Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The paradox of popularity

We live in a world that praises individuality as long as it conforms to the societally acceptable norm- "popular individuality"...an oxymoron?

But surely being an individual is, by definition, being different to all other people. You think differently, you feel differently and you believe differently. If our experience is identical and our faith common- then we have chosen to reject our uniqueness in favour of a shared and popular system.
To be unique and individual means to be lonely. I am not saying that that being lonely necessitates being alone, on the contrary I can feel lonely in the presence of others, but rather that loneliness is an inevitable reality. But one need not be frightened of loneliness, even if it connotes and arouses negative images,  it is in fact the mere corollary of individuality- my uniqueness necessitates that I am lonely in my experience.
Through this loneliness I can arrive at my own conclusions as to what energises me, what motivates me and what inspires me.
That is not to say that I cannot share experiences with others, it's just that no one can really know me, or understand what I feel and think.

Popularity on the other hand, whether it be popular literature, popular culture or even or especially popular philosophy, is, again by definition, palatable to the masses. It is the acceptance or desire for acceptance amongst the broad populace, or at least within a specific group of the population. Popular culture denies the individuality of the experience in favour of conformity.

To make myself clear, I am not pitting these two ideas up against one another as dichotomous entities, but rather seeking to understand and define them.

There is a time a place to express individuality, but more often than not we best seek to confirm to popular opinion and practice. Each person needs to find their own balance.

The crucial message is this, one cannot find or express one's individuality by latching on to a popular trend. 

Individuality isn't popular, it can't be.

"We are all individuals and we all think for ourselves" - from Monty Python's The Life of Brian

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