In the series “Stuff only others are guilty of”: Herd conformity

 

The inspiration for this blog post this came from re-reading the Nine Satanic Sins, of all things.

(If you wonder why herd conformity is seen as something negative, why it is called a Satanic Sin or even what a Satanic Sin is, you should probably read all of them in their context. But short version: It is what is considered sins for Satanists, not some epic type of sinful behaviour. https://www.churchofsatan.com/nine-satanic-sins/)

 

Surprisingly enough, this is about how you live and what actions you take (or not), rather than how much you talk shit about the sheeple or how many meme’s about True individuality(TM) you post on your fb wall.

“Social group” sounds a bit prettier when it comes to humans, but dressing up the language doesn’t change anything in this context so for the sake of this post I’ll write about herds. Human herds big, small and imaginary.

Especially among the LHP-inclined among us, or anybody who think individuality is a good thing, denying ever following the herd can be something one does automatically, and even to be asked might be taken as an insult. After all, it is called a “Satanic Sin”, and with ‘Stupidity’ leading this list I can sort of see why it is not a flattering question. But we all do stupid things, too. It should not be worse to examine this behaviour in oneself, really.

To by default think ‘I don’t do this’ when the topic is brought up means we have no idea what we actually do, only what we tell ourselves. (Again, I’m absolutely convinced that the ones most guilty of this will wholeheartedly agree with this statement.)

Note how Self-Deceit and Lack of Perspective are also Satanic Sins. It can be very easy to deceive oneself into that one behaves according to some theoretic ideal by default, and very hard to behave like it once one has to deal with the big nasty world.

The big nasty world is where we meet the herds, and the real thing is very different from the thing you can casually dismiss from the safety of your own home. They are legion. And everywhere! You can’t leave reality in a huff as if it was a fb group, even having a literal door to slam doesn’t help much.

I think what complicates things is that despite all theory about what we should do and not, herds do have good sides and we are social animals. Herd animals don’t hang out in herds just for the entertainment value, nor will they do anything to follow the herd just for fun. Being alone means being vulnerable, the herd increases the chance of survival and did so for quite a few generations, which is also true for humans and every ancestor we have. Only a few hundred years ago, being one’s own might mean certain death, and this is still true in some areas of the world today.

 

Something interesting regarding herds is to what degree (and in what ways) we actually have to fit in to be accepted, compared to what we believe it takes. They might not at all be the same thing.  Another interesting thing is what the herd looks like from the inside. Since it certainly does not look like a herd. This can be why everybody else are in herds while you aren’t, you just prefer to hang out with a certain group of persons which share your views, and you happen to like a lot of the same things. This is why you hang together! All of you have good taste in clothes, music, films etc, so of course you might end up with some similar stuff, but hey. It can’t be helped.

You and the persons you socialise with can be a herd in this context. The subculture you belong to. The various organisations and groups, official or not. This is not about herds you do not belong to, there is no need to pat yourself on the back for not following persons you have nothing in common with and which you do not want to follow. The problem is on the other end of the scale, where we might blindly follow groups we belong to or think we belong to.

The herd doesn’t usually force you to go along with it, nor threaten to kick you out over personal quirks. While these things might happen, we usually quietly and unthinkingly conform before anybody else noticed our dissent. The issue with not thinking about these things leads to some incidents which look insane once put in words, but until then you might only have a vague feeling of doing something wrong and that bad things will happen as a result. (I can’t wear this dress because I know xxxxxxx will think it is ugly and then DOOM will happen.) Once the idea is put in words we can see how ridiculous and unfair it is. But it isn’t about the dress, it is about being accepted by the group which was a life and death matter from long before clothes in general were invented. Being aware of this tendency to want to belong is important because it doesn’t come with a sense of scale.

 

Normally there is no evil herd leader demanding everybody wear the same type shoes and jackets, at least after the early teens. (Before we start laughing at them and say we are over it, are we really, or is it only less visible? Kids see no issues with being a group wearing the exact same whatever it is, while it might look ridiculous later. Or like we are in a cult or something.) *cough*. This ‘lookalike’ behaviour often continues but with less exact copying and more tools and resources available to show we belong. It is the same tendency to want to show we belong, just more refined.

Some herd behaviour is necessary to get along with other persons at all. But it becomes a problem when we stop thinking or even go against what we want, or repress tendencies to *gasp* having an own personality, participate in things we would rather not and act against better knowledge, all to fit into the herd. Which might not even care except in our own mind. The evil herd leader which demands we follow in all detail is often us. We are the strictest judge of what we have to do, not do or say to fit in and this is the Satanic Sin: We tend to make ourselves conform far more than what is necessary for no reason other reason than that it feels safe in the herd. We sacrifice who we are to be more like the others out of what very often amounts to convenience or petty fears. Then we look at herds we do not belong to for evidence that we are not followers.

