Most of the time, in most matters, most people do what most people do.
I don’t mean to suggest that nobody ever has original thoughts or actions. I only mean to suggest that other people are often our guide in life. After all, it’s easier that way. Thinking for ourselves requires more mental energy than most find convenient, and it’s almost always easier to follow a crowd than to blaze one’s own trail. When the crowd has got it right, following the crowd can be a valuable time-saving, effort-saving strategy.
But what if the crowd has got it wrong? How likely is the crowd to figure this out sooner than later? The reason I ask is that figuring it out sooner than later is also a valuable time-saving, effort-saving strategy. But figuring it out before it’s finally obvious to everybody is a high-burn mental process, and it’s unlikely that people who joined the crowd to save themselves work are going to volunteer for the work of examining what they’re doing. They are, after all, depending on the crowd to know the right answer, to know the right way, to tell them what to expect, and so forth.
When we do that—and it doesn’t always turn out badly—we run the risk that the crowd has got it wrong. And crowds do sometimes get it wrong. And when it becomes clear (if it becomes clear) that the crowd has got it wrong, who’s going to figure out the right way to go?
So much more can be said about this than I have time for now, but I wanted to post this idea on the record. And I’ll close with this question: If you’re following the crowd down the wrong path because you wanted to avoid thinking it out for yourself, what kind of mess are you getting yourself into, and would it have been easier to invest some time thinking up front?
Mental laziness often comes at a high cost.