Categorized | Letters

Non-Conformist Conformists

My sister was in her art class the other day, sitting with some acquaintances, when the question of musical taste came up. She listed a few of her favorite bands, one of them being Coldplay, when one of the girls at the table looked her up and down and pronounced her a “poser.” A poser? This got me thinking, what makes that other girl, who listed Godsmack as one of her favorite groups, not a poser? The answer: she’s a poser just as much as my sister, she just conforms to different ideals – she’s a non-conformist conformist. That’s right, this girl, with her “I’m so unique” attitude, conforms to, you guessed it, non-conformity.
Face it. Everybody – except for maybe Björk and a few other truly odd ducks – conforms to something. Alternative hippies, goths, preps; we all buy into some style and no one is a complete non-conformist in the true sense of the word. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I buy Goodwill T-shirts and religiously listen to Radiohead, but that doesn’t make me an aloof hipster who doesn’t buy into consumerism; that just makes me like every other alternative hippie around.
So, what about these so-called non-conformists? Just where do they stumble upon their oh-so unique fashion and underground musical taste? Do they hand-dye some yarn and knit themselves a sweater while deftly composing an original rock-opera that will transform the modern face of music? Um…no. They snatch up the latest goodies from Hot Topic and buy whatever album C.D. Warehouse is pushing. That’s right, just like the too-tan girls who shop only at Hollister Co., these guys go to the mall to – are you ready for this? – not conform. This makes a lot of sense because we all know the mall is the antithesis of conformity…right.
The problem with these so-called non-conformist conformists is they really don’t believe they’re conforming to anything – they seem to think their style, attitudes and musical tastes all sprung from within their own detached minds. And, what’s worse, they then proceed to pass judgment on all those they deem “conformists.”
“Ohhhh…you bought that where? I won’t shop there; everyone who shops there is buying into conformity…”
You’re kidding, right? These people know they are conforming just as much as those pink-shirt, popped-collar guys, don’t they? They know the album they bought from C.D. Warehouse because they won’t shop the “chains” is probably originally from Best Buy, right? Wrong. They really seem to believe they don’t conform. Yet, oddly, these supremely unique individuals all dress alike, listen to the same music and have the same obligatory piercing. And, to top it all off, the number-one store getting all their “I don’t buy into consumerism” business, Hot Topic, happens to be one of the fastest growing chains out there. There sure seems to be a lot of non-conformists across America, all working together to not conform. Can someone tell me exactly how this makes sense?
It’s not that I have a problem, per se, with the style of the “non-conformists” – it’s the fact they can’t admit they are conforming just as much as the Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing frat boys they loathe so much.
And, it’s not that I think conformity is this wonderful ideal; it’s just a fact of life. I don’t think everyone out there jumps on every passing bandwagon like a lemming following its friends over a cliff (while clad in the latest from Ugg and Northface). Unless you’re name is Ted Kaczynski, you belong to a social group and buy into its style and attitudes, and that’s OK, as long as you recognize that fact. I’m not saying no one is an individual or there is no such thing as uniqueness, I’m simply saying everyone is influenced by external environmental factors. Everybody conforms to something – even if it’s non-conformity.

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