Individualism or Group-ism

November 21, 2009

Working in a coffee shop has its perks. Free coffee. A high-energy work environment. Free coffee. Merchandise discounts. Free coffee.

Yes, the benefits are what originally drew me to coffee employment.

However, there are many downsides to working with the public. Especially in a place where the masses are reeled in by peer pressure and the desire to be cool. (At least, that’s how my coffee shop became popular.)

Yes, working with the public day after day, I can’t help but become a tad cynical regarding humans in general and how easily influenced we are. The fact that my co-workers and I can 99 percent of the time determine what drinks people will order the second they walk in the door is a small tribute to that.

The businessmen with Blackberrys and newspapers. Those are the black coffee drinkers.

The young giggly teenagers. The caramel, frozen-drink crowd.

The young, YOUNG children trailing behind their parents. Usually hot chocolate or vanilla milk. Or even more disturbingly: mocha lattes with decaf shots.

The most disturbing question I can find is what type of young adults are we creating or, should I say, programming.  

Of course, it can’t be denied that we are all part of a crowd. Whether we aim to buck societal standards or are the first ones in line for the new winter item, we are all in a category. Nothing is quite original anymore. Individualism seems to be a thing of the past.

And yet we can still be individuals. Not letting ourselves be put in a mold. Diversifying our interests.

Stepping into the shoes of another person can be the richest experience.

Learning to cook. Learning the violin. Taking up a new language. Immersing ourselves in a different culture. Wearing a new style of clothing. Tasting a new food.

Or smaller steps like wearing glasses instead of contacts. Embracing our natural hair color. Finding new words for our vocabulary.

The options are endless when we start looking.

It’s exhilarating the new sense of self that can appear in such a small act.

And before we know it, we are no longer following one trend but, instead, mixing and matching to create our own.

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