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Conformity hinders society’s progress

Nonconformity (Perspectives) Samantha Barra

  In this day and age,  social media plays such a significant role in our daily lives, making it difficult not to succumb to new trends for the sake of receiving approval and avoiding conflict. It seems as if most people are just too afraid to “rock the boat.”

  We have begun to prioritize the approval of our peers over our opinions. Unconsciously, individuals think that it is easier for them to groupthink, or to agree with what is trending in order to avoid disapproval, but they are unaware of the toll conformity takes on their mindsets and emotions. Societal pressures have pushed us to alter ourselves to their perspectives, eliminating our originality. In turn, the loss of our individuality takes a great effect on our emotions.

  Conformity is the behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions, oftentimes  when an individual  changes their public stance regardless of their disagreement. Individuals’ act of changing themselves in order to seek approval affects the mental help of themselves and others. The lack of nonconformity is hindering us from evolving into a more diverse and accepting society. We aspire to have the strength of those who give no thought to the criticism from others yet we make no move to change ourselves. However, isn’t individuality what society needs?

  With all the negativity going around with differing political perspectives, it is easy for individuals to become wary of sharing beliefs in public, fearful of the reaction they will receive.

  To elaborate, as soon as the seed of doubt is planted in our minds, we begin to slowly question all our thoughts and decisions. The psychological concept of groupthink is one that occurs when a group of people begin to prioritize harmony and consistency of thoughts in order to minimize objections and improve cohesion. This negatively influences individuals and slowly rids them of their  originality.

  Studies have found several instances of groupthink throughout history, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the mass resignation of the Major League Umpires Association.

  During the resignation, umpires bounded by a labor agreement and unable to strike resigned in an attempt to protest current labor laws and unfair practices, including altering the umpires’ designated strike zone, forcing umpires to report to commissioners rather than American and National Leagues and releasing public ratings regarding the umpires’ skills. As a result, the resignations were accepted and new men were hired in their place. Though not all had agreed with the decision, groupthink had caused the umpires to act impulsively in an attempt to receive quick reform. The new hires came at a surprise to the men, causing several to rush and try to retrieve their jobs.  Groupthink occurred to men simultaneously during the time as a result of the conflictedness they had felt as to how to receive the proper laws they seeked.

  This being said, groupthink serves as a coping mechanism for some people in order to silence or suppress their doubts, in hopes of seeming more compliant.   Though groupthink may seem like an easy solution to silence doubts, its aftermath will only be misfortune. On a smaller scale, individuals are also becoming more pressured to look a certain way due to social media and industrial pressures.  

  The popular clothing brand Brandy Melville is finding its way into more and more girls’ closets, attached with a price tag that reads “One size fits all.” Teenage girls have discovered the store from various mediums of social media, greatly increasing its popularity. However, the brand has received major backlash, as it does not cater to the vast majority of girls who do not fit that ideal “one size.”  

  By allowing this image to be portrayed as an ideal body type, teens become critical of themselves and become torn on whether to speak out and risk the reaction or never share their own thoughts to never risk the disapproval. In turn, this takes a large toll on self confidence and esteem.

  “Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” is a quote from American poet Robert Frost. In this quote, Frost addresses how though choosing to be different from others may not be easy, the effect is what makes all the difference. We may not always be supported by our peers through thoughts and opinions, but we should try to stop giving in to our doubts and show support for the things we believe in.

  In short, society has placed acceptance and validation from others as priority over originality, causing individuals to continue to lose their individuality to social pressures and judgement. This being said, we cannot let our individuality be lost and should realize that though our opinions may not always receive the acceptance we seek, it is better to be true to our own beliefs rather than falsifying ourselves for approval.

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