Mental health and wellbeing matters: you’re not allowed to like that

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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In our latest piece looking at mental health and wellbeing, a few thoughts on peer pressure to like and dislike things.

Hello and a very warm welcome to Mental Health and Wellbeing Matters, our little spot on the site where we chat about things that may be affecting you, or people around you. This is a weekly feature and we’ve run lots and lots of these articles. Not all of them will be relevant to you, but hopefully you’ll find something in what we write that’s of use to you.

This particular article is something of a recurring theme across our articles, given that the undercurrent of it is peer pressure. The kind of peer pressure that pushes us towards certain things, and away from others.

Most of us have had a moment in our life when we’ve been a bit shy about admitting we like a certain band, a certain song, a certain TV show or a certain movie. What will people think if I say it out loud? Won’t people laugh at me?

What will people do if I go online and try and have a nice debate about Marvel vs DC? Or if I say I like that episode of Doctor Who rather than that one?

Basically: the marrying up of what kind of things you like, against the societal expectations of what you’re supposed to like. It’s a shame it’s a thing, but sadly, that’s where we are. It’s a thing.

I was a very quiet kid at school, and knew that if I talked about Doctor Who and computer games and movie scores, I’d have been ridiculed. My school was described less as survival of the fittest, more survival of the wittiest. If you could put someone down fast, them you’d bubble to the top. I struggled for a very long time in that environment, and hid some of what I liked.

Because I felt the peer pressure to dislike what I liked, and like what I disliked. When I was younger in particular, that felt quite fierce. Through older eyes, if you’ll forgive my lapse into ancient vernacular, I can see it’s bullshit.

And it really is. I’ve learned and seen that if someone else doesn’t like what you like, then as long as it’s legal, it matters not. I thus want to say this. Please: don’t let someone out there bully you out of your passions, your hobbies, the shows you want to watch. Everybody likes different things, and you’re no exception to that.

What the online world has proven too is that as well as a bucketload of hate (not much we can do about that, sadly), there’s also a bucketload of community. That it’s easier to find your people as much as it’s easy to find a hive mind to tell you what to do and how to think.

I hope you find your community and safe space. But above all else, you love what you love. You know where your happy places are. Cherish them, hold onto them, and don’t let any sod beat them out of you.

You all take care. This column will return for one last outing in 2022 next week.

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