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  • Work byHuiqun Xu

  • Published on Jun 2021
The liquid and solid states of matter are abstracted and refined to summarize "human life and choices are bound".

Background and Evolution

Throughout human history, the evolution of societies has witnessed shifts in the division of labor. Initially, in more primitive collectives, individuals had limited lifestyle and career options. For instance, hunters could easily transition to becoming collectors with relatively low learning costs. The fluidity of roles allowed for adaptability and flexibility.

However, as societies progressed, especially during the Industrial Revolution, the division of labor became more intricate. A multitude of career paths emerged, each demanding specialized skills and expertise. Consequently, the cost associated with switching occupations or altering lifestyles increased significantly. This phenomenon reflects the gradual refinement of the division of labor.

The “Being Bound” Analogy

To conceptualize this phenomenon, let us draw an analogy from the states of matter—specifically, the transition from liquid to solid. Consider human beings as analogous to substances in different states:

Liquid State:
In the liquid state, individuals exhibit fluidity and adaptability. Like a liquid, they lack a fixed shape and can flow around, exploring various roles and paths. Just as liquid substances adapt to the contours of their container, individuals in this state adapt to their environment and available opportunities.

Solid State:
As circumstances evolve, some individuals transition to a more “solid” state. Here, they become “bound” by specific roles, responsibilities, and societal expectations. Similar to how a liquid solidifies into a defined shape within a container, individuals become entrenched in their chosen paths. The metaphorical “temperature drop” represents societal pressures and norms that contribute to this solidification.

Cultural and Societal Context
Culture plays a pivotal role in shaping the experience of being bound. Cultural values, norms, and expectations influence an individual’s perception of career choices, lifestyle shifts, and the cost of change. Moreover, cultural diversity impacts mental health systems, counseling practices, and coping strategies. In summary, understanding the dynamics of being bound—balancing adaptability and stability—is crucial for informed decision-making and well-being in our complex modern world.