It was said to me before long ago, you are who you are around. In other words I am the people I surround myself with. However, I never used to believe in that adage as I don’t subscribe to all the beliefs and things that people I knew did. It wasn’t until years later that it became clear to me that there was truth to the words given to me so long ago.
You see the people you hang around are influencing you to various degrees. Sure you may not believe as they do in all things, maybe you do. However, what ends up happening is a conformity to the appeal of the group. For instance if four men ask a bartender for a drink and the first three order a “Bud” the likelyhood of the fourth ordering the same is higher. This higher probability is proven over and over as the nature of conformity. However, it is subtle and easy to forget our individuality when we have group mentalities to contend with.
When a group converses about subjects, it is easy to have a different opinion, however when the group converses they have the ability of the sway of the debate as it’s much harder to argue against the many. However, that isn’t all that is being swayed, you’re subtly giving into the beliefs of that group you associate. You continue to adopt their thinking patterns, and continue to proceed down what the group believes. It’s a fact that when we want to be part of a group (which most people do) than we conform to fit in. You will see this in chats, in real life, in games, etc.
Now, while you may understand that you eventually seem to think like a group the part many do not consider is the outside view. From someone on the outside who you hang out with most definitely defines you. You may be the best of a group, but the truth is an observer may not see that, or be aware of that. Hence you’re a part of the same stereotype as the group you are associated to. It’s not the individual’s fault for stereotyping, it’s just the nature of humans to avoid danger and conflict.
However, when we observe others around us, we try to be aware of the individuals but as a group of more than two, it becomes a group that is more easily confined within the observable stereotype. For instance, if you were to walk by a group of punk-rockers (Mohawks, leather, combat boots, etc.) versus a group of businessmen (suits, ties, briefcases), you act in accordance to the level of threat. Maybe the punks are innocuous while the suits are wearing an ear piece and looking aggressive. You’re making a stereotype of those groups in order to manage through the chaotic human world.
It’s when we see the group and we believe they are the stereotypical, when they may not be. But it doesn’t matter, because we as human are observational creatures. We observe clothing choices, haircuts, body-language, and vocal patterns without even knowing we’re doing so. You do it without realizing and it happens with a regard for the environment the individual finds themselves in. For instance you’re not likely to go into a group you completely disagree with, or despise. You need to be aware of this so you too will observe those around you.
So in your observation, as you see a group of people you make references of clothing options, styles, and body languages to assess the group stereotype to act in accordance. You’re going to assume they all believe the stereotypical ideology only because it’s easier than to assume the individuality of each of the members of the group. We only have mere moments in most cases to adjust ourselves according to our observations. In this moment we can’t assume every possible difference you have from the group you’re in. So we assume you to be them. No difference until proven otherwise.
So in that way also you are who you’re around. That context of the people you decide to associate yourselves to is important. Sometimes, the group your in doesn’t actually define you, or your beliefs, however as you stand with that group you’re just as they are to the observers around you. If you’re hanging out with a bunch of gang-members or thugs, you’re just as they are until proven otherwise (which isn’t easy to do). The idea is to consider the people you put yourself around. Do they uphold values you do? Do they see that they are what they appear to others as? Do you know you’re responsible for what you do regardless of the group? You make the decision for yourself.