The joys of society

Analyzing societal standards and their effects


Summer Campbell, Reporter

Imagine being a teenager during the twenty-first century. You have lots of friends, go to school, parties and sporting events, you’re living your life freely. Now imagine being able to do all of that, except every time you do it, you overthink your actions and how others see you. That’s what it’s like being a teenager in this day and age. 

Throughout the years, there has been a standard set for people of all ages in terms of what you wear and how to act. One may say that it is human nature to judge others, but why is a whole society judging you to the point where you can’t even be yourself and do what you want? In a way, it goes against the idea of being unique and different from others. So many people and influencers today preach the notion of “staying true to who you are” and “don’t let others judgements get to you,” but when you think about it, it’s somewhat hard to do so. There are people who in a way determine whether or not you get something. For instance, when you submit a college application, you may have done all of the extracurriculars and gotten good grades but it’s the admission team that decides whether or not you go to that school. If you have an interview for a job, you can answer each question perfectly yet still not get hired. Why is that? It’s because there is a standard set. Standards in life overall dictate what we can do and get, when we know it shouldn’t. It’s a benchmark for so-called “perfection,” and while a standard for a job may be necessary, there shouldn’t be a standard in order to fit into society. 

The standard that exists in today’s society is one that is fueled by money, looks, and overall status. If you don’t dress a certain way, have a car, or even get into a top school, you’re looked at a bit differently. A senior at UHS who would like to stay anonymous stated: “There is some pressure to get into a top school but also to dress nice everyday and act like we’re all okay.” The idea of being put together in all aspects of life is kind of wishful thinking, because nothing is truly perfect. While many teenagers know that they don’t have to fit into the standards set, a junior who also would like to be anonymous says that “I know everyone is different in there own way, but when you see how certain people get praise for looking or acting in a way you don’t, you can’t help but to try to change yourself to that.” It’s the combination of wanting to be yourself but also wanting to be successful, something we all have. In a survey of teens, “61 percent say they face a lot of pressure to get good grades. By comparison, 29 percent say they feel pressure to look good; 28 percent to fit in socially; and just 6 percent to drink alcohol. The other issue is social media” states the National Education Association. Feeling pressure to follow your peers can also be referred to as having a sheep mentality, something lots of us don’t want to admit to. It’s the reason why teenagers participate in underage drinking as well as changing their own behavior. 

Social media being the biggest factor into how societal standards that exist today isn’t surprising at all. In a poll taken of my own Instagram followers, most of them being high school students, 53% said that they are somewhat influenced by what they see on social media. This includes fashion, behavior, and even mentality. Especially which celebrities and influencers, it is easy for anyone to want to follow in their example. Teenagers and even younger kids are highly susceptible to this because of our brains still developing. This has led to teenagers wanting to change their personality and body in unhealthy ways. Seeing certain celebrities looking a specific way on a magazine is basic mind manipulation. It’s important to understand that not everyone looks or acts the same and to know that standards are only standards. Even though it’s easy to give into the standards that are set, you have to try to step out of them. Become aware that there is no wrong way to live, no wrong personality, and there is no wrong body. 

Standards are called standards for a reason, they set a level of what is considered normal; and while I may not know everything, I’m pretty sure standards are meant to be broken. So go break them.