- Before continuing on to what was going to be my original statement, I’d like to point out just one small thing. Not huge or overwhelming, but a simple caveat. With the exception of one author of the answers below, I saw no basic acknowledgement of a very real truth: any individual living within a society, must, in a very broad, general, overarching way, “follow the crowd” in observing the fundamental rules and protocols for that society. Not to do so usually lands you in trouble with the law, in jail, an asylum, or in very real peril. ( I’m not saying that said peril is not sometimes worthy of facing, regardless, when one is presented with a moral imperative to act or given the right cause to exact change in an unjust system) On the whole, in a very generalized, but substantive manner, almost all of us “follow the crowd” in this form, whether we want to admit it, or even recognize it, to ourselves.
Having said that, there have been various and seemingly innumerable times in which I was happier to not “follow the crowd”. This must be recognized as well: plenty of us aren’t necessarily “going with the crowd” within the private thoughts of our own minds. Society may believe one way, and I another, but until it becomes an issue in some real and meaningful way to us, I’m content to know what I believe, my opinion is, or where I stand and that it’s not accepted generally. I’m fine with that. I don’t seek discord or disharmony, so I’m comfortable knowing who I am without always advertising it to the world. However, there have been plenty of times in which I was more than willing to openly break with “crowd”, either because I believed the situation warranted it, to not do so would have compromised my integrity and who I am, or someone in life openly asked me for a true and honest answer to a given question. My actions, opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints, I was certain, may not be the accepted notions of the majority, those present, or even anything close to the somewhat new American concept of “politically correct”.
By the by, not for nothing, but aren’t we supposed to be a nation and people that espouse and uphold the Right to Free Speech? When did the collective decide they were willing to give all that away in the name of NEVER making someone uncomfortable or forever “fitting in”, despite one’s self? “Safe space”? “Trigger” warnings? A bit over the top isn’t? Your ancestors must be very proud that after their hardships, battles fought, and struggle for survival itself, someone’s mean words make you shut down and cry! Thank God Almighty that my grandfather, and the rest of the Greatest Generation, weren’t from this time and bought into these notions… we’d be speaking German and the Third Reich would still be a reality. Thankfully, the Nazis mean words didn’t trigger him and make him cry while he demanded a safe space! Instead, even after someone bombed us, instead of just slinging bad words at us, he and his generation decided to tough it out, realized it was okay to get upset and pissed off, “manned up”, and proceeded to whoop some a$$ all the way to final victory! If all of our people bought into these new concepts, we’d have no warriors left to fight our battles and defend our people, because they’d be too busy trying to arrange a peaceful reconciliation, after they were done sucking their thumbs and cowering in the corner, while our enemies steamrolled over us! And we have to agree, it was more than an enemy, the Nazis were TRUE EVIL!!! But I digress…
In the end, when warranted, not “following the crowd” or openly departing with certain mainstream or accepted societal norms made me happier because I was ultimately true to myself, my beliefs, and who I am. Admittedly, sometimes, in the immediate aftermath of my actions, statements, or disregard for political correctness, I may not have had instant happiness because of dealing with the repercussions or the people that believe that I must believe as they do, or I’m the enemy… the very incarnation of everything wrong with the world… you’d have thought I was a Klan member at times because of the copious amounts of insults and injustices levied against me! But somehow I always knew that if I wasn’t true to myself, I’d definitely not know happiness. It would have essentially been a capitulation on my part that the world has won and there’s no more room for independent, different, or divergent thought anymore. One of the worst situations was in a public gas station. A pre-op transsexual woman (which I didn’t know at the time) was in front of me, so I could only see the back (though, in all honesty, even when the person turned around it was more than obvious it was a man) and the person dropped some money. I picked it up and said, “Sir, you dropped some money.” He… she… whatever (I’m not going to worry about being kind, considerate, or sensitive in this instance, because, regardless, the person was a real genuine a$$π© [€!) swung around and literally began immediately yelling at me “I’m a woman and you’ll address me as such! It’s (I believe these are the exact words) hatemongering bigots like you that are what’s wrong with the world!” Now, normally, I’m an EXTREMELY patient man, but when someone comes at me like that, while trying to pull off the “I’m going to intimidate and yell you down” routine, especially when it’s another man (with regards to this shining example of the most ill-mannered, arrogant turd in existence, I no longer give two flying f@¢×$ what his opinion of who he thinks he is, or “identifies” with, he lost that courtesy when he decided to show his ass) and proceeds to do the whole guy, puff out the chest thing with his arms out doing the “take a shot”, my normal, almost infinite, patience became quickly, and most assuredly, lacking! I went off on this person! He was shouting at me that, regardless of whether he’s had his surgery yet or not (which I didn’t need, or want, to know) he’s still a woman and should be treated that way. I replied that I knew no women that acted like that, and, in a fury of anger, in front of God and everyone, I belted out that even if he had already had his surgery, that doesn’t make him a woman, it just makes him a man dumb enough to let someone chop his twig and giggle berries off!!! Now, to clarify, it was in, I believe, a justifiable fit of anger and I would not normally insult or disparage a person like that. This is America, freedom means a person gets to live their life as that see fit in their pursuit of happiness. But in this case, I was not only true to myself (okay, granted, perhaps a bigger, better person might have kept their composure and handled it differently, but all this because I tried to give money back?), but I told him what my feelings towards him were. And don’t expect me to know what’s going on in your head when there is no outward indication of what you’re going for, while obviously looking like a guy, to anyone in the area, like I’m a fragging’ mind reader or Jedi Knight!!! If the person had acted in a polite, sane, and courteous manner, I’d have called him whatever he wants! He could have said he’s the Queen of England for all I care! Fine! I’ll give you what you want! (Doesn’t mean I’ll believe it afterwards, but if it makes them happy and I can successfully give them their money back without incident, what do I care?)
