Peer Pressure? Monster or Myth?
Do people really do things because their friends are doing it?
I suppose people join clubs, join social networks, attend movies at others’ recommendations – but do people really do things they don’t want to do because their friends are?
Is it not more likely that these people are their friends because of the choices the person has already made?
I think that peer pressure may be a myth that parents use to excuse their children’s behaviour, choices or actions: that they got in with the wrong crowd.
Maybe they are the wrong crowd.
I could be wrong. Maybe it is distressing to feel you are about to be socially isolated if you do not conform to expected standards. Maybe you feel you have to compromise your own will in order to be included and liked. Why would anyone want to be included and liked by people who were pressuring you to betray yourself?
Peer pressure, if it exists, is a result of the education system. By banging up children all day every day with their peer group, they will be left in no doubt about the kind of behaviours and choices that result in inclusion and acceptibility in that group.
Yesterday at church we were, well I was, and I think we were, considering peer pressure.
On the first Palm Sunday everyone was swept along, welcoming Jesus as king. By the end of this week we will be considering how the tide turned, how the crowd changed, and even Jesus’ closest friends bowed to the pressure of those around them, and he was rejected as king and executed.
Mob mentality is a strange thing. People swept away by the mood around them.
What’s that “If” poem? Here’s a link to the whole text.
The poem begins:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
..you’ll be a man, my son.
I like the lines:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken…
After my reflections on the words triumphal and triumphant yesterday, I am interested to see Triumph and Disaster as “imposters”.
The Triumphal entry into Jerusalem was short lived, and the disaster of “Good” friday was the moment of victory.
If the Palm Sunday crowd were the “right crowd” and the Good Friday mob were the “wrong crowd”, it is probable that they contained many of the same people, who couldn’t “keep their head” on either occasion.
I love ideas, perusasion, argument and thought.
This verse comes to mind:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans ch 12 verse 2
Not so much keeping one’s own head, but having it transformed…
I feel myself slipping back into my “be true to yourself” argument… back to Tinkerbell’s vocation, Tony Campolo’s onion…