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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monsters Inc and Herd Mentality

My next post will be the 10th post for my blog! I’m going to do something fun for it. Be sure to follow the blog to be the first to see the new content!

When you were growing up, did your mom ever say this classic “momism” to you? “If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” The lesson that your mom (or dad, or teacher, or whoever) was trying to teach you was that just because everyone else is doing something, does not necessarily mean that it is a good thing to do. Following along with what everyone else does and believes is called “Herd Mentality”. To put it simply, Herd Mentality is when your beliefs, actions, and behaviors are influenced (or even determined) by all the people that surround you. To use the analogy offered in the name “Herd Mentality”, sometimes the “herd” knows where the best food to eat is, but also sometimes the herd may be walking its way right in to the slaughter house. Following the herd is sometimes good, but it is also sometimes bad. This is why we must determine to not just follow the crowd and be part of the herd but to actually be a critical thinker. It is harder to be a critical thinker, there is comfort and safety (for a time) in following the herd, but the herd is not always right.
“What does this have to do with Monsters Inc?” You begin to type furiously in the comment section. “I was expecting Mike and Sully!” You lament to yourself. Have no fear, Mike and Sully are here to rescue you. What does Monsters Inc have to do with the herd mentality? There is one belief in the Monsters Inc universe that drives much of what the monsters do. We see that whole factories are shut down because of this belief, we see that there is widespread panic because of this belief, and we see that college fraternities play games in the sewer because of this belief (college is weird). You know what that belief is: Children are toxic and everything that they touch is toxic. Of course, we have all seen the number 2319 at some random point in our lives (a receipt at a restaurant, a flight number, why do I always only come up with two examples?) and have yelled, “2319! We have a 2319!” as everyone looks at us as if we are loony. Just me? Awkward… Anyway, the belief that children are toxic and that everything they touch is toxic is a fundamental belief in their world. When Boo is making a “rampage” near the sushi restaurant, a professional on Monster News Network even says, “It is my professional opinion that now is the time to PANIC!” But get this, the professional was wrong. Much of the world was wrong about children being toxic. Think of all the embarrassing shavings that George Sanderson could have avoided if the world had simply known that children were not toxic. Roz would have been unemployed if the world would have known the truth that children were not toxic. Even at the beginning of the original Monsters Inc movie, Mike and Sully believe this lie about children being toxic, they only really stumble upon the truth. The great big beautiful point that I am trying to make here is that the world was wrong about this and it took Mike and Sully to use their thinking caps to figure out the truth.
I know that some of you reading this are teens who would do anything to impress your classmates and peers, I know that some of you are young adults like me and that you probably cherish the friendships that you have. But may I warn you that just because everyone believes something to be true does not make it true. We often get duped into thinking, “Hollywood has to be right about everything, look at the unified voice that they have” or “Everyone in my class is doing [fill in the blank] and no one has gotten hurt, it can’t be bad for you.” Beware!
So the question is, “How do you manage to follow the herd when it benefits you but avoid the herd when it is bad for you?” The answer is, Critical Thinking. Here are a few thoughts on breaking the cycle of Herd Mentality and being a Critical Thinker:

Find out what you stand for- If you have to ask yourself “What do I stand for?” and your answer is “most nights I don’t know anymore, oh whoa, oh whoa, whoa” (some of you will get that joke), then it is time to figure it out. What do you believe? What do you stand for? What is your “hill to die on”? But most importantly, why? Why do you believe what you believe? How did you come to that conclusion in your life? Why do you stand for that? That is going to require some good, hard soul-searching, but I promise you, it is really worth it.

Don’t be rude, but be critical- I am not telling you to “knit-pick” your friends actions and decisions to death. Don’t be an insufferable jerk about it, but keep mental notes. Understand that your friends are not always right (by the way, no one is! You aren’t. Don’t except people to be… different post for a different time…). So instead of just “going with the flow”; stop, think, and make a decision for yourself.

Don’t be scared of being different- I think the reason why many people do not think for themselves is because of fear. They fear being left out. The problem with not following the herd is that you are not part of the herd. Not being part of the herd makes you stand out, it makes you different, and to some people that is absolutely terrifying. But the truth is, it is better to be different and to be right than to be the same as everyone else and be wrong.
So, if your friends were to jump off a bridge would you? I hope the answer is no! Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, don’t forget to check out my new book to get even more life tips, Level Up!