www.whyville.net Aug 1, 2010 Weekly Issue

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Sheep in a Herd

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"Not all those who wander are lost." ~J.R.R. Tolkien


When we hear this word, most of our brains instantly make the connection to the topic of being like everyone else, "conforming" to the world.


However, when we see this word used in daily lives, in stereotypes and in defensive arguments, our minds tend to wander to a negative idealistic of what this overrused word has become. In other words, nonconformist doesn't mean to not conform or to avoid succumbing to the pressures of the world around you anymore. It's taken on a whole new definition, and this new idea for nonconformity isn't exactly a good one.

The general population of teens has decided to transform the basic idea of nonconformity by stating that every nonconformist is simply conforming to all the other so-called nonconformists. In other words, nobody can ever be different and everyone acts like someone else. The reason this innovative definition of nonconformity came upon us is because now young adults are characterizing themselves as a different kind of person just because they bash the materialistic and emotional possessions that might make someone "popular". Which makes being a nonconformist a "cool" thing, so more people try to do it which turns the entire definition in on itself and makes nonconformism just the same as conformism.

Get the picture?

Yeah, it's a pretty confusing topic. Now, I'm not about to go against this idea and say that this kind of nonconforming is totally not what it's cracked up to be and is different than what people stereotype it as and blah blah blah, because that's simply not the truth. Now-a-days, being a distinct individual is becoming extremely popular, and it seems that all those differences are the exact things that are making everyone the same. So, everything stated above has some hypothetical truth to it. The only problem is this: if nonconforming is conforming, what is an actual nonconformist? I'm not a psychologist, I don't know much about the human brain or about why we exist on the planet, but I do have an opinion on this whole discussion. You can disagree all you want, you can call me a hypocrite and whatever other names that suit your liking, but in reality everything we debate about is opinion and it changes as the world changes. So, bash my thinking all you want. It's only my opinion, for now.

Back on the subject. The literal definition for nonconformist at dictionary.com is this:
1. a person who refuses to conform, as to established customs, attitudes, or ideas.

That doesn't help much, now does it? All it says is that being a nonconformist is refusing to do what everyone else does. The problem I see with this idea is that it doesn't tell us why this person refuses, why this person is different, why they deserve to be called a nonconformist when everyone else is simply conforming. So to help sort things out, I've added my own opinion based on how our generation sees it.

In my view, a nonconformist isn't someone who says "Facebook sucks" because many people are obsessed with it and they refuse to be apart of anything that more than 20 people like. They aren't a person who goes against what someone says just to wreak havoc and show that they believe in something completely different, because that honestly doesn't prove anything. No, that's not the type of "different" that this can refer to anymore considering it's almost like that's the "cool" thing to do with rebellion and such.

Nonconformism goes much deeper than these simple explanations. Being different isn't about being opposite, it's not about instantly going against what's popular or pretending to hate the newest and best things. A nonconformist's mind separates itself from that of others and considers things in an unique light.

A nonconformist isn't someone who disagrees, but rather someone who questions. They use the word "why" and are interested in hearing another side, interested in figuring it out, not interested in being right or making someone else feel bad. Nonconformists take time to look at things that other people don't consider, they are the greatest inventors and the most creative people. They aren't sheep traveling with the rest of the herd, they're the ones you find strolling off to contemplate why a dog is chasing them into everyone else.

So think again. Be a real nonconformist. Change this stereotypical world. Why not?


Author's Note: I found the quote at the top of the page at: http://www.quotegarden.com/conformity.html
And of course, the definition for "nonconformity":
Thank you to cbeatles, whose article last week on Conformity inspired me to write about Nonconformity.


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