All of us can easily find an example of conformity in our lives.
However, it is depicted as destructive and discouraging most of the time. Why does it have such a negative connotation?
After World War 2, when the men came back from the army and had become accustomed to community solidarity and conformity, a heavy social atmosphere was created, in which non-conformists were often treated as social outcasts.
However, such an unstable social atmosphere, which eventually built the limit to individual creativity and freedom, was soon criticized, and conformity was considered as a factor of it.
Published in 1948, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson gives an extreme example of an indoctrination. In “The Lottery,” as an old custom, a town annually holds a lottery, of which the winner receives a brutal death by his close neighbors and families.
However, no one knows the purpose of the murder or questions it.
Illustrating the townspeople’s insensitivity to the tradition’s cruelty and irrationality under conformity pressure, Jackson shows the perils of people being conformists without thinking critically about the consequences.
As individuality and freedom have been highly respected in the 21st century, in 2015, conformity does not oppress people as much.
Rather, unlike its general impression, it might have some positive influence on people while they do not recognize it.
Conformity can reduce the new kinds of social pressure. For example, a lot of teenagers distress themselves thinking about how to express themselves as outstanding individuals.
They worry about their looks constantly, and those of who are not able to follow the trends often feel very insecure about themselves. Wearing uniforms, which is viewed as a form of conformity these days, can change the pressure to a sense of fitting in.
Conformity can create a culture. Since humans are highly socialized animals, they constantly build their cultures as they interact with each other.
Today, information floods, and things change fast. New technologies are developed every day, and unfamiliar trends spread all over the globe in one day.
Therefore, people who cannot catch up with the fast-changing trends might feel lost in society.
Then, conformity can function as a standard; it offers people opportunities to stay in the majority without particularly standing out.
It is true that conformity created a great social pressure in the past. However, as our society has changed a lot, it is important look at it from a different viewpoint.
Conformity can have some good effects on our society unlike its negative impression.