Tuesday, July 29, 2008

nobody else is doing it...

Remember when that slogan used to be "everyone else is doing it?" When I was a kid we were warned about a thing called "peer pressure."  Essentially this was the pressure we all felt to fall in line and be like everyone else and anyone who had less than honorable intentions could use this pressure to get us to do whatever they wanted (whether or not it really was true).  Well, all of those speeches against peer pressure given by D.A.R.E. officers all over the country has certainly hit their collective mark--or perhaps they have overshot because it seems these days that no one wants to do what "everyone else" is doing.

I began to notice this as I would recommend a particular book or show or (fill in popular thing here).  I would say something like try this, it's great! and then I would get a response like I don't know, everyone is already doing that...  as though there were only a finite amount of people that could enjoy a particular activity.  This phenomenon came to a head the other day when I was discussing this very thing with a friend of mine and she mentioned that she had a conversation with someone who had just moved from a place that was not highly populated by scrapbook enthusiasts to a place that was highly populated with scrapbook enthusiasts and was now less enthusiastic about scrapbooking because "everyone else was doing it."  How insecure is this person to suddenly abandon a beloved hobby just because other people also enjoy the same hobby?  And where is this all coming from?  Why is there this sudden need to be so individualistic?  I assume, anyway, that it is a new concept, I have a hard time imagining Austrians back in Mozart's time pooh-poohing a concert because so many people already love Mozart...  

Perhaps it is due to the onslaught of science fiction.  Maybe we have all become frighteningly aware of our similarities and we just can't handle the thought of becoming droids like those in sci-fi shows or novels.  At any rate, the attempt is completely futile.  If you thing about it, it's virtually impossible to be completely different from everyone else, and really, why would you want to?  Serial killers are among the minority--do you want to be like them?  In fact, it seems that the more you move toward being different, the weirder you become.  It's as though there were a point on a graph (oh that I could illustrate on my blog...) where your differences make you cool, and if they swing too far in abundance, you become weird, but if they swing too far in the lack of, you lose identity. Odd.  

I have always laughed at those kids in high school that dress in black clothes and dye their hair black and wear black lipstick just to be different.  Um--look around you!  You are surrounded by kids that are doing THAT EXACT SAME THING!  So it appears that the concept of being different is only in comparison to others.  For example, you cannot be different from everyone all of the time, you can only be different from some people some of the time.  And even when you are different from some people, you'll find that what makes you different from those people only makes you that much more similar to other people.  I'm going to be so bold as to say that everyone is already an individual, and that's what makes you unique and special so stop trying so hard to be "different." It's like when I am shopping for clothes, and I see something really cute and I say to myself I'm going to get this and look so cute because it's something no one else has.  And then I immediately laugh to myself because it's such a ridiculous thought!  I mean, there are twenty of them on that rack alone!  Not to mention the thousands or millions that have gone into production and are now being sold around the world!  In fact, we should all be more surprised that any of us look differently from each other.

Don't get me wrong, I can empathize with the desire to not be just another face in the crowd, and perhaps it is essential to our makeup to constantly desire to be "different" whatever that means, but what I want to do is to stop this widespread panic that people seem to have when they appear to enjoy something that a large number of other people also enjoy.  Calm down.  No one is going to suddenly mistake you for someone else Hey--you look familiar.....  are you Susan?  Or maybe you are Jane?  I can't tell, they both like to listen to U2 and watch Gilmore Girls....  If only there were a defining quality about either of you...  Stop stressing, that is never going to happen.  So go ahead and love U2 even though everyone else does too, and go ahead and laugh when you watch Gilmore Girls even though lots of other girls do too, and for heaven's sake don't miss out on a good book or give up a great hobby just because lots of other people with an eerily large amount of other similarities do too.

Did that last paragraph sound too preachy?

***want more proof that you are not as much of an individual as you hoped?  Read An Encyclopedia of and Ordinary Life By Amy Krouse Rosenthal--what makes it so funny is that we all have those thoughts too, and we thought we were the only ones....

Also, check out this blog: Seriously, so blessed! a painfully funny satire on Mormon Wife blogs (I just came up with that term...)

11 comments:

Becky said...

“Non-conforming conformists” is what I call these people.

ali said...

well put Becky!

Jonathan said...

Some how I feel the story about your scrapbooking friend was really a crack at me. Not cool. Just kidding. I think you make some really good points.

Jonathan said...

Some how I feel the story about your scrapbooking friend was really a crack at me. Not cool. Just kidding. I think you make some really good points.

Juli said...

I'm not different. In fact, I want everyone to be just like me =). Being unique gets lonely.

ali said...

Jon--it wasn't, that person really exists.

Adam said...

Great article, Ali. So great, in fact, that I don't have a snappy comeback.

I'm glad you mentioned the goth/emo kids. They spend so much energy trying to be individuals, but they're actually just lumped in with the rest of the outcasts. They're no better than the jocks and cheerleaders they hate so much.

In fact, Hot Topic and Abercrombie and Fitch are pretty much the same store, when you think about it. They just cater to different crowds.

Oh, and I really like the term "Pooh-poohing."

ali said...

so true--except that from my memory, the customer service is better at Hot Topic. And thanks Ads.

Adam and Lisa said...

I laughed out loud at your comment about the kids in high school. I remember one kid in my high school that came to school (in all black of course - complete with safety pins in his jacket) with a shirt that said "Not like the rest". The weird thing was, one of his "non-conformist" friends wore the SAME shirt the SAME day. I guess there was a sale at Hot Topic or Anarchy 'R' Us? Maybe it is my 8 years of marching band experience (should I not admit that?) where the whole point is to look exactly alike, but I am happy to be just like everyone else. I enjoy judging how cute my clothes are by how many other people I have seen with the same outfits. Except of course, when it comes to reading Twilight. Which I have not started yet. Sorry for the long comment. Maybe I should just link this to my blog and have my next post taken care of. :)

ali said...

Lisa, I fully welcome long comments. And shouldn't the fact that twilight is so popular give you a hint as to how good it is? Oh well, it's your loss ;)

Shanna said...

I can't really relate to this post, because I am unique. Just like everyone else.