Campus Conformity

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man (or woman) is that who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” [Emerson] Conformity has become a social way of normal behavior. It is used for many purposes, including receiving attention, to feel comfortable around peers, and/or to have as a behavioral guide in many cases. However, few people refuse to believe they are being conformed without even realizing so. This can be defined as ignorant conformity. But conformity becomes most serious when it caused by social pressure. Conformity,is pressure to behave in ways that are viewed as acceptable or appropriate by a group or society generally. Social is simply the interaction of organisms with other organisms. Pressure means force. So, altogether conformity under social pressure would be forced appropriate behavior with other organisms. “The power of social influence is undeniable,” says one student. “People wear the same styles of clothing as their friends, drive the same cars as their neighbors, vote the same politics as their parents, and read the same books as their favorite celebrities.” This stands very true and is a part of the conformity we usually tend to overlook within society. Most importantly, we never want to perceive ourselves as being the one who is being influenced by someone else. We usually would like to be the one who is issuing the influence. It’s natural because many do not want to be “alone in a crowd of sheep.”

We conform to how the world expects us to live as human beings: birth, receive education, work, mate, reproduce, death. This is human life in a nutshell. For example if you’re a star basketball athlete and you score on average a high score during your games, people are going to expect you to keep this up. Whether you are aware of it or not, you will conform to other’s expectations of your displayed ability. Personally, this is true to a certain extent. For example, since I’m in foster care when I was younger and I entered into a new home, everyone there listened to Hip Hop and I was subjected to do the same as opposed to the house that I lived at before where I was only allowed to watch the news and cartoons. Yes, I conformed under social influence but once I became aware of the different types of styles and music within the Hip Hop industry it was my choice who I decided to listen to afterwards. As I grew older I was exposed to a variety of genres and artists that I either chose myself to listen to or pass by it.

A big factor in conformity is compliance, which is basically when people do what they are told because someone is in a place of authority. I noticed this in classroom settings between teacher and student, politically between the president and the people and personally when I was step captain and being President of the Poetry Club. An example from one of my classes is when we discussed the Holocaust and why the soldiers followed orders to send everyone into gas chambers – simply because they were told to. We all conform to following authority, a type of social pressure.

The mind is a powerful thing, and those around you can have the greatest influence. Whether it be positively influential or negative, socially pressured conformity is somewhat inevitable to humanity. If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you?