Have you ever played any of those lemmings games on your computer or smartphone? If not, I’m sure you know the trope about lemmings following each other to their doom over a cliff.
As the term relates to humans, Dictionary.com defines a lemming as “a person who follows the will of others, especially in a mass movement, and heads straight into a situation or circumstance that is dangerous, stupid, or destructive.”
This is a trap many of us have fallen into from time to time, often not even realizing we are doing it. The wonderful thing about the last few years and the access we now have to social media is that it has really opened our eyes to how we are being led around by the nose by those in charge. We can see the whole scam for what it is.
But, it’s still easy to fall back into old habits and we have to constantly be checking in with ourselves to make sure we aren’t blindly following along. Here are a few common ways you can find yourself becoming a lemming again, and how to snap yourself back out of it.
Don’t Follow the Crowd
When I played soccer, one of my core tenants was that if I looked around and saw a bunch of my fellow teammates around me, I was in the wrong spot and I needed to get out of there. I have found that a similar approach is useful in everyday life.
When everyone is all running the same way, you need to stop dead in your tracks, look around, and think if you are making a wise decision or just following the crowd. It may be time to turn around and head the opposite direction.
This could ring true for immigration – if a country is the new “it” place to go, it might be wise to look at your other options.
This could ring true for your career – if your chosen field is flooded with tons of people with little differentiation, you either need to figure out how to stand out from the crowd or consider doing something else.
This could even ring true for your opinions – not that you are necessarily wrong if you find yourself in the majority, but it’s a good idea to take stock of the situation and just make sure you aren’t blindly following what others are doing.
By the time the majority is doing the same thing, that thing has usually jumped the shark, so to speak. Being a contrarian is sometimes very unpopular, but it can pay to get ahead of trends and not just be one of the crowd.
Don’t Blindly Follow the “Experts”
I read something very interesting on Twitter by an account I follow called Ethical Skeptic. He said:
“In those places where direct observation is absent, experts will abound… No more poseurs. The stakeholder/sufferer/observer… is the expert.”
So-called “experts”, just like any other human, are not immune to acting out of personal interest and biases. It is up to you, at the end of the day, as the person in charge of your life, to make up your own mind about things that affect you and your family.
Ultimately, it is you who will benefit or suffer as a result of your actions, right? So don’t contract out your thinking to people who have no stake in the game. Do your own research (gasp!!) and determine what is right based on your conclusions.
You are the captain of your ship, after all, so make sure you act like it. Don’t outsource your thinking to anyone, even the “experts”.
Beware of “Doom Scrolling”
I find myself doing this on X sometimes. I can literally scroll endlessly, constantly learning more about the horrible things going on in my country and around the world. Good news is few and far between. Next thing I know, not only have I sat there on my butt for waaaay too long mindlessly scrolling, but now I also feel depressed and anxious because of it. This definitely does not put me in the best mindset for interacting with people in real life and going about my daily tasks.
Excessive social media use has been shown to negatively affect mental health. Especially when it feels like all the news is bad! You’d almost think it was by design…
Regardless, it is incumbent on each of us to protect our mental health and avoid falling into the depression trap that can come from consuming too much negativity on social media. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Turn off notifications
- Set time limits
- Put away your phone
- Delete social media apps
With everything the world is throwing at us these days, it is easy to become a lemming stuck in a doom loop. So you are going to need to put in the work to stay positive and keep your head screwed on properly. Using some or all of the tactics above is a great way to ensure you spend less time on social media and put a stop to the doom scrolling.
Beware the Cult of Personality
It’s easy to feel excited when a politician or other public figure seems to be speaking your language. When you feel like they are standing up for you, you generally like what they have to say, and they seem to believe in what you believe in.
You see this now a lot with figures like Tucker Carlson, RFK Jr, and, here in Canada, Pierre Poilievre. Coming through the pandemic and even through the last decade, it was easy to feel like Public Enemy #1 if you were someone who wasn’t buying what the establishment was selling. So, it’s both relieving and vindicating to have someone in a position of influence that agrees with you on key issues.
Enjoy what they have to say, but don’t subscribe to any cults of personality just because they are on “your side”. You don’t want to take these figures on as your new moral compass or as the basis for your personal opinions. Stay critical, look at information from all sides, and form your own opinions.
Otherwise, you are still being a lemming, just off a different cliff.
Chart Your Own Course in 2024
As my parents and I complained about the state of things in Canada over the Christmas holidays, we discussed the corruption, over-taxation, and many other social and political issues gripping the country. We discussed how there is not much of a future here for today’s kids.
The solution from “normies” who follow the experts? Well, there wasn’t one. They think it’s bad everywhere, hence we should just sit here and take it and not go in search of a better future for our children.
I am always shocked that anyone thinks that I, as a parent, should literally do nothing (aside from being a good little taxpayer investing in mutual funds at one of the Big 5 banks) to build a better future for my kids. It was just a couple short generations ago that people picked up and left their home countries without a penny to their name in search of a better future for their family. Why are people so averse to that now?
But, you know what? I’m okay with that. Because it means that for both myself and for all of you reading this, we are way ahead of the curve in seeking out alternate solutions. And that puts us in a great position to be “in before it’s cool”. Because when things get bad enough, whatever that means, all the people who think we are nuts for pursuing our Plan Bs will be wishing they had been more willing to break free from the crowd.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t take them going over the cliff with the rest of the lemmings to realize it.
Are you ready to chart your own course for 2024? Then you definitely need to subscribe to Escape Artist Insiders magazine. Packed with actionable information, you will feel both empowered and inspired to take your future into your own hands and build your Plan B. Break free from the crowd – subscribe today!
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