The Tentacles of Conformity


by Augustine Tan

The reality we are presented with is called many names: the Matrix, the Beast Machine, the Grand Deception, etc. We are born into this reality, and are expected to play by its rules lest we face the consequences of not doing so. Those who are above the rules abuse them to their advantage, while those under the rules will be punished if they break them. The unfair nature of this game is obvious, but we nevertheless continue to serve and participate in this game because life becomes tough when you cease to be a player. The eliminated players are ignored and shunned at all costs, for to the remaining players the eliminated got what they deserved by going against the game.

In order to fit in, the players conform to the norms of the game, changing their behaviour, joining in other players’ discussions and abiding by the rules. The basis of group conformity is established when the players agree to compromise their identity to be one with everyone else. The individual players do not feel left out on anything, so long as they please the other players and gain their approval. If anything, the players would rather be together than to spend time alone in solitude to question their role in the group.

The player who thinks critically is a threat to the game. He is labelled a heretic, an infidel, a rebel and many other nasty names, all because he is different. He dares to challenge the very nature of the game, pointing out its glaring flaws and setting straight unsettling facts. The other players attempt to avoid him and look away, feeling uneasy because he has exposed them for what they have been doing all along: mindlessly conforming to the majority. They soon learn to despise him and hurl insults at him in an effort to force him to back off, but the more they oppose him, the greater his retaliation.

Rejected by the other players, the rebel player is left with two choices: submit to them and allow the tentacles of conformity to entangle him once more, or walk away knowing that he had tried his best to convince them to come to their senses. It does not take long for him to make his decision. Once he has left the game for good, he is no longer “a player” – he is his own person.


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