Let’s face it, everyone has had the long talk in class about peer pressure, and everyone had probably experienced it at some point in their life. But I don’t think everyone has had the chance to really explore every aspect of the concept. Peer pressure is always thought of as this negative thing, and yes—it can be, but there are two other parts of it that are not very well known. One being indirect peer pressure and the other being positive peer pressure.
Let’s start with the more well-known one, negative peer pressure. Imagine that your friend comes up to you in class and asks you to go to the bathroom with him/her (you know the weird rule that you always have to to take a buddy with you). However in that class, you are working on a huge project that you are afraid that you won’t finish. Since it’s your friend asking you might be more inclined to say yes. You have just given in to peer pressure, even though it might not seem like this is happening. Given that it might seem to be a minor case, think back to that huge project you are working on. If you don’t finish and get a bad grade it will bring down your overall grade in the class, which will bring down your grade point average. I’m not saying that you have to say no every time someone asks you to do something, but you have to be aware of your surroundings and recognize when that something will potentially affect your life.
Just as there is negative peer pressure, there is also positive peer pressure. This is when peers push you to excel and to do better in your life. For example, at my school, we do something called a buddy run. Basically, the fastest runners get paired up with the slowest runners and have to get the slowest runners to beat their mile time. Being an elite runner in my grade, I was paired with a boy in my class with a mental disability. I tried the hardest I could to encourage him positively and worked with him so that he felt ok and so that we were still running most of it. Our hard work paid off because he beat his time by almost a minute. This was one of the first times that he had been able to complete the run and get an A. His caretaker was thrilled, he was thrilled, and frankly I was happy too. Just helping someone else made me feel good. Since then I was asked to do other runs with him and I am so happy to have the chance to do something like that. I hope that I have had a positive impact on his life by helping him in P.E., by encouraging him during runs and asking him to be on teams with me.
The last one is indirect peer pressure. This can go in two directions, positive or negative. First, let’s talk about the negative indirect peer pressure. This happens when someone’s actions or words that are not necessarily directed towards you cause you to be more inclined or want to do that action or what they want others to do that is not beneficial to you. People everywhere are exposed to this without even knowing about it. This source is advertising and media. It’s an advertising company’s job to sell something to you or make you want to do something. And the internet is filled to the brim with things like the latest trends or challenges people are doing most of which will hurt you in some way. Things like the cinnamon challenge in which you try to swallow a spoon full of cinnamon without the use of water might get views or likes, but a large amount of cinnamon is known to cause problems. It can be toxic especially to those with liver problems. Also, trends inspired by things that celebrities supposedly do or use. Just because a celebrity sponsors something does not mean that it is better than other products. you have to think about what you’re buying and what will be best for you.
On a lighter note, let’s talk about positive indirect peer pressure. This is basically the same thing as the other one but the outcome is positive. For example, let’s say that all of your friends are signing up to work at an animal shelter. Since your friends are doing it, you decide to do it too. You end up really loving it and you’re helping these shelters find homes for the animals and helping the animals stay happy and healthy. Your friends did not tell you to do it but their choices impacted your decisions.
People everywhere need to be more informed about peer pressure so that they can be more aware of when it is happening. You probably already knew about negative peer pressure whether it was from the great David Bowie or from school, and now you know about positive peer pressure. I hope this was helpful to everyone who reads it!