Or here’s another one: violence is NEVER the answer. “Zero tolerance”. WRONG! It’s called self-defense. Unfortunately, we may be put in a situation where the use of violence is not only necessary, but the right course of action. Don’t believe me? Then go ask a Jewish Israeli commando what “Never Again” means! Politically correct and acceptable by most in my current living area? Not by a long shot, but it’s what I believe, and disagreeing with a overtly vocal, ardent supporter of nonviolence makes me happier because I’d rather say what I believe, say my piece, and take the subsequent verbal berating, than deny myself and a little thing called reality.
Granted, these are more extreme and never repeated scenarios used to illustrate a point, but they’re real life, and in the end, I was happier for not “going with the crowd”.
As with all things in life, it’s all about the balance. There are times when it pays to follow the crowd and times when it doesn’t. Humans are herd creatures and as such we seek out our own kind and acceptance from them. Sometimes the easiest way to get that acceptance is to follow the norms. Sometimes it pays to rock the boat a little.
I tend to do what feels right to me. I am all about comfort. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of the accepted social norms make me uncomfortable, so I tend to dress according to what I like rather than what is fashionable. As far as fashion goes, I find a lot of the trends and fads incredibly ugly or stupid.
That comfort also applies to moral issues too. My ideas do not conform to what most of society believes. I’m ok with that, I just usually keep my thoughts to myself in certain company. (Usually because those are ones that would rather argue than discuss so it’s pointless) I just usually approach a problem from a different angle than most would. For example, I am not a huge advocate to stop bullying, rather, I think we should spend more time teaching our children the coping skills needed to deal with it. Bullying actually serves a social purpose. That particular subject is sure to draw frowns of disapproval, but that is what I think. I would also add that, yes, there are times that I think the bullying goes way too far and that needs to be dealt with. That’s a whole other topic.
Does this make me happier? Most of the time, it does in the sense that I was true to myself and my beliefs. Sometimes it lands me in some hot water, but again, I stayed true to myself. Other people’s censure will only last a short while, but I will always know if I stood up for my ideals or not. In the long run, what I think and feel is much more important to me than anyone else’s opinion.
There are certain laws of society we must all follow if we want to live within it. Otherwise, it would be total chaos. As far as moral issues, that’s up to each individual and they have to accept the consequences, whether they be positive or negative.
Yes, many answers here. But instead of going into real life situations because they are always specific rather than general, I’m going to talk about the human character and the positive effects of being the individual.
We, as human beings when being born on this planet, are in reality free beings. This however doesn’t hold true since long. Our systems are built to rule. Through time we have had different forms of ruling and rulers. With any system like that humans can never be free individuals. We see many examples of this on our planet. Communism, capitalism, socialism, liberalism and more. Before it was kings, queens, Chiefs, emperors and the like. Religions have done the same.
These ruling systems have set the standards on how people should think, behave and act. They are built upon experience and scriptures of ancient times. Morals, ethics and laws were developed and are still developing to this day. This has created cultures, societies, racism, different religions and life beliefs, politics. Our different societies are totally split as they carry different values. So, in order to live together we need guidelines to function together. This forms society. As society are formed by individuals, the individual is an important part. But we are programmed in one way or another. It starts with your own parents and family, then education, other people in your society, work, religion, politics and other beliefs. Sure, you don’t have a choice unless you decide to live alone in the boonies. To have agreements on how to function together are fine but when they infringe on an individual’s rights of expression and free will, it’s simply gone too far.
Humans need to express themselves from within. This creates strength, self-esteem, creativity, intelligence, responsibility and expanded consciousness. These are all positive traits for humans. It gives us motivation to live and to express ourselves without restrictions from some “governing factor”.
As humanity, we have a lot of intelligence together. If we share the creativity and the intelligence as ONE humanity, we are able to solve our problems with the best solutions. There’s no need for personal gratification here. It’s to serve our whole planet. But EACH INDIVIDUAL IS IMPORTANT. Each human will always have more happiness and energy when they can be themselves, express themselves and choose their life being free and respected by their fellow beings. There should always be the freedom to choose anything. If you don’t want to pay taxes, you should’ve have to but equally you can be without the benefits that taxes pay for. Your values and beliefs should be respected from your outside world but you equally must respect your outside world. We are free souls and happiness comes from this. Positive energy is created from true freedom. True freedom doesn’t exist on our planet today. It’s controlled by very few. Don’t be fooled by things like, I can travel freely, I can say what I want and much more. That simply won’t be true because somewhere along the line there will be restrictions.
So, I’m happy to follow myself and to learn, create and use my inherited intelligence in life. I can therefore contribute my knowledge into the human society of our planet, just like everyone else. I do however respect everyone EVEN if I disagree in many things, BUT BEING FORCED INTO THINGS is for me very wrong because it takes my liberty away to be ME. I feel that every human should have the right to be who they wish to be. This helps us to evolve as a species and makes life positive in many ways. Who wants to be the tiger in a cage?
So, thanks for reading and hope this answer helps for you.