the limbic implications of why we care what others think

Or, “A Brief Word on the Herd”

You’d think, what with all that we don’t know, the meaning of life, how we got here, God or no god, and all of the complex mysteries of the universe, that we – none of us – would care what anyone else thought here on Planet Earth.  You wouldn’t think that one of our greatest fears would be social exclusion and mockery.  Yet, there it is.  Such are the tragedies of the herd animal.  The lead goose changes direction of the whole flock.  Or a pride, or a pack.  But most particularly the herd, which we most closely resemble.  To be called “a wierdo”  – imagine!  “He (or she) is strange.”  And though you may think, Oh I don’t care about that, what other people think – yes, you do.

Now, you may not find the same words or exclusions objectionable.  You may think weird is cool, or that nonconformity is the jazz.  But notice you’ll always have some support.  You never totally go it alone.  We’re not made that way.  It’s built deeply within us, these limbic terrors of being shunned by the herd, where we would be far less protected and open to predatory attack.  Don’t leave me behind on the Plains with this cracked knee!  I’m wide open out here! But that is the mentality of the herd – to preserve its greatest numbers as a means of survival.  Herd members will try to prevent the harm of one of its own, and will mourn the loss if one falls.  But if there is a chance of the tainted one taking down any more of them, the herd will move on.  Tough break for the guy there in the open plains with the cracked knee.  But this same thing is going on if you feel the herd has swept past you.  If you didn’t get invited to the prom.  If a company party is happening without you.  If you got separated from your touring group.  And so on.  You’ll have different kinds of thoughts about it, but at base, you are that wounded or sick one left behind, with the low, skulking scavengers closing in.

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