Very prevalent in a teenagers mind is the idea that if they don’t behave in a certain way or have particular things then they will be considered uncool or stupid by their peers.

It’s a fact of life that teenagers tend to be trendy bunch of people. Teenagers will buy, listen to, and eat whatever the trend is of the moment.

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements from big corporations advertising makeup, sports drinks, clothes, perfumes and music. The people in the advertisements are often the best looking people, or famous people perceived as role models. Wow, if I buy that perfume that Britney wears I’ll be cool!” This also outlines that people are willing to pay just for a named brand to be cool.

Television is the biggest medium and is watched in nearly every household. Advertisers keep track of the most popular television shows with a certain age group and will target their ads between these shows. There is also something called “product placement” in which a big name company will pay to have their product in a show to be seen by the millions of people watching it.

Typically, the characters populating television shows are portrayed as having lives that are full of excitement and happiness that viewers unconciously (or conciously) take away that message – “if I want my life to be like that, I should behave that way”. I’ll start by changing my look to the way that person looks and then I’ll make sure I own what they own and associate with their type of friends.

Although there is all this advertising and portrayal that contribute to the problem of conforming, it’s likely that no one factor is to blame.

Teenagers also come to a stage when they want to be an individual as well as part of a group. This situation is easiest to see when looking at certain groups of teenagers, such as those labelled Goths, Bogan, Punk, Metal-heads. Within those groups there seems to be the desire to be different, and the way to be different is to dress like everyone else in some social fringe group, who all display their social status by dressing alike. They have no qualms about wearing their own distinctive clothing. In other words, these teens choose to be different by all dressing the same way.

Being ‘one of the gang’ and ‘fitting in’ is as important during your teenage years as it is a decade after you’ve left school. We all want to fit in and we all tend one way or another depending on our friends and the people around us.

Parents shouldnt’ confuse individuality with rebellion though. We all feel a need to experiment with our hair colour, piercings, our clothes, fashion and our music to find out what individual we really are.

Individuality in The Tribe

The Tribe covers lots of different types of teenagers and because it’s The Tribe they’ve formed their own groups to survive in the new world. But not everyone has.

Sasha was happy not to be part of a Tribe and to travel around and be an individual. He was into his music, his gypsy lifestyle and wanted to be free to do what he wanted.

The Loco’s recruited members. People that were unsure of themselves or felt they needed safety in the city could find it within a large group like the the Loco’s. But beware if you crossed your fellow Tribe members – the Loco’s put up with nothing.

Then there are the Mallrats – the idealists. They want was is better for everyone. They fight for justice in the city and that everyone has a right to be there. Everyone has a right to be who they are. The Mallrats are anti large groups like The Chosen who want everyone to conform to their way of thinking.

Tribeworld takes a diverse look at all issues that teeenagers encounter including individuality. Take a look at the archive for other issues covered.