Conformity Essay Example

Conformity is defined as, “behavior that is the same as the behavior of most other people in a society, group; the fact or state of agreeing with or obeying something,” (“Conformity”). Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley, is a novel featuring a dystopia with a society that makes its members conform to its standards. Conformity is seen within this novel in ways of how you act, how you look, what you wear, and ultimately how you live. Social media relates to this sort of conformity in the way that it shapes how you perceive something and ultimately sways you in one direction or another. In a study, one-fifth of the girls indicated social media pressure was a contributing factor to their dislike for their bodies (Johnson). Body image is just one of the many things social media configures to create a conformity-convincing atmosphere. Social media pressures teenagers into conforming to acceptable ideals of their buying habits, self-image, and actions that mirror the conformist society in Brave New World.

To begin with, social media serves as an outlet for companies to advertise their brands in a way that appeals to teenagers. The extent of this exposure is the fact that over 250,000 commercial messages are seen by a seventeen-year-old through their whole life (“Introduction to Dieting”). Teens also pay extra attention to advertisements with relatable content and products (“Peers Have”). Advertisers, now more than ever, understand that brand affinity is strong among teens and play on this realization (“Peers Have”). Another way that advertisers sneak their way into teenage brains is by offering free things. “Teens are willing to accept advertising in scenarios where they can get content for free,” (“Peers Have”). By having an incentive of getting a service or product for free, teenagers feel more pushed into conforming. The idea of complying with a certain type of consumerism is shown by Huxley in Brave New World. “We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending” (Huxley 49). This serves as a prime example of how the World Sate conforms to ideas that benefit commercialism just like ours.

Marketers have begun to continuously encourage collaboration. Youth increasingly create their own content, which paves the way for the idea of co-creating; brand-advocating bonds are enriched through marketers sponsoring young creators (Chester, Jeff, and Kathryn Montgomery). Taking advantage of such bonds and promoting their brands by social media is a common theme of marketers (“Peers Have”). Teens rely on their peers for what is the latest in the market.

The "friendship factor" is highly influential in shaping teens' spending habits and their tastes in forms of entertainment and content…They also log on and turn to peers on social networking and content sites such as Facebook and YouTube. For advertisers and marketers, these "influencers" present an opportunity to establish brand loyalty and promote products, services, and content within these groups. (“Peers Have”).

Peers voice their opinions on current trends and influences teens. Marketers use social media sites to exploit teens since they blur the line between what is marketing and what is not (Chester, Jeff, and Kathryn Montgomery). Advertisers use youth collaborators to promote and expedite their sales, mirroring the way people among the World State influence each other into decisions.

Furthermore, advertisers on social media make destructive decisions seem like good ideas. These decisions include the risky behaviors of drugs and alcohol (Raising Children Network). Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco have been glamorized in the media (Clark). Youth are surrounded by commercial culture since infantry; there is no surprise when these messages become disastrous (“Children, Adolescents”). Advertisers show drug use as a common component in society (Chester, Jeff, and Kathryn Montgomery). Annually, two billion ads about alcohol and six billion ads about tobacco are shown with memos appealing to teens (Clark). Advertising plays a big role in the commencement of smoking (Bernards, Neal, and Tom Modl 204). Media advertisers normalize drugs and the World State mimics this with soma, a narcotic.

In addition, the media promotes unrealistic expectations about body image. Huxley shows the effect of society on body image in Brave New World through Lenina: “But you don’t think I’m too pneumatic do you?”(Huxley 93). Lenina is shown to care about her image so vastly that at one point, Bernard believes her to be thinking of herself as meat. This is a common thing in today’s society with girls believing their bodies are not right if they are not exactly like the image the media provides. The media’s painting of thinness as an aesthetic ideal is still quoted by researchers as a contributing factor to body malaise among teens today (Johnson). Teenagers change the way they feel about themselves based on society’s construct of perfection. “Many teenagers feel that the best way to gain social acceptance and avoid being ridiculed by their peers is to achieve society’s ideal body,” (“Introduction to Dieting”). By having such presumptions about their self-image, teenagers change the way they see themselves and in turn, cause problems for themselves. In an interview, forty-seven percent of girls wanted to lose weight because of media influences while only twenty-nine percent of them were overweight (“Introduction to Dieting”). By creating these unrealistic expectations, social media gives teens false hope about their body image, which reflects how the women in Brave New World see themselves.

