How does one protect oneself against society with so many rules, written and unwritten? Social anxiety is real and more widespread than you might think. The traditional answer is: follow the crowd, be a sheep, be agreeable or fancy yourself as being conformist.
The self-preservation instinct is not a good adviser but it’s needed. The trick is how to control it. Do we want to control it? Maybe there is some deep meaning (there is always one if you look long enough) in our fear of change. Maybe the wisdom of so many generations before me will kick in and the world will be cosy again as I remember it from my childhood. Maybe even the individuals I know from the crowd are not the brightest I’ve met, the collective mind will give us a new kind of superior intellect.
…so many maybes, maybe I will just follow my instinct and my instinct says: respect your parents and be one with your peers. No need to analyze your motivations just follow your heart.
- How to pick my crowd is a mere technicality. In our open and well-connected society, so many ideas are floating around and most of them come in ideology or religious packaging. Look around you (literally) and pick the crowd you’ve grown up with, the crowd you communicate with on daily basis, the crowd you feel at home with. Even in the end, if they happened to be on the wrong side of history, meanwhile, you will feel comfortable. Remember Germany during the 1930s and now Russia?
- How much of my freedom (of being myself) am I supposed to sacrifice? Should I erase myself and surrender my individuality to the Borg (Star Trek: Voyager) collective. Feeling part of something much bigger than yourself is a glorious feeling. Continuously learning to submit yourself is a part of that feeling. Although if I dissolve completely how do I know that it is I who experiences all the glorious feelings? Ask some meditation guru, not me.
- How do I proceed with the following? Should I be more catholic than the pope? How proactive am I supposed to be? On one hand, it would speak highly of my convictions/faith and it will raise the chances of assuming more responsibilities. On another hand, it presumes some form of creative thinking even within the frame of the existing conformity. For example, my interpretations of the “holy” books must be balanced not to step over “the line” and to be original at the same time. For that, I need some critical thinking but critical thinking is the most dangerous thing for my conformist mind. So I’m in trouble already for trying to be agreeable and conformative.
Populism and conformism are on the rise and the trend is stable. The reason being – social and technological acceleration, which will continue until something really big breaks, after that – back in the caves (if we are lucky).