Monday, July 7, 2014

The Group

Countless things have changed about America from the first July Fourth to the one that just went by. But one thing remains constant: the Group is the most powerful force going.

99% of the nation’s wealth is controlled by the top 1%, the middle class is evaporating, a NY Yankees ticket is $900.00, and we have a black guy in the White House, but when eight housewives get together and decide they want something a certain way, you better believe that’s how it’s happening. Look no further than the Thompson Hill Casino Project. Here you have the Hard Rock Franchise trying to anchor a multi-million dollar construction that would turn East Greenbush into a national destination spot, but a handful of home owners have tied themselves to a tree, and this Hard Rock bid is going bye-bye, bet your bottom dollar.

It’s not just casino constructions though. Think about teachers and school employees. If one community member doesn't like something, and that community member gets a group of his/her friends to follow lock-step, it’s checkout time for the offending teacher or school official. You see it in the news constantly. Remember the Bullied Bus Driver? People got together and raised her $400,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Disney because some fifth grader called her fat. There truly is an unbreakable strength in numbers and some things never change.

Why are we so petrified of the almighty group? Look at the fiasco in North Adams over the closing of the Regional Hospital. It made absolutely no sense (or cents) to keep that facility operational, but enough people griped and complained and carried on, and they’re gonna find a way to keep it going, I’m telling you. Does this fear begin in grade school when staying aligned with the popular pack is the surest bet for personal/social survival? We feel empowered when we’re in a group vs. being alone, and when a group comes up against us, we feel that same feeling in reverse. Am I onto something? Facebook is such a scary tool in today’s culture, because you could truly accomplish anything if you mobilize enough people, and what better place to rally the knuckleheads around a cause?

In some cases the power of a group is a good thing, but so often it’s a dangerous deterrent to progress, and here’s why: People are sheep. The same way they picked on Little Timmy in third grade because the cool kids were doing it, they’ll raise fists to fight a casino or get a teacher terminated. They’re just doing it to do it. Was that ever-more obvious than that nonsensical Occupy Movement? They literally could not verbalize why they’d halted their individual lives and gathered. But thousands and thousands blindly/sheepishly went along with the protest.

America is the greatest country in the history of the world, and it’s fantastic that the Group still has serious weight against the wealth and raised Yankees rates. Suburban mom with her arms crossed and a look of disdain can stop a speeding bullet on the spot. But before we storm the Capitol Building to protest Common Core Standards or whatever else is buzz-worthy, let’s make sure we know the pros and cons of said issue. Fighting this fight (or any fight) because Helen from across the road said so is not good enough.

The power players in this country know all about appeasing the Group. Everything in this country is marketed to target the masses, and it works. NASCAR is the most watched sport in America. Justin Beiber is worth 200 million dollars. The Kardashians still get 3 million viewers a night. If you watch the Kardashians, I don't want you spearheading any major movements. And maybe that's the scariest part about the Group Dynamic. Smart people can mold and manipulate them into fighting the wrong fight or buying into the wrong side. Look at the epic saga this country turned Donald Sterling into. Oh my God, the outrage. They destroyed a man's name and his business because he said black guys on a tape.

ESPN's Colin Cowherd said it best. He talked about being in sports radio for twenty years, but admitted if a group of listeners got irritated or offended by something he said on-air, even if those listeners misunderstood what he'd said and why, his ESPN career would be over. And he's right. God Bless America.

Brian Huba

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