Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Herd Theory: When to Follow and When to Lead

My bestfriend and I used to spend countless happy hours at the water fountain on campus contemplating what we thought was our 'herd theory.' We marvelled at the seemingly endless capacity of our fellow medical colleagues to  just follow the herd and stick with the crowd.

There is a total reliance among university students on word of mouth. They follow in the footsteps of those who came before them: which 'notes' to study from, which private lessons to take, whether to skip class and not give a damn or attempt to bribe to bribe the person in charge of attendance. Do you know why they do it? They are not necessarily dumb or uncreative. They do it because they know it works.
There is no room for textbook reading, note-taking, or even deducing facts from information. There is no room to try to be different, or approach things differently. If you want success, you have to follow the herd.

This is by no means applicable only to medical students. This scenario is the basis for our whole 'higher' education system. And, of course, it goes beyond education. You are also expected to follow the herd as you move on with your life. If you want to be accepted by society, you have to live as they do, marry whom they approve of, and follow the career path laid out in front of you.

Don't believe me? Just look at anyone who wants to get married to someone out of the norm. It is considered ok for Egyptian men to marry 'foreigners' as long as of course they are white. What if one decides to marry a far Easten/Asian, or a black woman? What about Egyptian gals?  Marriage Herd theories here allow them only to marry younger Egyptian men: marrying a guy from another culture--even if Muslim-- is generally not acceptable, neither is marrying a younger guy.

I am not claiming this phenomenon to be purely Egyptian, au contraire. It is charateristic of the human condition: straying away from the pack is dangerous for the pack, therefore, it is frowned upon.

But honestly, who cares about the pack??? Following the herd sure is a lot easier than exploring the undiscovered paths out there in life. But you know what? It's a lot less fun; and less rewarding. Happiness and achievements stem from putting yourself in challenging situations and conquering that challenge, and ,again, conquering INACTION.

So next time you want to stray away from the herd (make a wild career leap or  try out something new) by all means do so. The world is a better place because of those who innovate, not those who copy.
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