Popular Conformity

“Walking in the footsteps of society’s lies
I don't like what I see no more
Sometimes I wish I was blind.”
--from ‘Keep the Faith’ by Bon Jovi

Sometimes I really do wish I was blind. I don’t like what I see now...so many people lying to themselves and following the popular image. Actually, I’ll be honest with you. I hate what I see, and as I am forced to tag along I hate it even more.

I stand here before you today frankly because...I can’t take it anymore! I am sick, sick, sick of skinny people shouting in my face every single day, telling me that I am roughly the size of a house and thus have no style. I am sick of people telling me that all I really need in order to be really happy is a tattoo and a nose ring. I am sick of people shoving all sorts of perfumes in my face, saying that it’s the latest new fragrance and that if I don’t use it, I’ll just die. I am sick of all these girls tiptoeing about in platform shoes ten feet tall, saying that it’s the best feeling in the world.

I am sick of people telling me, pushing me to conform with all the latest trends.

Conformity is a way of life. Everyone just has to conform in some things. That’s different. That’s natural conformity. What I’m talking about is popular conformity.

Have you ever noticed how nowadays teenagers look exactly alike? They wear the same name brands, the same shoes, the same hairstyle. They even have the same attitude. I guess they’re so scared of being left out and labeled as ‘dull’ they follow the crowd and hope that they don’t fall behind. They desert their individuality and follow everyone else. They take up a ‘clone’ of the ideal personality, even though they might not like it very much. They think that once they become like everyone else, then they’re special.

Boy, are they wrong.

Don’t get it? Think of it. Most of the time, people approach you and befriend you because they find you a bit different and interesting. Would they want to talk to you if you were just like everybody else? Would you want to talk to someone exactly like you? (Talk about boring conversations.)

I’d like to tell those ‘clones’ a little something. I’d like to tell them to keep track of who they really are. Their interests, their dreams, their values. I’d like to warn them about losing their own identities, for there will be a day in their lives when they’ll wake up and realize that they have fallen behind in the race. And they will be left with absolutely nothing to go back to and start again with.

Speaking of values, there is one great danger about popular conformity. I call this the Lemming Syndrome.

The thing with the cute little lemming is that, sooner or later, it will join hundreds of other cute little lemmings and they would all simultaneously run and run, eventually falling over the edge. No one really knows why they do it. Maybe it’s pheromones. Maybe it’s instinctive. Maybe it’s plain old popular conformity.

Why am I talking about these cute little furball rodents? Because popular conformity among humans really resembles their ‘mass suicide.’ One person starts it, and soon everyone follows, fearing being left out. They all eventually lose themselves entirely.

Now, what if the trends become serious and life-threatening? What if everyone starts doing drugs and starts killing themselves? Would you ignore your conscience and follow them too? Are you so afraid of being different that you’d kill yourself?

Think hard. You only live once. To spend it chasing other people’s expectations will one day push you too far and you’ll end up falling over the edge.

So stop doing what everybody else is doing. Be different. Be yourself. Be happy with who you are, for there is no one else in this world like you.

Be you and be proud of who you are!

. . .

Copyright (c) 1998 by Gemma Truman
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I lazily whipped this one up for my English X class late one night. It didn't have to be formal, just an oratory piece. A speech. On anything. Naturally I chose the road less travelled and a subject that I cared about. This speech is not up to par when compared to other ones that I've written, but what the hey. It was an experiment.