The individual is not ‘far from the madding crowd’, but within.
Being an individual and being part of a crowd are not two different things. They complement each other and are synergistic.
I happen to read this article from The Spectator, “The rise of crowds — A generation scared to do anything alone”. A well-written article laced up with humor and was cheerful throughout. A satirical approach and write up on the British youth who are drawn to the crowds or rather have a yearning to be part of the crowds.
Where is the individual? And where is the individuality gone? are the questions, the author asks throughout. You can find the article here.
This post is not a critique of the article nor I would like to point out any dim areas. I agree with the author and I can relate to him in many ways. At least, I do not belong to the Millennial crowd, age wise.I was happy at the end after reading the article that Individualism is not dead. It is alive and thriving, we are not aware it and have not recognized it.
Being an individual in a crowd is viewed as a difficult thing by many. It is natural for us to assume after seeing the crowds thronging everywhere, that there is no place for the individual and for his own space. Gone are those days, when we used to go out all alone into the mountains for a trek. The adventures people had when they ventured into the unknown. Clearly, there is a generation gap.
The younger generation is more than happy being part of a crowded social media space or in one of those crowded beach festivals. Leave the mountains, they cannot even spend 2 hours without meddling their fingers on their smartphones. The just want to respond and push a “like”! Clearly, there is no more discovery. We are all led by others.
There is a clear underlying current to this madness. It is not because of the end of industrialization, where the older generation worked in silos in factories and never networked and because of that, the younger prefer to be together. There is no magic wand to give us that clarity. But one thing is happening. By being part of the crowd, we are evolving as individuals and we are evolving together as a human species.
Take the office crowd, for example, everybody is happy collaborating at least on the surface. Corporate social media tools encourage and facilitate employees to collaborate. The secret, as it is often said: even though you are part of a group or in this case the office crowd, you just have to do your part. You contribute to the process, however small it might be. You might be a cog in the wheel, but your contribution is essential.
With the advent of the networking technology and with its widespread usage, the millennial have taken this collaborative mindset as their own. The adage, coined by Aristotle, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ works well to express this.
You might be a nerd, a geek or a manager in a typical office. You might have different thought patterns, work styles, and personal characteristics and yet, you all work together and collaborate with each other.
A classic celebration of individuality.
You still express your individuality, even though you are part of a crowd. In fact, your individuality is desired and required. There are many benefits of being part of a crowd. Access to privileged and private information is just one among many others.
Perhaps, our yearning to be part of the crowd is quite natural and evolutionary. Humans are social animals. We have a social brain.
Our social brain is responsible for who we are today, as a species.
Let me present an analogy. The human body has about 50 trillion human cells.
50 trillion human cells, is a quite a crowd, isn’t it?
The human cells have an intelligent crowd behavior. They are self-organizing and continuously evolving.
Individual cells talk to each other, they send signals to our brains, they regulate our thinking patterns, they have an information storage mechanism, they help other individual cells to evolve and help in removing the harmful cells.
The human cells are so innate to us. Perhaps, we as a human crowd of 7 billion people have got something to learn from them.
Being part of a crowd is natural for us. Our individuality is intact. A desirable trait is that we need to be an individual first before we are even part of a crowd.
We stand to gain a lot by being part of a crowd. It boosts our morale. It gives us a sense of identity and a purpose that we are all part of something more bigger, productive and better.
Thanks for reading!