You can relax: this post isn’t going to be about celebrities and the like.

For some reason, we people, being social creatures, adjust to being in different groups of people by emulating and acting just like them, hoping to gain their favor by taking their shape. We do this (I’m guilty myself, though it happens unconsciously), also, to avoid being ostracized by the collective for “being different”, so we do our best to do it. And these groups go by another name: cliques, where the group’s members homogeneity is so pervasive that it seems to ooze through their veins, making the members virtually indistinguishable from one another from the view of an outsider.

Why do so many people who act the same, think the same, and look the same cling together? Because they probably feel like they’re able to validate their own opinions and beliefs, since they might think of themselves as the only “sane” person in the room (or universe). Or worse, maybe they’re not sure about their beliefs and cling to their clique like it’s a life raft, trying to hold onto beliefs that they suspect are false, whether they actually are “wrong” or not. The clique tends to continually support their groups actions/beliefs, and, as such, they tend to shun the other cliques, who may act or dress or think in a different way.

But, what happens when a a member of the groups becomes aware of an increasingly dogmatic and intolerant clique? They try to defect, but may not be able to because of the pressure from inside the group, who appear to be rational, kind people to those inside the group because of their exclusive and specialized nature. People who become sucked in to the group (especially “newbies” to “well-established” groups) feel pressured to stay within the group, and when eventually, the group has more power in their own minds than they themselves do. They start to think their thinking’s wrong, and start self-destructing because they come to the realization that their “friends”, those in their group, will dislike them and cast them out should they have a different view than the group at large.

Moreover, committing to a such a like-minded group erases all traces of self-esteem and, potentially, tolerance for other viewpoints. Being in a group of such like-minded folks makes everyone else’s views seem radical in comparison, which heightens tensions between groups as they get into a race to see which side can look more ignorant. I mean, if you need proof of this, look at the situation in Israel. Or the old Protestant-Catholic rivalry. Hardcore leftists vs. evangelical neoconservatives.

All over the place, in high school, college, the workplace, religion, and politics, this “showbiz” exists. The groups cling together and become intolerant of other people’s views, even if someone within their own group voices it.

  1. Well written and topical…my son and I were discussing this the other day. My husband and I worked in an Anglican Church for eight years and left because the vicar decided to spend around two million dollars of the church’s investments on luxurious staff housing and opposite that housing was a park where many homeless slept.

    The money was mostly left to the church by parishioners when they died and we felt that it was a poor use of that money but mostly we were astounded that nobody inside the church tried to see how people outside the church would see it. In fact when opposition to the building work was published in the local paper the vicar manipulated people into supporting him publicly. You know the …I am doing this for the greater good and they do not understand me etc

    When we resigned the vicar twisted everything we said and made it seem that we were leaving for another personal reason rather than standing up for our beliefs about misuse of funds and also the fact that the church did absolutely nothing for the homeless or anybody outside the church clique.

    Another more recent occurrence was when my son and especially myself were attacked for simply stating our opinion and concern about someone’s behaviour online…this has happened numerous times and I believe the internet is actually emboldening this behaviour. Perhaps the people who go along with the pack or like to be in a clique find a special place online …they have their fellow members of the clique who will defend them regardless of truth or decency and may not have that in life off line.

    I find your use of the title showbiz very insightful because that is what this is for these people…their moment in the spotlight and heaven help anyone who tries to take that spotlight away from them.

  2. i’d leave a clique when i don’t feel welcomed. at work, there’s a group of people who would always ask me out for lunch, but hardly talk to me once i do. (because they’re speaking in another language with their friends, see.) they show gestures of welcoming me to the group (inviting me for lunch) but once there i often feel invisible. (i sometimes chip in when the rare times they speak in english, but eventually go back to my book when they return to chinese.) so i stopped going for lunch with them, but i don’t hate them for that or anything.

    i think people with disagreeing viewpoints can remain in a clique, if they show tolerance and not forcing their viewpoints on other members of the group. people group together because they have things (notice the plural) in common, but often leave because of one thing in uncommon. the one leaving would feel that they were wronged by the group, but one hand can’t clap. sometimes the one cannot stay in a group because of the way they handled the situation too.

    i’m not speaking theoretically because i have been that ‘one’ person who leaves a group a few times in my life, and looking back, i should’ve approached the situation better. but then again, if i approached in better, i wouldn’t be leaving in the first place, would i?

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