Opinion: Dangers of the group mentality

Gazette+co-editor-in-chief%3A+Neha+Kompella

Gazette co-editor-in-chief: Neha Kompella

Everybody wants to be a part of a group.

Especially as a teenager, the feeling of acceptance and belonging that comes with being part of a group is a wonderful thing

I’ve got nothing against spending time with a group. After all, the more the merrier, right?

The problem, then, arises from what the members of that group will do to stay in it.

A group can be dangerous, because it promotes conformity. Something you may not say or do under normal circumstances can suddenly become perfectly logical when with a group that urges you on.

Let’s take the most prevalent example of this, something that every person has been a part of in some way throughout their life, putting others down.

The saddest part of the group mentality is that, in a way, it encourages the victimization of individuals. It’s as though people bond through their shared insults of other people.

Even just walking through the campus, snippets of conversation can be overheard that put down other people. That group of girls in the library thinks that the girl at the next table over  has disgusting hair. Those kids in the breezeway call the boy who comes in for extra help “retarded.” The kids gossiping in Spanish class think that the girl next to them is a flirt and dresses provocatively.

All of us have been on both ends of the spectrum. We’ve all been hurt by a comment others have made about us, just as we’ve all likely said something about another person that we aren’t proud of.

But the group mentality also makes enablers out of people who may not necessarily agree with the victimization. They may not initiate it, but they certainly participate, and by choosing to remain silent they are complicit.The largest problem of the group mentality is that it makes a mockery out of authentic emotion.

In a world where children are conditioned from birth to be polite, it is common to subjugate one’s true emotions in an effort to live up to the societal pressure of bland insincerity.

But in all honesty, I’d rather you approach me with genuine emotion, whether it be good or bad, rather than treat me one way and then talk about me in a way that is completely different behind my back.  In an effort to maintain a polite relationship and disparaging me in secret, you’re just completely and utterly disregarding authentic communication. It’s a form of dishonesty.

Moreover, the group mentality contributes to the turning of victimization into a casual pastime.  People expect others to be fake, they expect others to be judging them in their minds even while carrying on a conversation with them. Society views it as the norm.

It results in a form of habitualized insults, where it becomes casual to talk and laugh about other people, to bring them up in conversations without thinking twice about it.

Whole discussions are held about how other individuals are arrogant, vain, talk too much, don’t talk enough, are bossy, boastful, timid, provocative, prude, ugly and so many other insults that, should their creativity be channeled into another topic, could likely make a much more positive difference in the world.

And people listen to these slurs with a laugh on their lips and an affirmation on their mind, for no other reason than to remain a part of the group.

In many cases, it is the victim that is forced to change themselves, rather than the perpetrators. They are the ones that are blamed for being too naive, for not being strong enough to expect that there are those in the world who will treat them this way.

They construct a hard shell around themselves, one in which they feel safe, one in which they doubt everyone who talks to them, base friendships on putting down other people, continue the cycle of hate. Something needs to change.

There is a monumental lack of self-dignity that comes from being a part of a close knit group and allowing the comfort and acceptance that you feel from it warrant the insulting of others as an indifferent pastime. It’s not normal, it shouldn’t be so casual, and the mentality that it is shouldn’t be justified or accepted.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the people in the group.

It’s not about that girl’s hair, or that boys intelligence, or the way that person dresses.

In the grand scheme of things, your actions are nothing more than a reflection of you and the kind of person that you are.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email