Individualism can be classified as a state or stance of being independent in every aspect of life-morally, politically and socially. Individualism is not to be confused with the state of being alone, but a separately functioning entity in a realm of collectivism and notions of group think. Individualism is about pulling away from the crowd in the sense of establishing oneself as something of a sovereign entity. “Individualism allows one to follow their own dictates, often motivated by inner intuition rather than outer influences. Listens to their inner voice and interacts to outer stimuli based on these feelings and ideals that are produced as a result. Often unique, from those observing them, and sometimes mainstream however this too would be the result of their own singular choice,” says Indea Vaher.
Individualism is cherished as it provides a unique perspective at different levels of life. It provides a sense of enlightenment to those that seek behaviors anew to advance society.
Siddharta Gautama, or Buddha can be epitomized as an individualist that relinquished his family’s notion of conforming to his birth-given lifestyle of pampering to become a separately thinking individual that advanced not just social ideation but, eventually, religious notions, as well.
Individualism also provides a heightened sense of happiness through means of self-discovery, self-fulfillment and self-expression.
Individualism can also be viewed negatively as with the idea of individualism, the psychological challenge of selfishness and egotism can develop causing the affected individual to shun social engagement completely and placing their thoughts and ideas in a superior, godlike position above that of the collective. Characteristically, this level of social transcendence can cause levels of anarchism and grand scale rebellion, or simply put “Freedom! No rules, no expectations,” as said by Jackson.
Other disadvantages to individualism is the superiority complex—a psychological state in which an individual feels superior to others and strive to maintain this level of condescension through efforts of shielding mechanisms. This can happen with the lack of collectivist condition eliminating the feelings of superiority or inferiority to fit in with the societal whole.
Individualism is a needed state of mind that will allow an individual to break away from a group to embark upon a much needed to journey to enlighten themselves in ideas anew, bringing back a fresher way of thinking to create a better standard of living, and spark progression.
Individualism can also be characterized as an “individual [being] the Yolk of the egg and society the shell-both are thesis and antithesis, both in conflict but synchronized for the common cause,” as stated by Malik Gafoor.
After reviewing individualism and both sides of the spectrum, why is individualism so important in society, even in times of rebellion against its notions…Well, individualism allows for a society of different ideas, ideas that challenges that of mainstream. It creates an atmosphere of change and beckoning of progression from old ways that are no longer conducive to the advancement of society, pulling the collective in a direction that is no longer stagnant. It breaks up the mundane, routine ways of behaving bringing about a change.
Look at Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi’s legacies—these two leaders challenge the fray that society was okay in the state that it was in during their respective times. Had these gentlemen remained in a state of mind that concurred with the collective idea that everything was okay, where would this world be in this epoch?