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?