To blame the herd is actually a step in the right direction, since at least then we notice that somebody else are affecting us. To get angry if one is pushed in the same direction as others means it is not seen as helpful guidance.  But it needs to be followed up by action (and I don’t mean throwing out some passive-aggressive comment before following on, I mean doing your own thing.)

 

We can follow our herds very closely without any comment or appeal directed at us. We tend to think others notice every act of not fitting in far more than we do ourselves and that they put great importance on what we do or not. While if it was somebody else, we’d hardly notice if they did the same thing.

An indifferent comment repeated twenty times makes us think we have to do this, and that it is important to others.  While they are simply making casual remarks which happen to be the same because all read the same article or saw the same tv show where this was relevant. And this because it was discussed in the same group of persons.. there are all sorts of unintentional loops happening to aid us in fitting in. We have no idea what is going on in the heads of others. It can be easy to assume all agree with everything and you are the only one with different thoughts, simply because nobody says anything. The need to belong is often far stronger than the demand on us to behave in certain ways.

 

We easily see groups (or even create them) and often try to be a part of one without thinking. It is called being social. This can be easy to notice when we meet several new persons at once, and mentally make a group out of them even if we have no idea if they even know each other.

The herd might actually be our own imaginary herd. We might not be a part of it except in our own mind. Nobody might care or notice that we follow in every detail but the more we adhere to these truths we perceive the group to share, the more difficult it is to break free from own imaginary rules. We ‘can’t’ do this or that, but this is mainly our own safe frames, rather than others.

 

You are very likely to be involved in a few herds, just from living in a society. They can be used in good ways, some are better suited for this than others. Some might truly appreciate differences or aid you in doing your own thing, if they are aware enough of what individualism is about and not just flaunting the label while telling you to be individualistic in the right way.

Are you aware of your own herds and are you in them out of your own choice, and maybe even more important, do you benefit from the herd or does the herd rule you?

 

geese

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World building…

 

..sounds very big and dramatic, and it can be. Over time. After a lot of work.

We tend to see the results of years and dedicated work and then wonder how it was done, since it seems like an impossible achievement when we only see the end result and not the beginning. It probably started with somebody thinking something should exist. Why else would they start, anyway? Their motives might be very different, but a main idea to bring something new into the world is probably rather common, even if it was hundreds of years ago.

 

I want to begin this blog post with a disclaimer: I’m well aware that most of us need to eat, live somewhere, wear clothing, drink beer and much coffee etc, which usually means having a job and the time this takes out of our day. In this blog post I’m talking about the rest of your life. While there are things to be done about a bad job situation, even when you seem to be stuck in it, but that is a different blog post.

This is sort of a follow up to the Change part of the ‘Reframing vs Change’.. since if not reframing, then what do we do, and why? We can do things to make more of what you want.

If you look at the world you live in in your spare time, how does it look like? Is there anything you wish there was more of, something you’d want to learn, or something you miss?  World building in this context is about creating more of what you want in your world. Continue reading

Reframing vs Change

 

Most of us have things we would like to change, something we are working to change, plan to change tomorrow, or when we move to a new town or when the stars are right and so on. Sometimes we believe that we have changed a lot, but our world has the audacity to not acknowledge this, even if we might be looking at it differently. Sometimes we are doing the same thing we have always done (or this is what we believe), but weird things happen. People seem to try to push us in strange directions for obscure reasons, our friends back away, and the job we loved suddenly begins to be a burden. It feels like a small-scale conspiracy going on.

It is not always easy to see when actual change has happened. The response from the world is not what one might expect, even if the change actually is for the better in the long run. Change often disrupts the current balance and threatens what is known as “normal” – and most people dislike that.

In this context I also want to write about Change with a capital C: a permanent difference in you that has made you into something more than you were before the Change happened. Initiation is about causing such Change, often through directed work towards a certain goal.

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…and while our friends can see our faults, they won’t tell.

This is sort of a follow-up post to the one about how we are so blind to our own faults, the aptly named: We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

To sum up that one a bit:

We know there are common human faults and we can see them in others, but for some reason we seem to think we personally are exceptions. Since we can’t really see our own inconsistencies and faulty thinking very well, and which in some way makes us perceive ourselves as flawless.

We lie to ourselves when it adds  to our current beliefs, making the world a place which is easier to understand and more comfortable (even if our belief is that everything goes to hell, since the point is often to confirm what we already believe, in other words avoiding the unknown), and to make ourselves look better in our own eyes. Or to preserve our current view of ourselves. Others helpfully with these things, and of course we help them in return. To some degree this works, we mostly don’t try to kill each other during normal social interaction even if it does happen. We tend to feel safer when those around us agree with us (echo chambers are comfortable!), despite all incidents of being the last to know because nobody told you, and if you ask why, you are only met with excuses. Others might see us clearer than we do, but they are usually of no help since they don’t tell us.

