The contemporary modernity we are born into has seen the destruction of shared meaning. We, civilized humans of the modern world, are no longer born into a social construct that moralizes our actions or beliefs in terms of divine will; we no longer derive our place in the world from our clan, tribe, nation, or creed – we are an individual. We have reached the point in the human story where we have destroyed most shared sense of meaning and traded meaning for power. Our collective, human, power now controls the fate of the world – the construction of dams, the irrigation of cities in the desert, and the ability to move goods from anywhere in the world to an apartment in Manhattan.
This power we find ourselves with is both topical and mundane. You may eat eggplants grown across the country with Miso made in Japan and premium salt from Australia – it took no extra effort to source these items and in fact, it may have taken less effort, as you bought what others already thought was good. The power is both collective and individual; wielded by human organizations, rewarded by market forces, and consumed by you.
Our tastes, accents, mannerisms, and values are products of our social environment, including our culture and an individual’s access to capital. We don’t just pick the culture we like; we are born into a culture and a class from which we inherit a view of the world. Culture makes us more or less likely to act in certain ways, prefer certain things, and seek out different types of experiences.