Fake, phony, exaggerated. “Your child is so cute.” “You’re gorgeous.” “They’re so nice.” Aren’t you tired of lying all the time? Smiling through your teeth, saying things that have no weight. Frankly, you can’t figure out why people find the need to talk about nothing. No one cares about your coworker or child who is “so smart.” No one cares about your friend who lives across the country that they’ll most likely never meet. All of it is bragging, gossip, and jealously. Let’s all be honest with each other. You don’t really think that child is cute, nor do you think your coworkers’ best friend is gorgeous. You’re just trying to get through your day, minding your own business when you’re forced to engage in mindless small talk with others.

You have your repertoire of questions in your back pocket that as soon as you ask, you tune out the answer. “Where are you from? Do you live around here? Do you have children? How long have you been married?” Blah blah blah, it’s all nonsense. Most days, it doesn’t bother you all that much, and you’re able to move forward without the mind-numbing nothingness keeping you down. On a larger scale, you pretend to care about issues you don’t really care about because for some reason you like to complain about injustice without doing anything about it. Oh, it’s so easy to be offended.

You’re Acting

In the past, you’ve found yourself constantly being questioned for the things you say and do. For every action you perform, the world demands a reason, when sometimes there is no reason at all. You change your hair, you switch careers, you start a new hobby, you don’t like something. People ask you why, and instead of saying what you’re really thinking, you give a generic answer because after all the years of questioning, you’re tired of defending yourself.

Society, including you, places pressure on peers to act, think, talk, and response in an acceptable or predetermined way, and if you are one to deviate from these standards, people think you’re crazy or stupid. That’s why you stick to the superficial conversation; it’s easy. You don’t have to enter in philosophical debate or use rhetoric and research to answer where you’re from, or what you do for work. Plus, using this form of communication works well since most people are selfish.

People love talking about themselves. They love to talk about their children, their pets, their career, and in the rare occasion you talk about something that requires deliberation, your counterpart will most likely only listen to what they want to hear, arguing for the sake of validating their own opinion. This all goes back to the standard. The same societal standard we were raised believing in and grew up enforcing with our peers. Conformity of social norms.

Normative conformity involves changing one’s behavior in order to fit in with the group.

Informational conformity happens when a person lacks the knowledge and looks to the group for information and direction.

Identification occurs when people conform to what is expected of them based on their social roles.

Compliance involves changing one’s behavior while still internally disagreeing with the group.

Internalization occurs when we change our behavior because we want to be like another person.

How Does Conformity Influence Behavior? By Kendra Cherry

Conformity, in its respect, is a necessary element to a functioning society, but there are times when you don’t have to conform. You don’t have to think that child is cute. You’re not mean if you think that person isn’t attractive. You’re not wrong in being uninterested in someone you’ve never met and never will meet. You shouldn’t feel pressured to say things you don’t mean and act in ways that aren’t true just to please and be accepted by others, because if you don’t accept yourself, people can see right through it. They can see you projecting your insecurity onto others in the way you treat them and the way you act. And the people closest to you are the ones that get the brute end of all those fake smiles and laughs.

Forget it. Forget all the politics, beliefs, and social acceptance. It’s okay for someone to disagree with you and not like the way you think. That’s the beauty of being a human and living in a place that allows us the freedom to do so. Instead of offended, be grateful that you’re able to express your opinion. It’s your right, and everyone else’s, to exercise freedom.

Posted by:Flora Ashe

Editor in Chief

16 replies on “Conforming to Social Norms

    1. I feel the same, it’s like talking to NPC’s in a video game because it’s all basically the same, you know? I do my best to shake it up but you can only do so much haha

    2. Without a doubt, most of the time they’re mimicking each other’s thoughts and opinion. Indeed, it’s fun to push the boundaries, and bring up topics that catch others off guard. They may thing you’re weird, but at least you’re not boring.

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