Saturday, 28 January 2012

Non-conformism (once more) - When it becomes conformism

I think that for now, at least, this is the last time that I touch on this subject, but I promised a third part and here it is.

In the last post, I talked about how it is commonly said these days to the most recent generation - my generation, the Net Generation, Gen Y, whatever you want to call us - that "It's okay to be different." I hate clichés - you should know by now that I'm not one who's fond of doing the done thing, but I think it particularly applies to say that we're all different. Sure, many of us act like sheep and follow the herd, many of us consciously go out of our way to strip ourselves of individuality, whether to fit in or just to hide, it doesn't matter, but it happens. But we are, nonetheless, different.

Trends. They're infectious as fuck and I'm as guilty of them as the next guy. A recent one is rather the inversion of the usual: it's become almost popular to sarcastically regard "normal" as a bad thing and "weird" as a good thing. As I said, guilty as charged. I happily admit that I'm one with a fondness for being off the wall, and whenever someone calls me normal or something of the sort, I tend to give them an expression of mock horror. Most of my friends are like this - when a poster at my Youth Group said that next week was a "normal night", me and Minya turned to one another in horror and said "We can't come next week!"

And I'm not criticising this attitude, because obviously it would be completely hypocritical of me to do so, but when I think about it, the more peculiar it becomes, the idea that "normal" is bad and "weird" is good. Weird is commonly held to be a divergence from the norm, a bend off the beaten path, doing something other people don't do. But when "everyone acts like that", it ceases to be weird, it's the done thing, so it's normal. Precisely the thing the attitude goes against. And so it goes to show that it's not actually the typical idea of "normal" and "weird", but simply doing another set of actions that we commonly hold to be "weird" so as to fit in with the weird community.

Here we come back to non-conformism, because really, they're the same thing. Conforming. Normal. Non-conforming. Weird. When everyone conforms to non-conformism, then it's no longer non-conformism, it's conformism because you're conforming. Many people believe for this reason that non-conformism doesn't and can't exist at all, because it is a paradoxical notion. There's a paradox, yes, but I don't know if it's innate to the idea of non-conformism.

Personally, I think it can be done without doing the same thing everyone else does. You just do what you do and don't let anyone tell you it's wrong so long as you're hurting noone. Never limit your freedom of expression because of narrow-minded assholes. Listen to your kind of music. Watch your kind of movies. Subscribe to your favourite porn genre (you didn't hear me say that.) And if you end up doing what other people are doing, then good on you. If you find yourself alone, rectify that. As much as we might think otherwise, we usually have a lot more fun when people share our interests.

At the end of the day - and again, please forgive the platitude - be who the fuck you want to be. If you don't want to conform, then don't. If you want to do what other people do, also fine. I can't stress enough: live your life the way you want to. Those eight words probably sum up the majority of self-help books out on the shelves.

It's not that weird a concept.

~Love Leonidas

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