Peer Pressure Vs. Personal Preference
After reading, analyzing and debating Mill’s theories for the past few weeks, I believe much can be learned. While working on mini group projects during discussion sections one day last week, I began to wonder about the correlation between realizations found due to personal belief as opposed to those brought on by multiple people’s beliefs. The mini project was composed of forming into small groups (2-4 people) and coming up with an idea of a themed restaurant, Ipod app. Student group, etc that would force people to experience their freedoms (Mill’s theory) by providing them with options. For example, in my group we designed a themed restaurant that would encompass a “fear factor” type of facet in which the diners would be given the option to confront their personal fears in order to reach a better understanding of its “importance” within their life. We created this restaurant in hopes of illustrating Mill’s theory that speaking our minds (even if our opinion is valid yet not necessarily “right”) can lead to a better idea of the truth. Another group created a restaurant that offered two different rooms; one of the rooms was a relaxed mingling cocktail hour while the other was the typical “college frat house” type of party with liquor shots and beer kegs available to all. This restaurant was meant to offer the “best of both worlds” by offering people choices to attend the type of parties they would most enjoy; people not so fond of the drinking environment could attend the “low-key” mingle and the partiers could attend the party of the year and get as wasted as they desired (they could express themselves however they wished – Mill’s freedom of expression). However, although this type of restaurant does relate to Mill in the sense that people possess the freedom to choose which party to attend, I believe people wouldn’t truly learn from this because in this case they would be compelled to attend the same parties as their friends. They wouldn’t really learn the affects of (their personal) freedom of “speech” (choice).
Mill stresses his strong belief in freedom of expression. He makes clear that by expressing yourself to “society” or within elections, you offer those around you more theories in which to analyze in hopes of reaching a better conclusion. Debate, Mill believed, as long as valid points were being discussed, could only benefit the society as a whole. With this taken into account, I believe people would not voice their own PERSONAL opinions or make their own PERSONAL decisions when dining at this restaurant, they would “follow the crowd” which would not be beneficial to society. When people voice their opinions they offer advice and a different angle at which to look at a certain concept; however, if a diner attended the frat party just because their friends wanted to attend it, they would be providing a false allusion to the restaurant’s purpose which was to reach a better understanding of others personal preferences (putting their friends preferences aside).