Have you ever heard about herd mentality 🐑? It’s a real thing, honest. If you haven’t heard about it you have certainly witnessed it over the last week right at your own back door. Yes I’m talking the petrol shortage!
We have seen car owners forming queues and sitting for an hour or more to get a tank of petrol or worse, just to top up. And the crazy thing is, there is no shortage of petrol! We’re just short of a few lorry drivers to make the deliveries and that’s not a new thing. The month before the panic started there was the same number of drivers and we all got petrol when we needed it. The week before the panic started there were the same number of drivers. Then the media found the odd filling station that had run out whilst awaiting delivery and declared a national shortage causing a huge number to react and BAM, shortage!!!
If people had thought this through maybe common sense would have prevailed. But they obviously didn’t. Rushing to the pumps for a top up has given us a prime example of herd mentality in action and the creation of a crisis where there is no crisis. Isn’t it a little worrying how people so easily give over to some to some primitive survival (?) instinct rather than allowing rational informed thought to determine their decisions and behaviour. Sheep?
There’s an excellent book called The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray wherein he examines the rise of identity politics and identifies how many flock to these as a trend rather than coming with understanding and true conviction. People seem more concerned about calling others out for supposed wrong attitudes than working to make improvements. After all, it’s easy to make accusations and hard to work towards improvement. As President Obama reportedly said when commenting on this, “..if all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”
I read the book and came away thinking how easy it is to insight a crowd. It was rather worrying. And history attests to this, with so called saviour figures grasping popular beliefs and situations to their own ends which have often been anything but good.
All that aside, my encouragement to you this week is to be one who stands aside and only takes action from informed careful thought. Examine what you hear and see. Dare to be different, to have an alternate take on life. But I would counsel you to do it quietly. Go about your business without attracting attention because the crowd can be an ugly thing towards those it deems to be different, whose thoughts or actions call its own into question. That said, it has often been these individuals who have taken us forward in many fields of endeavour.
So Pogue, how much petrol do you have in your tank this morning?
Yours, avoiding the crowd,