Having discussed some of the ways I perceive myself to be different from society at large. There are also minorities I fall into by ‘choice’ [it didn’t feel like a choice to me though]. For example I was vegetarian for fifteen years and then took a decision to belong to an even smaller grouping.
Purportedly active choices, place me perhaps even further from mainstream society. It is possibly because society is then viewed from the outside, that the seeming irrationality of some conformist activity is more striking. Though food choice I now automatically ignore a range of foods in shops and advertising, Foods have to pass two tests: Can I buy this? in addition to the conventional do I want to buy this?
Being a non-conformist is often tiresome, sometimes I feel that being an outsider is actually a good thing, at other times it leaves me unable to engage fully with some social activities, though usually some sort of compromise is reached. On the one hand I hate eating out, as the food choice is usually very limited and i could eat nicer food for less money at home, but sometimes i wish to socialise with people and go with the flow. It is nice to feel really part of the masses sometimes, such as when the Welsh rugby team play internationals.
Rugby may not be such a good example, as by supporting a team you are placing yourself against the supporters of the other team or friends who don’t want to watch the rugby. Having lived outside of Wales and being the only Welshman in the bar is, in some ways quite a sad experience (win or lose).
Experiences such as watching your team play together with other supporters, allows you to feel in the majority, the bond of a shared conformity is very powerful, comforting and makes you glow inside, even if the experience is negative (losing the game).
To quote a line from Leonard Cohen ‘I’m wanted at the traffic jam, they’re saving me a seat.’ As social beings we tolerate a lot of discomforting things in order to achieve other goals.
I read recently that many women buy ‘Women’s’ razors to shave their legs (http://womantax.tumblr.com/), yet ‘Mens’ razors are often better at shaving legs and substantially cheaper, so, buy a ‘Mens’ razor to shave your legs is the obvious response. To buy the ‘womans’ razor is simply conforming to the marketing. I use a traditional razor to shave, I have a relatively pleasant cheap shave, but would spend a lot more if I bought a ‘modern’ razor, [‘Now with 5 blades!’ hmm. one is enough thanks]. The marketeers must really hate this. Razor blades, from a particular major brand seem to sell poor quality blades to encourage people to buy a new razor. This fails as i was already aware of the whole ‘mens’ razor marketing scam, I buy blades from a generic brand, which are miles better!
In these times of the internet, still developing how it works socially, as individuals we don’t wish to spend too much time analysing how information gets to us, most of the time access to the data is what we want. In an ever changing medium we can fall into conformities that end up costing us more money and make us less happy. A lot of marketing and data provision is telling us how they want us to think, selling us lifestyles to buy into. It’s horrendous.
In conclusion I would suggest a balance between non-conformity and conformity is necessary in life to fulfil our phychological needs.