Backstory to: “Understand Context or Be Swept Along With the Rabble”
Reading time: about 3.6 minutes (excluding the original post below)
When I was a kid, we had a magic chant that we thought would keep us safe from bullies. “We aren’t strong, but count us!” Back then, I thought it was funny and clever.
Thankfully, I never had to test the practical follow-through of our magic chant. Instinctively, I knew even at that young age that mob mentality of any kind is unpredictable and therefore inherently dangerous. Our tenuous brotherhood could have splintered, resulting in at least one of us getting beaten up. Or we could have stayed united and allowed mob madness to get the better of us. And of the bully.
There are many terms to describe what our little group was manifesting, all of them with negative connotations. Mob mentality. Herd mentality. Pack mentality. Gang mentality. These terms describe how being part of a large group can seduce us into behaving emotionally rather than rationally. And to make collective decisions that we would never make as individuals. Such as tackling a bully single handedly.
There have been attempts to look at the positive side of group mentality and behavior. Hence favorable terms like crowd wisdom and group intelligence. But they don’t fool me.
And here’s why. Context.
On sunny a Saturday you can hear a group of parents shouting abuse at the football referee, scaring kids on the other team and insulting visiting parents. And on the next day, the same parents will be all sweetness and light in the church of their calling.
Which event reveals the “real” parents? How would we know? Do the parents even know? Or are they simply malleable prisoners of context?
Here is the original post:
Understand Context or Be Swept Along With the Rabble
Reading time: about 0.8 minutes
Whenever I witness rabble rousing, I think “context.” Context forms the setting, the backdrop for an event. It enables you to make sense of the event, to clarify its meaning, and to interpret it correctly.
As always, there is a catch. People in the same context may experience it differently. Consider prisoners and prison guards. They share the same environment, namely the prison. And yet, they experience the environment and its daily routines differently.
Here’s the interesting bit. To do their job, prison guards are also locked up. Scary, yes, which is why they can only function appropriately by interpreting the context correctly.
You don’t function in a vacuum. To function appropriately, you must understand context. Context gives meaning to events, actions, behaviors, thoughts, feelings and everything else.
If you ignore context, you are likely to be locked in your own mental prison. And to be swept along with the rabble.
Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.