Think For Yourself

George Orwell wrote about 'groupthink' in a book long ago.  I am afraid it is no longer just fiction.  I think it has always been practiced, ie. clicky behavior in grade-school, college, and even at places of work.  I never liked the 'popular' group in grade-school, because when they were together they were mean.  My family is creative, eclectic, sometimes avant garde - but we are not mean people.  I have found that, when people play down to each other to be part of a group, they are not living up to their creative and intellectual potential.  They say (more and more the past decade) that there is safety in numbers, there are better discounts from monopolies, if you're not with us you're against us, etc.  In some MODERATE version of what they say this is all true. But there seems to be less moderation and more extremism in everything these days.  With all the technology, it is a lot easier to gossip, copy and paste, be the same as everyone else, etc. and try to be part of a group.  What they call social networks I find so ironic because it keeps people at home on a computer or a phone instead of being out in the workplace, which is social in itself.  I find it to be actually antisocial.  Before everyone had their face in a phone or computer 24 hours a day, did any kids shoot other kids in a grade-school?  I don't know if there is a direct correlation, but I remember playing with other kids on the block or neighborhood almost every day, which is a social behavior.  I think too much groupthink, whether it is promulgated by technology or not, limits creativity in individuals and in a society (and country) at large.  

The reason I am writing about this today is that I am hearing groupthink in some way in every news broadcast I listen to.  I heard it this morning when some diplomat was talking about a country as if they were far below ours, and as if I didn't have his same opinion that I was less of a person.  After about fifteen seconds of listening, I felt that my intelligence was being insulted so much I had to turn it off.  It's not just that I don't like being told how to think at the age of 55, but it does a country no good to encourage its citizens NOT to think for themselves.  How will we say we are the greatest country in the world when there is one group of people thinking for everyone and telling everyone they SHOULD think like them?  Are we still a democracy?  Are we the best country in the world or do we just like to say it to other countries?  George Orwell, my mom, I and others  have all seen it coming for a long time.  The best advice my mom ever gave me was in early grade-school, when the 'click' was mean and said that I couldn't join them.  She said not to pay any attention to them and not to  listen to them because they are not important to me.  One of my best friends was the most popular person in the group and class.  She never took sides, but I think they were jealous of my friendship with her.  I took my mom's advice and it has turned out to be the best thing she ever told me.  There will always be people who don't like us, as an individual, country, organization of countries, etc.  but if we turn life into a popularity contest what are we really?  I'm not talking about manners, because, as the Brits say, manners count.  But if we truly adopt groupthink instead of individuals adding to the creativity of the whole, I believe we're lost as individuals and a country.  Although even thinking can be taken to extremes

Shakespeare said 'To thine own self be true'.