Author Topic: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression  (Read 1219 times)

Silverado

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I have been pondering this for some time. After recently interviewing several people and hiring a couple of them it has come to the front of brain, and I would be interested to hear from some of you.

Why do people seem to have a drive to stand out from an outward appearance?

That short question has a bunch of baggage attached to it. I will try to explain, though I am sure I will leave out some important considerations.

I for sure as a young guy did various things out if vanity thinking it would be make me seem / look cool:
1. Wore nike hightops untied in highschool, wearing out the heels clomping around.
2. Bought a larger truck when 25 after somersaulting my old one into a ditch because I wanted people to bow down (was in the Army at the time)
3. Chewed long leaf tobacco semi-regularly from 18-25 because, well because I wanted to be cool

But after just a few short years I suddenly changed and started simply wanting to have a low outward profile and that has allowed me to enjoy life much more. Now I am an old crusty, cranky guy in my mid-forties and look around and see a lot of people who seem to purposefully put out some sort of appearance that is "different" from the norm and I wonder why. I say "different" because I realize that that we are not some militant society with laws stating what is normal and what isn't.

1. Tatoos. I get there are some highly personal reasons that people get inked, but somewhere there has to be a thought (subconcious perhaps) of "I want people to look at me and see this".
2. Piercings. Same "look at me"
3. One that really makes me ponder the base question are sideburns. You shaved some, why not just make it even with the ear? Again, I know I am old and cranky, but it makes me wonder "why does this person want me to look at them?" Or is there something else I don't get.
4. Lots of other things in the office that make one stand out from a shallow appearance standpoint.

So that is some background. The question, stated another way may be from my recent experience is, "you applied for this job, you purposefully have created a look that makes you different, why?"

Yet another way "You decided to not assimilate to how the rest of us look, did you not think I might view that as an error in judgement?"

Again, I am becoming a crotchety old man who is a hypocrit based on my past where I wanted people to look at me a certain way. But I think it was always outside of work, and I was younger.

Anyone want to give me your views of what people are trying to accomplish by looking different? (Goodness, I expect my email to be spammed by neo-nazi groups recruiting, but that is not the desired direction.) I assume some will say "I don't care what others think" and there is surely truth in that, but why shave half your skull except to have others see it? Or "I don't care to try to move up the ladder at work", yep, makes sense, but realize that you may not.

Hopefully the base question is somewhat clear. I have struggled with and pondered this over the past several months.

Eta: i just thought that somehow things in the workplace have evolved, since I don't have to wear a tie, my group is almost 50% diverse, etc etc, and somehow those moves have to be started.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 06:04:01 PM by Silverado »

NeonPegasus

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 06:29:14 PM »
Anyone want to give me your views of what people are trying to accomplish by looking different?

Having fun.
Realizing that life is too short to worry about superficial concerns.
Assimilating with their age group (i.e. younger people with tattoo sleeves, etc).
Fighting to not be consigned to invisibility (i.e. older women dying their hair vivid colors so they're not brushed aside as irrelevant).
Showing markers of their career (i.e. what you would expect a hair stylist or tattooist or artist to look like).
Desiring to be seen as more interesting than their career (an accountant tired of being treated like a dork).
Wanting to not look like an old crusty, cranky guy in his mid-forties.

I think there is a lot more latitude in the workplace now for piercings, tattoos and wild hair, though certainly there is an arbitrary line between what can be considered professional and what's over the line. We've had a couple of guys ask about working for us and we had to tell them that their white guy dreads (one guy) and facial piercings and tattoos (other guy) were unacceptable given the clientele we work with. But I wouldn't hesitate about an otherwise clean cut guy who had some inoffensive tats peeking out from a shirt sleeve.

bacchi

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 06:56:11 PM »
Yet another way "You decided to not assimilate to how the rest of us look, did you not think I might view that as an error in judgement?"

The "rest of us" is a group of middle-aged professional peers?

Does Neo's office in The Matrix appeal to you? ;-)

Maybe YOU'RE the one trying too hard to look like a well-dressed professional? And they're just fitting into their subculture. Why don't you wear jeans and boots like the rest of us?

