We all think we’re different, but we’re the same.
As much as I’d like to believe I’m beyond that.
That I do things differently.
The special snowflake in the midst of all the similar snowflakes.
I have long hair. Multiple piercings. A long bushy beard.
I have all these because at some point, someone told me to do the opposite.
Cut my hair. Don’t get pierced. Shave my beard.
Such a contrarian.
Going against the grain.
Today I learned I’m just like everyone else.
That the powers of social cohesion, those invisible threads that bind us all in society, work just as well on me.
I could see it happening. As it was happening.
That’s the word that popped into my head as I did exactly what 9 out of 10 behavioural and social scientists would have expected of me.
I went from rebel without a cause.
To rebel because.
Because they did it.
I did it too.
Doing exactly what virtually all of you would have done.
I followed the well beaten path.
Ignoring the sign and doing what the others before me had done.
The ones right in front of me.
Trodding along the same path to different destinations.
I ignored the “sidewalk closed” sign.
And kept walking.
Right past the “Do Not Enter”.
And I kept walking.
…Because the dad and took his young child that way.
…Because that elderly gentleman followed them.
…Because the other pedestrian also shrugged off that ominous sign
And decided they too would take the shortcut.
Through the closed sidewalk.
With that action, I was just like them.
The invisible hand of social pressure conforming me to do what those around me were doing.
In the famous words of Seth Godin:
“People like us do things like this.”
And now I am in the company of trespassers.