By: Ogunleye Moboluwarin
As humans, we have a natural propensity to adhere to the beliefs and habits of those around us. This tendency is magnified when we are part of a group, resulting in the phenomena of mob mentality. This is especially important to keep in mind while thinking about the school campus, where students frequently form huge groups with varying points of view. This phenomenon has many names; Mob mentality, herd mentality, pack mentality, group thinking, or crowd psychology. But, in the end, this can be summed up with the simple statement that people are influenced by the opinions of others in their wider social group. You can count your course-mates, roommates, and neighbors among that group of people.
Now, while it’s natural for people to find themselves wanting to be in a group, most of the time they find it difficult to defend the actions of said group or even, their actions within said group. For example, It is evident in simple actions such as following social media culture. this is why people would follow any beauty, fashion, or social trend regardless of whether they agree with it or not. Because of people’s intrinsic desire to fit in and feel like they have to be one with the herd, trends spread rapidly over the internet, impacting more and more people as they go. Many times you’ll find individuals copying the actions of or defending internet personalities for no other reason than the fact that it’s the apparent general consensus of their social group to do.
Crowd mentality can lead to violence when a group becomes emotionally charged and aggressive toward a perceived threat or target. This can be seen in situations such as protests, and sporting events, where a group’s emotions can escalate quickly, leading to violent behavior. If the conduct of the group as a whole is violent, the magnitude of the violence will increase proportionately with the size of the group. A very common example of this violent group behaviour is the collective harassment or as it is commonly called aro, which is most common amongst members of Independence and Nnamdi Azikwe halls.
This occurs obviously as a result of group thinking as you would find that people that partake in activities such as aro would probably never be able to do it if they were on their own. Also, other common examples are instances of riots in schools. A peaceful riot is something you have never heard of. Generally speaking, riots involve a lot of violence. This happens because when people identify with a group, they may adopt more radical beliefs and attitudes, which might increase the potential for conflict and violence toward those who disagree with the group’s ideology. And then, on the other hand, people who don’t fit in with the group’s expectations are at risk of being shunned or bullied. Isolation and loneliness, which can have a harmful effect on mental health,
Herd thinking might also facilitate the dissemination of untrue information and beliefs. When people become members of a group, they frequently begin to have the same opinions as the group’s leaders without investigating the veracity of those beliefs or taking into account other points of view. This can result in the dissemination of false information and fake news, both of which have the potential to significantly affect the school society. For example, during the online GES tests a few months ago, it was common to spread fake links to the online examination while most students were waiting for the actual links so they can begin their examinations.
A group-think can result in the suppression of individuality and the silencing of voices that disagree with the majority opinion. When people become members of a group, they frequently experience feelings of pressure to conform to the beliefs and behaviors of the group’s majority. This can result in the repression of individuality as well as the silencing of voices that are critical of the status quo, both of which are harmful to society. Students who speak out against the student leadership, for instance, may become the target of the mob during times of unrest. These individuals may then face backlash and persecution as a result. This can lead to restrictions being placed on people’s right to free speech as well as an erosion of democratic principles.
In addition to that, Being easily swayed by the opinions of others is a major problem of mob mentality, and it’s especially detrimental to people who already have difficulty speaking up for themselves. This is what happens when, for instance, a student leader endorses a product or political candidate and a large number of people follow him without any clear motivation, and individuals often adopt the beliefs and attitudes held by the majority without taking into account different points of view or engaging in critical thinking.
However, there are times when the wisdom of the crowd can be useful. You can’t prove that you can’t think for yourself based on this, though. Having a hive mentality is being so dedicated to a group or cause that you are willing to put your own needs and desires on the back burner in order to help it succeed. The crowd mentality isn’t completely negative. Like almost all things it has its pros and cons
Albeit few, some of the pros include the sense of community and belonging in its members that being in a group provides, and this feeling can grow stronger over time. This may be especially true in circumstances in which individuals experience feelings of isolation or disconnection from others in their day-to-day lives. Being a part of a group that goes through similar experiences can foster a sense of companionship and provide support.
Furthermore, decision-making in a group can be more effective than individual decision-making in some circumstances. This is often the case in urgent matters or at times of crisis. When there are more brains working on the same problem or goal, the group can come up with solutions and ideas much more quickly than an individual could. However, while these positive points may have merit in some situations, they do not excuse the destructive outcomes of mob mentality including violence, illogical decision-making, and the silencing of dissenting voices.