Several days ago, I watched a police TV show by coincidence. In this show, the police caught a 16 years old girl trying to steal money from a lady in the street. When the police asked the girl about the reason why she is trying to steal money- especially that she seems in a good financial condition – she told them that she needs the money to feed herself because her family was addicted and they were spending all their money on alcohol.
One hour later, after confronting the girl with her family, the girl broke down in tears, and she confirmed that all that she said at the beginning was just a lie and a fake story and that she needed the money urgently to buy new shoes!!!!
‘’New shoes?!!’’ her family asked her.
‘’Yes, new shoes. My group members at the school are all wearing a specific pair of shoes, and I must get one also or else they will not consider me one of them. Plus, that I will be looking different and weird’’ the girl said.
Conformity…..The biggest and most dangerous disease of Mankind.
Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. And Norms are implicit, unsaid rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others.
If you think that you are far away from conforming and matching the attitude of the people around you, then let me tell you this: ‘’All of us passed in some stages in our lives through situations where we conformed. The real question is ‘are you still conforming? And if yes ‘are you conforming and matching a positive behavior or a negative one?’’’.
We conform when we buy something that we do not need only because the majority of our friends own this thing. We conform when we go to a vacation in some places that we cannot afford only to show our pictures on Facebook and show our friends that we are on vacation like them and having fun also. We even conform when we go to work. You go to work wearing casual or semi-formal, and you find your colleagues wearing suits. So, you feel that you look weird and start wearing suits like them even if you do not feel comfortable and even though there is no company policy pushing you to do so.
The problem is not in conformity itself because conformity itself can be helpful in some situations. The problem is what can happen when we match the wrong attitudes and beliefs of others. This is now even a huge problem in the era of social media and technology.
In the past, you needed to meet people face to face and interact with them for a long period in order be affected by their behaviors and beliefs. Now, you do not even need to leave your house. You just log into one of your social media platforms to get bombarded with tons of different beliefs, behaviors, and thoughts. And if you are not cautious, you can subconsciously fall victim to what you repeatedly hear or see.
Conformity can lead us even to do things without knowing why we are doing them. Can lead us to stay silent like others in an important meeting at work even though we have a brilliant idea that we can discuss. It can make us keep silent like others even if we are against something. And finally, it can lead us to accept a status quo and situations that we do not like at work or in life without trying to change them just because others accepted them or said that they could not be changed.
When we are surrounded by an environment of a ‘’can’t do’’ mentality as an example, life loses its meaning. We become copies of each other. We lose our originality and creativity, and hence we lose our competitive edge and step by step life dies within us.
So here are the actions for today:
1- Start observing closely your actions and behaviors at home and work.
2- Filter them and ask yourself ”why am I doing this action? Is it because I want to do it? Or I am just doing it because the others around me are doing it?”
3- ”Is this action or attitude the best for me? Is it helping me to be who I am? Or I just became a copy from someone else?”
The future belongs to the people who are nonconformists. And the world now needs creativity and creative people more than ever. So if you are doing something which has a meaning for you but it’s different than what others are doing, then keep doing it. You do not need the approval of anyone to be unique or do something original.
I know that the internal pressure inside of you to conform will be high, but if you resisted this pressure, you would be on the right way to breakthrough.