As human beings we love showing off our individuality. This isn’t a bad thing. Why shouldn’t I show off my new Timberland boots on social media? It shows that I’ve worked hard to buy them. It represents my taste in clothing. Believe it or not, it also represents my culture. My hairstyle, accent, and choice in music represent me as a person. But how am I different from others?
Our society is one ruled by the media. Let’s look at the NBA. I don’t watch basketball until the playoffs. I feel that the NBA is rigged. NBA superstars are promoted rather than the team they play on. You will never see a small market team win a championship (besides the Spurs). The NBA is a business rather than a sports league.
Why would anyone want to see the Utah Jazz win a championship? Unless you’re a basketball enthusiast, you won’t know the starting center for the Jazz. The Jazz have nothing to bring to the table. Should the Jazz make it to the finals, NBA ratings will go down the toilet. Why care for a team that you know nothing about?
I don’t keep up with basketball at all. Well, I do, via Bleacher Report. But that isn’t the point. Let’s look at an example.
My friend knows nothing about basketball. He doesn’t follow sports. Nonetheless he’d recognize Steph Curry if he saw him on the A train. He’d recognize Ayesha and Riley. How are Steph Curry’s wife and daughter relevant to the game of basketball? They aren’t. Social media, news outlets, magazines, and television promote issues which are more or less irrelevant.
Everybody and they momma watches the BET Awards and the Grammy’s. Why would anyone wanna watch someone they don’t know win an award? I don’t. BET ain’t giving me no award, so why should I watch? It’s like going to a graduation ceremony for the sake of watching people graduate.
The day after the BET Awards, everybody and they momma stay talking about it. As I don’t follow the crowd, I find myself having nothing to talk about nor anyone to talk to. My interests don’t align with the interests of the majority. Thus I find myself alienated from friends, family, and coworkers.
Is my situation one of alienation or individuality?
I don’t choose to be different. I choose not to indulge myself with the issues and interests of mainstream society. As a person, I am different. I am an individual. I am a person with different ideas, beliefs, and interests.
None of my friends know who the last General Secretary of the Soviet Union was. None of my friends know what “the Derg” was. None of my friends listen to Blackstreet, SWV, or Carl Thomas. Why is it so difficult to relate to my peers?
For the sake of supporting my argument, I googled individuality. Individuality means, “the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind, especially when strongly marked.”
We are all unique. Your race, culture, religion, etc. define you as a person. But as a society, how do we express ourselves as individuals? Are our interests different from that of the person sitting next to you? Let’s look at an example.
Many feel that tattoos and piercings are expressions of individuality. Are they?
Tattoos and piercings are unique, but they are not an expression of individuality. How are you expressing yourself as an individual if every other person has a tattoo or piercing? There’s only a limited amount of places on your body that can be pierced. Will dudes start piercing their colon? I hope not.
Some claim tattoos are an expression of love, experiences, etc. How is tattooing the name of your significant other on your arm an expression of love? When you love someone you express your love through actions.
I love my wife, I love my husband, my children, my neighbors, my parents, etc. Therefore, I will try to express my love by praying for them. I will try to express my love by encouraging them through difficult situations. How does a tattoo express love? It doesn’t.
I’m not looking down on people with tattoos or piercings. I am not God. However, I do feel that they are a socially accepted ritual that expresses a need to be accepted or noticed. Think about it. Would you get a septum piercing if you were the only human on Earth? In a broader sense, would you dress the way you do if you were the only human on Earth? Would you wear clothes at all? I think not.
Many of our actions are based upon the perceptions of others. Why wear makeup or comb your hair before going out? I’m not saying that we should stop expressing ourselves all together. We should stop believing that trends and rituals are expressions of who we are as people. We must broaden our interests rather than letting the media and mainstream society define it for us.
You may alienate yourself from others because of your interests or beliefs. But, they will define you as a person rather than someone who falls in with the crowd.