(Updated and reposted from original post of February 10, 2022.)
For those of you who chose not to work in the white collar jobs, inside large buildings with constant climate control and overhead blaring LED or fluorescent lighting, you aren’t missing anything. You are the lucky ones who do not work in the white collar world of corporate life. Typically you don’t have to conform to the mindless “group-think” culture within the walls of the corporate buildings.
You know better.
White collar jobs…
White collar jobs appeal to those who seek high paying jobs. Their reward is to sit in a cubicle all day and go the meetings that someone thought was necessary. They spend all their weekends and free time doing work that couldn’t be finished during the week. And if they do have free time, the money they made is spent on things they don’t need. Or activities to busy themselves just to make themselves feel better.
But they don’t feel satisfied. If they did, the “find your purpose” industry wouldn’t be so lucrative right now.
All the work those white collar jobs do, requires blue collar workers to execute. The men and women who use their hands to put the stuff together. The ones who put things on the store shelf andbuild the racking and displays for the products. They check out your purchases
These are the people who make your cars and toys. The people who are looked down on because they work in factories or manufacturing facilities instead of in pristine environments. And they don’t make a lot of money. They wear grungy clothes suitable to their work. Working in climate controlled buildings isn’t an option. They work in the fields and factories that cause them to freeze or sweat according to the weather.
But these people in the latter category seem to be more content. They are also made of stronger character, even with the rough edges. And they find themselves getting along like a big family. They include those who don’t “fit in”, and reject only those who refuse to do their job. They accept others for who and what they are. Not by any coercion or “team building” exercises that come down from management, either.
The reality of corporate life…
The people in the corporate offices, however, all live in a facade. They dress in clean, often fancy clothes. These people appear to get along with each other, even if on a superficial basis. They are laughing, seeming to get along. And they group together with others who are like themselves.
But if you look closely, there are those who are left in the fringes. They do not fit in with the crowd. These are often targeted as “offenders” by the rest of the employees. They are basically shunned.
I’m talking about those who think differently, process information differently, approach projects or people differently. Not the rude ones who run around with a chip on their shoulders. But the ones who do their work well, but are never allowed to get ahead in the company.
And no amount of “team building” will get them to conform or be included. Even in those little group gatherings, the same people that hang out at the office hang out at these gatherings. They don’t go out of their way to include those who do not “fit in”.
Why? What would cause the rest of the people to reject them? Is it because they are truly different? Maybe they just don’t go want to conform to the way of thinking someone above them dictated. Just because they are told to do so.
They ask too many questions, or by asking questions, make others face their weaknesses?
I’ll give you a personal example. One day in the ad department, we all sat around in a group meeting. We heard the managers tout how they came up with a new tag line for the company.
So, in the meeting, I had the audacity to ask management why we had to change our tag line. The reply was…not very clear. But just that it had to be done. So I asked why? Silence ensued. I clearly wasn’t group thinking here. So I asked something else: “Why couldn’t you just rebrand what was already there instead of changing what the customers already knew was our tag line?”. This time, not only silence, but angry eyebrows were darted across the room to me.
Then we discussed the wonderful ability to email every customer. We would add high speed internet to all the stores and corporate offices. Everyone could do online purchases, etc. So, being the stubborn person that I am, I asked, “But why do we have to?”. The reply was, “Because that is the way the market is going.” So I asked, “Yes, but why does it HAVE to go that way?”. This time, they turned their back on me.
Needless to say, I didn’t make friends that day with management, or many of the group thinkers in the office.
The intrusion of other people’s visions…
I can’t help myself. If it doesn’t make rational sense, why are we doing it? And who is the “They” that seems to determine what we should or shouldn’t do?
Take the audio media transitions over the years. The advertising market pretty much forced us out of vinyl records and into the “new and improved” CD recordings. Then we transitioned to MP3 players. No discs or records to “clutter space”. Everything was conveniently in the palm of your hand…or phone.
But what did that buy us?
Those who are audiophiles realized that the vinyl records produced more realistic sound. Even with the pops and crackles, the music was far better quality than anything the digital industry can do. It was a virtual capture of sound waves on a vinyl disc.
And, as difficult as it is to recapture that lost art, vinyl is coming back. Record players from the old days are finding their way back into the market as well. But the experts in that field were one generation away, and they were either very old, retired, or dead.
The same has happened with 35mm cameras and film versus digital photography. The digital cannot capture the depth of colors, nor what the eye can see.