If you remember the cognitive biases, a lot of them are about (and developed because) we are herd animals on some level. They are probably necessary, and this is a funny thought, if not a very comforting one:  The strange thing seen as normal social interaction based on little lies, misunderstandings and indifference, might actually be the best viable option. These lies have the purpose of making the world seem more consistent and comfortable, catering to the same cognitive biases which keeps fooling us, so they are very easy to make. We all know them. “Of course things are as you want to think they are”.

Comforting thought #2: Other people will help us lie to ourselves to be nice and since they will often see us more clearly than we do, they might be far better at telling us what we want to hear, than we are ourselves. Continue reading

We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

The headline is how we often appear to think, since it is how the world might look like. We have this insane blind spot concerning ourselves and even if we know this in theory, it seems to make little change. This is the first of two connected blog posts, this first about why we can’t trust ourselves and the next will be about why we can’t trust our friends, either.

One of the more useful(?) things one can use facebook for, is finding out what or who provokes you, and then analyse why you react to this specific thing. The provocation part often happens all on its own, so this could be said as ‘when something pisses you off, try to understand why’. The theory behind it, which is not wrong in itself, is that we will know our own faults intimately and so be able to see these same ones in others very quickly, since we know all about it.

The more you ‘speak the same language’ as somebody, the more subtle insults you will be able to pull off.. on the other end of the scale is punching somebody in the nose, which is pretty universally understood across different cultures.

 

The ‘if this annoys me, I’m guilty of it’-way of thinking can create some strange loops and questions about what sort of horrible person you really are, because the above theory is only true to some extent. If the fault you perceive in others is something most would react to because it is illegal, harmful to others or at least completely unethical by most standards, you don’t need to do this a lot yourself to object to it. At some point the reason you get provoked will be about something more than projection, but the line can be blurry.

But there are other methods for seeing our own faults and little illusions, which does not serve as an excuse for even more time wasted on social media. Discussing this lead to this blog post about why we can’t be trusted to observe ourselves, and also a follow up one about why we can’t trust our friends either. If it was easy, the world might have looked a bit different. Maybe not better, just different. Anyway!

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The “Initiatory Version of Shining a Turd”.

The story behind this blogpost was that I was making notes about working hard yet going in circles, got the idea for a metaphor what seemed funny and then forgot all about it. When I opened the document where I put the ideas for blog posts, the first thing I see is the headline:

“Initiatory version of shining a turd”. This concerned me for a bit until I remembered what it was about. By then I had told others, received a video about polishing turds (freezing them first is the trick, apparently), and the post had to be written. 

I’ll try to not mention turds too often.

 

What I wanted to write about was the changes we spend a lot of time and effort on, but without results. We can work for years and not be a step closer to anything else than knowing more of what we want to achieve.

I’ll start with the very mundane version of.. useless shining. Since it is work, you’ll get your hands dirty, and since the material is sort of unfitting, it will change a lot. I doubt many would think the result was great.

One mistake is to put the effort into something which is relevant to learning more about the solution, but never actually using this information. If you want to spend less money, you have to spend less money, not read about how to do it. Nor does it help to make a change which is only good in theory. If you follow a ‘get rich in 30 days’-plan, you have probably made some changes to your life, but let’s face it, if it was that simple as buying the right book and following the advice for a month, almost nobody would be poor.

As for doing this with your Initiation, it is exactly the same but can be less tangible and so harder to see. “Armchair Magician” is a well-known term, but one which usually used about others. You only study a lot, and the right books, and when you have finished this, that and these books, you will be ready to put everything into use and THEN! Or you didn’t quite understand things well enough yet. But soon!

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Excuses and Sofa ninjas

 

Some years ago, I began training martial arts. The idea was only to get some exercise, and it looked more fun than a gym, and since we have one local club here, the choice about what type martial art was pretty simple. What I didn’t expect was what a friend called “the sofa ninjas”. The sofa ninjas know everything about martial arts, including what you should train and not, and why. They mostly know this from watching such things as MMA, YouTube videos and ninja films from the safety of their sofa. Nothing wrong with this, but the problem arises when they want to advise others. Like me.

Of course, the local club was not good enough, I was too old to start, this form of martial arts was useless and so on. I have no idea why they felt they needed to tell me this in the first place, but apparently it was important for them to inform me of these things. In response, I generally I explained that I wanted exercise and that this is the only local club, just to shut them up more than anything else. Which meant I had given them two excuses for something which needed no excuse in the first place. I don’t think all of them meant it so seriously, but it did mean the excuses were repeated many times and became truths. In a way it was true, it WAS the only club where I live, but that is not a good way to think of something you put a lot of time and effort into.

I didn’t quit, begin driving to the city for another dojo, or magically make myself into whatever age would have been seen as acceptable. But it did something to how I saw the training and my own achievements, and gradually I began thinking of it as better than nothing, for no other reason than having repeated this many times over time, mainly because I did not want to discuss who won some match in this video they had seen in Youtube. I only became aware of the automatic excuses I’d give, very recently.

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