Peer Pressure: Good or Bad?

 

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?

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NYSC And The Enclosure Syndrome

You could always feel people’s (intending corps members) excitement, joy and expectation whenever it’s that time of the year for the NYSC Orientation Camp. People are always impatiently anxious and ready to get on with the programme.

I must admit I’m not a fan of the programme. I see it as a charade. I mean the main aim of the scheme is to promote national unity among Nigerian youths, develop the rural areas and prepare the nouveau graduate for the challenges ahead.

Yes, it does promote national unity but I believe it has contributed to the growing unemployment problem we are facing. These institutions and organizations see corps members as cheap labour and prefer employing them every year and discard them at the end of their one year programme, to employing capable hands on a permanent basis.

Let me ask these questions: Are we only allowed to serve Nigeria for a year after which we can do whatever we like? How many times have you seen a child of a top government official or member of the ruling class sent on assignment to any of the rural areas?

Anyways, let’s leave that topic for another day and concentrate on the topic at hand.

The Enclosure Syndrome, according to Zinga’s theory, is a condition that develops when adults are enclosed or confined in a place, which makes them foster transient feelings for each other to the extent of believing they have found love.

The enclosure syndrome is synonymous with the NYSC Camp. Just a week or two after the opening of the camp, you’d see people holding hands, frolicking, kissing, cuddling and doing things that lovers do.

If you have served or still serving, you will testify that it is difficult or almost impossible for one not to develop false feelings for the opposite sex in a place like that.

The saying ‘nobody wants to be lonely’ greatly applies here. The quest for companionship, sex and love is very high under these conditions. That’s why year in, year out; you hear stories of people falling heads over heels for each other in camp only to separate immediately or few weeks after the closure of the camp.

This condition is transmittable and contagious just like the common cold/flu. The married women/men aren’t immune to this syndrome either; they catch up with the bug. 

As a matter of fact, a married lady was recently caught pants down with a fellow corps member and was sent packing, along with her fellow culprit after the NYSC officials had informed the husband about her misdemeanour.  

Have you ever been diagnosed with this malady? Or are you still suffering from this condition?

This syndrome is only treatable and curable by distance; out of sight is definitely out of mind.