Peer pressure: It’s not an issue confined to the young.
Many of us think we’re immune. Even if you don’t fall in that camp of thought, listen to the claims around you or look at your social media feed. How often do you see declarations of “I’m gonna do what I wanna do.” We think we’re independent, standing on our own in a vacuum, but that’s not true. Even when we reject a certain approach, proclaiming we’re thinking on our own and doing it our own way, the very act of rebellion is still impacted by peer pressure. In some situations, we’re responding in exactly the way people want us to respond. The truth is we’re not going to have original thoughts—maybe original to us, but the ways we respond and process are going to be similar to someone else’s at some point. That’s okay. But we need to be honest about peer pressure.
Especially in today’s culture with so many polarizing topics—whether or not to wear masks, for whom to vote and why, what sources we trust, and the list goes on and on and on—we need to think. We need to use common sense. We need to use our creative and rational minds. God created us with amazing ways to process and think and respond. We get into the habits of certain lines of thought, and we don’t always consider our process.
People share on social media without considering the source (or even without reading the article or weighing the purpose driving the original post). Or we fully reject something because of the source when there is truth in it as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve shared something from a source I generally disagree with but the snippet I share is applicable. We like to fully embrace or fully reject things. It’s easier that way. We want a firm line. But in reality, it’s a bit more mixed. There’s often a little truth in a sea of exaggerations and distortions. And even among a load a truth, there are seeds of doubt and misconceptions.
People claim one stance on mask-wearing until they’re in another crowd. They conform more than they say they will, or they rebel more than they’re willing to admit. And it is good to be flexible. It’s okay to change the approach as the situation changes. What’s not okay is declaring one behavior when living another, or holding some people to a standard yet refusing the same standard for self.
But perhaps that’s expected. We all live with some give and take. Maybe it’s because we’re all growing. But let’s be humble as we do so. Let’s admit we don’t have it all figured out. Let’s leave space for ourselves and others to grow and change. Let’s be willing to see our own faults and admit them. Let’s be aware of the influences on our lives—past and present—and respond well, not rejecting all influences and not embracing them all, but patiently and humbly considering what our best response will be.