It is said that our choices define us, and reveal our characteristics and personality. We all make different decisions and this variety is what makes life interesting. If everyone was the same we would all get bored of each other pretty quickly…or would we? In a society dictated by trends of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ everyone is encouraged to look the same, eat the same, be the same. And if you’re not the same yet, you soon will be.
Different is not cool, and it’s not accepted. In some cases, it’s not even understood. We don’t like different. We treat it with suspicion, as we might treat a strange fungus festering at the back of the fridge. It will be subjected to much prodding and poking and attempts at removal, and eventually left alone once it has been ascertained that there is no threat or danger of invasion. As long as it sits quietly in the corner, we will treat it as some dysfunctional anomaly and ignore it.
Being different means standing out from the crowd. In most cases though, people who are different don’t want to stand out; they just want to be themselves. But to be unique is to risk social exclusion. Society does not understand why you would want to make your own choices when you could just follow the crowd and never have to think for yourself again. Life could be so easy!
As soon as you make a choice, you have to be prepared to defend it. From the car you drive, to the food you eat, right down to your decision to wear blue and orange stripy socks today, you will be questioned. And if your answers aren’t satisfactory then you will be put in the stocks of social status and humiliated until you conform. But conform to what? No matter what you do, you will never please everyone. If you have a Blackberry like half of the population, then the other half will tell you to get an iPhone. And if you have neither you’ll probably be sent to the doctors’ to check that you’re human.
Everything I’ve said so far has obviously been something of a generalisation but the fact still stands: we have to defend ourselves constantly in order to survive day-to-day life. We live in a tough, cynical society where the concept of accepting things at face value is inconceivable. I have never felt the need to justify my choices as some people do, and have always interpreted their self-absorbed wittering as a sign of insecurity. But increasingly I find myself engaging in this attack-and-defend tussle almost as a form of conversation and it is exhausting. It is sad really, that we feel the need to confront others just to make ourselves feel a little more confident about our own choices. So from now on, I refuse to defend my decisions – not because they can’t be defended but because they shouldn’t need to be.