Updated: Sep 12
The Coronavirus has escalated talk about “herd immunity”—which is great for avoiding sickness. But if you want a fulfilling life, you need to develop immunity of a different kind.
Run Like Sheep from Being a Sheep
The term sheeple has been around for a while, but in case you’re not familiar with it: Sheeple is a derogatory word for people who simply go along and do or believe whatever the government or popular influencers of the day want them to. The etymology of the term is straightforward: sheep + people = sheeple.
So, two significant questions:
1) Are you a sheeple?
2) And is there anything wrong with being a sheeple?
Let’s start with the second question first.
The answer is: Yes.
The word sheeple was coined for a reason. If you’ve ever raised sheep (I have), you recognize that “like a sheep” is something you don’t want to be.
Sheep respond to outside stimuli in the worst ways possible. If you approach to feed them, they race away, terrified. Try to free them from a fence in which they’re stuck, and they maim themselves.
(Ask me how I know? It might be the time a young, healthy sheep wedged its leg in a fence, freaked out when I approached to free him, and snapped his leg in two.)
Sheep also follow each other mindlessly.
“Thinking for yourself” does not apply to sheep—either the “thinking” part or the “for yourself” part. Sheep do whatever they see the other equally unthinking members of the group do—and it’s usually bad for them.
Sheep are useful, of course. Otherwise, no one would have them. And they’re fun to watch when they’re undisturbed.
So, I should allow that if you don’t mind being valued because you’re useful to a dominant species and are happy to be a yard decoration, there are positives to sheeple-ness. But it won’t get you life your own way.
The Sheeple Test
The “are you a sheeple” question is a little more difficult. And to come up with a truthful answer, you’ll have to be really honest with yourself.
Take the quick quiz below to see where you rank on the sheeple scale:
Does it make you uncomfortable to be different than your neighbors?
Does striking out on your own make you nervous?
Do you have reservations about people who reject standard ways of thinking or doing?
Are you plagued by doubt when others question why you do what you do?
Do you second-guess yourself if you don’t do what’s socially expected?
If you answered "no" to all five questions, congratulations. You tested completely negative for sheeple-ness.
And if you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, that might be okay, too. Feeling those things is fairly normal.
But . . .
It’s how the feelings affect you that determines
your level of sheeple-ness.
If any of the yeses stop you from doing what you know is the right thing for you to do or from exploring alternative ideas, then you need to boost your herd immunity.
Immune from the Herd*
Getting in the habit of Different is the best way to vaccinate yourself against just going along.
If you’ve based your life on assuming there are better ways to live than the norm, then you’re less likely to be duped by a herd mentality.
If you’re used to thinking in ways that aren’t typical, it becomes easier to question what you hear from news, politicians, pundits, and pop culture.
If you’re used to figuring things out for yourself, you’ll also be more open to alternative sources of information that offer better solutions for what ails your life.
Creating a lifestyle of doing Different increases your resistance to what goes on around you. (See my previous post “Is Your Life in Default?” for more benchmarks on how to avoid just going along.)
Different makes you less susceptible to dangerous conformity. Make it your standard protocol, and you'll build immunity to sheeple-ness.
* I realize that an assembly of sheep is commonly called a "flock," not a "herd," but either way, we're talking about a group of animals.
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©2020 Greg Webster. All rights reserved.