Wrong Side Of Paradise

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Conformity of Non Conformism

No shepherd and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.
I'll inevitably see you in this promised madhouse in the afterlife Nietzsche.

Conformity? In short, conformity refers to norms, beliefs, and attitudes shared by individuals in a group.
Recently I seem to find myself coming across people who claim to have no tolerance for the type of blind conformity I'm used to witnessing. There's the douchebag I met the other day who "doesn't listen to mainstream music and hates everything in the charts". And then there's a friend of a friend’s father who has decided to sell his rather luxurious house and move to a small Greek village to live a "simpler life"...With his twenty year old girlfriend.

There's also the guy I met who "only watches foreign movies, because Hollywood sucks"...I should mention he doesn't speak any foreign languages.And then of course there is me. I question everything, I don't laugh at jokes I don't understand despite everyone else laughing, I don't like being told what to do, and I like to think I have my own opinions. But in many ways I am a terrible hypocrite.

I...like many others, to at least some extent, conform to popular culture.

I sit in a ralph lauren shirt and leather shoes, Vivaldi playing from an overpriced speaker bar hooked up to an apple iphone, premium cigarette smoke clouding the already stuffy inside air, complaining about the self interested capitalist bullshit agenda we are all under, whilst simultaneously taking part in it...I'm such a dick. Well, at the very least, I am conscientious enough to be aware of my choices and how they are influenced.

I like the music I listen to not because it's popular, but because it sounds good.
I didn’t start rocking timberland boots when all my friends did, because they all looked ridiculous (to me).
Just as I didn't jump on the twitter bandwagon when all of my friends did, because it wasn't my type of thing.
I'm not religious or superstitious despite my family being religious and very...very superstitious...(they'd say, that's the demon inside me speaking).

Anywho, all the above are little things. What's worrying is when people conform to things that have a major impact on their...and our lives.

Be it politics, morals, or I guess, even religion. Many people I know are homophobic, they won't admit it and it's not the type of in-your-face homophobia that makes most people sick. But it's homophobia nonetheless.

Despite this I've never judged people on their sexuality, and I grew up to have several gay and lesbian friends...separate from my backwards, baseball bat bearing, tobacco chewing friends. (Yes I just insulted my "friends").

When I was at uni, we would have these excruciatingly long seminars which would sometimes consist of a debate. Sometimes these debates would be graded, and I would always stick to my guns and my beliefs, despite sometimes knowing it would lead to a lower grade. Most others would go with whatever was favourable with the class and the lecturer. I literally witnessed so-called educated people change their views on things like abortion and the third world overnight. And after a time they would get so caught up in the facade, that their views outside of the lecture hall would change. It was very worrying.

I'm reminded of an experiment I'm sure many of you have heard of. It's famously known as the Asch conformity experiment. The experiment was actually very simple. In short, Solomon Asch, set out to test the power of conformity through a series of visual tests. Participants would take part (as the word participant suggests) in a series of "easy" visual tests. The subject would participate in these visual tests as a group. However, everyone in the group (minus the subject) would be in on the experiment and would give the wrong answers to very...very simple visual questions.

They would, for example be shown a picture of a line and asked to match it to the corresponding line.
Ok, so the results?

A whopping 32% of subjects would give incorrect answers if they had seen 3 or more in the group giving the wrong answer.

32%? And that was during a visual test. Could you imagine the implications if we applied this to all the little things in life?

It amazes me...but I'm just easily amazed. I'm reminded...again (I'm so damned nostalgic) of an experiment of my own.

I set out to convince my fellow peers, through some very slight deceit, that a traditional fried British breakfast, followed by some high calorie chocolate drinks throughout the day, could help those wishing to lose weight (I listed the total calories to them). I had my minions...I mean friends vouch for me and sing praises for my new diet. I didn't’t have the heart to actually make them follow through with the diet. But the fact that 5 out of 12 people wishing to lose weight were willing to try it, was as shocking as it was sad.

Do we really conform so easily? Someone once told me (I forgot who). That people want to be told what to do, they crave instruction. Sometimes I think he...or she was right.

So what about the rest of us so called non conformists? As Alexandra Gedrose so greatly put it...

We should find out what other non-conformists are doing.........

And make sure to conform to it perfectly

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