Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Does Sameness = Lameness? What does it mean to be distinct?
I find this “individuality” craze to be totally peculiar. I really hate to pull on the book The Rebel Sell, since so much if it just offends me entirely, but the authors make a good point- 
It used to be that the small, individual, elite group was looked on by the masses with distain. At the turn of the century, industrialization and urbanization polarized the western world, and people were very clearly in either the group of Haves or of Have-nots. The have-nots were the majority, and they were fuckin pissed with the haves. So, being in that elite group made you an ostracized member of society. 
However, with the establishment of a solid middle-class, something changed- suddenly we want to be that elite, we want to be one of the few: we don’t want to be just one of the masses, but we want to stand out. We want to be individuals. 
Hilariously enough, that still only goes so far- because you can’t be too much of an individual, or suddenly you become ostracized for being weird. 
There’s this odd negotiation right now- finding a way to “stand out” in a way that is still socially acceptable to the majority group, or whatever majority group we envision is judging us. So, does sameness = lameness? Not at all- competing social groups will always judge each other for being “exactly the same”. After all, if you’re outside a group of goths or preps or scenesters, looking inwards at any one of those groups it’s easy to say “but they’re all the same!” However, within the group itself, the minor alterations on a particular style or item distinguish one member from the next.
Distinction seems to be about putting something personal into, for example, your fashion (because it’s simply easier to look at the cover than to read the book itself). It’s about using something that’s either one of a kind, hard to find, or entirely wrought with sentimental value, while still upholding your particular social group’s status quo. 
Sameness = Fitting in, and being Distinct is simply a matter of perspective. 

No comments:

Post a Comment