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Do We Conform?

Do we conform too much to the demands of society?

In a day and age like this one too often people conform to whatever other people are doing. I look around I see people conforming to what others say they should do or say, or even think. The political ads are trying to get us to vote for their candidate, fashion ads are telling us how we should dress or how to wear our hair or even our make-up. Too often people think if you don’t wear something fashionable you are on the outs. How many shows are out there that tell people how they should be dressing? Teens are too impressionable and songs today are making them think they should be doing things. Going against the grain is basically going against what society wants.

Ralph Waldo Emerson explained it all in his essay “Self Reliance,” from the book: Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says “a stranger will say what we have thought and felt all the time and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.” Self Reliance is an essay Emerson wrote stressing that we need to learn to think and do things for ourselves. What he says hold true today as much as it did the time he wrote it. He says a stranger can come and tell us what to think and feel and we will take our thoughts, ideas, and feelings from them. We conform to what they want us to think, it happens all the time. Ads, politics, music, and the media all tell us what to think and feel, basically trying to tell us what our opinions should be about different things.

The rest of Emerson’s essay talks about gaining our self reliance and honestly going against the grain in society. Daring to be different. He later says “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names to large societies and dead institutions.” Emerson was ashamed that so many people strive to be come like the conformists and strive for the labels and names that society places on different things. People want too much to have that sign of success and establishment. How often do we want a car based on how it looks and the status symbol? It is so easy for us to conform to the world belief when we are living in the world so we need to live outside of the box of the world view.

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