Simon Says "Conform!"
Simon Says “Become a Clone!”
Clones are taking over the world! They walk among everybody without concern, nobody cares. That is because these “clones” are today’s young people. Although there are exceptions, young people feel a need to conform. A desire to fit in and to be liked by everybody drives young people day to day. It does not help that the media is hovering over them holding high standards for what people should be, never leaving room to consider what people could be. Pressure comes from every direction, pressure to conform, to look good, to succeed, to have a family, and the pressure from within demanding perfection. Pressure is applied to clay in order to shape the figure being created. If pressure is applied from all sides, perfect figure is not achieved, the end results is simply a mess. The same can be said about people, when pressure is applied from all sides what is left? Definitely not a person! Rather a person like figure, a clone to be precise; mindless, unoriginal, lacking imagination and unable to become truly happy. With so much pressure, and so many unachievable desires for perfection, young people are not and cannot develop a sense of authenticity.
Simon says “dress like this.” By “this” Simon means like everybody else, Simon being the top labels and name brands. Young people want to fit in; they are at a stage in their development where they need to fit in, to feel liked and to feel like they are valued. In an attempt to fit in they may try to conform, the whole idea of “monkey see, monkey do.” Following the reasoning of what better way is there to ensure acceptance, then simply to mimic those who will be providing acceptance. The result is name brand worship. Clothing and cosmetic retailers understand this need to fit in and manipulate people for their own benefit.
Clothing is the best example, it is almost always advertised in a way the makes it seem not only socially accepted, but socially demanded. Advertisements often show people wearing designer clothes, having a great time with a bunch of their friends or there are two people in the advertisement also wearing brand names with obvious sexual implications. There are two ways to interpret these advertisements; wear these clothes and be loved while fitting in or do not wear these clothes and be alone. Either way, the end result is that the brand of clothing becomes essential to young people concerning their self-esteem and confidence. They will feel as if they must have the clothes or else they cannot be happy. The clothing industry makes a big profit, but the consumers are losing sight of what is really important. Young people cannot develop their own sense of individuality and authenticity under such conditions. The acceptance that is being used as bait is only an illusion. Illusions cannot bring happiness, at least not genuine happiness. Young people will not resist the urge to conform because they fear rejection and the pain of loneliness. It is difficult to find one’s true self; the burdens one faces on that road to self discovery make us leave the comfort of conformity. Therefore, society brings us to the conclusion, "Obey Simon, it is just easier.”
People should look like Simon, act like him, and talk like him —end of discussion. When it comes to the media, specifically television, there really is no room for opinion nor discussion. Television shows are all the same. There are different genres, but within the genres there is barely any straying outside of the norm. From the scripted reality shows to the animated comedies, the happy and popular people are depicted as “perfect”. They are thin, “beautiful” to media standards, and typically well off financially. Young people spend a lot of time being influenced by these images of the media standard. The media is at the top of the list for barriers in authenticity. It provides entertainment, advertisement and apparently directions in how to live life. Forget Simon, he is just a puppet controlled by the massive industry which is the media. Without the media there would not be such a strong desire for name brands in today’s society. Television and billboards display flawless models, wearing top name brands and all behaving alike. Everything about the new computers is advertised as superior yet always forgotten is the way computers are so handy in “fixing” people. Making people look flawless. Even the music industry, there are the different genres but people are typically expected to stick to the popular.
When they stray, genres such as alternative rock and metal are born. New names for people are created to name these musical rebels. These names such as “emos” and “Goths” are just street names for people who like certain types of music or dress out of the norm. These people are media rebels trying to be themselves, but this self that they have created is also media influenced. The rebels claim to not fall prey to these influences, but the movies and television shows display rebels in certain ways, and the young people who consider themselves to be rebels follow just the same as anybody else. This is not being genuine to the definition of being a rebel and so is not authentic. In this way people are creating their own sense of false authenticity without realizing that they are still just the media’s puppets, dangling just below Simon.
Computers are another issue within the media providing a distraction from real issues. Rather than living out their own lives people can now live through their electronics. Online chat, online shopping, online dating, human contact is no longer necessary. The media allows theses distractions to continue, even adding to them. Newspapers and magazines are covered in news about favorite celebrities and gossip, while news such as natural disasters is acknowledged but hardly as important to the consumers. How can youth learn to be true to themselves when they cannot even distinguish what is important anymore. The media hides real issues behind entertainment but there are still sources to find the truth. News channels are often about real issues with only occasional bits of entertainment news leaking in, but there are too many options. Young people do not want to see real news when just a channel away is the top music countdown. Basically the media tells people what to think and what to think about. Conforming has become so convenient that authenticity no longer matters; people are losing their voices but do not even realize it or care enough to fix it. The media encourages this behavior, opinions are not important; they do not help youth fit in. Nobody said that the media should not run society, so why not? Just follow the leader, be a good little cloned puppet!
People are following Simon and dancing on the media’s puppet strings, but both are just products of people; the people which have more authority. Today’s society demands conformity to a certain extent. The people with power who control the media and the popular brands are catering to conformity but besides them, everyday people want it too. Whether it is schools using uniforms to dress all the students alike eliminating their self expression in dress, or the retail jobs doing the exact same. Everybody is forced to dress the same; many companies will not even allow hair or nail colors outside of what is natural. This is giving the message that to succeed in work or school everybody must be alike. Even schools without uniforms fall into the trap of conformity. Good teaching is not as important as following a step by step curriculum. Ignoring the individual students, valuing them as a group and focusing on the idea that they are all on the same academic level.
Without meaning to parents may also add to these implications, the innocent comments comparing siblings or friends may make youth strive to be just like somebody else. Authenticity cannot exist in these conditions. Too much importance is put on similarity, and too many consequences are linked with being different. People are teased; there are so many forms of discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, and so many other ways to put down people who are different. Nobody wants an authentic self if it means being hurt or alone. Fear is the greatest incentive to obey the societal norms. With connections made to being the same or being different it is no wonder people choose to mimic the behaviours of other people. Life is made easier, false happiness is found, popularity, people only forget that a sense of self-worth and value are more important than shallow desires. The psychological benefits of being true to one’s self are outweighed by the slight benefits of following the path laid out by other people. Simply put people are like sheep, just following one another not caring about the destination, or the hidden wolves, all that is important is blending in.
Due to the extensive control of the media, social pressures, and the drive to conform, young people cannot develop a sense of authenticity. It is too easy to follow what is displayed as acceptable behavior. Conforming means being obedient and the need for opinion is diminishing, and with it, the ability to be true to one’s self. After all life is all about being the same, about filling the world with little clones, who really wants a sense of self-fulfillment anyways?