Peer Pressure manifests itself in various incarnations. In the particular case of teenagers and young adults, these techniques are generally devoid of any sound rationale, but rather appeal to the emotions. That makes sense; if you’re trying to get someone to do something stupid, better to veer away from logic and build your argument on the unsteady fluctuations of visceral reactions.
A. One such method of peer pressure is impugning one’s manhood. As Shakespeare illustrated in the early stages of the tragedy Macbeth through the titular character and his wife Lady Macbeth, openly questioning a male’s maleness can be an effective way to manipulate said male. Let’s say for example Charlie is attempting to convince Mordecai to jump off a rocky cliff into a wild sea some fifty feet below. Should Mordecai balk at the idea of the jump, Charlie may resort to a quip such as “Jump off the rocks you get big balls,” which is obviously an overt reference to one’s literal manhood. Or, if Charlie is more the terse sort, he may simply choose to say “Sked?” – a local variation of the English word “scared”, except that it swaps out the long “a” sound for a short “e” sound and also has no time whatsoever for the letter r.
B. Another common method of peer pressure is the timeless carpe diem argument. This type of non-reasoning suggests that a person should decide to do something because life is ultimately short. It asks the question “Why not?” and it is always a rhetorical question. The rhetorical questioner already knows why not, otherwise he/she would have already completed the given task. Carpe Diem neither offers a true list or pros nor does it suggest anything other than the fact at some point in the future, all humans will die. Perhaps this time Charlie is attempting turn Mordecai on to hardcore drugs. Possessing at least cursory knowledge of the dangers of drugs, Mordecai would be reticent to try the drugs readily available to him. Charlie, sensing Mordecai’s reluctance may opt for “YOLO, dawg”, consequently Mordecai’s only available response is to say “Swag, homie!” and take the drugs.
C. Perhaps the most effective form of peer pressure, however, is the vaunted guilt trip. Rather than appeal to one’s self-image of masculinity or mortality, the guilt trip is a form of emotional manipulation which directly attacks the target’s morals. Anyone who is taken on guilt trip must ask themselves Is my emotional attachment to this person and anything they may have done for me in the past more significant than my current reservations and obligations? The guilt trip is especially difficult to ignore and/or deny because it trades on social currency. Unlike the first two types of peer pressure, the guilt trip presents itself as a quid pro quo situation. Anyone who would run a guilt trip on someone else can only do so because they already have something over their prey. Only the most heartless of us can resist a solid, well-sourced guilt trip.
Incorporating facets of all of the aforementioned techniques is the ubiquitous “Fo’ Da Boiz!” (to be fair, I have never heard females shout “Fo’ Da Gurlz!” – in whatever intentional misspelling you prefer – so I don’t know if it applies to females). What differentiates “Fo’ Da Boiz!” from the three modes of peer pressure above is the group dynamic. The questioning of manhood, carpe diem, and the guilt trip can all be performed on a one-on-one basis. As you well know, there is power in the numbers, and those numbers are Da Boiz.
Let’s say Charlie and Mordecai meet up with Raul, Tetsuo, and Jim. As all males are 21 and older, they are all enjoying alcohol and each other’s company at a local bar. Times passes and the sweet liquor flows down their throats like fine grains of sand through an hourglass. Hanging over Mordecai’s head is the 7 AM flight he must take the following morning. He estimates he will need to wake up somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:30 in order to prepare, travel to the airport, and check-in. It is now 1 AM. “Guys,” Mordecai says. “I gotta call it a night, early flight in the morning.” “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?” Raul says. “AHHHHHH!” Tetsuo exclaims. “Nah, one more round,” Jim proclaims. “I don’t know,” Mordecai might say. “I still have to pack.” “Fo’ Da Boiz!” Charlie shouts.
1. Inherent to “Fo’ Da Boiz” is the English word “boys” [sic] which implicitly calls the target’s manhood into question. In the scenario detailed above, Charlie, Tetsuo, Raul, and Jim are all able to continue their revelry into the morning hours because as males, they are not bound by responsibilities including, but limited to their jobs, families, and TSA screenings. Furthermore, our friend, the ambivalent Mordecai now faces pressure on multiple fronts. Perhaps he does not love Raul and Tetsuo and Jim and Charlie, but there’s a pretty good chance that Mordecai does love Charlie since the latter convinced the former to take illegal drugs and the former is still hanging out with the former. Everyone else simply exponentially increases that pressure, serving as a kind of anti-conscience, especially if – as is often the case – Mordecai would prefer to stay in his heart of hearts.
2. Much like carpe diem, “Fo’ Da Boiz!” offers no logical reasons to perform the task, in this case carrying on in merriment despite the rapidly approaching morning flight. In the same way that “you only live once” is a poor excuse to do something when you’ve still got something like 60 more years of natural life, “Fo’ Da Boiz!” serves as an anti-logical argument which does not make literal or figurative sense. Like the idea of seizing the day, doing something “Fo’ Da Boiz” is a meme for which people have a kind of pre-conditioned reaction. “Fo’ Da boiz!” Doesn’t mean anything, really, but males of a certain age have been conditioned to answer by doing whatever is being requested. Additionally, depending on your interpretation of the preposition “fo'” (for), one could assert that by making a particular choice at the behest of one’s boiz, the boiz will experience some kind of direct benefit. What would Raul, Tetsuo, Charlie, and Jim get if Mordecai stays? Nothing – they auuu’ katsu already. They’re going to continue their drinking and chee-huuing at whichever band is playing over surf videos and/or sports highlights on the televisions regardless of Mordecai’s decision.
3. Of course if one skews one’s interpretation of the preposition “fo'” (for) toward the more traditional understanding, then “Fo’ Da Boiz” becomes a nearly inescapable guilt trip. It combines the testosterony-nonsense of the first two forms of peer pressure and ramps it up by calling into question your loyalty to your very best friends. Herein lies the problem. Unless one is a narcissist or sociopath, a person’s inner circle of friends likely means a great deal to them. When posed with random peer pressure methods A, B, and C, a reasonably secure and rational person might be able to resist simply because the don’t happen to place any kind of importance on what the pressurist thinks of them. It matters not how others view you, so long as those important to you understand your general goodness. This is why “Fo’ Da Boiz” is irresistible; no human being wants to be perceived as a bad friend by their best friends. “Fo’ Da Boiz!” is an ingenious argument expressly invented to attack the nostalgia and fealty toward Raul, Tetsuo, Jim, and Charlie, kindled by alcohol and comeraderie, burning in Mordecai’s heart of hearts.
It’s stupid. But it works.