Two common ways of handling a situation are either to do so according to one’s own personal needs and desires with no specific regard to other people, or one can base a decision on how it will be viewed by others. The vast majority of people fall on the side of being worried about what others are saying and thinking. Both good and bad can come from living this way, but it has seemed to remain constant throughout history.
People have a natural desire to belong and fit in with a certain group. Regardless of the group an individual chooses, they almost always have to sacrifice a part of themselves to seem more a part of things. People in this world seem to need companionship and are often too weak to stand alone. As a result, they stand together in whatever group they are best suited for. It is interesting to many people who have stopped to think about this fact. The idea that people live according to how others will perceive them has been established as the rule, not the exception.
The real question now lies in the reasons for this way of life. It was hypothesized by C.S. Lewis that this desire to belong and to fit in is a natural human characteristic. He believed that people have an instinctive drive to belong, in the same sort of way that species reproduce. It is possible that his theory of instinctive necessity is accurate, and humans as a whole are weak and scared when faced with solitude.
The old adage there is safety in numbers” is appropriate in this topic. Often, terrible things happen because people group up and commit unspeakable acts, then take shelter in the numbers of those involved. The Annual Freaknik celebration is the perfect example. Thousands of individuals crowd the streets of Atlanta and pillage the city for a weekend, all the while showing no respect for the laws or the residents of the city. This can be directly related to the issue of people doing things to be a part of the group. If these people were asked individually why they did these terrible things, for the most part, they would respond by saying, “everyone else is doing it.”
This could be translated as I am just trying to be a part of things.” In this particular example, those involved sacrifice any sense of morals or upbringing they might have had. “Everybody is doing it.” This sentence has ruined thousands of lives. It could be the worst four-word combination in the English language.
People have been convinced to begin drug use, drunk driving, cliff jumping, and countless other unwise activities. The reason behind this is clear: the human necessity to fit in and seem cool is often too strong to compete with. A person could have the world and all of its riches, but without someone to share it with, that person would be totally alone. People need each other. This is a fact of the world, and it will never change.
This need is a natural desire that is found everywhere in every person with very few exceptions. It is true that trouble can brew and awful things can happen because of these groups, but the advantages associated far outweigh the costs. These groups that people form between themselves often serve as a shelter for the lonely. For this reason, it is natural for people to go far out of their way if necessary to belong to a particular crowd. As a result, the opinion of others is a crucial part of life.