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Individualism Vs Conformity Essay

Conformity Vs. Individualism Essay

We’ve all know what it feels like: walking down the halls in middle school or high school while you feel like you’re being watched…analyzed…critiqued. It would almost seem like every person you passed would be silently judging you for what you’re wearing, how you applied your makeup, how you did in the last soccer game, or what they heard you did with Jonny. The passerby’s in the hallway would place you on the high-school-hierarchy-of-coolness scale based on superficial characteristics even before getting to know you. Adolescence is a time of learning and forming an identity but it’s also a time where you are constantly being watched and evaluated by your peers, sometimes even put down by physical or verbal means. Bullying has always been a problem in school settings but was never really recognized for its malignant effects until recently. Due to the push of bullying awareness in the past fifteen years and the influences of pop culture, there has been a noticeable shift in our culture’s definition of “cool”.

The word “cool” takes on many meanings. It’s used to describe temperature and also a “calmness, composure, and poise”. (Dictionary.com) But it has also taken on another definition over the years to express “approval, acceptance, and admiration”. We describe things to be “cool” every day without even realizing it. We use it to describe new music that we found and want our friends to like saying, “I just found this new artist and she’s so cool you have to listen to her!” Something “cool” is something well received by the general public. Something that is accepted by the majority. Conforming to social norms is a part of a being human and we rarely even notice that we’re doing it. We conform when we stop at a red light because it’s a law and when we purchase items with money instead of trading. We don’t mean to just follow what everyone else is doing because we’re afraid to do our own thing, but we have an understanding that certain concepts are needed to conform to in order to keep everyone in society on the same level playing field. But conforming to what the majority is doing because it is deemed as cool is a whole different story. Instead of conforming to keep society running smoothly, we sometimes conform due to fear that we will receive hateful backlash for breaking against the norm or in fear that we will be wrong. Solomon Asch explains the latter reason when he conducted an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform. In his experiment, there was only one true participant and 4 other fake participants that will help prove his point correct. Cards were shown to everyone where there were lines of different length illustrated. They all had to choose which line was the longest. The first four people at the table were the fake participants and purposely chose the wrong answers. The last person was the true participant in the experiment and in all of the experiments...

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Though many struggle to be there own person. Many struggle to decide things on there own.We are all different, but most of us are the same, because of conformity. Conformity is the easy way of things. Following the leader is the natural way of humans. For an example take Germany during World War II. There was little hate towards Jew or Jipsys or the mentally disabled but because one man was such a persuasive and strong leader a whole country conformed to killing millions. We see the nonconformity in Thoreau, the strive to conform in Gatsby and the struggle to do become an individual in a place of discor in Fahrenheit 451. Thoreau wanted to be his own man and live his own life without, the influence of government or society. He did not want to follow in the american dream of a white picket fence, instead he wanted to create his own dream. A dream that was his and his alone. To accomplish this unorthodox dream he cut his life off from society and from the government. He strove to create his own person, to be different from the average. To be unique. Thoreau isolated himself in the woods, did not pay taxes, and lived off the wild so he would be without influence from the government. Thoreau did not feel a part of america.

He saw how the american people were conforming and thinking more about self image than which was truly important. So he decided instead of conforming to the american way he would create his own little society. Thoreau tried which most would not even considered he tried to be an individual. Gatsby on the other hand tried to conform to impress his loved one. Is conformity attractive? To most they would say yes. Few want someone who thinks differently . Few want a unique person. People want safeness and people find that in the norm. Gatsby tried to reach the white picket fence not because he wanted it forsay but because he wanted to attract his loved one, Daisy. Daisy was attracted to the american dream. Though because of her situation she was not able to achieve the dream for herself she wanted to marry and be with someone who had achieved it. So Gatsby tried his best to get to the White picket fence. Though the ways he ended up getting to the white picket fence was a little unorthodox. He did conform to the american dream and the american way. We see the struggle of doing what one wants to do even when it is against the norm in fahrenheit 451 by the character Guy Montag. Montag feels the emptiness of conformity and wants to read which is illegal.

Instead of listening to those around him or to his wife or even the government he starts to read. And in doing this he becomes an individual. Becoming an individual causes him to lose his wife lose his job and makes him a fugitive but his emptiness vanishes. The government had become tyranny controlling what each individual did. We see throughout the book people conforming like they conformed in War World II to this tyranny. The outcome was the same as in WWII the government fell and the ones who had not conformed were regarded as heroes. To be unique is a great thing but society continues to look down its nose at those who want something different. When you start to think for yourself you are no longer “Part of any country.” Most people when they think of a country they think of the leaders or the people who control the things. But in itself that its wrong. A country is a mass of people that follows the laws and and silent laws dictated by the people. Inside the United States of America there are thousands of countries each of them have slightly different silent laws.

To become an individual you obey the laws but you create your own silent laws. When Thoreau made that choice to leave the masses and make his own country, a country of one then he became a individual. A country of one is infinitely better than a country of two for one reason, freedom. When you create your own country you are granted more freedom than ever before. No longer do you have to follow the normality or silent laws of the other countries The difference between a Non-conformist and a criminal is silent laws verses laws. Thoreau gave up on all the silent laws so he is no longer a part of “America.” Gatsby gave up on the enforced laws but kept the silent laws so he is part of america. Guy montag gave up on the silent laws which were enforced so he became a individual.