Furthest Right

Psychology of the Crowd: a Sticky Interdependency

Because of technology, we never have to be alone anymore. And that’s the problem.

The late British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott popularized the phrase “the capacity to be alone” in the 1950s, to describe a pivotal stage of emotional development. Winnicott argued that an adult’s capacity to be alone had its roots in his experience as a baby, learning to function independently while still in the presence of his mother. Yet today we’re seeing this capacity weakened, whether we’re in public places known for contemplation, like churches and libraries, or whether we’re just sitting by ourselves at home, losing the fight to resist answering our BlackBerries (just ask our new president) or checking our laptops for Facebook updates.

“We’ve gone from an American ethic that championed the lone guy on a horseback to an ethic of managing multiple data streams,” says Dalton Conley, a sociology professor at New York University and author of the new book Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety. “It’s very hard for people to unplug and be alone — and be with the one data stream of their mind.”

Boston Times

It started with cities: people are never alone in those.

Soon people felt lonely if there wasn’t freeway noise around them.

But are they really connecting with these others? No: they’re distracting themselves from emptiness.

Better to face the emptiness, see reality, and do something realistic, sensible and inspiring with it… instead of being depressed from denial of emptiness, and consequently, needing narcissistic “uplifting” treats and compensations to stave off the darkness.

Narcissism =
Liberalism =
Self-pity =
Cognitive dissonance =
Compensatory behaviors.

So it’s not surprising that most liberals are neurotic and hover on the edge of criminality.


It’s not liberalism, per se — it’s the sticky dependency relationship of the Crowd, which is the undifferentiated group formed by appealing to the lowest common denominator (fear of exclusion) in order to make a political bloc that keeps the individual feeling “in control” by separating them from external obligation.

Including obligation to pay attention to reality, or unpleasant truths.

Oddly, even the people who were submitting their own “25 Random Things About Me” lists seemed confused by their own participation. In addition to an inordinate number of posts about bacon, nearly every list I encountered included a disclaimer. Amber writes, “I have been tagged multiple times and resisted doing this meme.” My friend Pete asserts at the top of his list, “I never respond to these types of things” — which was my sentiment exactly, when I began to type up my snarky, one-item response to the trend.

That’s when I noticed a new Facebook update on my wall. It was another list, submitted by a woman I’d worked with at a handful of different jobs. I’d known her for years, but somehow never really gotten to know much about her personally. I read her list, and “25 Things About Me” fatigue be damned, I was intrigued. Somehow moved. No. 18 even managed to break my heart. I immediately deleted my own cynical entry with a click of the mouse.

But even the most mundane entries tended to contain a few gems, minimalist narratives I could attach to the blur of faces I’d accumulated in this often paradoxically antisocial networking world we call Facebook.

That’s the thing about “25 Random Things About Me”: Once you stop being annoyed you realize that, at its best, it’s one of the more compelling — and, yes, even oddly inspiring — wastes of time to hit the Web in years.


Liberals — Salon is the head cheerleader for the liberal hipster — love the idea of finding diamonds in the rough, or uplift among life’s ordinary boring stupid stuff.

They do this because they are in the grips of a fundamental negativity that says the basic mechanism of life, conflict and the best rising, is unsociable and should be ignored. As a result, all they have to cheer them up is finding reasons why life isn’t so bad after all.

I prefer to view life as good and wholesome, liberals as neurotic hipsters, and ignore things like “25 Things About Me” which are basically ego-fests for the disillusioned, underachieving, bitter and failed in life.

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