Excessive groupthink was the accepted norm for Oakley High School and at one workplace I was employed in. In high school, most students and a few teachers shared this toxic group behavior. In the workplace, it went from top to bottom.
A moderate amount of groupthink is only human nature because it’s how we conform to rules and laws. Also, it provides stability for a community. However, excessive groupthink is unhealthy. It’s how cults, dictatorships, and totalitarian states get started.
An example of groupthink is, “if everyone else is doing it, I want to do it too.” It’s herd mentality at play.
When there’s a culture of bullying in a school or in a workplace, people who would not typically bully, will. And they’ll do it simply because everyone does it, and think they should get in on it also. It certainly was the case at *Oakley High School years ago and later at *Oakley Rehab and Living Center.
Therefore, from time to time, people you thought were friends would suddenly and without warning turn on you. And they will do it to jump on the bandwagon and join everyone else. Even they want to feel like one of the big guys.
Why Not? Everybody Else is Bullying Her?
There are several names for this, two of which are Social Contagion and Peer Pressure.
Now I understand that most of my classmates and later, coworkers were followers, drones, slaves! The student body of Oakley High School, sadly, was one big herd of sheep. They were slaves to the prospect of getting in good with “one of the cool kids” or “the ‘Good Ole Boy” network.
My bullies were nothing but two-faced hypocrites. They talked out both sides of their mouths, holding certain others to a double standard. All the while, they pretended to be someone they never were and never could be. Authenticity, being yourself, and free thought and expression were all punishable offenses. Everything was about appearances and whose butt they wanted to kiss to move up the social ladder
I would watch as most of my bullies pathetically sucked up to people they secretly couldn’t stand because they thought it would score them brownie points. And often, it would.
I also watched bullies who were second in power take plenty of degradation from the bullies at the top to fit in and look popular.
One such person was someone I knew who was the son of one of the teachers.
Very few of the so-called cool kids liked this wuss, yet he would lick their boots hungrily to get the so-called privilege of hanging with them. It didn’t matter to him if they were only tolerating him.
It was so pathetic I couldn’t hate the boy. All I could do was pity him.
On other occasions, I would see one of the popular girls drop a textbook, a pencil, anything. I would then watch the kids around her scramble, some taking a nosedive to the floor to pick it up for her and laugh as I walked by.
Whoever put on the best possible and most convincing front was rewarded not only by the other classmates but many of the teachers and school staff as well. I realize now that there was a reason behind all the fake sympathy, bogus compliments and, incessant butt-kissing. It was so they could get something from the higher-ups and not because they liked or respected them.
False flattery and opinion conformity in school and at work, made the bullies puffed up and overconfident. Also, it yielded immense social benefits for all the wannabes. Therefore, they maintained the status quo of ritualistic bullying of only kids or coworkers in particular.
Many of my classmates and coworkers were narcissistic sociopaths with low self-esteem. They were like tires with slow leaks. Their followers had to continuously air them up with fake compliments and false admiration to keep them from going flat!
Boot-Licking for Approval
Thirsty for attention and praise, the bullies at the top only surrounded themselves with weak wannabes. They needed bootlickers and yes-people to feed their hungry egos by telling them what they wanted to hear. And everyone, except a few, was more than happy to do so if it awarded them high popularity and favors.
The higher-ups expected you to think like them, dress like them, be like them and agree with them. Conversely, the people who did their own thing, who were happy being themselves, and didn’t act or think like the flock became targets.
But real life did eventually come around to the top dogs in high school. Once we were all graduated, the so-called preppies (bullies) got a taste of the real world, many of them got a rude awakening.
They were no longer the big dogs and had to start at the bottom, which was a terrible blow to their fragile egos. They learned the hard way that the real world doesn’t care who you are. Real life isn’t concerned with whether you made the “Who’s Who” section of your high school yearbook. The real world only cares whether you can contribute to it. And sadly, most of the punks I went to school with haven’t brought a damn thing to the table of life.
In fact, many of them either became criminals or bred them.
Meeting the Real World
Fitting in leads to a life of mediocrity. Standing out, on the other hand, is a prerequisite of greatness!
So, if your classmates or coworkers are bullying you, know that you are the brave one. Why? Because you refuse to follow the herd or resort to pathetic fakery to get approval!
You continue to be your authentic self and embrace your uniqueness, flaws, and all. You’re at the head of the class because you are true to your own heart, your own beliefs, and your convictions. You refuse to let them mold you into what they think you ought to be. You stand out from the rest, and one day, it’s all going to pay off! Wait and see!
With knowledge comes empowerment!
5 thoughts on “Bullies, Groupthink and Fakery”
When we have the courage to walk our own path, it can be lonely, for there aren’t always people in our circles who do the same!
You said that perfectly, Tamara! 💯 Thank you so much!
Love this. Group think can become extreme or hateful which is the scariest thing about it. As you say, some group think is normal as humans, but some groups take it to a cult-like level and that’s where it gets bad. Great writing as always. 🙂
Thank you so much, Sara! 💖 And you’re so right, in groups, people do evil things they otherwise wouldn’t do. I just watched the movie, “An American Crime,” which is the Sylvia Likens story. It almost brought me to tears. This movie shows group behavior at it’s worst!