There's immense social pressure on people to conform: young adults feel it most strongly, as is evident through their choice of clothes, music, sports, drinks and so on.
But surely social media encourages like minded people to gather together. Surely it promotes conformity. Consider those Facebook profile photos where the individual is indistinguishable from the herd.
We are tribal animals, so it's a good ploy to conform to the rules of the tribe. To an extent, yes; but it's a competitive world out there, and we can't win every race. How best to equip youself, if not to win, at least to finish the race?
I think it takes some non-crowd behaviour. It comes down to individual application. Are you an outlier?
Glancing at the entrants to Euprera's social media awards 2010, and thinking about those who are putting themselves forward, I realise how hard this is. Starting a blog is easy (no harder than setting up a web mail account); keeping one going, in a social media landscape where Twitter is more immediate and social networks are more rewarding, requires hard work and outlier traits.
I'm not involved in choosing winners (and don't even know why this blog appears among the entrants), but I suspect the winners will demonstrate focus, commitment and dedication (solitary, not tribal, qualities), but will also have the social skills to connect and coordinate communities.
To stick with Malcolm Gladwell, there will be something of the connector, maven and salesman [sic] in them.
There's still time to enter the Euprera awards. Go on, make yourself popular through your unpopular obsessions.
Photo by Julia Roy on Flickr