It is a natural phenomenon for us to copy and want to be like the people we admire in life. The struggle to fit in at all cost has made a lot of us to do what we wouldn’t do on a normal day. Peer pressure is tantamount with the youths; after all we spend most of our day in the company of friends more than our parents and siblings.
As kids, our parents choose the kids we hang out with; preferably kids of their friends. As we grow, we fight to remove the shackles our parents have on us and choose our clique of friends. Most times, we choose people who have similar interests, beliefs and experiences to ours. Together, you and your friends make decisions and influence each other every day.
Making decisions on your own and standing your ground is worrisome; but when other people are drawn in and try to pressure; it gets more worrisome. Friends affect and influence our lives even without us realizing it, just by spending time with us.
Psychologist Wendy Treynor described peer pressure as “Identity Shift Effect”. One’s state of harmony is disrupted when faced with the threat of external conflict or failing to conform to a group’s standard. Thus, we conform to the group’s standard but as soon as one does, eliminating this external conflict, internal conflict is introduced. To rid oneself of this internal conflict, an identity shift is undertaken where one adopts the group standards as one’s own, thereby eliminating internal conflict; returning one to a state of harmony.
To me, Peer Pressure is the hassle by friends for us to do something we don’t want to do. It doesn’t have to be negative; it could also be positive .
For instance, on the negative side, most of my mates started lighting a cigarette as far back as JS2/3. Even though some didn’t want to be part of it but because they were scared to be labelled a Jew man, they gave in to peer pressure and they are hooked. Others started snubbing some people because their clique frowned at the sight of them talking with the unpopular ones alias nerds/jew men.
Positively, friends’ pressure can help us learn a lot of things like a new skill. In my primary school days, after watching soccer stars like Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos, Raul Gonzalez and Savio; I believed left-legged players had more shot power than those who play with the right leg so I pressured my friend Chife for us to learn how to play football comfortably with both legs and we did it!
Some years ago, I had a near death experience that left me incarcerated in a hospital for some months. Then, I was an under graduate in my 400L. With exams lurking, I lost hope of writing the exams and made up my mind I was going to spend an extra year in school but my friend didn’t want to hear any of it and sent me an SMS I will never forget. She said “if there’s anybody I know that can pull this off, it’s you”. Those eleven words urged me to read and instantly, energy from nowhere sprang up in me and I started flying like those men you see in Red Bull commercials. I wrote that exam from the hospital and came out with flying colours.
As we grow older, peers naturally play a greater role in our lives. Due to the amount of time we spend together, we develop close bond with our peers and may feel so connected to them that they are like an extended family.
So do you think peer pressure is good or bad?