Opinion leaders in peer groups

It’s weird how we all know we are constantly performing our selves, but, act as though we are above such performances. What is the authentic self, after all? When I face an issue that could be termed critical, I turn inwards. To evaluate why that incident triggered a feeling that it did.

Opinion leaders are those that we think are more knowledgeable than us. Opinion leaders in the largely diverse and numerous peer groups that we maintain are people who are thought of as having higher cooler quotient. What happens in the presence of such individuals is an immediate silencing of those attributes that are thought of as ‘uncool.’ It could be an overt expression of self or being emotional, but these are tapered down so as to ensure that OL of the peer group approves of you.

I have always imagined that there should at least be one group or friend who knows your authentic self, and when I say authentic, I mean your vulnerable side. If you have to act in front of family and friends you hold close to your heart, well, that is tragic.

Why are people so uncomfortable with a person’s expression of self? Is it because they find it a challenge to do the same? Or because they think their problems are far greater? Imagine the burden placed on the opinion leader if he ceases to be one, in case he tries to exhibit his vulnerable side, will he then be tagged ‘uncool.’ Imagine the burden on the peer group. As if its not enough to perform their self in front of (sometimes, imagined) audience, they need to keep up appearances even in their peer group.

It’s fascinating how one person, tacitly, becomes the OL. Group dynamics are incredibly interesting. It’s fun to observe and learn how one dances to the perceived coolness in some. Again, turn inwards, always, to find answers.

So when I see an emotional person keep up appearance (of being cool and detached) to maintain his/her cool quotient, I can’t help but empathise. I understand the pressure. But, if they are really your friends, they would accept you for what you are. And I think it’s ok to exhibit your vulnerable side to a set of friends. Besides, as friends, we would want the change to come from within. Not merely for appearances sake.

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