Conformism : Our Way or No Way
As children, if we are privileged enough, we are introduced to the idea of dreaming big, to aspire for things which might not seem very mainstream. Sadly, dreams in our societies are notional for fables and stories and only good to quench the heart’s thirst but not our hunger.
Seeing how most of us went from “I’m going to be an astronaut” to being confined to the new-age slave trade of the corporate world this thought seems all too real.
We are taught from a very young age the difference between black and white by people circling the grey. Every problem in life has one right solution, and the path you must follow or the decision that you need to make has little to with your own judgement. We are expected to conform, conform to the rules set by our parents, educators and peer group. And don’t get me wrong, not all these norms are in placeto take away our ‘freedom’ or ‘individuality’ to put it, but the idea I am exploring is, how many of such norms is enough to do that?
Our decisions, inquisitiveness and curiosity are often faced with scepticism by our peers, the base need for adults to maintain order and judgement from both alike.
But what exactly is conformity, it is important to understand the different types or degrees of conformity that exist. The first level is ‘Compliance’. At this level individuals start to change their actions or opinions publicly to appease members of a social group but do not agree with their ideas privately, the actions are dropped when the group pressure ceases to exist. The second level is ‘Internalisation’. When individuals reach this stage of conformity, they start to imbibe the public opinion and soon the thought or action becomes deeply ingrained in their belief system.
Let’s take an example of a group of friends, Karen, Kathy and Katniss. Karen possess homophobic beliefs and is expressing these in front of her friends, and to gain her approval her two friends ‘comply’ and add to her homophobic statements. Kathy and Katnis don’t have such belief and may get internalized if they do not educate themselves and dwell on Karen’s ideas and notions.
Such blind and uninformed conformism starts a chain reaction which spreads hate and a depraved sense of morality among members of a society. When we refuse to conform to the norms, we are criticized, abused and thanks to the internet, trolled. In a world where information is so freely available we must educate ourselves and aim to understand the emotional impact meeting standards set by the society can have on individuals.
This brings me to an incident, when I was in 12th grade, I was facing several problems within my peer group which left my personal life open to public critique. What my mother said to me that day really changed my take on things; “If you want to live your life the way you want to, get ready to hear a lot worse.”
But should hate really be the cost of individuality? Do we really need to break these shackles with rebellion? In a world where everyone is trying to mold us into their idea of ‘ideal’ and ‘perfect’, let’s accept each other for our imperfection, flaws and the general lawlessness of our emotions. Nevertheless, accepting other people’s idea of normal doesn’t cost us anything but kindness and gives them nothing but hope.