By Winnie Yu
Conformity is driven by one’s mentality to perform like the majority due to the fear of being alone in one’s thoughts and ideals. It portrays a sense of mob mentality, which is the tendency of people to act in unison. Conformity is reinforced through popular culture and pressure from society.
Mass media evaluates the latest trends in popular culture and propagates them through the Internet, magazines, and billboards. When one flips through a magazine, pages are filled with petite or muscular, seemingly impeccable models. Models and celebrities featured in the media seem to fit with the society’s ideals of perfection. Those who don’t qualify as physically “perfect” are implicitly judged by the majority, and so they are compelled to conform out of the fear of judgment. Even celebrities have admitted to struggling with body image in order to stay relevant.
Internet plays a large role in updating everyone on the latest news, but it also pushes out thousands of advertisements that portray products in an accentuated manner. The impact of Internet on people’s daily lives has increased, and people can’t seem to avoid the advertisements.
People are unaware of the amount of advertisements they are exposed to each day, and their messages are often subliminal. For example, people will often seek to improve their products even though the product may be in fine condition. They unconsciously draw comparisons between the products they own with the products they see in advertisements.
When they decide to purchase the product being promoted, they are, in essence, seeking conventionality because they are conjoining their preferences with everyone else’s.
Teenagers and young adults, in their efforts to be noticed and popular, seem to be drawn to advertisements featuring idealistically beautiful people. People fear exclusion and crave a sense of community and belonging. Individuals tend to fear standing alone because they feel powerless against the majority. Societal pressure accompanies the reinforcement of conformity. However, if unchecked, this tendency can lead to the degradation of individuality and ingenuity, two of humanity’s most important traits. (end)
Editor’s note: This story was written by a Summer Youth Leadership Program student, not a Northwest Asian Weekly staff member.