider it racist and unfair. How come African-Americans could wear them, but not us? If you look at this from a conflict theory point of view, in the back of everyone’s minds at that club, people recognize the difference. You either deal with it or act on it. There will always be tension between different races because that is how the world works. People are a lot more accepting in today’s society because the generation of discrimination is slowly fading out, but it took a lot of time for this to occur.
Once we were inside the club, I glanced across the room. At that point, it finally set in that we were the only Caucasians present. I felt so out of place. Usually, I have no problem with black people. I would feel comfortable around them and treat them the same as anyone else; but something felt awkward. Maybe it was the fact that I was so outnumbered. It was that feeling of sticking out. Very similar to “the stranger” introduced by Georg Simmel. I did not belong, and I recognized this quickly. I had to leave. On the way out, there was a black man getting padded down for security reasons.
That was another sign to leave. I was lacking comfortability and did not feel safe. Our girl friend states that she has never seen that many black people at that club. I tend to not believe her though because in a stereotypical aspect, black men love large white woman such as herself and I think she just wanted to go there to mingle. On Saturday we went to IHOP for breakfast. As we were sitting in our booth, I realized the differences in groups sitting around us. One group was obvious Goths. Completely blacked out from head to toe and also sporting several piercings.
It is weird because I think to myself, “Why would someone ever want to look like that? ” I than said it out loud to my friends and one responded with, “Well, they look at you and think the same thing. ” This could be true, but I feel like the way I dress is part of the norm. Although, this goes into further questioning of what the norm actually is. I feel how a person is raised, their environment, and their friends mostly affect their lifestyle. If someone grows up around other Goths, well than I guess that is his or her norm. Another view I had was of a group of younger black men.
As I cautiously spectated them, I realized that it seemed like they did not have a worry in the world. One had an old-style boom box sitting on the table at a low volume playing rap music. These guys were sitting there talking, laughing, being obnoxious, and acting as if nobody else was around. They were dressed in sideways hats, baggy jeans, extra long white t-shirts, and diamonds in their ears and mouths. However, this style did not seem as strange as the Goths. I thought about it and discovered that when I look at black people, I tend to already have this certain image in my head of how they should look; the same goes for whites.
So, the baggy jeans and large t-shirts do not seem strange. However, when I see a white person dressed differently than what I consider the norm, it seems very bizarre and I feel they are psychotic. This brings up Sumner’s concept of the in-group and out-group. I feel the group of black men are more of the out-group in this case. They feel the need to compete against society, lash out against the norm, and cause a scene. Not taking into consideration the other customers, the black men only care about themselves. When I think about the Goths, I just see a group of friends who look at each other as equals.
The in-group will always find acceptance in other similar individuals, mostly because you are “accepted as a member. ” The Goths may know people look at them weird, but that seems to be their last concern. After breakfast, we went to catch the end of the Illinois vs. Indiana basketball game. For a Saturday morning, the stadium was packed. It is interesting how fans are always fully supporting their team, even when they are not doing their best. From a structured functionalist point of view, the fans supporting their team have to work as a whole to provide encouragement.
Imagine a stadium packed with people and only five of them cheering. The event would not have the same emotional affect. The team would have no motivation, and break down; just as society would. However, plenty of students were all differently demonstrating their support. Some shirtless with painted bodies, others holding up signs, and there were even several groups chanting loudly in sync. I feel people look up to sports teams because sports are events in people’s lives that provide excitement and purpose. Some fans look at it, as they are not athletes, so they upport those who are. It makes people feel apart of something bigger. Interesting enough, what stood out most to me at the game was the support for the competition. Throughout a heavily populated crowd dressed mainly in orange, the color red for Indiana made its presence. Symbolic Interactionism is the idea that certain people stay together because they are similar. Whether it is they talk, dress, act the same or even share the same problems. From an interactionist point of view, Indiana fans knew they were highly outnumbered and stuck together to offer the best support they could.
People in society always attain a higher level of comfort when they have backup; similar to how a basketball team has fans. The more support, the more confident you feel. For every different person, there is a different life. What I mean by that is people will always have their normal routine, and certain way of thinking; you cannot change that. To succeed in this world you have to be the best at what you do. In Herbert Spencer’s words, “survival of the fittest. ” Society continues to grow and change, and as people, we will too.