“You must fit in.”
God I hate that turn of phrase. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It’s like telling someone to think a certain way, act a certain way, do whatever is accepted by the mainstream because you’re going to be alone otherwise. It’s just such a profoundly limited worldview. It’s futility squared.
Someone told me that phrase today. It’s as if that person was searching for my collective panel of buttons and pushed the nuclear option. I was flabbergasted at it. It’s so ridiculous and asinine to ask that of me – GREG HUGHES, a guy that’s never known what it feels like to truly belong – that I wanted to laugh and puke at the same time.
Talking about conformity and the ability of the average person to “fit it” as it were is, normally, something you’d espouse philosophical when you’re a teenager. Ah yes, those glorious years of being a teenager. I can recall those days vividly, thanks to my photographic memory – a fact I’m increasingly finding myself on opposite extremes of whenever I consider their benefit or hazard to my sense of self. I don’t like remembering certain things. High school’s mostly of that vintage. So are nights at The Toucan, indie bands that barely register beyond some wannabe-hipster’s image of themselves and a few people over the years that taught me a thing or two about the fluidity of trust (i.e. the Modern Rule of Trust – not only is trust earned, not given freely, but you better believe it can be taken away as fast as a Twitter post).
Anyway, I was reading Norman Mailer’s seminal essay The White Negro the other day. It’s a pretty amazing read, save for the momentary lapse into paragraphs that sound and look like they were written on a bad, choppy, broken-down typewriter. But no matter – it’s still one hell of a good read.
Mailer makes a point at the beginning that’s surprisingly apt for the time we live in. In the course of the recent century, we’re facing a cultural milieu that demands conformity for the simple sake of responding to fear. Fear, as we all know, is a powerful weapon to use against the democratic wishes of the people. American governments have been using it against their own citizens since time immemorium. Conformity for the sake of conformity is really nature’s way of assuring our thoughts never get heard and the meek inherit the Earth.
So why fit in? Why, so I can give into the simple impulses of fear of non-acceptance? What, I’ve been, along with a large number of people I know, what you could call an outsider. Fuck, I can hardly remember a time when I was innocent and naive enough to believe being yourself was the ticket to social integration. I gave up a long time ago trying to fit in with any real sense of effort or calculation. I’m just being me, take it or lump it.
Part of my mindset, really, isn’t about the simple act of rebellion for no apparent reason other than just to be different. I do conform to a lot of social norms and cultural pursuits best described as “normal” – sci-fi, seeing the consumerist porn that was Sex and the City: The Movie, wearing GAP khakis designed with maximum efficiency and as little creative impulses as possible. It is what it is, I suppose.
It’s amazing, however, how a lack of fear about the world and the people in it really does liberate yourself to not caring about comforming to the conscious and unconscious wishes of a molified society like ours. So many people have become so afraid of so many things because we’ve allowed bullshit to dominate our modes of debate in all-pervasive forms. We’ve taken the spice out of the sauce. We’re using idiotic trinkets to distract us from creativity, freedom and true happiness. The philosophy of futility has completely usurped our conventional imaginative power. Vanila-fueled mayhem through the lenses of brown-coloured glasses.