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Additionally, viewing images of thin celebs changes teens’ ideas of body image. Viewing such images induces negative effects and encourages dieting (“Introduction to Dieting”). Fifty-two percent of American girls under the age of fourteen began dieting (“Introduction to Dieting”). Sixty-nine percent of teens in a study claim that magazine pictures influence their image of the perfect body (Johnson).

It is shown that images such as these have a great impact on a teen’s self-image. “Teenagers place great importance on appearance and social acceptance,” (“Introduction to Dieting”). By viewing pictures of people who live different lives, teenagers are getting the wrong ideas about how they should look. Comparing themselves to models and celebrities sets teens up with unrealistic expectations goals (“Introduction to Dieting”). Being given examples of how they should look, teenagers begin to conform to society’s construct of body image like the people of the World Sate conform to the clothing color they should wear.

Moreover, when unfeasible surmises fall short about their bodies, teens turn to actions that deteriorate their health. Twenty-two percent of teens report feeling hurt when they get minimal likes or comments on their posts (“Teens’ Body-Image”). Messages in the media about weight loss for both beauty and health are dangerous for adolescents (Johnson). Anorexia and bulimia, as well as other eating disorders, can kill and maim, and mean loneliness, isolation, and body harm (Bowen-Woodward 35). One out of ten anorexic girls dies trying to starve herself (Bowen-Woodward 33). Health and body messages found online are confusing and harmful to teens (Johnson). Teens can now find thinspiration and pro-anorexia websites online encouraging dangerous practices and giving detailed instructions about attaining an ideal body (Johnson). A devastating effect that comes with the constant pressure of conforming to the media’s image of a perfect body is when teens stress about the photos they post online (“Teens’ Body-Image”). These ideals create a near-impossible example for teens that is hazardous to their health and reflects the dangerous values shown in Brave New World.

Likewise, social media exhibits themes of violence and adverse behavior that has strong effects on teens. Research about the negative influences on violence and aggressive behavior through media has shown that exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior and violence in certain teens (Clark). Hollywood glamorizes violence, especially guns (Parks). Media shows vulgar language and violence (Raising Children Network). Media influence and involvement increase teen violence and behavioral problems. “‘Children are theoretically more susceptible to behavioral influences when they are active participants than when they are observers,’” (Office of Surgeon General, Clark). This makes clear how social media influences behavior in a negative way. Huxley shows how society can affect a person’s behavior and in turn change it through the character of John: “Like a madman, he was slashing at her with his whip of small cords,” (Huxley 257). He comes from the Savage Reservation, yet after living among the people of the World State, his behavior and attitude change exponentially. For humans, being emotionally curious, more intense emotions equivocate more attention; online this can be a like, favorite, or retweet (Allen). Social media is also proven to interfere with real-life relationships and increase isolation (Parks). Behavioral changes occur when teenagers are pressured into acting like everyone else, a value reflective of the World State’s emphasis on conformity.

In brief, consumerism, body image, and daily behavior are all influenced by social media and conform to socially acceptable paragons, which reflects the Brave New World’s view on conforming to society’s ideals. Social media is a gateway for companies and ideas to reach teenagers in a way that changes their life and is drastically dangerous to their well-being. Media influences, such as those of peers or advertisers, can affect mental and physical health in dangerous and unhealthy ways. Conformity is very common in today's day and age of media culture; because of its pervasive presence in the lives of adolescents, social media and networking can alter a teenager’s life perpetually with a single tweet, comment, or post.

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