When you walk through the Subway crowds, you surrender to the crowd.  You go at the speed the crowd goes.  You become a herd animal.

Many animals similar to us operate in herds.  There is personal safety from predators when you are in large numbers.

It is no surprise we act this way.  We are constantly taking social measures of ourselves to make sure we are operating within our social bounds – the herd limits.  We adjust ourselves accordingly.  When someone is operating outside the herd, we enact social pressure to bring them in line, or we take group action to stop them.

This mentality provides an effective motivator for advertisers generating claims like: everyone is buying, the most popular product, 9 out of 10 prefer and so on.  The herd pressure is strong.

However, humans can also be predators… it is part of our diets.  We are omnivores.  So we have dual personalities.  Sometimes grazing; sometimes hunting.

Most of us have noticed when we switch personas.  When we are stalking or hunting; or when we are simply following along with the group we happen to be in.

While we generally don’t approve of cannibalism, we do approve of economic predation.   Some societies are more predatory than others..  The rationale is that survival of the “fittest” means making the society stronger by reducing the weakest to servile levels.  However, humans are in that conflict situation – do we unite with the herd or do we prey on the weaker members.

We switch between these two modes.  While you are trudging along in the subway crowd, you can see an occasional person darting around in the crowd, ignoring the crowd mentality to pursue their own goal.

Every herd needs its alphas to lead it somewhere.  The alpha defends its position while ensuring the safety of the entire herd.  In human societies, we switch here too.

Some alphas turn predatory on their own flocks.  That’s where we have a problem with sustainability.  In prehistoric times, the tribe simply rose up and killed the offender.  Now we use exile, prison and other isolation techniques.

So when you are walking along with the crowd, think for a moment how easily it is for you to transition into a follower.  There is safety and danger in that.

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