We, as humans, LOVE when we find someone who gets us. We boast of our individuality and yet we also long to fit in and be understood. Personality tests have been quite the rage over the last few years as Meyer-Briggs became the buzz. Since then, we’ve added Enneagram to the mix. Denominations, political parties, Facebook groups…the lists go on and on, ad infinitum. All ways of categorizing and grouping folks. Helpful? Sure! But, often, in trying to fit in, there is a price to pay.
What I don’t understand at all is when folks use their camaraderie with a group as a springboard to feel brave enough to throw stones. Mob mentality is a thing! I’ve been doing some reading about the psychological tendencies to follow a crowd. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to learn social cues and life shortcuts from what other people do. Unfortunately, it can also lead to folks being influenced to compromise their standards and get dragged along into unthinkable behavior or ways of thinking that they ordinarily wouldn’t. You know as well as I do, that sometimes we tend to get on board a train or a soapbox without having done all the research ourselves.
I’ve watched Survivor since its inception and find the patterns of human behavior fascinating. If you’ve ever watched, you will have seen all the types: the leaders, the popular kids, the ones who hitch their wagon to both of those, the odd ducks that do their own thing, the likable ones that are everyone’s friend. The pattern is the same no matter which season of the show. And I’ve also observed those same patterns in high school, in every job situation my sweet man and I have been a part of, in churches…
“Social proof is a shortcut to decide how to act.”Rob Henderson — Psychology Today — The Science Behind Why People Follow the Crowd
My son was recently a jury member deciding a pretty heavy case and watched the same patterns emerge as there were those who were sway-able and those who had their mind made up and were willing to stand up for their convictions.
Social proof, herd mentality, the need to be popular — this is how bizarre movements happen where folks will die following the crowd! This is how folks feel qualified and justified to bully and be so very cruel using their computer. This is how folks forget how to say no to things they used to feel convicted about and do things they wish they hadn’t. Sad, right?
I bring all of this up because as a family, we have been a part of some of the most ridiculous harassment lately, and I bet you won’t believe me when I tell you it’s about the cars we drive. You see, my son, who is a bachelor has worked his butt off and finally got his dream truck last year — an H2. That’s a Hummer which was once a luxury vehicle and now that it’s a little older (though you’d never know it by looking at it) it’s much more affordable than it once was. This vehicle is literally the coolest one I’ve ever seen. We probably don’t even have to mention how much sense it makes to have the most capable vehicle where we live. And if you saw his driveway that goes up a mountain during our rugged winters, you’d understand the need even more. He has helped more stuck-vehicles out of impossible-to-unstick-situations than I can mention. He once hit a deer and rather than a horrible accident, the deer was obliterated beyond recognition. It is the most fun to drive and ride in and has crazy-cool features. So much so that we acquired another as a company vehicle (on an auction) for one of our employees and then one for El Presidente. Each has its own personality and advantages and we have had more fun! We’re also thankful that our son educated us about a very real thing called Hummer Hate (google it if you think I’m exaggerating). Along with a certain amount of admiration comes barrels-full of HATE! Dirty looks, off-handed comments, and straight-up bashing. WHHHYYYYY?!! We drove an Excursion that could fit our whole gang (and some friends) for years. Lots of folks drive big pick-ups, Escalades, Suburbans, all vehicles that get low gas mileage. We never heard a peep, have you?
These are not expensive vehicles! We’re not all driving some crazy sports cars that make no sense here, and we take up one normal-sized parking space. You guys, there are groups of people formed to harass Hummer owners! They go on forums and make fun of people to the point of insults and mocking their children! We get flipped off and yelled at because we drive a car we love –maybe ten times per day in a small town! What?! What is happening? Do you even know why you’re mad?
“Excuse me, sir. Your insecurity is showing.”Alison Kirksey
If you want to drive a teeny, weeny smart car, I applaud you! Do it! If you love a tiny convertible or a Prius or a BUS, for Pete’s sake, I think you’re neat for driving what you love!
How are we allowing ourselves to be influenced by people and quit thinking for ourselves to the point where we jump on a religious or political or social media bandwagon and turn on our fellow humans who have feelings, and thoughts, and concerns of their own in an effort to what? Make them cow to popular opinion? Is there only one right way? It has gotten so ugly out there with outright threats to people who wear the hat of a different party and the cruelest words ever online because the mob mentality feels safe and fun, and no one has guilt because they’re a step removed from the humanity when typing out their insults.
We’re forgetting to celebrate our differences, friends. In our desire to be seen or accepted or in our own ignorance, we forget that uniqueness and individuality, and jumping outside of the box is what gets things done and creates leadership and new ideas!
I mean, really? Can’t we all just get along?
Have you ever been targeted for being different? Have you found yourself being dragged along in a way you regret later? Would you rather be popular or take the heat and stand alone?