And we’re done with the holidays. Or as I like to call it, the ‘silly season’.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having a bit of time of, relaxing a bit. Which you should have noted by the lack of blogposts the last 2 weeks. I’m doing this as a hobby, but if you never take a break even a hobby can start to feel like work. And that’s the last thing you want.

The reason I call it the silly season is obvious. People do a lot of silly stuff. Stuff they would normally not do. Like hanging up a gazillion lights, drink ridiculous cocktails and kiss way too much.

But the real silly part is that a lot of people do a lot of stuff they really don’t want to do. Because of social and peer pressure.

Going because you have to.

This of course is something that will happen all year. But even more so during the Christmas season. A lot of time people go to family gatherings or office party’s simply because they feel they have to, even though they don’t enjoy them. Or sometimes downright hate them.

I’m not one of them. I haven’t been for a long time. My family and friends know I won’t come over to something I don’t like. They gotten used to it. In fact, they appreciate it when I do show up, because they know it means I thought it would be fun to come over.

My girlfriend used to be very different. And up to a point she still is. Even though part of her family is very bad in social pressure. And I mean really bad. They are really mad if you don’t show up, or if you decide you don’t like their group gift idea and get something of your own. (I should mention there are good people present there as well, pew :p)

They are also still the kind of people who think a women’s worth is mostly defined by her children and husband, or at least boyfriend. So a lot of peer pressure there as well.

My girlfriend is still partly influenced by it, although it definitely is getting better. She is learning to say no to put herself above this. But you don’t just erase years of ‘indoctrination’ so a lot of times she still feels bad because of it.

Peer pressure and it’s dangers.

Peer pressure is almost always a bad thing. There are a few exceptions, when it’s used to keep people away from real problematic behaviour. Things like addiction, violent behaviour etc. But when peer pressure involves things like social decisions, the way you dress or what you choose for an education, it is always a bad thing. Always.

When parents pressure their children into an ‘economical sound’ degree? Bad!

When parents force their kids to pick up an instrument or a sport they don’t like? Bad!

When parents indoctrinate their kids into a religion. Any religion? Really bad!

Again, there are some exceptions. You should probably keep your kids away from those drug addicts down the street or those religious hate preachers. But those are exceptions, and there are a lot less of them than people tend to think.

Peer pressure is a psychological weapon. It can also be emotional blackmail. Notice the terminology here. It’s no coincidence I use terms that can also be associated with crime. (Actually, I don’t automatically associate a weapon with crime but that’s another story). If you use peer pressure you are in fact harming another person, and you create a potential victim.

Strong words? You bet. That’s because I feel strongly about the subject.

Take action.

That means I think everyone should do 2 things. You know I like self-reflection right?

Firstly, evaluate if you use peer pressure yourself. If you are honest with yourself and find you do, please stop doing it. Instead, start being honest. Just explain to people why you would like them to come over, consider a certain study field or instrument. Be honest, share your feelings but don’t pressure them into ‘the right thing to do’. And whatever you do, don’t use arguments like ‘you would really show you’re a friend if you … ‘or ‘As your parent I deserve …’ etc.

Secondly, do some soul-searching and make sure you don’t do too much stuff to please others, and as little as possible because ‘it’s expected of you’. Or because ‘it’s not done to not do it’.

Morale: peer pressure is almost always bad.

If you need help resisting peer pressure, there's a book I can recommend. Get it on amazon or amazon.uk.

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