COLLECTIVISM: The Personality Disorder of the 21st Century
How many times have you heard, “That’s what everybody says?” Or, is that something you might have said to someone else? When we want to convince others of our “rightness” this often slips out of our mouths. We know it’s not true, but we say it anyway in order to coerce others (and in some cases ourselves) that their best action would be to submit to our “suggestion” or accept our explanations. The coercing “validation” implies that if everyone else does or says it, it must be right or true and that if you don’t, there’s something wrong with you and you’re out of step with “everyone else.” This method of justification is the tip of an iceberg hiding a current tsunami of collectivism that has tacitly overwhelmed our psyches and radically infected our culture. What is this? Where did this originate from? How has it permeated so many of our personal expressions and actions so deeply? The answer is simple. We’ve been subtly taught to believe that we are no longer the authority on anything. For the “truth” about ourselves we must consult Google, our parents, CDC, the media, our bosses, and host of other entities we have allowed our power to slip away to. How did this happen in such an innovative and pioneering culture?
Our history has taught us that our freedoms and autonomy are our most important values to cherish. Yet, we now look to others for permission and validation on living our daily lives. In a strange and numbing mixture of ease of living, luxury and modern convenience, we have forgotten what it was to struggle in nature. We have forgotten that survival depends on our adaptability, flexible response to circumstance and, most of all, thinking for ourselves with common sense. We’ve been quietly lulled into becoming dependent on those same conveniences and the virtual social structuring that have made it possible for us to avoid the challenges of nature and what it truly means to face survival. We have amputated the recognition of our need for survival in nature from our psyches through the accomplishment of the modern conveniences and social rapport we have sought to use to make things easier on ourselves. We’ve made ourselves their slaves. We have become subject to the artificial intelligence we’ve designed to serve us. Innovation and pioneering spirit are now what “others” do, not us. Who are the “others?” The people we have allowed to take our power in our acquired belief that they know what’s best for us better than we do. As a consequence, our fear of “being wrong,” being incompetent or being accountable has now overshadowed our deepest instincts toward survival. The most ardent proponent of our subjugation has become and still is the media. We’ve let it, and even invited it, into our homes to supervise us. If you don’t believe it, just ask Alexa or Siri. I’m sure they’ll tell you what to do and how to behave. But how have we allowed this to happen?
Our normal cultural practices have laid a fertile grounding for the abdication of our personal power. In our beginnings, there is nothing wrong with this. As small children we have no worldly experience and no understanding of the dangers of life that could befall us. So, it’s only natural that we grow to be dependent on the guidance, permissions and restrictions imposed by our parents. What is supposed to occur is that as we grow, we have the apron strings cut by our parents through being encouraged to think for ourselves, make our own decisions and slowly grow into autonomous adults who can live independently and self-sufficiently. The kink in that expectation is twofold; the heralding of the arrival of the media coupled with an absence of training and encouragement toward autonomy potentially levied by our parents, teachers and mentors. As we grew and transferred our parental models to our teachers, police, priests, rabbis and government officials, the media stepped in and assumed the role of being our surrogate parents. Having so many of our survival needs mitigated by the many conveniences that our modern society has provided for us, we easily and naturally just slipped further into allowing the world to dictate how we live and think. Thinking for ourselves was no longer necessary nor desirable. It was clear how we should think and behave. We just need to become good consumers and go with the flow.
The second tier of this undermining experience has also been provided by the media in how they apply their advertising. The basic premise is that we are somehow not adequate, hep, woke, cool, righteous or with the “in crowd” (an archaic term showing my age) if we don’t buy and use their products and services. The implication is that we are “less than” if we don’t. This type of advertising has had tremendously detrimental effects on our subconscious and self-image. We’ve slowly been trained into believing that we are “less than” if we aren’t like everyone else who are using their products.
The current social trend is that we are being subliminally shaped into becoming clones of a politically correct image of homogeneity through our unconscious fear of being perceived as being inadequate. If we don’t act in homogeneity we may then be ridiculed, persecuted or even prosecuted. Being different now in our current social environment results in publicly being denigrated, insulted, accused of social “crimes” and then ostracized and sometimes punished. This happens not only socially but politically, publicly and even within our own families. The reinforcement for our acquiescing to homogeneity comes when we are accepted by the groups we try to please, fit in with and behave within the prescribed “norms.” Now, we can be accepted with open arms as long as we think, dress and act as “they do.” We’re now part of the collective. The ironic part of this is that in colluding with a homogeneous group of clones we’re also seen by the other clones as part of the judging force creating the coercion. Aka, the inmates are running the institution powered by their own fears of exclusion, desertion and devaluing and they don’t even realize it.
In aligning with and accepting these permeating new standards for subjugation we have unwittingly abdicated our autonomy. Our creativity has been cowed into becoming part of the banal collective for our fear of being seen as anti-social or damaged goods relative to the collective’s standards for behavior. Thinking for ourselves with common sense is now considered a hindrance to our collective social standing as it makes others feel inadequate, especially, if we’re right. Expressing pride or showing our accomplishments are seen as bragging and makes others feel uncomfortable who neither see the opportunity nor feel the motivation to excel in any way for fear of failing and then being attacked for thinking themselves superior for trying.
In passively handing over our personal authority to the media we have effectively shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to allowing ourselves to be counseled by our own preferences and experience. We are the frog in the pot of water slowly being brought to the boiling point and we don’t even sense the change. By now, we have slowly and surely given up our autonomy to our surrogate parent, the media. Any authority or permission to make decisions or take action is now based solely on external standards and the fears of the masses as reflected by who? You guessed it, the media.
What to do you say? Well, resistance is futile. Through our resisting, we will undoubtedly be absorbed. The Chinese have said that to acknowledge your enemy gives them your power. Metaphysicians say energy follows thought. So, the key is to literally and figuratively, change the channel. As Joseph Campbell instead suggested, “Follow your bliss.”
It’s easy to follow what we’re told. It’s more challenging to think for ourselves. It takes effort and we must draw on our own experience. There’s nothing wrong in seeking counsel from someone with more life experience and wisdom than us. But usually not from your neighbor, favorite cable pundit or co-worker. Not from the local gossip column either. There are plenty of people claiming to know the answers to life’s most puzzling questions. They don’t know any more than you when it comes to what is personally good for you either. Whether consciously or unconsciously, their motivations are usually to make you subservient to them or to validate their own choices of which they are unsure of, especially, if they are part of our current culture following the media. Blind faith in anyone or anything is a dangerous game. The draw for us is that it absolves us of responsibility for our actions and choices. “If the authority has told me this is proper, who am I to disagree…or be responsible?”
What’s the key? Think for yourself. Make your own choices. If they don’t turn out right, it’s okay. We’re all human and we make mistakes. It’s part of life. No one is perfect. We never will be. Being part of the “in crowd” is an emotional prison. Belonging is not all it’s cracked up to be. It makes you part of the collective. Risk being rejected. Allow yourself to be different. Allow your personal creativity to flourish. The choice may not instill much security but it will certainly be exhilarating and challenging. In the end, it will be the most emotionally rewarding and satisfying especially if it's done by your own choice and under your own steam.
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