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In some limited cases people are perceived by others to be different. Neighbors may huddle and talk about family that lives at No29 because they just don’t fit in with street as a whole. But family at No29 has another agenda to follow, they forsake ‘street’ circle for another social or work group to which they will fit in very well and will thus be sheep, tied to that group for their ideologies and trends.
There is a debatable 1% of society that manages to be different and for them life is not so easy. The man who decides that he doesn’t want to drive a car, yet works as a car mechanic might be viewed as weird by rest of world. He would also find it totally impossible to find suitable employment in that field even though he is best mechanic available. He just doesn’t conform. The pregnant mother who tells hospital staff that she doesn’t want a scan of her infant will be talked about in hushed whispers by nurses and doctors, treated at a distance simply because she does not want that which is prescribed by an establishment. But researching these acts of stand alone behavior may at first glance seem worthy but deep down sheep syndrome will rear its ugly head. The mechanic who refuses to drive might be an outcast amongst all other mechanics, with his wife, neighbors, etc. but he will probably be a sheep of another social group. He might be a member of local cycling club, a member of Greenpeace or anti-car society! The pregnant mother who refuses scan may not be so alone after all as back home is a mother and family that fully supports her decision.
True individualism is hard if not impossible to find. At first glance little acts of transgression do surface especially amongst those who can afford to be different, who have power or position to ward off sneers and snide remarks that are synonymous with stand-alone behavior. Pop stars, actors and politicians. The singer who first smashed his guitar on stage did something unusual, yet he left that stage and snorted drugs and abused groupies just like rest of his social group does. The actress who first bared her breasts on screen stepped outside of acceptable moral behavior, yet afterwards she returned to her mansion and party that she was hosting. The conservative politician that dared to suggest that he liked to buy organic food went home to his three-up two-down detached house where his wife and 2.3 kids awaited his return.
Individualism takes courage even if it is only a minute transgression away from that which is deemed acceptable. But what is notable about 1% of society who transgresses briefly is that their small wayward behavior breeds in time to become fully acceptable behavior. That one daring escapade on stage with guitar produced a horde of musicians queuing up at local shop to buy spare guitars and actress who bared her breasts soon found out that every other actress was romping naked and that she had been left behind. Oh, and that politician that had mentioned organic food soon found himself at back of a very large queue at local organic greengrocers.
The true individual who does something that is far-and-away outside of normal, that is not a copycat of any social or work group and that is unknown or just plain different finds life very hard indeed. Words are bandied around like hermit or recluse. Prodigal sons and black sheep flit around followed by scowls and hushed words and more different these people are harder they find it to exist. Generally everybody has to follow or be part of a social group just to be able to survive even if at very least group’s main existence is to be different. Simply by joining “be different group” its members are conforming simply through agreeing to be different.
The only real individuals who are totally and independently different are those who are dead or live in isolation wards at local mental hospital.
Author and Webmaster of Seamania. As a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy he has sailed the world for fifteen years. Now living in Taiwan he writes about cultures across the globe and life as he sees it.