TED Conversations

  • Dan F
  • Jacksonville, OR
  • United States

TEDCRED 50+

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Group think vs individual thought or choice - ever have a personal conflict?

We are all subject to group think and often contribute to it because it is comforting, acceptable, or even espoused. Most of us want, or try to get along with one another, but it's not alway possible. Eventually peer pressure, expectations, traditions, governmental requirements, etc., can create conditions that can be intolerable for some of us. To opt out, or oppose how it is, can have a serious downside, or in some cases a serious upside.

Anyone care to cite a personal experience, or describe someone you admire for their independent stand?

Personal experiences are preferred. It's nice to know how and why, or regrets, if you care to disclose that information.

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  • Apr 22 2011: Group think is a phenomena that I was subject to an excessive amount from University. I took classes in which the professor would read facts off a slide and very few of the concepts or the arguments put forth were debated, or even questioned by the majority of my peers. Upon learning what the professors personal opinion coincided with, most students would find an abundance of information available to them, mostly referred by the professors themselves. Though the first two years of study I exerted most of my efforts to stand out and contrast with an alternate perspective, I came to find that the simplest path to success was to go with the flow and join into the group think.

    Not to say that Universities manufacture zombies of group think, I was just a little set back to find the lack of informed alternate opinions amongst my classmates.
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    Apr 13 2011: Oprah said the most important thing she learned from her years on television was that people just want to be heard. I would think of greater importance is a sense of belonging and that is why your question is intriguing.

    'Being heard' can end up as fodder for irrelevant conversation - does one give up belonging for that? Best have a substantial reason for speaking up. I have something coming up at which I must make a decision - do I want to belong, or do I want to be heard. I don't know yet how I will approach it.

    I hope you get the examples you seek . . . it could be very helpful to many people.
    • Apr 14 2011: Thanks for the response. I'm more interested in those who changed their mind on something specific and consequential. Something they learned or was taught growing up from family, friends, etc., that they have since consciously rejected. That does not mean they become a loner, but now are associated with others who are more in line with what they actually think.