Life is still upside down at the moment. Everything is packed up and ready to go, my apartment is just a computer surrounded by cardboard boxes. My inbox is overflowing, as is my brain. A million things to do. Raptitude posts will be short and sweet until probably July 6.
I’m sure some of you haven’t seen this video yet. It will definitely make you smile, but it did much more than that for me. If you have seen it, it’s worth another viewing. I saw it late at night a few weeks ago, forgot it, and then rediscovered it on a blog called Sublime Goodness. It illustrates one of the dynamics of human society: it’s easy to join a bandwagon, but takes real courage to start one.
(Video removed temporarily because I think it was causing problems for readers using Internet Explorer. You can view it on Sublime Goodness)
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a clearer illustration of the formation of a movement. It begins with an individual expressing himself without regard for convention or appearances. People snicker and point. But he continues, because he’s not afraid to be himself. Soon others see the truth and honesty in what he is doing, and want to be a part of it.
Courage, however it manifests, is irresistible to human beings. We all wish we had it, and we revere it in whomever we find it. It takes much less courage to be the second one in, and half that again to be the third, and no courage at all to throw yourself into a mob.
By the time there are fifty souls in the mix, people are tripping over each other to be a part of it. No doubt some of them had been laughing at the guy minutes before.
This is social proof at work. Most of the people who end up dancing were only in there because there were dozens of others showed them that it was okay first. I don’t want to read too much into an eccentric dancer at a music festival, but I think it’s clear that most of the people in the mob would not have had the courage or the initiative to be the first one dancing.
It’s scary to do something before the people around you say it’s okay. The truth is most people will always wait for some kind of permission to do what they feel like. Doing what everyone else is doing is always safe. You can see this follower syndrome everywhere: in conversation, in business, in music, decor, dress, hobbies, habits, lifestyles and even aspirations.
I’m learning to identify the sensation of feeling socially ‘safe,’ and to mistrust it. It can only lead a person down beaten paths. I want to go somewhere else.