Chapter: If fifty million people say something foolish, it is still foolish – social proof.
This chapter is a really interesting chapter, because the author did not choose to go for social beliefs, nor did he go against it, but rather, he picked a neutral stance in viewing social behaviours. In Hong Kong, you might have heard of the infamous Occupy Central or Mong Kok Riot (a.k.a. The Umbrella Revolution). It is quite appalling to know that many teenagers and adults find the action of throwing bricks towards the police as a reasonable or sane act. In their defence, people usually do something extreme, violent, and something that they will regret under an overexciting or rioting condition. Every one will get hyped up, but it’s the fact that some of them still find themselves a hero or a revolutionary symbol that frightens me. They rationalise their actions without considering any consequences or damage they might have done to the society in the long run. When thousands of people do the same thing (i.e. throwing bricks towards the police and setting things on fire, aka being a mob), it doesn’t change the fact that it indeed is nowhere correct, nor is there space for them rationalise or justify such actions. We often believe in something that we see, or the society wants us to see, instead of thinking with our own personal judgment. Yet, we can hardly be blamed, because under peer pressure, or social pressure, you don’t really have a choice. Well, this is what I am gonna say to you all, you always have a choice, but it’s the consequence and the result that you are unsure of if you could bear. Imagine having fifty friends who bully others, and one day they ‘ask’ you to join them with their ‘entertainment’, what would you say? You might think you don’t really have a choice, because you will lose your friends with a simple ‘no’, but I think you do have a choice. Saying no is your option, it’s your choice, and no one is forcing you to say so, not even the intangible peer pressure. All I know for sure is that you are unsure if you could bear what happens in the future without fifty friends standing by your side. You couldn’t accept or bear the sudden change to your life. If you want to be the well-educated person out there in the society full of evilness, I’ll say what the author is trying to say, be the person who thinks clearly and objectively, and do not always follow the social flow.
“If fifty million people say something foolish, it is still foolish”
– W. Somerset Maugham