No matter how hard they try to convince us it is the same as film it is not. Film was able to capture what was seen in a way that digital imagery cannot. (Just try to take a picture of a sunset. How closely does that resemble what you saw with your eye?)
But the experts of the film industry, too, are long gone, and in one generation, their knowledge went with them. There has been a feeble attempt to recreate the products, such as “instant cameras”. But the size, quality, and cost cannot support what was once a thriving industry. The ability to reproduce 8mm video film or 35mm film is not yet able to be reproduced. The knowledge base and equipment is now all but completely lost.
It is recreating a wheel that wasn’t broken in the first place. Now it’s just missing completely.
Advertising to the masses…
Our marketing and advertising industry has done much to discredit old technology. It has virtually destroyed the knowledge of industries that provided quality products.
They have replaced them with inferior quality products. Things like wood that warps and wanes because the quickly growing hybrid trees produce subpar quality wood products. They produce cheaply built toys and office supplies to gain huge profits to the corporations that sell them.
And it does the same with old thoughts and concepts. When any company decides to implement a policy, they get their ideas from somewhere. And they are encouraged to conform to whatever policy the government, media, or society dictates.
The problem is that what they are doing is what everyone tends to do. They want to get more income into their coffers. They don’t want to “offend” anyone (which, in reality, if difficult at best to do, impossible at worst). And they want to stand out as being one of the “good guys” to the governing bodies.
Even at the exxpense of their employees.
What has become of the employee?
Their employees have become a commodity. Anyone who doesn’t think so needs to start their own business for a while. Then work at a corporation or in any industry for a time. They’ll soon see that this world is a microcosm of the society around them. What goes on in there is happening outside there as well.
Losing their job is no big deal to the company. Their policies are considered more important than their people. Even if they make a lot of noise about how they “care” and they help provide “work-life balance”. It’s all words. It doesn’t come from the sincerity of anyone’s heart.
Conformity to the will of others…
Conformity is a very powerful pull. We are social creatures by nature. Our tendency is to try and be liked by as many others as possible. We instinctively know that we all need community to survive. And we know that it will cost us something. Something of ourselves to conform so that we can be part of that community.
But how much of ourselves are we willing to give up? And at what cost? Are we willing to give up our morals? Our beliefs? Our health? Or our understanding of what is objectively true for the sake of a few friends or a job?
How strong are our beliefs when faced with something that is more important to us than those surrounding us? Those who hold the antithesis views to our core values?
Could we, would we, give up our livelihood if the values of the society are pressing us to give up everything we believe? Just to accept a paycheck or a slice of bread?
We, as a society, are now facing this decision on a very personal basis. Corporations are quickly becoming the lapdogs of larger entities. They are enforcing what only a few years ago was considered unthinkable. Any employee who does not give up their own personal values will quickly find themselves on the outskirts of society. And employment.
It is happening all around us. And throughout the world.
Group Think: “…a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group…”www.verywellmind.com/what-is-groupthink-2795213
A study on the power of this type of conformity was done in famous experiments by Asch. He proved that people need to been seen as being a part of the crowd. If people perceived that others around them must know better than they do, they would willingly conform. They would give up their autonomy to the thoughts and actions of those around them.
Even when they knew the crowd was wrong.
It was how the majority of Germans were convinced that the Jews were no longer considered human. The propaganda machine convinced the masses that eliminating them was good for society. Forget the fact that they were human beings like themselves.
And the crowds convinced themselves that the government knew what was best.
We do the same thing in our society. In two years, we have lost our autonomy. We no longer accept people for who they are. Instead, we have, collectively, followed the “experts” who decide what and who is conforming to public policy. It no longer matters if it is for our individual good. It doesn’t matter it endangers the lives of those who refuse to conform. All that matters is conformity itself.
Very few ask questions. Very few buck the opinions of the majority around them. No matter if evidence proves their position, those around them will still steadfastly refuse to see the truth. They are afraid to do otherwise.
It is a form of Group Think, classically so called in Georg Orwell’s “1984” book. And it causes people to do the unthinkable without question.
But being human, there is this thing called a “conscience”. They have to justify their actions and thoughts to conform with those around them are doing the same thing. They hang around others who are upholding beliefs that are antithetical to their own personal core values.
Even when they know it’s wrong.
If you doubt this post, read “https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/conformity-2/ “,The power of conformity: How good people do evil things”.
While it doesn’t directly indicate corporations, it does deal with the psychology used by these corporations.
