This froggy space in WITSIG has made frequent references to the conformity which is forced upon us by society. None of those references has placed that conformity in a positive light. It is only realistic to admit, however, that a certain amount of conformity to the system is required in order to participate in society at any meaningful level.

For example, it is helpful to speak the same language as those around you, and to apply roughly the same meanings to the words of that language. It is worthwhile to comply to the majority of those conformities called “laws”, in order that you may retain the freedom to interact with persons other than fellow convicts. It is reasonable also to conform to those mores of society which will mark you as grossly deficient if you do not, such as the wearing of clothes, the using of eating utensils and the regular use of a forward gear when driving on the freeway.

So, yes, individuality will probably have to be tempered with a certain amount of conformity if you are to lead any sort of a useful life. Personally, I rather prefer the minimum amount of conformity that I can get away with, but each of us must seek the level of conformity that we can feel comfortable with.

There are a few questions that can be asked of yourself, both to determine your current level of individuality and to check out a possible course of action. One of these is, “Is everybody else doing it?”. If everybody else is doing it, and especially if it is a relatively new thing, then the odds are that it is a fad of sorts, and thus is to be avoided if you desire to leave your individuality intact.

Another is, “Am I enjoying it, or am I just left neutral by it?”. Since there are a wide number of possible action alternatives, then there is little sense in bothering with things that do not have a positive effect on your enjoyment of life.

But perhaps the most important is, “Am I taking the easy way out?”. Because the easy way is usually the way of conformity. No one in my experience has said that individuality is easy. Generally speaking, it is the hard way out. The conformists of the world (and they are the vast majority) will fight your choice of individuality every step of the way.

But if you take the time, and put forth the effort required, the rewards of individuality are worth it. If you can look at yourself and see the person you want to be, then you are most of the way to self-respect. So whatever mix you choose, make sure that you have chosen it yourself. If you let others choose it for you, you will end up not liking you much, and that is a tragedy. 

Kermit []