Monday, February 20, 2006

Why are individualists just like everybody else?

You know, I am always curious about the people who do something who assert themselves as an individual. For example, a rebellious teen will go out and start smoking, then call himself a unique individual. But, what is wrong with this picture? I think that many people preening in their individualism should look around... they may find out that they're acting just like those around them.

Take drinking for example. For those of you who don't already know, I don't drink. In fact, I have never knowingly consumed alcohol in my life (I'm not saying this out of self-glorification, but for mere presentation of my position). But, from that position, I am always shocked by how many people are PROUD of their penchant for alcoholic beverages. People I knew in high school feel like they stand out (or stood out back then) because they got drunk on the weekends. Oh yes... they were cool individuals... rising above the muck.

But, let's be honest. Is drinking really something to be proud of? I mean, people go off and consume a substance that blocks out their memories, clouds their judgement, and makes them talk louder than is necessary. Is this considered appealing? I remember a kid in high school coming into class after a weekend of partying. His friends all stood around and talked about how funny it was when he started talking to a wooden duck in his drunken stupor (on a side note: isn't "stupor" a a great word? I mean, think of other words that sound like that... good word). I'm sorry, what is so cool about that? He didn't even remember!

But, really, isn't it harder to NOT drink than to drink? Should we not be a society that glorifies those who do not succumb to a silly mind-numbing chemical? Personally, I quite enjoy spending time with people who have tons of fun... and remember the weekend when it is over with. I love my memories. And, I am proud to know that I will remember my weekend come Monday morning.

Another group that professes their collective individualism are Goths. I'm not talking about the Germanic tribe here. I'm talking about people who have decided that black is the perfect color to make a statement. The loudest of these "individualists" are people I see all dressed in black vinyl wearing a jewelry store on their face. I love hearing how society should accept them for "who they are." Some such people go to job interviews dressed like Dracula because they want the employer to accept their individuality. Well, the employer may accept your individuality, but they won't hire you until you learn to show up dressed properly!

How are Goths "individuals" when they dress exactly like everybody else around them? I mean, how can you assert your individuality when everybody you hang out with wears black faux leather... ALL THE TIME. (On one level, I'm sure it makes your fashion choices easy in the morning.)

Some even take their penchant for black to an extreme... with lace and chains and white makeup and stuff. But, when it all comes down to it, you look like a weirdo... and you surround yourself with people who look like you. How can you be an individual when you are hiding all that makes you special behind a big flashing I'M JUST LIKE OTHER PEOPLE sign??

Individualism is important. We are all unique and special people. But, you can assert YOUR individuality and still not be a total weirdo. Relinquishing your self-control to a chemical does not make you a more unique person. When you dress or act like a vampire, you just fade into the background. You're not asserting your individuality... you're being weak.

If you want respect in this life, respect yourself. Showcase your talents, not your black wardrobe. Don't expect the world to conform to your funky redefinition of reality. Learn to function in the world, and then learn to fly as high as you can in your individual sphere.

But... please... don't try to tell me you're an individual when you're just acting like every other weakling.

That is all.



Ontario Emperor said...

Steve Martin did a routine about this back in the 70s, when he led his entire audience in the chant "I will be different. I will be unique."

My daughter told me another one. She said, "Why does [name deleted] go around bragging that she got a D?" Interestingly enough, this was not a boy (in some cases it's considered cool to fail in school) but a girl. Although maybe she was subliminally going for the "girls are supposed to be stupid to be more desirable" angle.

Horatio said...

Interesting note from your daughter! I personally think School (meaning K-12) is one of the weirdest social environments yet created on the planet earth. At the same time, if you can graduate from High School and still have a sense of who you are and what you want to be, you have gained much more than a diploma.

People who laud weakness annoy me. But, that's just the way things are.

That is all.