How many of us watch the Super Bowl because we love football? Do we watch it only because everyone else we know watches it? I think that second explanation is the far more accurate one. What is this gene within us, this sheep gene, that sees us mindlessly following the crowd?
From an evolutionary standpoint, I’m going to assume it’s a beneficial instinct for our species to have. As the fish swim in schools, so humans tend to follow the crowd. I don’t know enough about our biological or sociological makeup to speak expertly on this matter.
I do mean to question why we do these things though. Why does my mom watch the Super Bowl when she doesn’t know or care about the two teams playing?
“I like to watch the commercials.” I’ve heard this response often from people to whom I ask this question. I think it’s really fear talking when they say this—fear of feeling ostracized Monday at work when everyone else is recounting their favorite commercials.
Life is a constant struggle between introversion and extroversion, between individuality and association with others. In my own life I try to question most of my actions. I try to get to the why of the choices I make. Why ought I to watch a football game, the outcome of which is meaningless to me, just because lots of people I know will be watching? I don’t know of a compelling answer. But I watch the Super Bowl most years.
I’m only using that because it’s an easy example. There are tons of others: TV shows of dubious quality that become popular, movies, music. Maybe it only seems that we’re behaving like sheep because there are so many of us and so few things to do. That doesn’t sound right though, does it?
I like to make my own way. It is my hope that I continue growing up I’ll peel the layers of the sheep gene back as best I can. I’d like to be a shepherd one day.
Damn, that’s a corny ending. I’ll have a better one tomorrow.