Culture is a magnificent interplay of non-tangible phenomena and perceptible artifacts of daily life. People experience the impact of various cultures constantly with or without recognizing it. According to Ozer and Schwartz, individuals react differently to the process of cultural globalization: some might endorse it and feel self-fulfillment, and others might try to escape it. Yet, I prefer to view the influence of culture in the context of my experience, which is loosely connected to globalization and, at the same time, provides me with similar experiences: defensive and proactive. I can state one can embrace new cultures only voluntarily, as I did with the 12-step program, and reject the influence if it is somehow imposed, as was with food and religion for me.
My latest cultural influence is the book called Alcoholic Anonymous and the community, which supports and represents its values and beliefs. Namely, I am a 12-step practitioner, a follower of the program that endorses personal growth, forgiveness, and acceptance of oneself. I have decided to participate in the program, and I visit people who have done the same. As a result, I engage with the new culture of self-perception formed not only by the local community but the tradition of people with similar issues. I believe that if I were made to participate in the program, I would not appreciate its value. Yet, the comprehension of the fact that it was my own choice to be influenced makes me feel better about my life and accept the new identity.
However, some cultural influences might cause negative emotions due to their overarching intrusion into the realm of personal identity. As such, I was born in Paterson, NJ, and at some moment, my grandparents from Virginia migrated here, seeking work. They brought changes: we ate southern dishes, such as fried chicken, pig feet, and pork chops. This abruptly impacted my lifestyle and needs, imposing new traditions. For some moment, this food made me feel like a southerner, although I was not. This impressed identity has never been fulfilling for me due to its artificiality, and, as a result, I eat none of these meals today, being a vegetarian. Hence, the non-voluntary nature made me reject the false personality and negatively perceive the event.
Finally, there is a matter of religion that also had an imposing influence on my identity, which I later rejected. I was brought up in a religious family as a Baptist. The church doctrine had a significant impact in the ways that I thought, my values, and my beliefs. However, I had never personally accepted these tenets; instead, it was something that was inflicted upon me in childhood without my entire understanding of it. Today, I do not consider myself a Christian, but a non-religious person. I believe that this change demonstrates how false identity is constantly being rejected because of the lack of my freewill presence in the decision-making about these influences.
To conclude, my experience suggests that cultural influence is impossible if one does not accept and embrace it because of one’s free will. Then, the imposed influence would be rejected because it causes a substitution of the true identity of a person. Therefore, people should be aware of these changes and connections so that to evaluate their experiences with culture critically and support their wellbeing.
Ozer, Simon, and Seth J. Schwartz. “Identity Development in the Era of Globalization: Globalization-Based Acculturation and Personal Identity Development Among Danish Emerging Adults.” European Journal of Developmental Psychology, vol. 19, no. 1, 2020, pp. 22–42. Crossref.