What is Individualism?

Individualism appears to have a fairly self  explanatory definition, yet every person has his or her own idea of what it means to them. Some people view it as a negative thing, and others view it positively. To me, it can be described as both, depending on the degree to which a person’s individualism goes. Obviously some people are more individualistic than others, but can some degree of individualism be a good thing? I think so, but there must be balance. If you go through life and only care about yourself, then you probably won’t form any meaningful relationships and nobody will like you. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who only do things for other people and are never concerned with their own personal welfare will be taken advantage of by other people. In my opinion, I think a good balance between these two extremes is the best way to apply individualism.

In regards to the history of Appalachia, individualism doesn’t appear to have been an integral part of society since they were all incredibly family oriented and close. But upon closer examination of  articles analyzing clan relations, it becomes apparent that most of the children in these families remained living in close proximity to their parents in order to receive their inheritance and or land. While not all children had these motives, it was quite a common practice in the old southern families.

I think individualism depends on the culture in which a person grows up, in addition to the area of the world they live in. In America for example, most people are way too concerned with having the latest technology and the nicest cars, while in poorer areas of the world people are just worried about if they have enough food to eat. Maybe we as Americans are more individualistic than we think we are. We like to think of ourselves as selfless, but in reality we can’t help but think about how situations will affect us, it’s just part of what makes us human.


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