Corporate life rethink…
Life in the corporation was bad for a long time. But it is becoming increasingly intolerable for many more. An increasing number of especially older workers are finding it hard to resist the desire to abandon ship. Many already are. And their wisdom and experience is. a loss to the marketplace.
Even among the young, there is a restlessness. It is caused by constant conformity to standards that are not their own.
These people are unhappy, and they are not at peace. They are seeking a simpler life. A life that isn’t regulated by rules and policies that don’t make sense. Rules like firing people to keep the profit line even for their shareholders. And then forcing those already overworked employees to carry yet more load.
Work-life-balance is a joke to them. It doesn’t really exist. There isn’t time for it.
It only proves the company lies to them about the worth of their personal life.
It causes employees to turn on each other. They begin pointing out those who don’t agree with them. They accuse others of being “unkind”. And they will undermine someone’s reputation to gain a foothold to rise in up corporate ladder.
Companies which foster this type of employee-company relationship promote laziness and mediocrity. Higher standards of ethics and work ethics is being replace with the mantra of “not hurting someone’s feelings”. Those who put in the effort to do a good job is no longer important.
It is more important how they cow-tow to those who are fragile.
Corporations versus human dignity…
Group think. Conformity. Corporate dictates. Signs plastered on corporate office walls. Logos on literature. Tag lines. Corporate handouts and employee training. Advertising news posts to prove how awesome they are to the community they “serve”.
None of this means anything if the values themselves are nothing but words in movies and books. They need to have just as much value and backing as precious metals behind paper or plastic mediums of exchange.
No. More so. Because this involves the human heart and spirit. And corporations have neither.
All this becomes is a marketing gimic.
By removing the voice of the employees, the companies prove that they are incapable of truly understanding their function. It removes the empowerment of the employees to contribute ideas in how the company is being steered. And it prevents the companies from understanding the customers and communities they serve. Especially when the employees gain feedback from the consumers.
It also removes the trust employees have with their superiors. Why should they try to give feedback if they are being ignored?
Taglines and posting corporate values wheels mean nothing. There has to be an accompanying action that complies to those values.
Talk the walk and gain the trust.
To ignore them will cause these people to buck the system and quit. And society will lost someone of great value. Someone who cannot be easily swayed because someone else or something else decided that they shouldn’t think for themselves.
What should be done…
Let people ask the real questions. It is how we all learn. Let them kick the tires of decisions and mandates from those in powerful positions. It is their right as a human being. Debate creates a better decision making process within every individual. Removing all opposing ideas will only cause those who question, to question all the more.
When the opposition is removed from the paying field, the oppressor show that they are weak. It demonstrates that the argument to conform is a weak one. Especially when those who removed the debate can’t come up with reasonable responses.
They show that they are afraid of anyone who doesn’t agree. So they shut them down.
Let the opposing voices be heard. Stop trying to push someone to be just like everyone else. There are so many times in history when that Group Think mentality was wrong.
Like what happened in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
History showed us they were wrong.
But we never stop to consider why they acted the way they did. Nor do we question what caused them to all fall in line with such an immoral opposition to reason.
Are we doing the same thing? And are corporations pushing us to conform to to their whims? What is the cost? Is it worth the loss of human dignity for the sake of corporate gain?
How can smaller companies compete? What happens to personalized service when they disappear? And what happens to those who don’t follow suit? Will they survive? Will anyone else care?
How about you?
Which category are you in? Are you a conformist, or are you one who is an independent thinker?
Before I left a while back, the amount of indoctrination we were being forced to watch and read was unbelievable. We were told who to accept. What morals were good and bad. How to be more willing to accept the unacceptable. Many lose their jobs when they question the moral dictates of a corporation. Others are forced to apologize when they did nothing intrinsically wrong.
Shortly before I left, I took a course voluntarily through a venue offered to us. It was entitled, “The Power Of Conformity”. It was eye opening. As soon as the opportunity arose, I left that toxic environment for purer air. It will take a long time to shake off the embedded training that infected my mind, but it is coming. Is the loss of a high paycheck worth renewing the mind? Is it worth it to redirect the mind back to a state of reality and non-conformity?
There are things that are priceless:
- Peace of mind
- Peace of heart
- Renewed healing
- Renewed ability to think for oneself
- The freedom to question what is going on
All those gems are worth the pain of harvesting their beauty. It is worth the price of restoring them to their right place inside of yourself.
And aren’t you are worth the cost?