Conformities MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   "The march of the toy soldiers" is the way a rebellious freshman girl describes students passing at the high school. She has a point. The majority of the youths walking before her look and walk (rather strut) the same way. The guys wear Champion shirts or sweaters (never solid, though) with turtlenecks underneath, thick gold chains, Reebok or Converse hi-tops, or Lotto lows, jeans or sweatpants, and a jacket from whichever sport they play. The girls dress the same, except for an occasional skirt or skin tight spandex pants, and the jacket isn't theirs, it's their boyfriend's.

The walk is different for each sex. The girls walk slowly, scuffing their shoes, or jog at a slightly faster pace. The guys have a strut all their own, arms pumping out to the sides, bent slightly at the elbow and never touching the body, unless the hands are in the pockets, which is also allowed.

In addition, they also have no opinions of their own. It's not that other views are forced upon them, but a fear of being ridiculed prevents them from expressing what they do think. Tastes in music are also taken from those around them, not from listening to the bands and evaluating them. If Johnny Smith, the captain of the football team says his favorite group is "Guns An' Roses," and that all rap should not be liked, soon the majority of the school population is throwing away rap cassettes and buying "Guns An' Roses" en masse.

Individuality is lost, all in the name of false friendships with other clones. Things must change. After spending four years with their exclusive cliques, these poor children will enter the "real world" with no concept of independence. Usual activities include drinking, smoking, drug use, and/or the physical and emotional abuse of the small number of their peers who chose to break the mold - all real career building experiences.

Why are these students following others instead of doing what they feel is best for themselves? The answer is not peer pressure, as most parents and educators claim; it's possible to live a happy life without interacting with these cliques, and they don't pressure you into "hanging around" with them. It's deeper than that. What is it? The problem comes from society. Even in the adult world the underdog is persecuted, and students do have the intelligence to realize that. The fault rests with the media. Movies, television, and books all depict the "popular group" as the power source at schools. They tend to attach a negative stimuli to not being part of it. Why would someone want to be in a negative light?

How can this be solved? How can we bring about a new individualism? There isn't all too much to be done. Solutions that "experts" might offer including dress codes and parental monitoring of friends and interests won't work, but they will raise the ire of the affected students.

What will work? Students need to be taught in a manner that encourages more creativity and independent study. They need to be helped by their teachers and guidance counselors to be themselves. They must be encouraged to appreciate literature, movies, and music in terms of quality not popularity. Most of these teenagers are individuals striving to express themselves. This must be brought out, before or during high school, not afterwards when it's too late. n

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i love this so much!


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