Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Conformity. Thoughts on being like everyone else ... or not.

'Fezzes are cool.'
I read something interesting about conformity: ‘People who think conformity is important adapt what they do so they don't break the rules or offend others. They watch themselves carefully on a day-to-day basis, often hiding or shifting what they really want in order to get on well with others.’

If someone had asked if I was a conformist, I’d have categorically said: ‘No’.  But based on the definition above – or at least the ‘hiding or shifting what they really want to get on well with others’ part – I definitely am.  It depends what you mean by it, I guess.

I always thought ‘conforming’ meant adhering to a given set of rules, fitting in with the ‘norm’.  I don’t believe people should have to do that.  One of the things I liked most about the Liberal Democrats was in the preamble to their constitution: ‘No-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’ 

I’m not interested here in whether or not they’ve stuck by this in government, I just loved the phrase.  Not to be enslaved by conformity: you can conform if you wish, but you don’t have to.  It spoke to me of freedom.

I wholeheartedly believe people should be able to wear what they want, take part in activities they want, think the things they want; basically, as long as it doesn’t hurt another person, be whoever they are comfortable being.  If that means walking around in a chicken suit, even though no one else does, so be it. 

It’s one of the reasons I love Matt Smith’s representation of The Doctor, with his bowties, Tweed and love for fezzes.  He thinks they’re cool, and that’s all that matters.  And, you know what?  That makes them cool.

As for me, I do try and fit in.  I like to get on with everyone so, if there’s some opinion I hold that I think will cause someone to dislike me or upset them, I’ll probably hide it, if not modify it.  In that sense, I’m a ‘conformist’.

In other ways, I’m not: I don’t like ‘Superdry’ (or other ‘labels’, except Converse for some reason), ‘The X-Factor’ (or a lot of popular music in general), or the Conservative party.  But then, most of my friends don’t like these things either.

Perhaps we all conform to those we want to fit in with?  As a t-shirt says: ‘You non-conformists are all the same.’

As for me, I say don’t be ‘enslaved’ by any label, whether its 'conformist', 'non-conformist' or other.

As the title of this blog says, ‘Just “be”’.

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