The Observer

The Observer

Are stereotypes bringing you down? It’s not your fault

The desire to fit in is a natural human behavior, just don’t lose yourself in pursuit of another personality

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Are stereotypes bringing you down? It’s not your fault

Nick Tucker, Staff Reporter

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Every generation thinks in somewhat of a unique way and one of the things that sets ours apart is the concept of “the brand” which has made its way into our collective consciousness.

It’s this notion that we need to develop an easily defined and instantly recognizable aesthetic that is somehow also totally unique. While it is a paradoxical thing to aspire to, it does make sense. We’ve gotten tired of the old archetypes that a person can embody: hipster, skater, jock are all too simple and cliché for us now, and we want to be seen as the complex beings that we are.

However, our aspirations don’t change the facts that we all, on some level, want to belong and people naturally categorize things into easily understandable groups, including other people. How are you going to decide whether you want to spend time interacting with someone other than to make an assumption about their personality based off of the limited information you have? This leaves many people feeling like they have to put on an oversimplified mask of themselves that will never be as nuanced as people actually are.

But appearances aren’t just the clothes you wear and the things you own It’s the way you act and carry yourself. The Darth Vader costume is impressive, but it doesn’t really inspire fear if the man inside it hums showtunes.

So we make little changes to fit in. We try to talk more like the people we want to fit in with, we dress a little differently than we might otherwise. This is fine and natural, as everybody adapts a little to fit into different environments. But we can’t pretend that we can keep making lots of those little external changes for a long time and remain unaffected internally. The environment we put ourselves in changes us. The brain is very adaptable, and will adapt in spite of our intentions.

If we live a huge portion of our lives in an environment that caters to easily-recognizable, easily­-defined aesthetics and personalities, of course we are going to try and adapt to fit into that environment.

By no means do I think that the internet is a scourge on humanity, but with such a massive new environment for people to be living their lives in, there are going to be ways that people are negatively impacted. There is plenty of research showing that our brains sometimes treat online figures the same way that it treats people in our everyday lives. They try to adapt to fit in like brains do, and in this case that means trying to act the same way our favorite online creators do: recognizable, always likable and always in-character.

The problem with this is that we are trying to act like people who don’t exist. We act like characters created by people who aren’t always those characters. The creators we love aren’t always like their online personas, and while our conscious brain may recognize that, the subconscious brain only sees the face they present and tries to adapt to that face.

This may be complicated, but that’s sort of the world we live in now. The advice I have to give is just to pay attention to the environment you put your brain in. Are you surrounded by good people? Are you doing what makes you happy? If the answer is no to either of those questions, it’s no fault of your own. But it’s your brain and it always will be. It’s adaptive, it wants to belong, and it’s been shaped by millions of years of evolution to be very good at its job.

 

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