Herd mentality is a phenomenon that has always existed among humans. However, it is now more heavily recorded in the media every day, and thus can have a greater influence than ever before. It is also more tolerated than ever before as long as one's life is not threathened in the process. However, one can overcome the tyranny of the herd mentality by adopting the following traits and by improving them through regular practice:
It is very difficult to upset or disappoint our fellow companions in the journey of life - family, friends, partner, colleagues. It is hard to see them suffer or even insult us just because we decided to do something that contradicts their expectations of us. However, courage is a necessity to overcome offenses from other people and to admit and live with the fact that sometimes we have our own thoughts, feelings, and motives that do not always have to correlate with those of others.
I once went near a tennis court, and a tennis ball was accidentally thrown near me. One of the players asked me to retrieve the ball, but I said that I was in a hurry (and I really was). The player got mad and called me a "moronic kid." I was deeply insulted, but I knew that people in a hurry are not by definition morons. It gave me the courage to continue to walk away - logic.
Logic is what usually convinces people to put their beliefs into something and to do certain deeds. The more logically correct and believable a belief is, the more convincing it will become to other people who are exposed to this logical structure. Because people are convinced by logic, even with the weakest of logics, social structures and ceremonies are built. If one wants to overcome the herd mentality, one should enforce their non-conformity with a proper logical structure to support their abstaining from the herd mentality.
Just because there is a large enforcement of a certain belief by a large number of people (for example, believing in a certain popular deity or even creating a fanbase around a certain idol), it does not mean that a single individual cannot overcome their own logic. To lay the foundations for overcoming this mentality, the individual should contemplate and ponder about the following questions:
Why do I wish to overcome the herd mentality?
What do I want to achieve in this, and why do I wish to actualize the said ambitions?
What are the consequences of doing so?
Would I be satisfied with the results? If so, at what cost?
If not, is my cause in my perspective a justified cause, regardless of the cost?
What would I lose and what would I earn in this solitary revolution against the masses?
Ask yourself these questions, and attempt to answer them to the best of your ability. The more logically-convincing your answers are (even convincing to yourself), the more acceptance you will earn from others and for yourself, and thus, the easier the task will be with the decreasing withdrawal of guilt, shame, and negative isolation.
Standing all by yourself against the masses and their beliefs is not an easy thing. Regardless of the reason that made you wish to overcome their mentality, it is all your “fault” for being against the popular beliefs and practices. Seeing the masses from the viewpoint of a single person in an empty field (even if the said person has family and friends) can be a very isolating experience. The herd is living as if nothing, even for eons, has been done under the sun.
But, since a certain person decided to reform the constant and non-dynamic mindset which defines the herd mentality, that said person may find himself completely alone even in the midst of the most social of conventions. While in this ideologically solitary state of mind and being, few, and even none, may be the people who can agree upon your own systems of beliefs.
Skepticism is the most fundamental aspect of being a black sheep. It is the act of being in disagreement with a certain or a set of subjects and the execution of issues. When in doubt, an outcast of the herd cannot find any answers but in him or herself only. Taking doubt on something, regardless of conformity, is a very courageous act, and it is vital for one's own development, and perhaps, also for the possible development of others.
Being skeptical is like working on a muscle on a regular basis of workouts. The more you doubt, the more your mind will be challenged and the stronger it will become. Just like working out, being skeptical is an action that requires strength, and sometimes, rest.
After being skeptical about a certain subject, one needs to rest and find other occupations, so he or she will be recharged and, on the side, become stronger on the intellectual level. Indeed, the intellectual is a mentally strong person, like the fit person is physically strong. The dumbbells of the solitary intellectual (as intellectualism can, at times, lead to isolation) are his or her skills to produce stable and reasonable doubts against agreed concepts.
Being skeptical is being a reformer: to reshape a certain issue and transform it into a new one. Therefore, the overcomer is not only an intellectual, but an artist, a producer of potentially something new and original.
I hope this article will help fighting, even by a bit, against the power of herd mentality; especially in this age of social media and mockery against more-eccentric behaviors, online and offline. If you enjoyed reading this, consider sharing it if desired.