A friend recently sent me a clip (link below) from the original Candid Camera series. Four people enter an elevator, three of whom are participants in a planned prank. As the elevator ascends, the three turn and face the back wall. About ten seconds later, they turn again. The hidden camera catches the lone, innocent passenger. Invariably, he turns to match the others.
While highly amusing to watch, the ramifications aren’t amusing at all. Peer pressure causes most of us to do or not do things without necessarily thinking them through. In itself, peer pressure is neither good nor bad. This powerful force sometimes leads us to behave differently, both for better and for worse, than we might otherwise do. For the vast majority of us, as for the commonly denim-clad, afro coiffed, slogan-shouting teens of the 1960’s, while we speak of individuality, we follow the crowd.
As children, the “victims” in the elevator probably read the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Yet, rather than engaging their fellow elevator riders with a question, “Why are you turning around?” they abashedly followed suit. It makes me highly uncomfortable not to be sure that I would do any differently.
Last week, Brendan Eich, one of the creative geniuses at Mozilla who had become its CEO, resigned rather than cave in to the current groupthink on homosexual marriage. He was told that America has a new way of thinking and that he had better get with the program. (Note that by the same logic, President Obama should immediately revoke Obamacare since a huge plurality of Americans disapproves of it.)
Mozilla is a private business, but if another private business of that size fired its CEO because he advocated in favor of homosexual marriage would the government somehow get involved? Today we live under a bullying government and its intimidating agencies staffed by ever-more arrogant officials. Increasing numbers of Americans are beginning to view their government as sinister and frightening, perhaps even malevolent. The inevitable result is that a subtle feeling of fear pushes us towards conformity. Additionally, the media, educational institutions and sometimes friends and family exert social pressure targeting and mislabeling those of us who resist the urge to join a brave, new (highly experimental and anti-Biblical) world. Defending freedom and preserving our values demand that we resist that pressure.
I know nothing of Mr. Eich or his thought processes, but I bet he would not face the rear wall in the elevator just because everyone else does.
Here is the Candid Camera clip. What peer pressure are you facing?
Are you being pushed to conform in your own life?
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