By Bryan Golden
Many problems we have could be avoided or minimized if more people refused to follow the crowd. Group behavior often instills fear and panic as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Regardless of reality, the crowd is lead with false premises. They then behave as if what they are being told is true. As a result, their actions transform the alleged circumstances into reality.
For example, there are reports that a specific bank might be having financial problems. In fact, there is no truth to the rumors. Nevertheless, its customers panic, causing a run on the bank. Now the bank does have monetary difficulties.
Crowd mentality is a powerful force that sweeps up many as it builds momentum. However, crowd mentality is rarely grounded in logic or reasonable thinking. Group think assimilates individuals who, by themselves, normally aren't governed by fear.
One major contributing factor to the crowd mentality is media hysteria. The media's choice of words when reporting on events has a huge impact. Subjective descriptions are used to evoke a specific reaction. When the headlines are dire, the crowd behaves accordingly.
A negative group mindset is as contagious as an epidemic. Individuals are subjected to peer pressure. They are chastised for any contrarian views. Mob psychology has impacted us throughout history.
People caught up in crowd mentality accept what they are told without questioning its validity. The result is a few controlling many. Just watch how a few sheepdogs can direct a heard of hundreds of sheep. People will behave as part of the crowd in ways they would never imagine were they acting independently.
You want to guard against being pulled into the crowd. Although it’s tempting to go along with the flow, resistance is worth the effort. Giving up your individuality carries too high a price. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid getting caught up with the crowd.
You don’t have to participate in any mass hysteria. You are in control of your thoughts and actions. Think for yourself. Ask questions. What is the source of the information you are getting and what is the bias? Also, is there any hidden agenda?
What works for others isn’t necessarily right for you. You need not follow along just because someone else is behaving in a particular fashion. Consider your own situation and beliefs. What makes sense for you is the essential issue.
For example, let’s consider the economy. Historically, its fluctuations are cyclic. Perhaps there is a downturn and the crowd is yelling the sky is falling. However, you have an income and are OK financially. Why should you change your behavior and go along with the crowd?
What about a situation where the opposite exists? The crowd is gushing about a surging economy. Yet, you have lost your job and are struggling. In this case, you must tailor your actions to accommodate your situation.
What others say or think about you doesn’t matter. Your life shouldn’t be structured to seek approval. You are responsible for your actions along with the results. You can’t blame anyone else for what you do. The excuse, “everyone else was doing it” doesn’t have any validity.
When you follow the crowd, you abdicate your free will. The risk is doing things you may regret. Your behavior may then also exacerbate your own situation, making problems worse.
Crowd behavior and attitude is often negative. By getting caught up in it, you get pulled down. Stay independent, remain positive, and follow your own path. You will be happier and accomplish more.
Bryan is the author of "Dare to Live Without Limits." Contact Bryan at Bryan@columnist.com or visit www.DareToLiveWithoutLimits.com Copyright 2022 Bryan Golden