two quotes on thinking
Memes are now a big ‘thing’, a word that everyone knows. This is amusing as a meme is essentially a viral thought. We are mimetic - we copy what others say and do.
Memes as they are understood in modern parlance are exactly that - they usually reference something that everyone recognises and then spread virally, as people see, recognise and share the meme, copying the behaviour of whoever shared it with them in the first place.
Groupthink is one of the big scourges of our modern age as now, the ease of mimesis means that it’s easier than ever for people to fall under a banner of thought, to claim an ‘identity’ for themselves by cosigning someone else’s ideas.
We see this across platforms and in all areas of our society. The ability for an idea to spread has never been greater and it turns out, it’s now more possible than ever for people to influence groupthink at scale. You only need to barely follow political discourse to see this.
On that front, I want to draw your attention to these two quotes, highlighted by David Perell, someone whose content is extremely shareable/memeable.
The majority is always wrong.
Even if they are not wrong, the idea of going with the majority is not necessarily right for you. It may be right for them, just not beneficial to you personally.
There is a clear example in health and fitness where the majority of what everyone thinks, and does as a result, seems wrong to me.
People don’t stop to question big narratives around these topics and we’ve never been unhealthier in % terms than we are now. Doing what everyone else does, following the groupthink when the average condition of a UK adult is so poor, baffles me.
In a way, health and fitness is a small idea compared to some of the issues that are affecting us. But, in another respect, if people can’t take responsibility for their own health, how are they supposed to address an issue that’s wider than themselves? Everyone is their own most important concern but people aren’t concerned enough about themselves, instead preoccupying themselves with other people.
Rene Girard stated that socially acceptable competition has lead to the ‘amazing achievements of the modern world’ but that once this competition becomes an end in itself, ‘rivals are more apt to forget about whatever objects are the cause of the rivalry and instead become more fascinated with one another.’ You only need to open your social media accounts very briefly and shudder in disgust at the oneupmanship on show to see this in action.
My favourite way to witness this is The State of LinkedIn. Enjoy.
To avoid competition, you need to take personal responsibility. ‘Taking control of your health is a revolutionary act’ (someone said). Everyone is looking to outsource it to someone else when the best thing you can do for yourself and for society is to take command of it yourself. Improving your health improves life for you, for those around you and improves your environment. The knockoff effects of it are exponential.
The minority is where new ideas, new thoughts, comes from. Think of Galileo, enduring house arrest for his belief in heliocentrism, the Sun being the centre of the Solar System. He was in a minority of one to begin with. Ideas come from individuals or small groups.
Of course they are not necessarily right! The minority is ‘rarely right’. It’s best to experiment or, if you want to hedge your bets, let the early adopters do it for you.
‘If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking’. Again, if everyone consumes the same content, the same information, then everyone will have the same thoughts and opinions. When you read the same books as everyone else, watch the same things and follow the same influencers, you just become a poor facsimile of those aggregated inputs.
You should seek out fringe ideas, people on the edge of the new where innovation appears, consume their thinking, digest it, ’use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.’
Don’t worry if it’s not broadly applicable. If it works for you and doesn’t affect someone else, go for it.