It’s easy to fall into the herd mentality without even thinking. Following the leader isn’t always good.
People may not be animals, but they still often exhibit a herd mentality. What this means is they tend to congregate in groups to perform certain objectives or uphold common beliefs. There are ways that herd mentality can benefit us in the short term, I will not lie, but there are also reasons why we should avoid this train of thought altogether.
Unlike mob mentality
Individuals who operate in herds are different than those who contribute to mobs. Mobs are often seen as violent or aggressive groups. Being in a herd is basically being a part of the “in crowd” or adhering to a majority mentality. We see this in religious organizations and school affiliations.
Here are examples and explanations of the herd mentality.
1. Black Friday
I’m starting with one of the largest global phenomena in recent times – Black Friday. If there was ever a more moldable herd of people, it would be this group. Every year, on Thanksgiving day and the weekend following, Black Friday hits most retail stores and online sites offering ridiculous discounts in pricing.
When this happens, people go mad. More and more individuals are following the masses into this hysterical mode of shopping. Following the leader has never been so massive, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon.
The herd mentality can also be seen in investments as well. Instead of making independent decisions, many will make moves depending on emotions and instinct. Social aspects are also a huge part of how people herd together to invest in certain stocks.
Investors will make rash decisions solely based on what their close friends are doing. Most people choose to do what others do simply because of the fear of embarrassment or the fear of being wrong. This fear of being wrong sometimes even goes against the better judgment of making a different choice that seems more logical – a judgment call that could be more profitable in the long run.
3. Choosing restaurants
Being a part of a herd also shows when looking for a place to eat. Let’s be honest, if you saw two restaurants that were almost exactly alike, one was crowded and one was almost empty, which would you choose? I think you would choose the busy and crowded one.
At least, this is true if you have a herd mentality. Many people think that if a restaurant is busy, the food must be better, and yet, it could only be a coincidence. This is a simple example, but it’s true, isn’t it?
4. Social groups
Just like in high school, the herd mentality can rear its head during adulthood. When it comes to making friends and being a part of a social group, people tend to gravitate toward larger groups or groups of popular and extroverted individuals.
In school, peer pressure told us that we were outcasts if we weren’t friends with certain people. Unfortunately, this attitude carries into later life more often than you think. Pay close attention and you may see a herd of people comprised of identical mentalities.
As I mentioned earlier, herd mentality can be present in belief systems as well. There are many self-professed teachers in this area who are more than willing to share “truths” to others.
A following sometimes develops, not entirely unlike a cult, I venture to say. A person’s belief can quickly become a community’s belief. The bigger the community the larger the influence for others to join.
Why is herd mentality unhealthy?
Hey, let’s look at herd mentality this way – if you have a huge group of people of sub-par intelligence, and you add a few highly intelligent people to the large group, do you think the group will become smarter? No.
With the herd mentality, the intelligence level of the group does not change when a different form of stimulus joins. It’s usually the opposite. Most of the time, if intelligent people decide to join such a group, their higher intelligence is dormant to the group, or rather ignored.
All in all, I think we should avoid the herd mentality, and here are a few ways to do that.
Instead of conforming to the norm, choose the other choice, so to speak. Stop going the easy route and agreeing with people, just because you live with them or they are part of your family. They could even be friends.
It’s easy to become part of the herd, and going against the grain is hard… but you must choose conflict in order to pull away from this mentality. You should practice saying no, get used to confrontations, and choose that road that many others abandon. This is how you start.
Who are you? I mean, if no one else existed, who would you be? Most people identify themselves with some connection to another. When I was younger and married, I often identified as a wife or a mother.
Here’s the thing. One way to find out if you are falling into herd mentality is to spend time with yourself. Find out what makes you happy without any influence of another human being. This is how you know yourself and this is how you sever from the majority rules concept.
Disagree some more
Yes, I mentioned saying no, but you must go further. Stop agreeing with people just because you feel they are going to be picked for promotions or because they’re the popular group. If you feel like disagreeing, then do it.
Sometimes just disagree to surprise the majority and shake up the room. Taking a stand against the majority vote, for instance, will help you further achieve your individuality and tear away from the group. After all, who really knows where these herds are going anyway?
It’s never too late to leave the herd
If you’ve been following the herd for a while now, you can still change this mentality. After a while of following the masses, you may feel a part of yourself dying. This is a wake-up call that you’re falling in deep.
Take some time and look at what your following, who you’re following and why. You may be surprised by what you find. Maybe you can avoid falling into the herd mentality altogether if you’re lucky.
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