Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Collectivism vs. Individuality

Collectivism vs.  Individuality

Disclaimer:  I am not an expert of philosophy nor claim to be a psychologist.

I wonder why what is so attractive towards collectivism.  Could it be safety in numbers, where a group has a better chance of surviving a battle than an individual?   Could it be that it could be easier to adopt someone else’s ideology?  Maybe it is the comfort of being in a group, which most of the time a supernatural angel or god (goddess) would be involved in group worship.  In collectivism, it is often one person who is elected (in the implied sense) to determine the ideology of the group.  Examples of collectivism is present in feminism, religion, and fandom of sports and other entertainment venues.

On the surface, collectivism is attractive, taking the “We are all one” attitude.  (sounds like New Age)  Everyone is the same and therefore, everyone is expected to have the same attitude and goals. This extends to how people of a group treat other people. 

As much as someone wants to be part of a collective, often that person starts to demonstrate a difference or a disagreement.  This is where it can get dangerous.  Hopefully the collective allows for personal differences and accepts people for who they are.  Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.  As seen with religion and third-wave feminism, anyone who exhibits even a difference, no matter how small, has been deemed to breach the collective.  Punishment comes swift and harsh: anywhere from psychological trickery to being banished outright.  Regardless how many times the “offender” apologizes, that person will be marked as the enemy.

Individuality is the recognition that everyone is an individual human, complete with his/her set of beliefs, values, and lifestyles.  Compared against collectivism, being an individual can get lonely.  One might feel that no one is there for them.  It happens to me every once in a while.

To recognize individuality takes work.  First, a person has to determine his/her own personality and philosophy.  This may include research, observation, and learning from mistakes.  You are not told how to live, how to believe, or what philosophy to follow.  It may also include having to survive criticism (and possibly attacks) from both sides of the political or social aisle.  It may also be harder to make friends being an individual.

Despite this, there are positives to embracing individuality.  First, you are you own person.  You are not controlled by a collective and what you do is up to you.  Second, individuality gives you the gift of being genuine, which is an attractive trait.  Third, it is easier to stand out and be recognized, at least in some capacity, if you are an individual than participating in a collective. 

What do you think?  What would you choose: collectivism vs. individuality?  I lean towards individuality.