Think about a goal that you have. A job that you would like to have later. A book that you want to read. How you go to work or to school.

Are they decisions that you made on your own, or are they influenced by an outsider?

One of my professors asked that question to the class in almost every single lecture. As we looked at Symbolic Interactionism, I came to realize that everything that we do, how we behave, how we choose – it’s all influenced by outsiders.

A dream job that we might have could be based on our parents’ desires, on a certain TV show or book series. A choice between cars could be based on how we think others would see us. How we choose to travel could be based on the advice of others.

Job choices are especially influenced, given that some have a very high public profile. For example, a detective, a police officer, a forensic scientist, a medical examiner, a doctor, a forensic anthropologist, a criminal psychologist. Chances are that, as I listed them, a few TV Shows popped into your head. With a lot of people having access to TVs and watching countless hours of dramas, our job choices would be influenced by the desire to have a life similar to the one on the screen.

Now, think again. Are the choices that you’ve made truly yours, for your sake, or for the sake of others?