Everybody’s Doing It

By Baaria Chaudhary

When you’re a teen, it’s easy to find a scapegoat for your problems. You come home with your parents standing in the foyer and you know what’s coming next: the lecture, the grounding, and then even more lecturing. You stand there, bored out of your wits, pretending to listen to your parents’ yacking and when they stop to take a breath, you finally open your mouth and blame your behavior on peer pressure. The official definition of peer pressure in the dictionary is “social pressure by members of one’s peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.” The definition of peer pressure in the unofficial high school guide, however, is simple: “Everybody who’s anybody is doing it.” Peer pressure is a term most teens have known since they were in diapers.

Everywhere teens look, there is an adult telling them about the wrongs of peer pressure and the dangers it presents to modern society. It seems like all the problems of today are all because of peer pressure. In truth, however, this is incorrect. Peer pressure didn’t just appear in the last few decades. It’s been around since the beginning of time, right when Satan, disguised as a serpent, tempted Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge even though God told her specifically she was not allowed to eat from that tree. In the book, Animal Farm by George Orwell, the animals are pressured into agreeing with the pigs to overthrow the humans.

Perhaps the reason why peer pressure is mentioned so much in today’s society is because of the increased amount of it. Never before have people been so exposed to peer pressure as they are nowadays. Who’s the culprit? Most people would probably blame it on the explosion of technology and resources at our hands. The TV shows and the movies, especially. Most teens often get pressured by the over dramatized shows.

They feel that they are too fat for the norm or that their life should be like a movie, full of adventure and always with a happy ending. This naïve behavior often leads to disappointment. Computers could also be blamed for the increased level of peer pressure. People are now allowed to connect with anyone in the world. Your status in the high school social ladder depends on the number of Facebook friends you have.

Not to mention the amount of advertising many large corporations put out on TV and on the Internet. The slogans and the messages that they send out aren’t always good. Take Nike for example. Their slogan is ‘Just do it.’ How many times do you think that people have used that slogan to prep them to do something? Peer pressure is now available in mass quantities, all around the world. But the peer pressure you see on TV or in ads is nothing compared to the daily dose of local peer pressure.

‘Up close and personal’ peer pressure is probably the most common –and the most dangerous form of peer pressure. Often, it comes from people who are most close to the teen, such as a friend. This peer pressure is impulsive, unpredictable, and with the most consequences. ‘Up close and personal’ peer pressure is when a person is pressured into doing something, often without thinking it out. For example, a teen is out with his friends when they see a group of kids hanging outside a convenience store that go to their school. The friends persuade the teen to come along with them while they say hello to the group of kids who happen to be the most popular kids in school. When they arrive, one of the kids offers the teen a marijuana joint. The teen looks at the joint and then at the kid. He’s read everything there is about marijuana and its affects. He knows what it does to your body but his “I want in” attitude makes him take the joint. This is an example of an ‘Up close and personal’ peer pressure where split decisions and quick, rushed thinking lead the way.

Peer pressure is known to hurt people. Teens are constantly warned by the dangers that peer pressure presents and the consequences. Peer pressure is one of the known causes for teen alcohol and drug abuse, anorexia, and suicide. It’s something that should be stopped, before another kid dies.