I’m reading a book on social psychology these days, as a part of my goal to completely and fully understand the human mind. (Seriously, how free am I?) And in the pages I have managed to leaf through until now the author has again and again talked about conformity. He has talked about peer pressure. He has elucidated on how our behavior changes when we are in propinquity to certain people. He has talked about how badly we want to be accepted.
He has talked about all the things every body hates to talk about, let alone accept it. Also, this post might seem preposterous to certain people, I request you to maintain your rationality and not take anything personally.
Have you ever wondered how your sense of self esteem is directly proportional to your social media account? The rate might vary, but don’t you feel a tinge of satisfaction when the likes cross 200? Or do you judge someone’s instagram based on the number of followers they have? Be honest about it. Do you feel .. ‘proud’ after crossing 1000 followers?
This ‘feeling’ that I’m talking about, this is called ‘conformity.’ Or in simpler terms, ‘validity.’ The feeling of being accepted. The reason why we post it and then wait for the notification box to turn red, is because we crave validity. We crave approval. We crave people nodding their virtual heads seconding us.
I] Why exactly do you ‘dress better’ for a date? I mean, it’s not a rule right? You might as well flaunt those striped pajamas? Then why? Some inner voice telling you to ‘make an impression?’
II] In a hypothetical group of 5 people, four of them say the correct answer is B. You were confident that it was A until all four of them said the correct answer is B. Now you’re starting to have second thoughts, why?
III] Our hypothetical friend Jack has gone for an aquarium visit with 10 of his other friends. He points to the water and says, “Look Bill! That’s a whale!” Bill looks at him confused, “Uh, Jack? That’s clearly a Dolphin.”
Jack looks at Bill pitifully, “Uh NO, THAT is a whale?!”
Bill turns around to the other 8 friends, “Guys! Jack here thinks this beautiful fish is a whale!”
The group glares at Jack like he just killed a unicorn.
“What is wrong with you Jack,” they mutter together “That is a Dolphin!”
NOW, Jack is starting to doubt himself.”I guess it is a dolphin ..haha how silly of me. “
Now obviously the 9 friends were paid for the experiment to call the fish a dolphin when it was clearly a whale.
But why did Jack change his opinion?
These three examples clearly illustrate what validity and conformity is. Something works inside our brain that makes us crave approval. Something that forces us to mutate our behavior in order to be accepted. How group pressure can sometimes force us to act differently. How we start to self-doubt when the group stands against us.
How ‘nonacceptance’ causes us emotional despair and causes harm to our mental balance. And how being accepted by our peers can instantly elevate our mood.
How it often gets intimidating when you’re the only person defending a cause. How group acceptance is equivalent to comfort. How social media has only added another platform for encouraging low self-esteems and high rate of acceptance seekers. In fact, the entire social media framework works on this. How the fear of not being accepted has its roots deep within us.
This helped me draw my personal conclusion. Even though our want to be validated is strong and almost over powering our smallest of actions, yet breaking this need of social acceptance is one trait that characterizes the truly successful. Those who manage to defend their cause without being deterred by those around them. Those who manage to break the shackles. Those who are ‘successful’ in its literal sense. Those who prefer to sail against the wind. Although, it is not an easy task.
For now, I cannot promise you any solution to this problem, the only thing I can do is urge you to break your own fetters. Or at least be brave enough to stand for yourself.
But the day my research bores something substantial, I will write another post as an answer to this very post.
Also, I would urge you all to please go and check my good friend Divyanshi’s blog for she just entered the blogging world contributing her creative ideas for fashion. She is one of the most talented people I have met and portrays on her blog her own colorful and unique sense of fashion and models it all herself. Please visit her space and give her some healthy reviews. Thank you!