Social Conformity vs. Transcendentalism

Everyday, people face the constant pressures of social conformity. Being forced to blend in with the majority, they try to find a way out. Unfortunately, their voices, which plead to be noticed, seem trapped in a dark, eternal abyss.  They want to speak for themselves, and get out of the situation. However, at the same time they feel more concerned about their social reputation in life. They feel internal and external pressure to conform to society’s ways. As we have oh, so often learned and personally experienced, those who rebel are frowned upon. Remember the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote I included in my post regarding the relationship between teenagers and parents? “For nonconformity, society whips you with its displeasure.” It’s the same thing with society, which contains about a thousand or more times pressure than a linear or triangular relationship.

Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine named Josh Chen, who started his Freshman year in college this year, about nonconformity. Part of it was about Transcendentalism, which he is quite strongly opinionated in. One of his former high school teachers inspired him to write an independent blog. However, according to another friend of mine who is in the same grade as me, the high school teacher stopped writing his column for the Fremont Argus newspaper. Interestingly enough, my college friend resembled this event to Professor Keating being fired in Dead Poets Society, if you’ve ever seen that movie. But it does make sense. Whatever happened to “Be true, be true, be true.”, quoted from The Scarlet Letter? No one is ever true to themselves anymore. No one is ever true to others around them. And no one is ever true to their beliefs. Basically, no one acts like themselves anymore. But as I implied before, there’s always this internal and external pressure to conform to society’s ways. Our brains are naturally born to conform to the ways of society, at least in my view.

As it has always been, the outspoken is frowned upon. Do what everyone else is doing so you don’t get in trouble. It’s as if each and every section of society has its own set of rules like a club. Every club has to have some kind of government associated organization. But those who consider themselves to be the majority of one, the outcasts of society, choose to be their own captain. They choose to lead their own selves and step out of box of society. That is what Walt Whitman’s poem “Oh Captain, My Captain” is about. However, each and every day, social conformity shows itself to be a greater strength than transcendentalism.

(Side note: If you have never seen Dead Poets Society, I suggest you watch it. It’s a really good, powerful, and inspirational movie.)

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