top of page

Peer Pressure, Evolution and the Future

Updated: 7 days ago

4 shadowy cyborgs walking in a line.

(Disclaimer: These are merely my thoughts. To philosophize is, after all, my job. As you can see, I am against peer pressure, as it can lead to dangerous consequences, from violent TikTok trends to electing and supporting a dictator. I strongly believe that subjectivity is not above reality, hence why I justify it when philosophizing.)


Why We Struggle with Peer Pressure: A Philosophical View

As the writer writes and the farmer farms, the philosopher contemplates the fundamental aspects of human existence. True philosophical work delves into deep thought concerning existential topics. But what if facing conformity is an inherent human challenge, related to our genes?

Peer pressure is a powerful force precisely because it exploits an evolutionary legacy. Our genes hold the experiences of our ancestors, those who survived by fitting in with the tribes, nations and other collectives. For them, defying the group could have meant ostracization, even death. This primal fear of being cast out lingers within many of us, making it difficult to resist the pressure to conform, even when on a conscious level we know it's wrong.

This connection between our genes and our social behavior offers a fascinating philosophical perspective on peer pressure. As such, resisting conformity is deeply rooted challenge with connection to our evolutionary past.

Understanding this connection can empower us to overcome it.

The Lingering Fear of Ostracism

While the consequences of non-conformity have drastically lessened in today's world, we still grapple with a primal fear of being ostracized. This fear, a legacy from our ancestors, doesn't align with the relative safety of modern society.

Evolution is often a slow and reactive process. It learns through past and present experiences, shaping our DNA to reflect those lessons. As such, remote or isolated places, such as the Galapagos islands or even the London Underground subway, allow unique growth of genetic material, based on said environments, whose environment is more unique, and thus lead to different conditioning.

This information gets passed on, but evolution can't predict the future. So, while the dangers of ostracism were very real for our ancestors, our bodies still carry that fear, even when it's not entirely relevant. We may fear defying peer pressure as if it meant complete exclusion, even though the worst-case scenario today is far less severe.

The rapid evolution of our world, through technology of our own making, may often require us to adapt in accordance. Traditional communities may have a bigger struggle, compared to tech-savy enthusiasts. We can still be afraid of isolation and abandonment, even though the penalties are much milder than in the past. That is despite the impact of social isolation and rejection on our mental health. However, as our DNA gradually adapts to the current environment, the fear of defying peer pressure, could, in theory, lessen in future generations.

The Dawning Age of Autonomy

The rise of technology and AI may further weaken the dominance of these primitive instincts. Should we, for example, replace our friends and lovers with AI lovers, some of us may be completely okay with it. Should we research more through search engines, we could be fine being alone even further. Finally, with the rise of VR technology, some of us may even desire to live more virtually than physically, traversing virtual worlds like literal digital nomads.

Now, given that our experiences go to the next generations through our DNA, we can technically shape our own DNA by living life in accordance to the environment and to our ambitions. With the success of our ambitions, we can either alter or preserve our current external conditions. As such, through their success, we might be more powerful than we might think, capable, through hard work and dedication, to shape the life we want. Not only for ourselves, but also for our future generations!

Imagine genes promoting individualism and independence taking hold. Future generations might be naturally less susceptible to peer pressure and, and thus, will be able to become more-independent thinkers. Thinking independently is a quality potentially crucial for survival in a changing world.

Be prone to peer pressure, and you might do things that are not necessarily good for you, nor for the environment around you. Alcohol misuse, for example, can harm not only you but people who have yet to be born (children). As developing this habit now, can make them develop that habit too, later in their lives.

Embracing Solitude to Forge a New Humanity

Can we really expect other people to tell us what's good for us when society at large doesn't really care, let appreciate us, as individuals? You see, society at large isn't exactly a pure meritocracy, and for good reason. To keep itself afloat, it requires many people to be average and to work in boring jobs they don't like. Uniqueness can therefore be pretty dangerous to social stability.

As a result, many people, especially intellects, may feel alienated with society. That is known as intellectual loneliness for that matter. Society does not expect you to say you're an intellectual. That would deem is not modest even if it's true. In a way, society creates its own separatist sentiments in its members towards itself, and the intellectual case is merely one example. This is contradictory to its educative attempts to do the exact opposite.

This challenges the idea that humans are inherently social creatures, as the need for social interaction is gradually reduced by technology and the substitutes it presents us.

Those who may struggle with loneliness, may struggle with an emerging "Age of Alienation" – a future dominated by technology, entertainment, and marked by urban living, industrialization, and a sense of greater isolation.

In this age, social conformity and interaction might become less necessary, even a fading desire. As we head towards this future, we become the seeds of a potentially solitary generation, where the tasks and entertainment currently fulfilled by social interaction might be usurped by advanced technology. AI apps, VR and the like the examples for that. The thing about these substitutes is that they can eliminate much of the pain and suffering included in meaningful human relationships (AKA social pain), thus giving them advantage over them.

Summary: From Social Creatures to Architects of Our Own Evolution

The lingering fear of ostracism exposes a dissonance between our evolved instincts and the realities of the modern world. We could utilize this understanding to break free from the shackles of peer pressure, and forge our own fate, and not only for ourselves.

Our solution lies in consciously defying these outdated social urges through the practice of enduring solitude, or the art of being alone. As technology advances, isolation may become a defining feature of our future. By embracing solitary endurance (and perhaps even asceticism for the strong-willed), we can actively shape our own evolution. That could be done by the success of our ambitions, capable in either changing or preserving our environments, thus influencing our DNA independently of societal pressure.

Of course, we'll have to make a habit of defiying that pressure, first.

Imagine influencing our very DNA by demonstrating that social conformity is no longer paramount for survival. This shift will propel humanity towards a new nature – one where solitude is not a burden, but a natural way of life. Social desires and the urge to succumb to peer pressure will diminish, replaced by a powerful sense of solitary individuality. By being the change we want to see in the world, and make others follow our example.

By consciously choosing solitude, we can become the architects of our own evolution, forging a future where humanity thrives not through conformity, but through the strength of the independent thinker. Human beings are not entirely passive instruments to be pressured by the external world, and be molded in accordance.

Many of us simply choose to be.

To quote Mr. John Duran:

59 views0 comments


Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

צילום מסך 2023-11-02 202752.png
bottom of page