Can we resist the mob mentality? Seneca, the great Roman thinker, warned us in his life and from his death, that we must resist the measure of the mainstream.

As Seneca, the Roman Stoic who advised treating the body “somewhat strictly,” wrote in a letter: “Avoid whatever is approved of by the mob, and things that are the gift of chance. Whenever circumstance brings some welcome thing your way, stop in suspicion and alarm …They are snares. … we think these things are ours when in fact it is we who are caught. That track leads to precipices; life on that giddy level ends in a fall.”

Why are we so attracted to same-thinking people?

Do we find comfort in tacit agreement?

Are we too scared to strike out against the majority power?

How can we foster independent thought without being crushed by the madding mob?


  1. I am reminded of attending a (not American) football game where it was Italy versus someone else. I was sitting in an area surrounded by Italians and supporters of Italy. My father and I had Italian noisemakers. Sitting in such an area, one can’t help but feel like cheering along, even if one came to the game feeling apathy for the sport.
    It’s almost like the air was charged with the enthusiasm of each person, which collectively made quite a lot of enthusiasm. I think that’s how it generally works.

  2. I suppose that would depend on where I was sitting. Sometimes people get pushed (literally!) into things they don’t want to do, like when you’re on a very crowded subway and the throngs move you inwards.

  3. David!
    That would seem to be it. The way to avoid the mob mentality begins with resisting its measures.

  4. That can be hard, though, Dananjay — because resisting the mob will bring the mob down on you and if there’s no escaping… sometimes it’s better to go along than to be dragged behind.

  5. Gordon! Exactly! In the midst of the mob, you follow the will of the mob or you risk injury or death! I guess one should always try to be on the edge of a mob instead of in the middle of one?

  6. It does seem like cutting the cord between the mob and the individual harms the loner more than the joiner, Gordon. I guess that’s why the mobs are always hankering and hungering!

  7. The better option is staying away from the mob I guess David – if one wants to preserve his/ her own point of view.
    Once we are in it – there is no way to back track.

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