Warning: This post contains a lot of generalisations! As such it is in no way indicative of individual people.
As humans surrounded by other humans we are constantly surrounded by peer pressure. Some absolutely could not care less about peer approval and will not change themselves in any way to gain it. But these people are rare. From the moment we understand who we are and what other people want to see, we are presenting ourselves in a way that will gain peer approval. This kind of behaviour very often leads to disguising parts of ourselves whether they be mental or physical. Because everyone knows having a third nipple is weird and liking Westlife more than The Back Street Boys is insanity. Though I do now realise the band name makes them sound like a gang started by a bunch of 10 year olds.
Peer pressure can start people off smoking (which is clearly not a healthy life choice), make them feel they should conceal their sexuality or make them feel there are things they cannot do. I think we can all agree peer pressure is quite restricting. We are determined to fit into a “norm” and make friends with other “norm” folk. The pressure not only affects the things we do but also the things we say. There are a number of taboo subjects that you just don’t talk about because it’s not the done thing. If anyone is wondering about an example I can tell you from experience that a joke about a baby dying will go down like a cup of cold sick…
All this hiding your personality can make you pretty miserable because you are never really being you. One has to assume the rise in social media and thus a rise in peer pressure has directly led to a rise in depression. But I wonder if there is something even more insidious about it too. Because you can think you know people and think they are a decent sort when in actuality they are terrible arseholes who think that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, gay men are the devils work and ethnic minorities are a scourge on mankind.
So what’s worse, the guy that’s openly sexist or the guy that pretends he’s not sexist? The obviously homophobic ass hat or the secret homophobe? Raving and ranting racist or the only at home racist?
I’ve thought about it a bit and I’ve talked to a couple of people about it a bit. And I’m no closer to deciding on a definitive answer to that.
On the one hand the the out and proud small minded folk are abrasive and ghastly to have to suffer through a conversation with. They are distasteful to say the least, and worst of all might influence other peoples opinion with their open speech.
But on the other hand there’s something so deceptive about the secret sexist/racist/homophobe. You think they are a good person, only to have them knife you in the heart at an inopportune moment. They can make you mistrustful of everyone because you couldn’t trust them. They are aware that their opinions are unpopular and offensive so they hide them, the ones that don’t hide it often don’t realise how ignorant they are, but these guys and gals know.
One type spares your feelings to fit in with the “norm” but resents and despises you, while the other type abuses you but you aren’t deceived by them, they are honest and I suppose their disregard for peer pressure is… admirable(?)
So, yeah, I haven’t come to a conclusion. Thoughts?