So, what’s up with “flipping the switch?”
I had a delirious rant a few days ago that got me thinking: is personality a series of switches that get triggered when you need them?
The example: mid-conversation I was asked a question that had dealt with something incredibly logical and from my Master’s program. Everything before this was about feelings and unicorns and whatnot, so a significant shift occurred– I could feel the energy move.
All of a sudden I was in a completely different gear, rattling off facts and how they pertained to the question at hand. When I was done, it was as if I just flipped that switch off and went back to my baseline, waiting for the next deviation from the status quo to come to flip a switch and kick me into gear.
Then I got to thinking, and the same sort of thing happened last week on the bar scene in NYC. I have witnessed the same sort of actions take place with myself and others in places like classrooms, in a car (road rage anyone?), and a variety of sports fields. Something would happen to trigger that switch, and they would just start hitting their marks like a trained actor on stage.
Does that make us some sort of social robot?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, we’re hard wired to come up with ways to cut corners. Stereotypes? Just a way to make judgments faster (whether they’re right or not). Yes, we get accustomed and acclimated to social rules, norms, and cues. If we are used to flipping a switch, it is more likely to be flipped quickly and you snap into things without warming up– you’re just primed to do it.
But no, this isn’t I Robot and you have free will. Just because the switch is flipped doesn’t mean you have to act on it. The switch may just trigger a mood, and what you do in that state is your prerogative.