Are Individuals Becoming More Individual or Less?

By: D.R.

Because I think there’s compelling evidence for both sides.

In the “more individual” corner:

– Each of us (increasingly) has his or her own computer, cell phone, iPod, Pinterest page, etc.; thus, each of us is creating a database of stuff unique to ourselves.

– Thanks to technology, the Internet, Google, Amazon, etc., each of us is more in charge of our own education, and can shape it to be more to our liking. Used to be, the vast majority of learning when young was done in a group setting, where compromise and The Group prevailed.

– The more global we get, the more access we have to – and the more accepting we are of – different styles, some of which we may feel a connection to, and embrace as our own. In short, the range of options increases.

– Even regardless of globalization, choices are ever increasing – cable channels, bands and individuals making music, types of food, thinkers and writers and filmmakers, etc.

– With greater freedom for women, there is a wider range of how to be (or not to be) in a relationship, to create (or not) a family, to interact with colleagues and superiors, to socialize.

In the “less individual” corner:

– Through mass media (TV, film, music, viral videos and info), we are all subjected to the same celebrated people, styles, behavior, and thus “model” the same stuff.

– In an evermore fragmented world, we want even more to belong.

– Global business is all about consolidating; as soon as something becomes competitive, a bigger player buys it and becomes even bigger, further reducing the number of potential competitors. Yes, the Internet provides many individual avenues…but there are far fewer publishers these days. Chain stores have knocked out most mom-and-pops. You can think of Facebook as a boon for individuality…or as the most homogenized, shared experience (almost 1 billion people) ever in the history of human civilization.

– It’s long paid to go along…but in a world that’s gotten faster and snarkier, maybe it pays even more to go along.

– As technology evolves and expands, the prime target more and more are younger and younger people (also known as kids, teens). As a rule, compared to older people, younger people are likelier to want to belong than to stand out.

Which is it? Are we becoming more individualistic or less so? Is it a wash