You are a special snowflake

Someone said that, if people were free to do as they pleased, they would imitate one another. The simple feeling of being inadequate, or jealous of someone else, clearly means that it’s impossible for individuals not to affiliate with others. Conformity, to a certain extent, is welcome and necessary.

being unique and conforming

Fun fact!

The theory that sees people conform to a group so that they belong and, at the same time, are unique, is called ‘optimal distinctiveness’. I call it 'special snowflake syndrome'.

What’s even more interesting is that one could show his or her individuality by conforming to the norms of a specific group. Example, when someone was much more of an emo than you were because they checked all the boxes of said fashion/lifestyle. From backcombed hair to Vans shoes.

And everyone else was just a poser.

But how do we know what to copy, and from whom? We are surrounded by a plethora of opinions and personalities. In this infinite realm of choice, our pick seems to follow by default what we see others do. As a matter of fact, the more ideas and opportunities we could potentially come across, the less researching it takes us to make a decision within our lifespan. Under these circumstances, social imitation has gotten easier and faster than ever.

On a practical level, we see this optimal distinctiveness more often than we realise. For example, when the ‘normcore’ anti-fashion trend resurfaces from the ocean of fashion; carrying the message that the most unique thing to do is to reject being unique altogether. Bring on the new balance sneakers, and unremarkable denim! 'Normcore' is, of course, not catch-free. If obedience to fashion consists in imitation of an example, conscious neglect of fashion represents similar imitation, only under an inverse sign. Georg Simmel said that.

Sociologists would say that the individual drive to be like others, to fit in, and yet be different, could intensify into common trends. Sociologists use words such as micro-motives and macro-behaviours to describe this. Bottom line is: the average human being knows that these waves, or trends, will come, but it is difficult to tell from there in the random ocean of personalities they will swell.

Post inspired by 'You may also like', a book by Tom Vanderbilt
Image: via

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