Just Another Face Among the Crowd

There are people we admire, people we despise; people we gravitate towards, people we avoid. We constantly measure ourselves against these people, and we often look towards them for assistance, voluntary or not. Sometimes, even if our opinions differ from others’, we ignore ours and follow theirs. Sometimes it’s peer pressure, sometimes it’s a person we admire, sometimes it’s the desire to be accepted.
Acceptance makes us happy. Having someone to talk to, to relate to, to sympathize with, makes us happy. Knowing that there is someone to support us, to catch us when we fall, makes us happy. Pressure to conform is powerful when it promises this – but what does it take in return? What happens to the qualities, the traits, the characteristics that make you…you? What happens to the opinions you held in such high regard? Conformity persuades you to sacrifice this, in return for acceptance.
The effect is not limited to initiation. Certainly, when we are in a group, our thinking tends to sympathize with the group’s thinking. But its influence does not stop there – its reaches extend past the group’s thinking, affecting how we think overall. Even if, initially, our views and opinions differed from that of the group’s, we will behave according to how the group behaves – and eventually, may discard our opinions for the group’s.
Influence from unanimity is a formidable force, able to make a person doubt his/her opinions and gradually deteriorate beliefs they have – even if the group is unethical or embraces an erroneous view. Conformity blurs the differences created from unique pasts, crushes a person’s individuality, and carves it into a desired shape.
Whether a person is unwilling or willing, conforming changes an individual into a person that abandons opinions and beliefs once held in high regard, does nothing perceived as unusual, and will always stand amidst a group, wearing an expression no different from the rest. As T.S. Eliot once said, “Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that it is what you want; whatever you feel, be sure that is what you feel.” Before you reevaluate yourself, think: do I really want to do that?





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