Considering the impact demographic factors such as generation, gender, and race/ethnicity have on things we like, to what extent are out preferences our own? To what extent are we free to choose? 

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The impact that demographic factors have on what we like is, in my view, negligible.  Demographics do have major impacts on things such as our life chances, but not so much on what we like.  In today’s world in particular, we are free to choose from an overwhelming variety of options brought to us by the media and the internet in particular.

Let us take, for example, the area of music.  This is something that is very important to many people and which is subject to fads that can be aimed at particular demographic groups.  Here, we can see that our demographics are not our destiny.  Particularly in today’s world, we can choose what we want to listen to.  When I went to college, I was introduced to a variety of new kinds of music, among them were reggae, classic rock, and Euro pop.  Of those, the only one I continue to like is reggae.  When I was teaching in a school that was heavily Hispanic, I was introduced to different kinds of Hispanic music.  There is only one kind that I like very much.    In other words, my demographics (and those of the places around me) exposed me to many kinds of music, but I chose what I wanted to like.

We have a tremendous amount of freedom of choice in the sorts of areas covered by “what we like.”

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