The streets are awash with youngsters armed with their funky coloured iPhones and the latest app, in search of a virtual Pokemon.
Zombie-like and in a state of dazed concentration, this extra appendage directs their every step and it’s apparent…….. they’re proper ‘into it’.
Who would have thought those pesky Pokemon creatures from the 90’s would make such a comeback?
I get it, they’re teenagers. Despite their claims to individuality, the need to belong and keep up with what’s trending pushes all rational levels of common sense out of the way. But it’s not just this group that’s easily swayed by trends.
Bookstores awash with books that require no reading, but instead the steady and calming act of colouring in. The most recent craze to take the publishing world by storm and afflicting adults the world over with a child-like urge to colour. Who would have thought?
The slightly self-obsessed and aptly named ‘selfie’ trend seems like its our default setting at any given opportunity to snap a pic.
And then there’s that American, all-girl, reality TV family (Kardcashians is it?) offering us up handbag trends, a fashion following and plenty of scintillating gossip. The need to follow their lead or at the very least know of it, is a fad in itself.
So what is it with trends and our ability or in fact desire to latch onto them at such a startling pace?
I’ve been wondering if it’s a by-product of our increasingly media savvy society or some other forces at play?
I like keeping abreast of some trends as much as the next person (maybe with the exception of Pokemon GO), so it’s definitely got me thinking…. is there a way to maintain a level head, keeping a skerrick of individuality and freedom of choice, without conforming to the latest trends and succumbing to their sneaky shine?
“We’re drawn to the new and novel, to things that provide a feeling of change, and, perhaps, progress. We also want to belong – to be part of something recognizable” Rebecca Arnold, author of ‘Fashion: A Very Short Introduction’.
Trends and the desire to conform have always been a part of our society. Think of the original fashion fixation with the corset. Totally impractical, far from affordable and a burden to most women the world over, yet a trend that persisted well into the 20th Century.
The unequivocal desire to follow the crowd has also taken startling turns socially and politically, as evident in the rise of Nazism during Hitler’s time.
And our current fixation…..obsession with social media means our interactions with others is constant, as is our exposure to trends, unwittingly signing us up to consumerism in all it’s forms.
“We often change our decisions and judgements to conform with normative group behaviour,” said study leader Dr Vasily Klucharev, from the FC Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in the Netherlands. (The Telegraph)
There is more research now which endeavours to make sense of the psychology and sociology behind trends and their impact on us (some of which you can read about here).
But the general buzz and perhaps obvious findings into why we so quickly and utterly subscribe to trends, lies in our need to belong. So conforming by following trends is one way to secure this.
According to Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ the need to belong is right up there next to LOVE, after our basic needs for food, water and personal safety are met.
The other element which inevitably stems from this need to ‘follow the crowd’, is based on our fear of being an outsider.
If we don’t subscribe to the latest trends then we risk being excluded or ridiculed. It is this fear (sometimes on a subconscious level) that can quickly override any common sense that may come into play when questioning why we do this, or think that, or have ‘it’.
I’m not in the least interested in The Kardashians, or Pokemon GO, but if I’m honest I’ll admit to my curiosity being plucked at, and not just to see what all the fuss is about.
At the root of it, I simply don’t want to be seen as that ‘emu with their head in the sand’. I want to at least form an opinion about it so I can contribute to conversation and feel a part of the collective -society.
So, while it’s looking more and more like our basic human needs will yet again override rational thought, I reckon the secret to avoid being suckered into the latest craze, might just lie in recognising this fact first. Accepting that at the heart of it all, it’s about wanting to belong and that’s ok.
But remember it was and still is, those unique individuals and groups who venture out on a limb, crave change, explore the unchartered and remote territory to offer us up something we now happily subscribe to and label as trends.
Maybe being an outsider isn’t so bad after all?