Are we really individualistic?

Published by Nighten on

IMPORTANT NOTE: I found this article on my hard drive. It was probably written around April of this year. Even at the time I wasn't really comfortable with the form it took, but I'm too tired to rewrite the whole thing, and I still think the message is valuable. Let it be the start of a conversation, not just an assertion.

Today I'd like to ask a question :

Are we, as a society, really individualistic?

At first glance, the response is obvious: yes we are. We are totally obsessed with ourselves. Look at all the self portrait we post online, all our opinion we think are worthy to be heard, the status we try to gain. How we present ourselves to the world, our image, is the center of our attention, and we are constantly encouraged to do so.

Well, narcissism isn't a new phenomenon for sure. People have always complained about it, especially older generation regarding younger one.

"The rock upon which most of the flower-bedecked marriage barges go to pieces is the latter-day cult of individualism; the worship of the brazen calf of the Self."

However, we need to ask: is narcissism necessary individualism? Is self-obsession the same as self-realization?

It might goes against a lot of belief about our current society, but we need to look at the state of the part of individualism we left out:

Few people people really try to accomplish themselves as individuals. Few try to do more than to please others. Few try to build their own ideas and conception of the worlds (without joining a community of contrarian).

We try to be accepted, we follow standards, trends, gurus, movement.

We apply labels to ourselves to define our identity, but that just signal that we are part of a group, not a individual.

Are we really individualistic?

Sometime it looks like we took the worse of individualism (self-obsession), and left the valuable part (self-realization).