Originally published as part of my daily writing challenge on March 18, 2021.
One of the most dangerous phenomenons of our society, in my opinion, is groupthink. It has been, sadly, part of what it means to be human for ages. Our desire for being in agreement with our peers, to hold opinions shared by those who we care about, often tramples our individual reason, our personal lucidity.
What worries me is how our increasing reliance on labels is magnifying the strength and occurrence of groupthink tendencies. If you are part of group A, then you need to believe in a particular set of values. Group B? Same thing. Even though, in some aspects, we’re certainly becoming a more individual-focused society, I think it’s safe to say that it’s easier than ever to fall into groupthink.
Oh how often, when talking with somebody, have I asked them: why do you think A is true? And they replied: because X said so.
Not because they honestly believe that A is true. Not because their own reasoning tells them so. No, they believe that A is true, because someone else believes that. No matter how smart their “guru” might be, they’re still, in a sense, devolving their responsibility to think to someone else.
I see two solid counterarguments to this. First, not everyone has the time and the capacity to think about everything themselves. Not everyone is a philosopher. Second, some say that groupthink may be useful in particular cases. For example, it is good that people trust vaccines and do not need to individually examine them.
As with almost everything, I believe there is a balance to be found. Independent thought is incredibly important. Our duty as co-habitants of this society is to consider everything of value carefully, looking at the facts, but not ignoring the beliefs. We are different and we will differ. Diversity is, and will be, our greatest strength.
How to reach a conclusion then? Compromise, my friend. Compromise is never a defeat, but a victory of humanity, dignity, and mutual respect.
Lack of plurality is a defeat.