Kris

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 07:05:50 PM »
Actually, as a fifty-one year-old woman, I am often struck by the opposite question:

Why is there such an incredibly narrow path of what is considered normal, acceptable appearance/behavior/lifestyle in our society?

As someone who aspires to mustachianism, I find it odd and somewhat sad how rigidly normative our attitudes are toward this.

Sideburns, hair color, tattoos, and other superficial things matter not one whit. I am amazed we give it one momentís thought how people choose to style themselve.
Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

Silverado

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 07:27:25 PM »
Actually, as a fifty-one year-old woman, I am often struck by the opposite question:

Why is there such an incredibly narrow path of what is considered normal, acceptable appearance/behavior/lifestyle in our society?

As someone who aspires to mustachianism, I find it odd and somewhat sad how rigidly normative our attitudes are toward this.

Sideburns, hair color, tattoos, and other superficial things matter not one whit. I am amazed we give it one momentís thought how people choose to style themselve.

Yeah, those are good thoughts. But since people do make snap judgments, regardless of how "incorrect" it is, I am trying to better understand why. And for sure as I think about this, I have reflected numerous times about why do i think there is some normal. Like bacchi said, it is surely possibly me. Maybe even likely me.  Most of my group is a generation younger than me, so these things are in front of me almost hourly.

2Cent

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 03:47:17 AM »
Actually, as a fifty-one year-old woman, I am often struck by the opposite question:

Why is there such an incredibly narrow path of what is considered normal, acceptable appearance/behavior/lifestyle in our society?

As someone who aspires to mustachianism, I find it odd and somewhat sad how rigidly normative our attitudes are toward this.

Sideburns, hair color, tattoos, and other superficial things matter not one whit. I am amazed we give it one momentís thought how people choose to style themselve.
Your appearance is what identifies you. It is important to differentiate between genetics and style. People can't really help being short, black, etc. So it is wrong to discriminate. But a haircut is something someone chose so it sends a message about who you want to be.

@Silverado: Sideburns are a way of saying I want to be more tough/manly. There seem to be different styles for different types of work, like software engineers wear a shirt and jeans, hardware guys a t-shirt/sweater, designers a tight V-neck sweater and colorful pants, etc. As haircuts can't be changed after work maybe someone is having them to impress a girl. Some pretty famous scientists are known to have wild haircuts which help their image of being a genius.

Also, if you live in a bad neighborhood it is very tempting to make yourself look tougher. Walking around there you will stand out if you're clean cut and neatly dressed which is a very uncomfortable feeling, I can assure you.

At work I see there is a need to stand out. You may feel the sideburns guy is not right for a promotion, but you may not even remember the name of the guy who looks like every other employee. So lots of possible reasons for it.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 04:01:10 AM »
I'm an old crotchety man and if you think back this has always been the case. When you were younger you even pointed out that you did things with truck etc... I remember my parents always yelling at me saying " Cut your hair it looks terrible" or you will never get a job if you dont do this, this and this.  I too did alot of hiring and 1,000's of people as I owned my own company. I found over the years that the old saying dont judge a book by a cover is so true and bottom line don't judge. While in my personal opinion I dont like the abundance of tatoos today vs having 1 or 2 or really hate body piercings because you are destructing your body especially gauges or slicing your tongue, I found it made no difference in how they performed there job and yes thy wanted to be noticed. Everybody wants to be noticed  but there is a host of reasons why people chose certain things over others. My son plays soccer and wears a man bun. Its a soccer thing but he wont get piercings and tatoos so I am fine with that and because he is so tall he gets alot of attention. I dont like it but it really doesnt bother me and hes big man on campus.  So as I get older I see it more as Kris does and think the trend is going to be more expression by ways that make you feel uncomfortable more so because its different to you and I.
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ooeei

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 06:16:24 AM »
I think for a lot of people it's a control thing as well. Your work tells you when you have to be there, when you can leave, what to do when you're there, how to act, and often what to wear. Maybe it's school, or parents, or some other outside force instead of work. Generally your haircut, tattoos, piercings, etc are not controlled by someone else (or at least you can find somewhere that doesn't), so you do YOUR thing with them.

Having a sense of control over yourself is a pretty big deal. Some people express that control through their outward appearance.

Laura33

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 06:24:40 AM »
It has always, always been this way, since recorded history.

