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Do We Always “Keep Up” in the Right Way?

By Alicia Wang, Grade 11
I believe that most of you have at least one account on social media like Facebook or Instagram. I surf on social media almost every day to keep up with the world. However, do we actually take time to consider how valid the information really is?

Once, a friend of mine saw a photo of her boyfriend with another girl. She got really mad and almost broke up with him, but it turned out to be that the photo was actually from a group dinner. The picture taken was accidentally only of her boyfriend and the girl, as if nobody else was at the table.

When we start to believe things without knowing the whole story, our judgements can be easily affected. That is because, information we receive online is from one point of view. We often change our opinions to conform with the more popular opinion. I have experienced this feeling. If you have an argument that differs from what most people think, you end up feeling helpless. So you can say that this conformist behaviour is the true instinct of human nature.

Now, here is a situation for you: if you see a person jump off a cliff, would you follow him or her? I believe that none of you would do that. Have you ever heard of lemmings? They are little furry groundhog type animals. Once a year, lemmings jump into the sea one after another. We don’t know why they do this, but it is a perfect example of conformist behaviour.

An example of human conformity is: back in the old ages, people were told that the Earth was flat, thus sailors were so afraid of falling off the “edge” unexpectedly, and often just stopped when they thought they had sailed far enough. We didn’t learn that our planet is actually round until Magellan’s sailing around the world.

Conformist behaviour still exists in this day. It is much more simple to just go with the majority that comment online. We don’t take responsibility for words. This is where cyber-violence begins. Do we actually know about the truth? Have we really considered before typing those words? Do we know the real story?

Thus, it is important to be aware of this common psychology and consciously resist it. How do we do this? I believe it is independence. This is one of the great features of students at Stanstead College. Today, I want to encourage everyone here to be not only physically independent but mentally as well. Having the ability to think for yourself, be able to consider multiple opinions, not making inconsiderate judgements, all of these things can contribute to making our overall environment way better. Enriching our own knowledge can help with developing our abilities to think completely instead of thinking through one perspective. Ignorance and lack of confidence are the initial causes that lead to conformist behaviour. If we have a full, evidence-supported idea of the event in whole, it will be way harder for others to influence our minds.

So going back to my friend who saw her boyfriend on Instagram, had she taken the time to find the real story, it would have saved a lot of trouble. Get the whole story before jumping to conclusions. What we see or hear of might not be as reliable as we believe.

I will leave you with the quote from Greek philosopher Antisthenes: "Wisdom is a most sure stronghold which never crumbles away nor is betrayed. Walls of defense must be constructed in our own impregnable reasonings."