Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peer Pressure

So I had a post all planned out, that was inspired by Nick Hornby's Q&A session at the International Women's Fiction Festival (as well as when I went up and spoke to him afterwards). It would have been books-and-writing related, and would generate an interesting discussion about YA fiction.

Good stuff, right?

But no. The other Fictionistas had to go and start an impromptu Theme Week on things you'd bring to a desert island. So I felt compelled to continue the theme, 'cuz, well, peer pressure, you know? (Even though they swore up and down that this wasn't an official Theme Week and I could make whatever post I wanted.)

Boy, do I have issues, right?

Turns out I can't think of a fourth category of things to bring to a desert island. Guess I'm not imaginative enough. So I shall not be falling prey to peer pressure.

Even though I almost did.

When I mentioned to the other Fictionistas yesterday that I felt obligated to continue the theme, they told me it wasn't necessary. And while I truly do believe that they feel I should post whatever I want, a part of me honestly felt like I needed to go along with the pack. A post about Nick Hornby's impression of where YA fiction is going (which, by the way, I'm not giving up on...I'm definitely going to post it next week, and you can hold me to that) would somehow mess up our theme...even if we really didn't have an official theme this week. (I'm telling you...issues...)

So why did I feel like this? Why was I feeling pressure to conform, even when my friends were telling me not to?

Even though there was no pressure from the Fictionistas themselves, I still felt the need to keep up. And that's where peer pressure comes in.

So what exactly is peer pressure? "Peer pressure" is a sociological term used to describe pressure exerted by a peer group to encourage a person to change their behavior, attitude, or morals to conform to the group's actions, beliefs, morals, etc. Peer pressure can cause a person to join a group that they may or may not want to belong to, or can cause people to do things they wouldn't normally do.

Johannes Ott, author of the book Life Coaching and why it works for some and not for others, defines peer presure as "the necessity of the individual to create the appearance in his group(s) that all is well with him." Thus, it is a pressure that's created from within, and not externally, as we normally think of it.

When I hear the term "peer pressure," I generally think of those cheesy After School Specials we watched in the 70s and 80s (do they still have those?). You know the ones, where the girl is at a party drinking Diet Coke when her friends tell her that "all the cool kids" are drinking beer.

As much as we think we're immune to peer pressure, we've all given into it. Probably moreso as teens, but even as adults.

Can you think of any time when peer pressure was super strong and you resisted the temptation to give in? (You know, maybe you refused to post about bringing a collection of things to a desert island...just an example. Seriously...I really don't think I was being peer pressured into this but it did raise an interesting question in my mind...and remember that peer pressure is really more internal than external anyway.)

Alternatively, can you think of any time when you did give into peer pressure, whether it was external or internal? (You know, maybe you felt obligated to post on a certain theme in your blog simply because "everyone else was doing it" even though they told you in no uncertain terms that it wasn't required.)

Come on, dish!


  1. I've certainly encountered times where I've felt internal peer pressure. What sucks is that I don't like the way it makes me feel...I wish I was stronger and able to resist making myself feel obligated to undertake a viewpoint, or an action, just because the group is. Ya know?

  2. I am trying to remember a time when I had that "come on try it, are you afraid your mom will find out?" experience. You know--the Afterschool Special moments. But I think to a degree, we all aspire to fit in with our peers, and that creates an internal pressure.

    I struggled a lot with internal pressure from writing last year. A lot of my really close friends write very erotic books. While I tried to "join" them--my heart wasn't quite in it. I just don't write hot--and then I realized that what I wanted was a YA career. They never made me feel like I had to or even should--and they've been super supportive of my writing style. But that is one example of how I felt the pressure when it wasn't there externally.

  3. I'm probably more the one who exerts the pressure as opposed to the one who folds under it. I guess that makes me a bad influence. lol

  4. I've folded to peer pressure a few times, but overall, I just don't 'think' that way. I make my choices and live with them. I can't really remember the last time I felt compelled to do something because someone else was. Maybe I'm more like Kristen...and I am the one exerting the pressure. :)