The job of a teenager is tough:  they need to separate from their parents, all the while developing their own social network (because we are social animals, after all).  One way to do this is to change your appearance to look dramatically different from all those "old" folks around you -- whether it makes sense or not (in fact, I suspect the less logical, the better, because that very clearly marks you as "different."  At least, that's the only explanation I can think of for all the HS boys who insist on wearing shorts year-round.). 

Of course, at the same time, you need to find your own social group and fit in with them.  So all those "different" things tend to coalesce around some specific kinds of markers.  Think, say, bell bottoms, or a Mohawk (my era, although I only went as far as a rat tail), or, yes, tattoos and piercings, or man buns, or beard-farming -- and language, as well (IMO, emojis and acronyms and other texting shortcuts are this generation's version of "groovy" and "cool, man").  And this kind of marking continues into your twenties; if you think about it, any time you move to a different environment, like college, you need to identify the local customs and expectations and figure out how to fit into your new group.

So the short version is that you don't like the way they look because you are not their target audience -- you're the old fart their instincts are telling them to distinguish themselves from.  Of course, what usually happens is that kids move on into the bigger world and have to support themselves, and most realize at some point that if they want to succeed with their new peer group, they need to signal that they belong to that group, too.  So they morph towards corporate clothes, adopt more "normal" hairstyles, and basically turn into you and me.  :-)  You're just seeing them at the beginning of that journey.

Speaking as yet another 51-yr-old woman (hi Kris!), the really fun part is when you start to see the styles cycle around, and what is "cool" is what you considered massively uncool.  Like this new sideburns trend -- all I can think of is, dude, you do realize you look *just* like my dad in 1974, right?
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megaschnauzer

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 07:01:13 AM »
i think it's partly biological. standing out from the crowd gets you noticed by the opposite sex which leads to mating.

2Cent

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 09:06:17 AM »

ptobeast

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 02:17:05 PM »
the really fun part is when you start to see the styles cycle around, and what is "cool" is what you considered massively uncool.  Like this new sideburns trend -- all I can think of is, dude, you do realize you look *just* like my dad in 1974, right?

I am amused every time I see a teen wearing very high waisted "mom" jeans and fanny packs these days. Also can't wait for socks with sandals to become ragingly hip again.

le-weekend

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2018, 02:16:05 PM »
I agree with Laura33 and Kris's sentiments.

What's funny as I get older is noticing how even people who really try to be "alternative" and "different" are so often doing so within a prescribed group of similarly styled "outsiders."

I think dress and appearance say a lot about our place in society. To some (most?) it's important to wear certain markers of class, style, taste, region, sports affiliation, body image, age, status,....   

And to others, that stuff doesn't matter too much. (But even not caring is itself a statement.) :-)

scottish

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2018, 03:43:44 PM »
the really fun part is when you start to see the styles cycle around, and what is "cool" is what you considered massively uncool.  Like this new sideburns trend -- all I can think of is, dude, you do realize you look *just* like my dad in 1974, right?

I am amused every time I see a teen wearing very high waisted "mom" jeans and fanny packs these days. Also can't wait for socks with sandals to become ragingly hip again.

Yep, it's always fun when something that was in style 30 or 40 years ago comes back!
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TheWifeHalf

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2018, 08:14:28 PM »
bell bottoms!

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2018, 08:20:44 PM »
Why do people seem to have a drive to stand out from an outward appearance?
Because they feel they don't stand out inwardly.


Through your adolescence you imagine you're so unique and special that nobody could possibly understand you. Through your 20s you realise you're much the same as everyone else, so you make an effort to at least look different. Come your 30s and 40s you realise you're not that unique and special and you either go all "take drugs and screw around" in despair, or you come to accept it and just muddle along and do the best you can.


I'm an individual.
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PKFFW

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Re: Interested in some views and thoughts on individualism / self expression
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 02:19:44 AM »
Quote from: Silverado
1. Tatoos. I get there are some highly personal reasons that people get inked, but somewhere there has to be a thought (subconcious perhaps) of "I want people to look at me and see this".
Nope, there doesn't "have to be" any such thought.  All my tattoos are covered in the normal course of my day by my clothes.  Whilst I do not hide the fact that I have tattoos, I don't show them off, often not showing them even when asked.