Excessive groupthink was the accepted norm for Oakley High School and at one workplace I was employed in. In high school, groupthink and fakery were shared by most students and teachers alike. In the workplace, it went from top to bottom.
A moderate amount of groupthink is only human nature because it’s how we conform to rules and laws and provides stability for a community. However, excessive groupthink is unhealthy, and it’s how cults, dictatorships, and totalitarian states get started.
An example of groupthink is, “if everyone else is doing it, I want to do it too.” It’s herd mentality at play.
When there’s a culture of bullying in a school or in a workplace, all too often, people who would not typically bully another person will do it simply because everyone does it, and they think they should get in on it also. It certainly was the case at *Oakley High School years ago and later at *Oakley Rehab and Living Center.
From time to time, people you thought were friends would suddenly and without warning turn on you and bully you- all to jump on the bandwagon and join everyone else so they could feel like one of the big guys.
There are several names for this, two of which are Social Contagion and Peer Pressure.
Now I understand that most of my classmates and later, coworkers were followers, drones, slaves! I compare the student body of Oakley High School, of which I was apart years ago, to one big herd of sheep with no definite shepherd. They were slaves to the prospect of being seen as “one of the cool kids” or a member of the ‘Good Ole Boy’ network.
My bullies were nothing but two-faced hypocrites. They talked out both sides of their mouths, held certain others to a double standard, and pretended to be someone they never were and never could be. Authenticity, being yourself, and free thought and expression were all punishable offenses. Everything was about appearances and whose butt they wanted to kiss to move up the social ladder
I would watch as most of my bullies pathetically sucked up to people they secretly couldn’t stand because they thought it would score them brownie points. And often, it would.
I also watched bullies who were second in power take plenty of degradation from the bullies at the top to fit in and look popular.
One such person was someone I knew who was the son of one of the teachers.
Very few of the so-called cool kids liked this wuss, yet he would lick their boots hungrily to get the so-called privilege of hanging with them, it didn’t matter to him if they were only tolerating him.
It was so pathetic I couldn’t hate the boy. All I could do was pity him.
On other occasions, I would see one of the popular girls drop a textbook, a pencil, anything. I would then watch the kids around her scramble, some taking a nosedive to the floor to pick it up for her and laugh as I walked by.
Whoever put on the best possible and most convincing front was rewarded not only by the other classmates but many of the teachers and school staff as well. I realize now that all the fake sympathy, bogus compliments and, incessant butt-kissing were so they could get something from the higher-ups, not because they liked or respected them.
False flattery and opinion conformity in school and at work, made the bullies puffed up and overconfident, and yielded immense social benefits for all the wannabes. Therefore, they maintained the status quo of ritualistic bullying of only kids or coworkers in particular.
Many of my classmates and coworkers were narcissistic sociopaths with low self-esteem. They were like tires with slow leaks. Their followers had to continuously air them up with fake compliments and false admiration to keep them from going flat!
Unquenchably thirsty for attention and praise, the bullies at the top only surrounded themselves with weak wannabes- bootlickers and yes-kids to feed their hungry egos by telling them what they wanted to hear. And everyone, except a few, was more than too happy to do so if it awarded them high popularity and favors.
You were expected to think like them, dress like them, be like them and agree with them. And the kids who did their own thing, who were happy being themselves, and didn’t act or think like the flock were bullied for it.
But real life did eventually come around to the top dogs in high school. Once we were all graduated, and the so-called preppies (bullies) got a taste of the real world, many of them got a rude awakening.
They were no longer the big dogs and had to start at the bottom, which was a terrible blow to their fragile egos. They had to learn the hard way that the real world doesn’t care who you are or whether you made the “Who’s Who” section of your high school yearbook. The real world only cares whether you can contribute to it, and most of the punks I went to school with haven’t brought a damn thing to the table of life.
In fact, many of them either became criminals or bred them.
Fitting in leads to a life of mediocrity. Standing out, on the other hand, is a prerequisite of greatness!
So, if your classmates are bullying you in school, or if your coworkers at work are bullying you, know that you are the brave one because you refuse to follow the herd or resort to pathetic fakery to get approval!
You continue to be your authentic self and embrace your uniqueness, flaws, and all. You’re at the head of the class because you are true to your own heart, your own beliefs, and your convictions. You refuse to let them mold you into what they think you ought to be. You stand out from the rest, and one day, it’s all going to pay off!
Wait and see!