Majority Influence and Social Change
Majority influence plays a vital role in maintaining social order. The fact that we biologically love to be like the rest of the world and tend to keep away from 'being different' means that we're pretty easy to control. Generally, we rely on the judgement of everybody else when accepting a widely-spread idea and don't bother to process it in detail.
'Does everyone say we should wear purple this season? Fine!'
'People believe the world was created by a God who lives in the sky and sees everything? Absolutely!'
'The rest of the world thinks women are inferior? No problem!' (of course I'm referring to 100 years ago!)
We have a natural inclination to simply trust whatever the world is telling us. We accept that the 'TRUTH' must be real, since everyone has done the same, so what's the point in processing the information? Even when we're in doubt, we deny ourselves the right to ask questions, because we are simply terrified of being different and therefore not accepted. But if this is the case, how is the world changing?
If we look at the last few hundred years, a lot of things have gradually changed. Take some of the most important issues, like racism and misogyny. There's no denying that the world's views and beliefs on these subjects have shifted dramatically, and the generally accepted ideas are completely different from what they were 100 years ago. A very important process played the role in this major change, called MINORITY INFLUENCE.
Majority influence is easy. Monkey see, monkey do. Minority influence is a different story. It takes a deep level of processing and accepting, it takes an open mind and the ability to change.
When a tiny group of people tells you that despite what everyone is telling you, women are in fact equal and they have just the same brain capacity, you will be inclined to tell them to f ** k off (100 years ago, that is). But if you do choose to listen to that groups idea, to hear their arguments and do some processing, even though you're risking to look different, you might find that their beliefs make sense.
This is a slow and difficult process, but through this we have managed to change the world over the years. Because a small group of women stood up and started fighting to get their point of view heard, women are now allowed to own property. And a few people started spreading the idea that black people are in fact just the same and they shouldn't be treated like animals. And there are so many examples. All these movements have faced extreme resistance, but when the new ideas were processed by more and more people, they slowly became Majority Influence. After this the rest of the world accepted them through the original method.
But how do YOU change the world?
You don't need to come up with a revolutionary idea, nor do you need to believe every conspiracy theory thrown your way. But you do need to:
1. Question everything!
Just because your entire family, friends or country believes something doesn't mean it's the truth. Just think about it. Does it make sense, does it sit right with you, is there a contradicting idea? What are the arguments, the proof? Take the time to process any ideas that come your way before accepting or denying them.
2. Keep an open mind!
When someone shares with you their crazy point of view that's completely different from anything you might have heard before, don't dismiss it. As weird as it may sound it might become the generally accepted belief in a few years.
Imagine you lived a few hundred years ago. You were born in a rich family with a few black slaves and you knew very well that they were inferior to you. Then someone came and told you that they aren't, they are equal and you should treat them exactly like you would a white person. You wouldn't have believed them at first, might had just started laughing at them. But if you stopped and processed that idea, listened to their arguments and thought about it, you could find that it makes more sense that what you believed before.
I'm not saying believe anything a crazy person will tell you. But think about it.
3. Shout out your view!
Maybe you heard someone talk about it, or it came to you in the shower - you discovered that you have a different opinion than everyone else on an important matter. Instead of thinking you're too small, or you can never make a difference, do something. Find other people who share the same view, talk to your friends about it, share your arguments. Just get your idea out there! That's how every major movement started, with one person with a different view.
4. Resist the fear of not being accepted!
Being 'different' isn't exactly viewed as a good thing. Not even if it's in a good way. You might have been the 'weird kid' in school just because you were a lot smarter than everyone else. So why would you want to be different on purpose?
Who we are is strongly influenced by who everyone else is. We do what we do and like what we like depends on the people around us. So how do we know that this is truly who we are? How do we know that we really like wearing purple and it's not just our desire to be accepted? The only way we could get to know who we truly are is to stop trying to be like everyone else. If we stop being terrified of seeming different we might be able to discover our true personality.
This may sound easy, but in fact it's close to impossible. We are social beings and our personality is influenced by the people around us. We have social roles that we play and adapt to. We are parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and so on, so who we are is dependent on the roles we play. But the only way we learn to play these roles is by looking at everyone else. Take parenthood for example; the only way we know how to be a parent is the way we have learned from our parents. Yes we can read a thousand books, but without concentrating on following that advice, our parenting will naturally be pretty similar to our parents'.
There are so many social rules that we follow everyday, and the way we learned them is by looking at everyone else. You didn't know how you're supposed to treat strangers on the street. Why not hug everyone? But you looked and accepted what everyone else did, without questions. You wouldn't dare doing anything different because people will judge you.
Just the same 200 years ago white children were learning how to treat black people or women. Without questions or processing.
[this post has been re-uploaded]
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post useful.
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