Conforming individuality

Yes, this is an oxymoron, but it's an oxymoron that plays a key role in your social life.

Conforming individuality is when a person is put into a subcategory no matter what they do. It's classification of groups of people and putting one person into that group because of what the masses say you are.

Example: You try to be your own self. You dress individually, you act individually, you even walk individually, but no matter which way you dress, act or walk, someone has already done it and you are then classified into THEIR sub-group. Goth, preppie, computer-nerd, grunge, red-neck, hick, etc.

Individuality, according to society, is just an illusion. Here is some text I found off of Hypertext Psychology:
Conformity involves the changing of one's attitudes, opinions, or behaviors to match the attitudes, opinions, or behaviors of other people. This pressure to act like other people, sometimes despite our true feelings and desires, is a common everyday occurrance. This is do to the implied and spoken rules of the situation.

These "norms" tell us what we should or ought to be thinking, feeling, or doing if we want to fit in with a particular group. Most people conform to norms without much thinking about it. For example, most people tip in restaraunts, raise their hand when wishing to speak in a group setting, or sit down when they eat. While none of these incidences involve formal rules, most people comply with them. However, there are certain times when people are more or less likely to conform to the existing norms. Several factors affect the degree to which conformity will occur.

Standing out as an individual has become a conformity in its own right. Commercials tell us to "Do our own thing" and "be ourselves" and we can do so by drinking their soda or driving their cars. Pop culture has made it so inescapable to be a conformist that no matter how hard one tries not to be part of the crowd, one still becomes part of the crowd. Even punk rock which was a staple of non-conformity has become a conformity.

Some people try to prove they're an individual by doing something stupid that nobody else has done, like jumping off of buildings while naked with a cape or riding on top of cars at speeds of 100 MPH. Even when someone tries to do something nobody else has done, somebody else starts doing it with you. These people are called "posers", but even with posers you have lost your individuality.

Now, you could constantly change your style, so that nobody would be able to pin conformity upon you, but then you would be labeled insane, and that's still a conformity.

Some say having a belief system is conformity; sheep to the slaughter you might say. The truth would be then that we are all sheep going to the slaughterhouse. We all hold some sort of belief system and with well over 6 billion people in the world, someone is likely to share that with you. Conformity in your own belief can become so through blindly following steps. Buddha said it best: Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. (paraphrased)

The only one can truly show themselves as an individual in a society that puts us all into groups, is to be active in what you believe. My friend e-hadj mentioned to me that conforming individuality = reactive: defined by what one is against. True individuality = active: defined by what one is for.

So basically, there is no way to escape social conformity, EXCEPT by just being who you are and not letting a "label" get to you. Labels are society's way of putting someone into a box. It is inherent in us humans to put people in boxes, just because they "look" different on the outside. If we all could immediately see what is inside when we looked at somebody, there might not be any boxes.

Archibald Macleish: The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.