Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To conform or not to conform

Conformity can go both ways really. It can do some good or just go terribly wrong and cause social haywire. 

The positive outcome of conforming can be minority influence. This is when a minority of group members influence the majority. However, this is only good is it's for a good cause, for example, spreading awareness of human trafficking in Canada. 
If you were with a group of nine people including yourself and you plus one other person positively influenced the rest of the members on the issue of human trafficking and the cruel and inhumane conditions the victims endure, this is minority influence. 

The negative outcome of conforming is what we see often in our daily lives. The Vancouver riot after the Canucks lost and the Toronto riot during the G20 summit. A group of anarchists in Toronto cause a ruckus but are we right to deny that they influenced some of our citizens to break windows and burn police cars?

Did 17 year old Water Polo player, Nathan Kotylak always secretly want to set police cars on fire? Did he see an opportunity during the Vancouver riot and go for it? I doubt it. He conformed. 
I don't know if Kotylak fits in to conforming to Informational Social Influence or Normative Social Influence, but he conformed. 

"When they give you ruled paper, 
write the OTHER way" -- Juan Ramone Jimenez

What we know for sure is, many of us would not like to be the one against conformity because we know what happens to the "deviants" who refuse to go with the flow. We're outcasted and marginalized. 

Take for example Krista Piche of the Canadian Forces who was raped by a petty officer in the military. Piche refused to conform with the "code of silence" and when she reported the incident, she was punished and by being forced to work along side the very man who raped her. 
If you can't imagine that, imagine how many times you publicly complied with the views of a large group although privately, you disagree just so you can avoid the retributions. 

The only time someone can be a "deviant" is really when they've earned something called idiosyncrasy credits. 
One earns these credits by conforming to groups norms time and time again. If enough credits are earned, occasionally, they can play the part of a "deviant" without retribution from the group. 

Interesting huh. ...

So conform or not to conform? 

I say do your research. 

Before you decide you agree, take into consideration the so-called leader's credibility (no I don't mean, idiosyncrasy credits) but ask, do they really know more about this than I do? Where are they coming from?
Check other sources, and I don't just mean google.
Importantly, know that resists conformity IS possible. 

Conformity without this research, in my opinion, is a dangerous weapon. 

How we live our lives and what we choose to believe doesn't only impact us, it's global. 

Before you utter the next homophobic comment because your friends do, before you urinate on a fence because you're friends think its funny, before you take part in some sort of action where an alarm goes off in your head as a warning.... THINK.

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