The Psychology of Mob Mentality
The personality and character of a person change entirely when he is not seen as an individual but is present in a collective group or a “mob”. It is quite fascinating on how drastic this change can be. A calm and docile person can become as aggressive and uncontrollable as a violent crime under this effect. This phenomenon not only applies to a mob on a rampage but also with how we try to blend in with society. There is no real difference between following something blindly and actually pelting a stone at a public transport. Let us now see how a person can get affected by the thoughts of the majority.
When in Rome:
Each person has his own moral code and generally, this does not allow him to commit anything that would be considered as unethical. However when society as a whole considers an act as ethical, then the person’s individual mindset also gets tuned to that of society. Nowadays the term, “When in Rome, do as Romans do” has been taken to a whole new level. People’s mind gets programmed the way society wants them to think right from an early age. We tend to cling on to ideas that have been taught to us from childhood. Asking questions to elders is considered as taboo. Seeking an explanation for things happening around us is seldom supported and widely scorned upon. We are forced to act in a way that others consider as normal behavior however strange that may be. So it is not surprising that not many can stand against others for what we believe in. We tend to believe that our thoughts and ideas can’t change anything on their own and console ourselves saying that accepting this is the only logical way to proceed.
Even in schools, the same situation is prevalent. Students no longer are asked to “study” in schools. It would be a shame to call that as studying. But they have been very good in helping them “memorize” stuff. All we see is clockwork. A generation of students capable of scoring cent percent marks without even realizing what they have studied(I’m sorry, ‘memorized’) all this time. Students who really have the yearning to learn and question ask the question “why?” are considered as “unnecessary”. It’s like an assembly line in a factory programming data into their minds. There is no room for creativity here anymore. It is important to make children learn their syllabus but that isn’t everything in life. More than 90% of the things we learn in school isn't going to help us one bit in real life. We must encourage children to be creative and have their own individuality. We must give them the freedom to sketch their own path and follow their dreams. Our whole education system needs a makeover. Instead of pressurizing the students to get 100% marks, they need to be encouraged to understand concepts thoroughly and their real-world applications. They must have a hunger for knowledge and a high level of curiosity to want to understand things around them. It is not right to expect every person to have an interest in medical science or engineering. So for certain students, their interests might be different. So it is important that we help them identify their own individual strengths and help them grow in their own way.
Even in this day and age, there is still discrimination, still, people who believe in superstitions but sadly no individuality. There can be no progress without people showing their own uniqueness. Even if someone exhibits such character it is quickly oppressed. It’s the nail sticking out that gets hammered down! In general, people tend to stay away from change. But in some cases change is necessary. The question of whether something is right or wrong varies from each person based on their own moral code. However, if one trusts in his own conscience instead of being manipulated by the mob he can come to the right conclusion eventually. We are living in a world where once slavery was legal, evil practices like Sati were widespread, two world wars have been fought and innocent people have been murdered for the most superficial of reasons. There is no doubt that even now such atrocities occur right under our noses and we are happy to blend in. It is about time we realize the power of one. It’s time for heroes to rise and take the big step in reforming society. We did not gain independence to waste it by living our lives in shackles. We need to remember that every time we turn our backs when something bad happens to someone we are getting their blood on our hands even if we are not directly affecting them. We may feel safe behind the mask of society but it will not protect us from our own conscience.
Choose your path:
It is about time we stopped blaming others for our shortcomings. There are two paths that we can choose from. We can either blend in with the crowd and stay safe to lead a quiet life or to stand out and face criticism. It would be easier to choose the former option to avoid any unnecessary conflicts. However, that might not always be the right thing to do. It is sometimes best to follow our heart. It would be wrong to say that we must not conform to the laws that govern us. But it is important that we do not follow them blindly. We have followed enough superstitions and riots foolishly till now and this has to stop. It is time we asked the question “why?” for everything. We won’t get any answers unless we begin to ask questions. We need to think on our own without considering what the opinion of the general populace is and act according to our conscience. If we do that, then even if we are part of a mob we would never let us do anything that we would regret later. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. It is the small acts we do as an individual that defines our society. If we are planning on changing anything it has to start with us. If each and every person leads a life that is true to his heart, then I am sure that we will be able to make this world a better place to live in.