There is a fine line that separates conformity from nonconformity, and both of them from intelligent decision making. Although the distinction may seem clear, I believe the difference is far more complex than most people are aware of. Why? Because an accurate measure of conformity or nonconformity is based exclusively on an individual’s true understanding of a subject. It doesn’t matter what decision a person actually makes, or if someone else has made a similar decision. What does matter is the reasoning behind the decision.
Many people believe conformity is tied solely to the act of following the masses. This viewpoint is inherently flawed. Let’s keep this ridiculously simple. The circular tire is one of the most commonly used tools in existence. Am I conforming because I use 4 of them on my automobile? The answer is no. I use them because I have fully evaluated the circumstances and concluded that circular tires get the job done right. Would I be a true nonconformist for trying another shape of tire? No, I would be practicing nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity with no value added, and actually spoiling my productivity in the process.
Conformity is not just about following the masses. True conformity involves following the masses without first evaluating why the masses are doing what they are doing. Many times the masses are correct. If you properly evaluate the circumstances and conclude that the masses are indeed correct, you would be foolish to run the other way, or practice any form of nonconformity.
This brings me to my next point. Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is conformity. When people try too hard to be different, they usually end up being just like everyone else who is trying to be different. Don’t conform to nonconformity for the sake of it. Mindfully evaluate the circumstances. Once you fully understand your options, make the decision that works best for you.
Don’t fall victim to conformity or nonconformity. Use your head!
Here’s a short riddle containing a subtle truth about the reality of conformity and nonconformity in our society:
- Motivational Speaker: Everyone! May I please have just a moment of your time? I have some very important advice for you.
- The Crowd: Yes! We want you to tell us! Please tell us now!
- Motivational Speaker: Try to understand what I’m saying. Most of you seem to have it backwards! You don’t need to follow me, or anyone else for that matter! Each one of you must independently determine what is best for you! You all have the ability to think unique thoughts because you are all individuals.
- The Crowd: Yes, we will determine what is best for us! We can think for ourselves! We are all individuals with unique thoughts!
- Motivational Speaker: Each and every one of you is different!
- The Crowd: Yes, you are right! We are all very different!
- Lone Voice from the Crowd: I’m not…