Stop submitting to social conformity and use your brain instead

Published on 2021-04-28. Modified on 2023-10-27.

Whether we deal with technology, religion, science, or any other subject, nothing has ever been more harmful to the human race, both generally and individually, than people submitting to social conformity rather than use the gift of their intellect!

Conformity is, as mentioned on Wikipedia, the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms, politics or being like-minded.

Take a look at this small social conformity experiment video:

For the past 30+ years in the tech industry (and generally in society too!) I have seen nothing more damaging than people blindly following hype, trends and "majority rule".

Whatever the majority is doing, and whatever people seem to be most frantic about, is usually the wrong stuff. I believe it is because people who tend to become religious about such matters are often very insecure and emotional and as soon as they see someone going against what they themselves follow, they become afraid because this jeopardizes their own position in life. They stand where they stand, not because they themselves have been thinking deep and hard about the stuff they do, but simply because they are the "blind followers" of others.

I am not talking about mistakes, we all make mistakes. And I am not talking about being "clever" or "smart", that is not what this is about. I am also not talking about issues that are a matter of opinion. What I am talking about are issues that are a matter of fact, a matter of understanding by studying the subject and reaching correct conclusions by the correct usage of the brain, such as the fact that the sun is hot and fire is burning.

Much of technology is pure fact. You don't need to understand everything, as long as you understand the fundamentals, you can reach correct and solid conclusions. It is e.g. a fact that you can build a website without any JavaScript and without a deployment system and without using any kind of framework. The tech behind TCP/IP, DNS, HTTP and web servers e.g. are all just facts.

Whenever you feel you need to express your opinion on something on Hacker News, Reddit, Lobster or somewhere else, ask yourself this first: "Am I really saying what I am saying because I truly believe this, or am I saying this because that is what the majority or someone else is doing?"

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).

― Mark Twain.

A popular synonym to what the majority is doing is "the modern way", or sometimes it is even called "best practice", which can be quite misleading because then best practice really becomes "stupid practice".

Not all modern or best practice is stupid or bad, but a lot of it is. Do you know why that is? It is because a lot of it is made up by people who have become rich by selling books, giving speeches at conferences, and making lengthy videos on YouTube that makes them feel important and good about themselves.

They know, understand and fully exploit the subject of conformity!

That is just one reason why you should NEVER follow or submit to conformity just because that is what the majority or someone popular is doing!

Never follow anything religiously - even when you strongly believe it is the truth! If you follow something religiously, it will completely blind you from discovering a possible mistake on your part! Always be open to the possibility that what you believe is wrong, unless it's a clear stone cut fact, like the sun is hot and fire burns.

Study, investigate, be curious and think! Yes, it requires effort. Yes, it is more difficult than simply submitting to what the majority is doing. Even going against the current often requires bravery because not only can it feel bad, but it can also attract the scolding of your peers, those who themselves have no clue about what they are doing and who feel frightened by your non-conformity.

The consequence of simply submitting to conformity is always bad, no matter what!