It is in the understanding and supporting of our individualism – our uniqueness, including and especially our thought processes; that which we have always had total freedom in shaping for ourselves, that can free us from the grip of groupthink.
– Conscious Musings/The Emergence of Individualism
Several years ago while sitting with a small group of girlfriends, I listened quite amusingly as they discussed the new TV phenomenon called Scandal. While going on for what seemed like forever about how “hot” this show was and how addicted they were to its weekly scandalous twists and turns, they then turned toward me anxiously awaiting for me to pour over this new show. I nodded my head in the negative saying I’d never watched it. “What? You’ve never seen Scandal? Everyone watches that show. It’s the hottest thing on TV!”
“Never seen it,” I reiterated.
Amid furling eyebrows and a look of utter confusion, this revelation just didn’t compute for them. While so accustomed to the allure of conformity, though never seeing it as such, these women just couldn’t wrap their heads around what I’d just said.
Though admittedly there were (and frankly still are) some times in my life where I’ve relented to a popular ideology, mimicked a look, joined a group (though I can’t recall doing so with any significance since my teenaged years), I’ve somehow managed to mostly escape the wrath of the collective behavioral vices of modern society.
Whether it’s the use of popular phrases or lifestyle trends, seemingly adopted overnight, the lean toward collective thinking, acting, and doing has kept a tight behavioral noose around the masses.
Just what are the implications of collective or group thought? Where did it come from and why are so many loathed to leave it?
In my book Conscious Musings – Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential in a chapter entitled The Emergence of Individualism, I quote the late journalist and researcher of human behavior William H. Whyte who was noted for popularizing the term “groupthink.” In a Fortune Magazine article he said, “Groupthink being a coinage – and, admittedly, a loaded one – a working definition is in order. We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity – it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity – an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.”
Though Whyte’s remarks certainly have merit, in history there have been more direct consequences for anyone who dared express their individuality whereby turning away from a sanctified form of thought and behavior.
Augusto Forti Vice President, International Institute for Opera and Poetry and Retired Professor of Geophysics wrote a paper entitled History of the concept of the Individual and Individuality in Western Society. In it he says, “Not so long ago, the church was imposing the dogma of the ‘holy writings’ and was ready to condemn or simply burn those men and women who had different ideas. There was no space for the recognition of individuality as in the case of Giordano Bruno and many others who were burned alive. It was the same story at that time, for the protestant world.”
If there in fact is a mass proclivity toward “collectivism” then perhaps it stems not only from conformity through instinct, but rather fear! The fear of not being accepted? Maybe. But on a much deeper level, many may carry a cellular memory of the consequences of those who dared to veer away from the group.
Regardless of its origin, the propensity toward and proliferation of collectivism has taken its toll. In order to break free of what many now popularly term “The Matrix,” one must look beyond the veil of consensus reality and begin to exercise the true expression of self.
To realize a limitless spectrum of possibilities.
To consciously create reality.
To utilize imagination unfettered by the dictates of an outside “authority.”
And to know that the real Scandal has been in keeping human kind from its own true identity.
It is time to willfully act on our highest instinct – that of the creative individual that has been locked in the closet for far too long.
Alexis Brooks is a personal intuitive consultant, #1 best-selling author of Conscious Musings – Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential and is the host of the popular Higher Journeys Radio program, presented in association with Conscious Life News. Visit Alexis on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!