Have You Heard Of The Herd?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Today was originally scheduled for the latest part in the short series about the curious and amusing phobias some people seem to have. But it’s a holiday week for most of us and I have put that post back until next week.

Instead I feel the urge to say something else. Two things actually.

First one is, have you heard of the herd? In particular the herd mentality, where people do something they have no need to do just because other people are doing it?

It happens a lot. Far too much in fact.

We witnessed it during the recent election campaign where people formed opinions not on the basis of their own analysis of the candidates and policies, but because of something someone else said or something they heard on tv.

We saw it again very recently after the dreadful murders in Connecticut where the unthinking herd ignored the real problem and  jumped on gun control as a solution to senseless attacks such as this. They might as well call for a ban on knives, axes, chainsaws, bows and arrows and gasoline when they are at it as any of these could do the same job in the hands of a mental defective.

And on December 24 we witnessed another example in grocery stores throughout the country (throughout the world even) as hoards of the unthinking joined the herd and bought up bread and food supplies like the shops would not be open again for at least a month. They are open again today you dummies!

These three examples have been going on for years and people never seem to learn, they just keep on following the herd without a thought in their heads.

And this leads me on to point two which is how little thought most of us give to what we are doing and what we are buying the already well off and pampered.

I know for a fact that Santa had orders for laptops and ipads and iphones and all sorts of other expensive playthings. And I also know that he hadn’t the sense to say no, but just bought them anyway. Mea culpa as much as anyone.

Then I got to thinking that life was a lot different when I was a kid. Yes we liked to get presents at Christmas, but they were a lot less sophisticated and a lot less expensive – even in relative terms. When I was eight, for example, I didn’t need a smart phone, or any phone come to think of it, nor was my social life so complicated and hectic that I had to have a chauffeur for all my must-do activities for every day of the week.

When I was a kid we had our toys, but we also had a thing called an imagination and we could make our own fun out of very little.

So what is the problem today? Why are kids so incapable of making their own entertainment? Why are they constantly “bored” without clicking a button on a computer consol or without someone else to do their thinking for them?

Like a lot of other things, it all boils down to money at the end of the day. Now I’m not advocating poverty as a solution to the world’s ills. Far from it. I like to make money, the more the better, and the thought of being, perhaps not rich, but comfortably well off is a very nice one. But if we had to we could all make do with a lot less. And I don’t think we would be any less happier in the process.

People in other countries seem to manage quite well. And they still seem to have the mental capacity to enjoy what little they have and make their fun out of next to nothing. In other words they are happy. If things do ever deteriorate to the extent that some of the doomsday preachers are telling us, there are a lot better prepared people in the world than there are in rich countries like America, or Britain, or Germany, etc.

Think about giving your kid or nephew or niece an old oil drum from the local garbage dump next Christmas instead of an ipod touch or some other overly expensive apple. I wonder how much music and entertainment they could get out of that?

Check out the video and you will see what I mean…

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13 thoughts on “Have You Heard Of The Herd?

  1. I’ll give ya a great example. One summer, my dad taught a friend and I that you could use wide blades of grass (weed grass like crabgrass) as a reed, and if held taught between your two thumbs, you could create a REALLY annoying whistling screech. So my buddy and I spent several days, nosing around various overgrown fields and along fence lines, looking for the PERFECT blade of grass with the PERFECT tone!
    Can you even imagine a kid today wanting to do that? We rode our bicycles until the wheels fell off (literally, in a couple of cases), and had a ball over the summer. These days, if a kid doesn’t have a few hundred dollars of silicon on him, he’s MISERABLE.
    We also wargamed with little cardboard counters on a photocopied hex map. Can you IMAGINE not having 3-d graphics with ultra-realistic animation? (Well, I can, and still do!)
    Okay, old man rant over. Get out there and use your imagination. Just KEEP OFF MY LAWN, YA DANG KIDS! (Sorry, practising my 50+ attitude. Who knew there’s a whole buncha rules to it?!? 😀 )

    • I can relate to that story. Spent most of my time as a kid outdoors and enjoyed it. Did manage to call in most meal times though.
      As regards the age of reason, there is a manual, sort of. It’s on DVD and called One Foot In The Grave. BBC stuff, you’d like it.

  2. As a kid, in the 1950s, my brother and I hammered a few old boards together and spent many happy hours riding our “train” through trackless wastes, battling indians and outlaws. We didn’t have much in those days beyond food and shelter so we learned to use our imaginations in our play.

    Your comments on the herd mentality are right on the money.

  3. The past was a time of simplicity … and my parents had even less growing up. But now, more is expected for whatever reason … thus the powerful message in the video.

    Regarding the herd, people rushing to the store in advance of an approaching storm. We deal with different levels of this occasion – you, a hurricane – me, mere flakes of snow sends people for a tizzy. Interestingly, a blast of winter hit us on the 26th, but the masses couldn’t raid the store the day before.

  4. I loved the video and the idea of such wonderful music being created from trash, this being said I would imagine, based on my travels in developing countries, that most of these kids do have cell phones, video games, and internet access. And why shouldn’t they? The technologies themselves are not a problem, it’s the attitude of entitlement which is the problem, and that can’t be blamed on children. After all, today’s children are being raised by yesterday’s generation, and their value system is that of their parents, and the parent’s value system is the product of their parents and so on.

    In my view, things may seem to have been ‘better’ when I was a child, more imaginative, more creative, but this could be because I’m not remembering all the times I whined about being bored, begged and held my breath for the latest and greatest gadget of the time, and emotionally black-mailed my parents into caving in and buying me what all the other kids had.

    While there are always exceptions, spend any amount of time with children today and I’m sure you’ll discover they still possess imagination, they still create, and they are still awed by nature and discovery.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      Wow, blackmail, extortion, you were a handful when you were a kid!
      Seriously though, you make good points.
      Yes, I’m sure a lot of the kids on the video have their cell phones, it’s almost obligatory throughout the world nowadays. But they still seem to be able to get more enjoyment out of very little compared to the pampered brats in the first world nations. Peer pressure is another thing, try going to an American school with a violin made from an oil can and see what abuse you get.
      You are also correct in that when we look back we tend to remember the sunny days and the good times, but I still believe that there is a general dumbing down of society and of the younger generation in particular.
      When you think about it, we’re on a cumulative downward path. The pampered brats, have their even more pampered brats, who have their… etc., and along with all that comes an ever increasing attitude of entitlement which is as you rightly say THE problem.
      It could be put right, if there was the political will to do it, but I fear the politicians would rather pander to the masses and create a nanny state around them rather than reintroducing the standards that we used to have.

      • Good points, however, I fail to see why anyone should look to the political world to right the perceived wrongs in our own homes. Sure politicians make great scapegoats, but are we doing ourselves, or our children, any favors in passing the blame on to others no matter how easy and convenient those targets may be. Our ‘dumbing down’, if in fact we are doing so, and I find great evidence to the contrary, is entirely self-induced. Casting blame is a symptom of the problem, not a solution.

      • Yes, of course it is always easy to pass the blame on to others, and we all frequently do, but the politicians are fair game. They aren’t responsible for all of our problems by any means, but they aren’t exempt either. And as far as I know nobody forces them to stand for public office.
        Democracy means that (by voting or choosing not to) we give them the power to, as Obama told us “change” things, the only problem is in many cases they have changed things for the worse not the better.
        As for the dumbing down bit, I really hope that I am wrong and you are right. Maybe I just don’t meet the right people outside of the blogsphere 😦

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