What it means to challenge the status quo
The status quo is that nauseating little thing that we all pretend to admonish. It keeps our feet on the well-worn path and stops us from venturing out into the wilderness. Even as we feel its force surround us, it keeps us safe. So in the same way that a prisoner may learn to both hate and love a prison, our relationship with the status quo is similarly as oblique, contradictory and difficult to exact. At least a prison has visible walls.
For many, divergence is a necessary part of re-establishing individualism, and to trump the ritualistic monotony of ‘everybody else’. It is this conquering of alternatives that, whilst not necessarily ensuring wealth, promises an existence that isn’t static or pre-written. We’re desperate to fall off script, and spill onto the blank pages wherein every word may be original, and every action unseen.
From a young age, we’re taught to resist the greyness of society and discover the hidden floundering of colour, both within ourselves and the world at large. As we’re typically reminded by the older and more cynical, our culture perpetuates the misnomer of universal uniqueness and a society of so-called ‘special snowflakes’. Crass in its delivery, yet certainly true – opposing our inherited structures is not only difficult, but (at least for some) impossible.
Many of us entertain the notion that we’re different, yet we ascribe to the same ideals and beliefs. We abstain from conformity, and yet partake in the most conformist tool ever introduced to a population – social media. We brand ourselves on personas extracted from TV or from whichever repository is added to by our contemporaries or peers.
What our parents fail to teach us is what it takes to break from the rules, or stem the flow in the river, is a strength and mental defiance unknown to most. This challenge is not only an active act, of refusing to live as those around us, but a passive one – one automatically entered into the equation behind each decision and action, to the point that our behaviours are self-defined, uninfluenced by the ‘should’ and ‘supposed’. It takes courage. If we can’t imagine ourselves as the lone voice against many, it is likely we’ll never experience true divergence. If we’re unable to challenge a room of friends to exact our own conviction, again, we’ve already yielded to the path of another.
The point of this is to dispense with the wishy-washy attribution of individualism within modern society, in which we use the performance of convenient tasks as a measurement of our capacity for defiance. Challenging the status quo is never, and will never be easy; challenging the world takes not only a will for action, but a mind-set that understands that what is so has only been permitted, albeit on a mass scale.
Unfortunately, a product of humanity’s newfound hyper connectivity is the penchant and probability for regurgitation. Few things are rarely said, especially over the Internet, that haven’t already said, and for many, to not be influenced by what we’ve already read multiple times is not possible. It’s fun to talk about the other side of the fence; it’s much harder to make the climb. Alternate roads and choices are, for many, nothing more than an attraction, and it is this crucial point that we fail to teach the younger generations. The climb – the opposition and the defiance – is always the hardest part.