I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Haven’t had too much time to sit down and hash out coherent talking points but I feel like the ability to recognize it has changed my views of people to some extent. Maybe it’s more that it’s peer approval rather than peer pressure so much.
It’s no secret that many people find parenting quite isolating and feel like desperate socially anxious lunatics at the prospect of making a friend. I see it on parenting discussion boards and forums all the time. I used to feel more or less the same way when I had less children (now I am too busy- side note, youngest is 18 months old and it’s been 18 months since I made a post. Coincidence?).
Being a more reserved person I wasn’t quite frothing at the mouth when someone talked to me, but I was still rebuffed frequently enough that I started feeling pressure to fit in more than I ever had in the past as a teenager. I was fairly non-conformist as a child and teen though (I notice when observing my kid with other kids is that one will do something and suddenly they are all copying. I was, I guess, the more original one as a kid and hated it with a burning fiery passion when people copied me. I remember pitching a fit in kindergarten because the girl across from me was copying my artwork –some kind of paper bag owl. Having a 5yo now, they really aren’t very creative in general) so maybe withstanding this is all new to me.
I can clearly see though how someone starved for some kind of adult interaction meets someone who talks to them multiple times in a row and they start emulating them. At the very least it gives another thing to discuss. Hey, we both have the same coat, how about that. And then you’re re-enacting Single White Female…
The multiple accounts of people who sees the same person at the park (Maybe it’s that there are 50billion parks here so having them be crowded or having regulars isn’t usual so I find this sort of thing baffling) a few times in a row and want to (non-creepily at all!) exchange numbers always sets my teeth on edge for some reason. Maybe because it is creepy and desperate, and as desperate as I’ve been for friends if someone did that to me I would be so weirded out. I mean, not that I’ve had success making friends organically and wish for mom-speed dating and similar things just so I’d know the other person was in the market for friends, and not desperately trying to watch their kid or answer an email or doing some other multitasking thing that happens at the park.
It certainly happens online too. Enigmatic people who are better with the written word, whether they are witty or just have engaging writing patterns, and they want that person to like them and you get the whole cult of personality thing going and then suddenly Amber necklaces and stuff. Then you get mum groups who all dress their kids in the same brands and have the same sort of accessories and online groups that engage in the same group-think following their leaders (and people who don’t like the attention the perceived leaders get for no distinct reason they can name). I’ve been plenty of places that have that going on to the point they develop an archetype to emulate. But that’s all kind of online interactions 101 I think. Or maybe it’s an epiphany.
Where am I going with this? It’s mostly made me more sympathetic and less judgemental about most of the things I see people doing in parenting that I wouldn’t necessarily do.