‘Teenagers have got funny habits these days’, I said to myself one day as I browsed through Facebook. But then it occurred to me that teenagers of today are only being influenced by their peers and pop culture, just as we were before them.

Beyond their ever rotating gymnastic legs and poking tongues, one’s able to tell that they are only having fun, even when that fun sometimes assumes a very dangerous twist.

That’s how our parents must have thought we were weird too, back in the day. Whenever I go back to my old-school pictures, I laugh in Swahili (don’t mind me o, I don’t even know the language) – the oversized clothes, the die hard looks, the blind man googles, the hard and funny stares… Mehn!

Don’t joke with peer pressure my friend. It’s so strong, it could relocate a mountain, and cause a raging tsunami. Yes, literarily. Perhaps, I’ll simply jump into the heart of the fire today; which is not my usual style. Pardon me, I can’t help it.

Classmates, colleagues and age mates are usually called peers. That is, those who can wield a certain amount of influence over our behaviours because we somehow fall into the same age bracket.

Here’s what wiki says, ” Peer pressure (or social pressure) is direct influence on people by peers, or an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual.”

In the world of peers, trends matter, yeah? Swags! Dominant trends. If it’s baggy pants, game on. Beard gang, game on. Crazy pants, game on, wild lifestyles, game on… In other words, whatever seems to be the centre of attraction gets locked down and on point. You get?

The other day, one of my lecturer’s asked if God could be found in pop culture. We had a serious brainstorming session, and we had to finally agree that God could indeed be found in pop culture. He’s God! Nothing is impossible to him. This is hard to believe, but it’s true. Now, I know there are those who disagree, but I don’t mind. This isn’t dogma 101 you know? There are those who find God in pop culture and pop music. Yes? Not all secular music is gibberish. But that’s a matter for another day.

Do you know the popular singer, Adekunle Gold? What about Cobhams Asuquo, Darey Alade and Timi Dakolo? Well, isn’t there something different about them? Haven’t you noticed their videos are relatively decent, without the usual semi nude dancers and totally vulgar lyrics about women, money cars, women money, cars, and women, money and cars again, and… Sorry. I have to stop there. Look, I’m not in any way suggesting that these guys are gospel artists or something; or that their music is the best secular music in the market. But you’ve got to admit that in the entertainment industry (music particularly) where almost everyone’s only interest revolves around money, women and cars, and where you can hardly land a recording deal without agreeing to strange terms, it’s got to take some huge amount of strength of character to stay relatively decent. Right?

Have you listened to Darey’s “Pray for me?” It’s such an inspirational and motivational piece. What about Dakolo’s “Wish me well?” Hmmm, that’s one great song as well. You may have listened to Cobhams’ “Ordinary people.” First time I heard that song, I was blown away. We do need a world of ordinary people. Now what truly surprises me is the fact that Adekunle Gold can do his genre of music under the YBNL label. Hallelujah! Miracles do happen, right? Oh I’m sorry, but have you listened to “Pick up?” or Orente? I’m pretty sure Gold’s songs are among the most decent YBNL can boast of.

So dear friends, if you must be influenced by peer pressure and pop culture, please be influenced by what’s positive in them. And if you have to stand alone, please do. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness. If Darey, Dakolo, Gold, and Cobhams can do their genre of music in the same music industry that’s so obsessed with indecency, then there’s hope for all of us. It won’t kill you you to stand alone sometimes. Remember, “all the cool kids aren’t always right.”

Peer pressure is not supposed to be a bad thing in itself you know, but it’s just that being teenagers, experimentation and voyeurism can go too far. It’s okay to be a virgin for instance; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Why lose your virginity because your friend wants you to? Why fornicate cos it’s trending? Why take the pill, or flush that baby? It’s okay to be different for a good purpose. Yes! It’s okay to dress decent, it’s okay to act decent, it’s okay to not smoke or drink, or lie about everything. It’s okay to just be YOU. You don’t have to be anyone or anything else. Please let the identity crisis stop, and let true formation of character begin. We do owe ourselves that much charity.

God help us all!

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2017.

Image Credit@PIXABAY