Peer Pressure doesn’t end at the school gate

Not so long ago, I had the privilege of driving my niece to Melbourne airport for a school choir trip. She’s 16 and during the journey we chatted about a whole range of things; from girly hair-stuff to some much deeper issues.

Peer pressure was an interesting topic. I’d forgotten how hard it is to be a teenager and to perhaps be a little different to many of the girls in the classroom. In many ways it’s just nastiness in its most unsophisticated form and it can also be equated to bullying.

It’s an unfortunate part of growing up but my niece understood that one day it will be over and everybody will be on an equal footing. But then, on the drive home I started to think about that…

Does peer pressure ever end?

The Macquarie dictionary defines a peer as ‘someone of equal standing’ and a peer group as ‘people of the same age or social background; occupation or class’.

Teenagers believe equality is about the way they look, act or dress. They can be cruelly outspoken in their approach to this, causing much grief to those that might not ‘fit the mould’. The kids seem to be more materialistic these days and they also seem to have more money but that’s another discussion for another time.

Their parents unconsciously do the same but peer pressure is not openly spoken about amongst adults. It’s laughingly referred to as ‘keeping up with the Joneses”, and if you look around you can see it everywhere, every day.

Take a drive through some of the newer housing estates. The abundance of affluence is astounding. The sheer size of the houses, as well as those being built, and the accompanying landscaping would have you believe that there are no financial problems in any part of the world at all and certainly not around here.

Have a look at the cars in the parking lot where you shop. How many of them are older than 3 years? Then ask yourself this question – how many of them were bought without finance? Would a 5 or 7 year old car go just as well as a new one? Probably – but it doesn’t look as ‘up-to-the-minute’ as the new one, does it?

And if you’re reading this and thinking it doesn’t apply to you – then go and check your wardrobe. Look at the shoes and the clothes that you’ve purchased recently. Did you buy them because you needed them, or because what you already have are ‘last year’s fashions’? Would trying to keep up with the latest fashions amount to a form of peer pressure?

Because we live in a society where we are told we “can have it all” parents are quick to make sure that not only do they look and possess the same as everyone else, but that their offspring are the same. And if needs be, they borrow copious amounts of money to do so.

So while it all might look real, judging from the levels of borrowed money in this country, it would seem that the appearances and perception of wealth are only as great as the available balance on the owners’ credit cards.

Already there are alarming reports of the huge amounts of credit card debt being racked up by the younger generation. Now where did they get that idea from?

There will always be ‘the-haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. But whilst there continues to be an ever-ready stream of credit available for the taking, peer pressure will continue to thrive.


© Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch


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