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Social Conformity



Everyone wants to feel like they belong somewhere, especially when we get into new situations where we’re surrounded by a different environment, different groups of people, or just a new place in general. But what happens when this innate desire for us to belong somewhere is not controlled and is allowed to overtake our better judgement of things, what’ll end up happening is that we’ll become more and more like our surroundings that we’d like to admit.

Here’s the thing, everyone is a product of their environment, and it’s simply in our nature to try and fit into the crowd. This is called herd mentality, which is when we do whatever it takes to conform to the social norms that had been set just so that we can fit into the society around us to make sure that we don’t stand out in any sort of way. In our ancestors, this means that they’ll have a higher likelihood to survive and not cause any concerns.

But here’s the thing, if we choose to conform to our surroundings, we will, like it or not, develop certain traits that we might not even like.

Remember that one social experiment on YouTube a while ago that went viral? This one. As you can see from the video when someone new comes into a new environment, they might think that the customs within that group to be a little strange, and notice how everyone is doing it, so it must be something normal. But here’s the thing, no matter how strange something might look to them when they had first joined the community, they will almost always end up conforming and will carry out those actions no matter what they are.

This doesn’t just mean that people will queue when there’s a line and line up behind another person just so they could fit in, this means that, if you’re in a work environment and you’re trying your best to conform into the community at hand, you’ll almost always pick up those subtle workplace ethics and cultures that you might not have had personally as an individual. This often means that if you’re in a toxic workplace situation where everyone is mean to one another for no good reason, you’ll inadvertently pass it on to newer members of the group just because that’s how you were taught to behave around other people in the workplace. You become a product of the toxicity in your environment, and here’s the worst part; you’ll poison others too.

For the longest time, this was seen as something normal, because let’s face it, it’s how most of us have survived strange situations for so long. We pretend to follow in the footsteps of others just so that we can fit in and not look like a misfit. But think about it more closely and you’ll see that this will give you nothing. You’ll lose your sense of self, your individuality, and isn’t that just a shame?

Oftentimes workplaces will have rules set in place to ensure that no one is straying too far from what is necessary and doesn’t go rogue. This ensures homogeneity within the group so they can recognize each other. This in itself is not a bad thing, since everyone is just trying to get by, and if following the social cues around the office is the best way to make it through, then they’ll do it. But this will become a bad thing in the long run when you start implementing the same philosophy to everything in life.

Let’s say you’ve made friends with some people who are better off than you and you spend some time with them and they enjoy spending their money recklessly. If you’re the only other person in the group and you don’t do the same thing they’re doing, they might just think that you’re not a good fit for the group, which, in turn, will only make you copy their behavior just so that you can blend into the group. But do realize that, when you’re doing this, you’re doing it at your expense. You lose your sense of self, what you believe in, the things you enjoy, and sometimes, even the values that you hold.

Social conformity is a basic instinct that helps you to blend into your surrounding area, and it’s not a particularly bad thing. It simply means that you are more than capable to blend into your surroundings better than others. But that’s about where the positivity ends and the negativity starts. For one thing, you’ll begin questioning yourself, if these behaviors that you’ve picked up when trying to blend in go against the values that you hold dear, goes against everything you believe in, you’ll have a hard time justifying those actions to yourself and you’ll end up putting unnecessary mental strain on yourself.

You can also see this from social media, where everyone is getting increasingly excited to outdo the other person when it comes to showing the world how “happy” they are, or how great their “life” is. More often than not, these people are just putting up a mask to show the world, and that’s how they manage to get by, but since social media have grown into such an important part of our lives, we tend to see social media as more of a community, and we just desperately want to blend in. We start doing everything we can to copy these people, share the same values that they do, and ultimately, become one of them. But here’s the thing, you’re not going to get much out of it, you won’t be happy just because you “fit in”. Be true to yourself, follow the things you believe, and do the things you love regardless of how the community thinks of it.

Herd mentality is meant for group survival, but living in an age where individuality is greatly rewarded and praised, you don’t need to try your best to conform to your surroundings. Be yourself, do what you love, and by doing so, you’ll stop being a sheep.

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