conformity, Freedom, psychology

The Illusion of Conformity

Conformity is a fairly popular topic, especially among the intellectuals and the mindful. The concept of conformity is explained by the dictionary as behaviour in accordance with socially accepted conventions, which if applied in our world today will have no particular definition.

We live in a state of existence wherein following Kim Kardashian is just as socially accepted as following Dalai Lama. There are no outcasts any longer because the internet is just too vast and free to be controlled like the yesteryears.

There was a time, Gentle Reader, not too long ago when people like you and me could read only certain kind of books or watch only a certain kind of cinema. Naturally, these people had low control over their situation and found it simpler to comply with the authority – since the authority was all they knew.

But it isn’t so now. I can read about communism just as readily as I can about religion.

What is conformity?

Conformity alludes to the acceptance of rules and standards as a law applicable to the society/individual or at least complied to by them.

Non-conformity, on the other hand, is explained as failure or refusal to conform to a prevailing rule or practice.

We discovered decades ago that the human mind is much like a computer’s processing unit.  That is exactly why so many efforts were put in by dictators to condition this unit – whether it was in the form of harsh Pavlovian methods or subtle manipulation of the modern day advertisers.

Conformity facilitates the functioning of the society; that much, I admit is true. If all 7 billion of us had wildly different ideas, we would probably have a state of utter and complete chaos.

However, that notion is extremely far-fetched; not only because it is impossible to have radically different ideas but also because as human beings we have a fully functional system that we call instinct or the soul.

No matter how much of Donald Trump I watch, my heart will eventually feel unconvinced with his words, because I will not trust a man who has repeatedly lied.

It is easy to feel swayed by some websites or channels, but eventually, we all trust only our instincts and no matter how conditioned the advertisers may want us to be about McDonald’s or Coca Cola, we all have learnt that it is indeed unhealthy.

Our current statistics prove this theory of mine, even Donald Trump supporters seem to have withdrawn their hope in him.

So it is very unlikely that our world will ever go to the dogs – as long as we don’t let our integral morals be conditioned. Time to despair will probably be when a majority of us would think that rape is acceptable and lies aren’t immoral.

Our Processing Unit

If you are sitting in front of a computer, you probably realize that your device has a keyboard and a mouse which are known as the input devices – your screen, on the other hand, is your output device since it shows you what you have typed or clicked.

The most important component of your machine is the Central Processing Unit (CPU), also known as the brain of the computer which will process the information you entered and will give you the result that most correlates with your input. It is incapable of refusing your command and only gives you what you ask for.

If this part of your computer breaks, your machine is unusable. Similarly, if the CPU doesn’t contain a program or file that you are searching for, it will be incapable of giving it to you. The computer’s capability depends on how much data the CPU has.

Now, apply that to yourself.

Your eyes, ears, mouth, nose and skin are your sensory organs or input devices. Your mouth in particular and your body, in general, are your output devices. Your nervous system or brain that is intricately connected to your sensory organs is your CPU.

Your brain just like a CPU has a number of programs.

Let’s take language for instance, if you have the program in your mind for French, meaning you have learnt French, then any information in French will be processed by you; conversely, if you haven’t learnt French then your brain is not going to register the words as meaningful and hence you will be incapable of giving any useful output or response.

This doesn’t mean that French is false, it only means that you don’t know it.

Similarly, if you are used to hearing only a particular group’s agenda, then any information contrary to your group’s values is not going to register with you as sensible. Hence, you will reject it. That is what propaganda means when propagandists or advertisers tell you what to think as oppose to education that tells you how to think.

If I constantly watch skinny women on television then I am bound to accept that standard of beauty much faster than if I see all kinds of women on the internet.

The propaganda being: Skinny is Beautiful, so buy our fat loss pills and gym memberships.

As opposed to education: Skinny is not the only kind of Beautiful, so love yourself and be healthy instead.

If in my family, women have always been treated badly then I will accept bad treatment for myself too, it would be normal for me – as opposed to someone who only witnessed good treatment toward the women in their family, which is why they will not accept any bad treatment.

This is what we mean by culture shock

If you witness an activity carried out in another culture as perfectly normal, which in your own culture would be considered wildly abnormal is when you experience a culture shock.

The dictionary defines culture shock as the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

We know by experience, that disorientation leads to outbursts. It is easier to unreasonably react to a lack of understanding than admitting the lack of understanding.

So you see?

Only by feeding our brain with more information, we can easily manoeuvre through the propaganda of the powerful.

If I see that a particular company or person is speaking from a propagandist point of view then all I need to do is delete that program or turn to another channel.

By watching it – I only encourage it; by commenting on it – I only support its popularity.

And don’t forget, that the 10 minutes I spent on watching that crap could have been better spent learning something that would actually benefit me; something that would develop my software to have another program instead of downloading this virus.

The more I subject my computer to faulty websites, the more the chances there are for it to collapse. The more I convince myself that the system is updated, the more outdated it will be.

Just like that,

If I subject myself to negative people and ill-informed perspectives then I am more likely to repeat that behaviour and the more I think that I know enough, the lesser I will know.

Perception is not just a point of view. Perception is also a key determinant of how we process information. I imagine a perspective as a pipe, a pipe made of values, knowledge, principles, morals, etc. basically our personality.

In computer lingo, antivirus and programs are like our values and morals. The better they are the stronger our personality will remain.

If I am speaking with a person then I am the pipe and so are they. The topic of conversation is the water that passes through our personalities, the faucet is our mouth and what comes out of the mouth is pretty much what this pipe is filled with.

We have complete autonomy over what comes out of our mouths, as long as we regularly check the pipe.

Hence, I find it hard to believe that my situation is a matter of societal pressure, perhaps my parents could say that, but even they didn’t.

They said, “I am the maker of my own destiny and also the device of my own demise”.

I am looking through the glasses of objectivity and I don’t think they are wrong. Their words were as true then as they are now.

Sure I used the analogy of a computer to understand this phenomenon, but see, it applied perfectly.

I have been a flight attendant, I lived a life that I could not even dream of for 3 solid years. I realized that there was no happiness in it and I quit.

In spite of knowing that I won’t get that kinda money in any other job, neither will I be able to live that charmed life; but it was true that I was deeply unhappy. And just because I won’t be able to click selfies of myself in exotic locations, I wasn’t going to live a lie.

I had decided that I would rather live like Henry David Thoreau than Kim Kardashian. I realized that Gandhi didn’t get his picture printed on the currency by being self-indulgent but by being independent.

And independence has got nothing to do with abundance. It simply means that you can say fuck off to anyone that tries to fuck with you.