Sitting in the Theatre Royal the other day I watched the audience pour in, each dressed in unique styles with individual expectant expressions painted on their faces and it made me ponder; eye colour, height, weight, hair colour;there are only so many variations of human physical appearance and there is no limit to the amount of people that can be created on this planet. So what’s the probability that someone somewhere has your eyes, or your cheekbone structure? Physical appearance shouldn’t be the defining attribute of our individuality; we should seek a more metaphysical distinctiveness, only then can man really stand up and claim to have freedom of thought.
As I remained observing each ‘individual’ enter through the doors these people became more of a representation of social conformity to me. Each person displaying a different style, yet each of them aware of how the outside world will react towards this; just as many people who dress outrageously want to receive a reaction those who dress conservatively really want to remain as ‘normal’ as possible. We are all subjected to this power of society, forcing us into being the same as one another in an attempt to create what they describe as ‘harmony’ but this can only be seen as social control. They pick seats out for us, just as is done in the theatre, and we are expected to line up patiently until the show, life, begins. Then we must remain seated and watch as the play unfolds before our eyes, having no control over the outcome we must cheerfully agree; laugh at the appropriate intervals, speak only when there is an allotted time and leave when it has finished. Yes we may leave with a sense of satisfaction that what we laid witness to was ‘inspired’ however within that time we really have not enhanced our individual lives.
We all stand in a queue, fated to answer to the ticket man standing at the door to show him our pass into life; the same as everybody else; we remain ‘equal’ in our opportunities. Then we file into the theatre one by one, hurried by those behind us, slowed by those in front of us, just to take our seats complacently. These are societies norms thrust upon us, the collective ‘agreeing’ on the way life should be lived and the newly ushered into this world are fated to follow.
If you speak at an inappropriate time you are singled out by the staff; where’s the freedom of speech? If you are late for the show you lose your opportunity to witness it; punishment for the non-conformist. If sat in the wrong seat it seems to create such uproar that you are socially rejected; society’s way of putting you in your place. You actions are purely controlled by the fact that if you do not act in a certain way there will be adverse reactions. The only way to break out of this cycle is for enough people to sit in the wrong seats, enough people to talk at inappropriate intervals and enough people to arrive late that the entire system becomes flawed. You sit where you like, leave when you want, speak when you feel like it and you are no longer subjected to the system, no longer passively agreeing but you are autonomous in your actions.
Next time you go to the theatre try sitting in the wrong seat, observe as chaos ensues and then it’ll become so clear to you. We are so programmed in social etiquette, in social norms that we no longer know how to act when something appears out of place. We conform so rigidly to the rules that we feel that the man who stands at the door asking for tickets has authority over us, that he is keeping the social order. So we frightfully hand him our tickets, seeking approval to live our lives.