According to a dozen videos I watched in high school, peer pressure will/did ruin my life and made me butt chug heroin-laced vodka and snort all the marijuanas ever. I typed this article from my hospital bed. All teenagers are the devil.
But peer pressure doesn't end when high school ends; it just grows up, like all the high schoolers who didn't die as a result of peer pressure, and then becomes a softer, more subtle brand of douchebaggery we call social pressure. It's not even your peers doing it to you anymore, it's society. Society! That's everyone together, even shitheads and awesomeheads. The only time you'll even realize you're being victimized by it is when you feel stupid doing something and then, after you do it, stop to consider why you felt stupid and realize that you only did it because you felt you had to. Damn you, society!
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Sometimes when a man and a woman ask me to leave the room, a baby is made, and nine months later I'm asked to leave the room again. This happens frequently and it's fairly mundane. There are currently 7 billion people on Earth, and somehow we still act like this is a remarkable feat. One needs only look at Octomom to start losing appreciation for the skill required to pass a human through a vagina (you keep your Caesarean comments to yourself).
If someone at your workplace or in your group of friends announces in front of you that they're having a baby, you're going to have that moment when congratulations are delivered. Some are probably very sincere -- maybe you really think the fact that they humped successfully is cool, I'm not judging. I'm just suggesting that, for most people, this congratulatory expression is the result of being made to feel like you need to, rather than any real sentiment. Because really, what did you do? You boned without the aid of birth control and biology worked. There are life forms on Earth right now that can change sex in order to reproduce, and others that can reproduce all alone without even finding a partner. No one congratulates them, so how is your effort more worthy of praise?
Realistically, people should congratulate you when your child turns 18, contingent on the kid not being a piece of shit. If you have and raise a child who becomes a good person and the world is better for having him in it, then you get congratulated on a job well done. Congratulating people on a baby is like praising a chef for buying beans and a ham only to have him serve you ham-and-bean-crusted turd kabobs.
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Nothing is more hinged upon fads and social pressure than pop culture. Magazines, TV shows, and websites make a living telling you what is awesome and trying to convince you who is cool. Remember when Lana Del Rey was on SNL? Had you even heard of her before then? Of course not. She also sucked miserably, but probably half of you know her name now because she was put in a spotlight and people pretended she was cool.
On a smaller scale, this happens all the time in your social circles and places of employment or schools. Remember Titanic? Remember when it was (un)cool to be the person who paid to see it 100 times? Every town had that one mental case on the news who'd seen Titanic more times than they'd been hugged by a family member. It was both sad and weird.
The current fad du jour is the Harlem Shake. Take a look and see how many businesses and schools have uploaded their own Harlem Shake videos to partake in the fun. There's literally dozens if not hundreds by now, and each one is blissfully ignorant of the fact that no one likes the Harlem Shake. It's awful and all those videos are awful. And when you make the 50th version of a video that's exactly the same as the previous 49, it makes it, according to science, awful. Science hates you now.
Interestingly, this becomes even more fanatical when it's something that an even larger part of society doesn't like. For instance, look at Beliebers. "Belieber" is a portmanteau in which the "ieber" is from Justin Bieber and the "bel" is from the Judeo-Christian demon Belial, and it means "worthless." Feel free to Google which parts of that I made up. Beliebers are rabid defenders of Justin Bieber to the point of insanity. Like literal, smearing shit on the walls and hooting coded messages at their own genitals insanity. Is there any reason why you, as a fan of a musician, should send death threats to a person who speaks ill of that musician? Or someone who wins an award instead of that musician? Not really, but a shit-ton of them do it all the time. Because they've entered into this crazy, self-supporting zone of "true fandom," and everyone else is doing it so they might as well do it too, and who knows, it might even end up trending on Twitter! OMG!
On the flip side of our pop culture flapjack are the sexy, syrup-cupping hate divets. People really like hating things that are popular to hate. Like Nickelback. Nickelback could be the best band in the world right now and I'd have no idea because I hate Nickelback. In fairness, I started hated them after that song "Photograph," which had lyrics on par with the rantings of someone dying from exposure to industrial cleaner and swamp gas fumes, but maybe they've evolved since then. Maybe Nickelback is just cranking out the phattest tunes ever now. But the fact is, everyone still makes fun of them, and I'm happy to join in because everyone assures me they suck and I have no desire to take the time to find out if they're wrong.
It's trendy to hate on things. In fact, it's a lot easier than liking things, because those Beliebers I mentioned are, as I said, insane. They get secondary hate sloughed off of Bieber. But hating something is not only easier, it's more fun. How many Cracked articles make jokes that rely on positivity? Making fun of stuff allows for way more cool jokes than praising it. Look at the fun descriptive words in my columns from 2013 alone: "Creepiest," "grossest," "dimwits." In fact, my only rejected article was "The 16 Most Sexy, Charming, and Intelligent Fans of Felix Clay Articles," in which I detailed how awesome you guys are, but editorial felt it wasn't edgy enough and that no one reading would believe that you're all really that charming and sexy and smart, even with all the links and photos I had to back me up. Oh well, I tried.
Making fun of something popular like Bieber, or Star Wars, or American Idol is to the Internet what apple pie is to America. It's delicious and you can fuck it. But more than that, it's representative of the wholesome roots of the population as a whole. It's what keeps us all going. More so the mockery than the pie. If pie keeps you going, you probably have a lot of trouble breathing, and you're likely to start sweating before this article ends.