(or One of Us…One of Us)
You are born, then you die; and, in the middle, people think that you are some kind of weirdo. It is inevitable. Whenever you get more than one person in a room they will find something to disagree about. (Usually politics, religion, or some other trivial matter.)
In school, we would gather in our little cliques. Be they jock, nerd or children of the corn, a group’s main aim was to erase your identity and replace it with someone else’s expectations. Like a cult or a marketing agency, any difference was seen as bad. Peer pressure to conform is a powerful tool in the hands of inexperienced teenagers. It is a devastating weapon to those of a poor moral character.
It is in our monkey nature, I suppose. We gather into tribes for security. We are suspicious of every strange noise in the tall grass. We fling our…well, let’s not belabour the monkey metaphor. The point is we pay a price of conformity for our sense of safety.
That doesn’t mean we can’t test the boundaries of our self-imposed prison. Within groups there must be variation and subgroups form around shared interests, even stamp collecting. We need to encourage that spark of creativity. It is the only thing that will save us from the abattoir of dreams that passes for culture today. We need to be fearless and (metaphorically) run naked through the streets. Embrace your inner nerd.
Yes, there will be mistakes but not more than usual. Embarrassment is a temporary thing but a good anecdote will get you free cocktails for a lifetime. We need to be more accepting of our differences because we are all the same. Our needs and desires are universal despite their outward appearances.
So be a weirdo, an artist, a free thinker, and a fool. Or if you can’t, at least leave the rest of us alone. Don’t be the monkey.