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Harm of Social Conformity
I remember really clearly the first day I entered seventh school as a new student there.
During lunch time, while I sat alone on a table, I saw a group of pretty girls, strutting into the cafeteria as if ramp models or celebrities, and confidently discussing about a new popular show on Netflix called “Stranger Things” and some new tiktok trends, which I never heard of, by then. While curiously examining their cool outfits, hairstyles and the way they talk, wishing I can be as cool as them, I realized how many students in my surrounding also looked up and paid their attention to that group of girls. Some boys even stood up and their eyes were stuck on them with an air of admiration.
When I headed to the library, I saw that group of cool girls again, outside on the playground, playing volleyball while a mob surrounded them and cheered. “Woah, so cool!”
From that time on, l learned how literally 2/3 of the girls in my school do volleyball and that most of them dress like the popular girls. I was also deeply influenced by the crow: I changed my vibes and also devoted my time into those “popular and cool” activities, including volleyball and violin, while I hided my initial passion on reading deep classics and watching philosophical films, which seemed really nerdy and boring.
But after one year of doing so, I was lost. I wasn’t being myself. I gave up on doing all these cool activities, and gave up on those vibes that don’t fit me because I felt like living another person’s life, and that my own life, and my own bestowed talents, were sacrificed by following the crowd. I also perceived something bizarre. Imagine, everyone with similar styles, similar tastes, and similar interests. How monotonous the school is!
This phenomenon in my school where students indirectly follow the popular circle is what I consider social conformity, which can also be reflected on the current society. Under the mass influence of peer pressure and social media, social conformity can affect people’s hobbies, careers, identities, ideas and even critical thinking skills, which are all detrimental to us in the current society.
First, let me ask you all a question: how many of your parents have told you to contribute in an activity for college application or do a job that earns high payment? Or that you have done something in order to befriend others?
Influenced by peer pressure, many people choose to devote themselves in commonly acknowledged hobbies and jobs. The peer pressure could come from family or peers around us. According to the survey conducted by jobesage.com, Only 1 in 10 Americans says they’re working their dream job, and 7 in 10 don’t think they’re on track to get their dream job. And the main reason that hinders people from their dream jobs, except some of them being impossible to do, is peer pressure.
When my mom was in high school, one of the commonly acknowledged “best” and most popular job was finance due to its high payment, so my mom consequently studied this field in college and ultimately became a banker, like the many others at that time. She devoted herself into this field for roughly 7 years, but she was unhappy and unsatisfied. She didn’t think she have talents on finance, and that she didn’t enjoy being a banker at all. In that situation, she had two choices: keep working this “boring” job for roughly thirty more years until she retires; or, give up on finance, and pick up her childhood passion on being an interior designer.
She ultimately made the right choice. She chose the latter.
My mom was one of the million people all around the world who chose a career that don’t fit them. But unfortunately, a lot of other people do not have the ability, nor courage, to simply halt what they did for years and start off something brand new.
According to Carl Jung, “Every human life contains a potential, if that potential is not fulfilled, that life was wasted.” Yes, as americanexpress said, we all have hidden talents—the skills we possess that we never knew we had. So, if you do know your potential and is passionate to fulfill your potential, then you’re lucky, because you have a path ahead of you. You should grab on your potentials and never let go of them. Don’t let others influence you. You are you. And for parents, please don’t take away your children’s passions. It is their lives, not yours.
Moreover, I am certain that everyone here at least own one electronic device, and, with social media.
Social media plays a big part in the current society, and is a huge friend with the creation of peer pressure. People would often follow the crowd on social media, rather by peer pressure or an instinct, which, for most of the time, is cause by the laziness, un-imagination, or, the black sheep psychology effect.
The black sheep effect refers to the finding that when individuals of a perceived ingroup behave differently from the others, other members of the group would punish them for their norm-violating behavior.
This peer pressure may lead to the spread of rumors, misinformation or even disinformation that misleads or frightens people, and causes a series of negative effects in the society.
For example, during the last few years when covid-19 dominated the world, there were many popular fake news online that sometimes cause people to underestimate the covid situation, cause hesitancy when it came to getting vaccinated or receiving a booster shot. The misinformation not only triggers health issues, but they also parallels distrust in public institutions, political leaders, and governments.
Furthermore, study shows, when people continuously take an action deliberately for a period of time, this action would become a habit. When people continuously take the action of believing in and agreeing to the majority without contemplating the authenticity independently, they might ultimately turn this action into an instinct, which means deteriorated critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is one of the most crucial skills for people to have in the future, due to the rampant development of artificial intelligence. In a future world of AI, many human jobs would be replaced. But according to weforum.org, AI is unlikely to replace jobs requiring human skills such as judgement, creativity, critical thinking, physical dexterity and emotional intelligence.
So, how to say “no” to peer pressure?
First, think, before you follow. Think about the authenticity and credibility of the info or rumors by yourself.
Secondly, find alternative sources to verify the information.
Thirdly, if you are too hesitant on opposing it directly, rather avoid the group that spreads information.
Peer pressure is caused by a group of people, and if every one of us can think independently before following others, then, peer pressure doesn’t exist!
As Debasish Mridha said: “If you conform, you miss all the adventures and stand against the progress of society.”