Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Type II Peer Pressure

The activity looked interesting until someone made a snide remark about it. After that, it somehow lost its appeal.

I first heard about peer pressure through the D.A.R.E. program in elementary school. From D.A.R.E.’s perspective, peer pressure was the way friends convinced other friends to do drugs. As I grew older, I noticed that peer pressure was not just about drugs. It was a way friends convinced other friends to partake in activities they otherwise would not. Thus, the college student that found himself out with friends on a night he was planning on staying in was as much in the realm of peer pressure as the one that tried LSD because his frat brothers were doing it. Even this definition of peer pressure leaves out certain cases, so I will call it Type I peer pressure.

Recently, I noticed a colleague had shaved off a mustache he had started growing only a month earlier. When I asked why, he responded, “Because people were making fun of me for it.” He had succumbed to Type II peer pressure. What is Type II peer pressure? It is when friends influence friends to give up an activity or action they are doing or want to do. Often, this is accomplished through sarcasm, mockery, and other passive-aggressive behavior.

While one might recall ways to deal with Type I peer pressure from D.A.R.E., what recourse does someone undergoing Type II peer pressure have? Perhaps they are as self-evident as the ones in the “Bells” episode of Blackadder, but I see three options. First, acquiesce to the will of these friends. This is the path of least resistance. However, the person that does this too often falls prey to becoming a parrot of these friends. The second option is to continue the activity and stop associating with said friends. People that only want to hang out with those “supportive of their goals” or those that agree with them on all issues fall into this category. However, this can be unsatisfactory because one loses friends this way.

The third response is to continue the activity and continue hanging out with those friends. This feels like the ideal solution, but it can be difficult to implement for fear that said friends may continue to ridicule the action or activity and indirectly the person partaking in it. Thus, one must be comfortable enough to face such ridicule to take this approach, which could vary in degree based on the activity or action.

Of course, peer pressure of either type is not inherently bad. Friends may introduce us to new activities and interests. They may also warn us away from activities we would end up disliking. Determining whether or not to play Follow the Leader is then a matter of personal judgment.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Past Posts « Dirty Hands

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