Are most people simply run of the mill, complacent, fearful of making waves, & followers of whatever
seems to be popular, hip, &/or fashionable at the time?
People are, by nature, a herd animal. It is hardwired into most people that being part of the majority is a good thing. The old adage - There is safety in numbers - definitely seems to ring true in many instances.
People, for the most part, don't want to be singled out as "different", "weird" or "a freak". They want to blend into the crowd and feel the support of their fellow followers. Being part of the group gives a certain validation to those involved; as well as the function of that group.
Being part of a group gives everyone common ground and a reason to be together. So...fads, trends, etc. will continue as long as there are people to follow them.
Based on a few books I've read, I think there are far more people than ever, who do things based on what they look like to others, rather than doing things based on having built a solid core with the right value from within.
So, depending on what someone values (what's "cool", what's prestigious, what's "the latest", and on and on and on) many people try to create an image for them-self, but particularly for what things look like to others (or at least the "others" whose opinion of them someone values). I think a surprising number of people may actually buy into their own "image-based" choices, and then end up not liking major things about them-self if/when they must face those things (if they ever actually do).
Then there are people who don't even bother trying to maintain their "image thing" at home or in personal circles.
The challenge with people who worry more about how "cool" or "impressive" they can manage to appear, or even change their thinking; is that most people tend to think most other people are like they are. That means if you're dealing with an "image-based" person who, for some reason, has lost touch with being "genuine to the core" (same when no one else is around as when others are around) is that such people can't even imagine that there's such a thing as "genuine people".
They spend so much time/energy living in the little "dream world" they create in their own mind (at least to some extent) and try to create in the eyes of others that I don't think they have many resources left for anything but mediocrity and "sheep-ness".
I, personally, prefer to MAINLY blend into any crowd (if at all possible) because I find attention/seeking and attention/loving kind of pathetic and lacking in dignity. There's a difference between "happening by attention by accident" and "basing everything one does and thinks from the perspective of getting attention for oneself". I'm not going to be someone else in order to blend in, but people who are too self-centered and focus on whether they get a lot of attention have a higher degree of narcissism in them and discover they're not "above the rest of society", but instead, alone (and not in the good way) (or, of course, maybe find themselves hanging out with other similarly superficial "sheep". ).
In fairness to such people, quiet confidence and sureness about oneself are often things one learns/develops in childhood. Besides all that, the "copycat factor" leads to sheep-like mediocrity.
Yes, to all of those mentioned in your question.
Most people are sheep, they don't want to be the odd one. That is why the election polls are even somewhat accurate. These polls direct and shape, rather report opinions.
Another reason, why people are not supposed to talk about politics, and religion. Most people can't deal with peer pressure.
That is another reason why there are so many party voters, safety in numbers. The reason why prey on the plains, and in the oceans stay in groups.
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