I Don’t Like Following the Herd

I don’t mean to be difficult.  I don’t set out to be contrary.  I just can’t stand following the herd, mindlessly.  It feels lazy and unintelligent.

There are a number of subjects where people seem to give up critical thinking in favor of knee-jerk, reactionary parroting.  Let’s talk about a few of these things.


Windows 8

There is an amazing amount of mindless hate directed at Windows 8.  It’s true that it started off with some problems, but the level of animosity the operating system received was not in proportion to what it deserved.

“Where’s my Start button?!?  I can’t live without my Start Menu!”

Yes you can.  Seriously, how much time do you spend in your Start menu on Windows 7?  If you’re being completely honest, the answer is: very little, especially after you’ve had the system for a while.  What happens is that you install some applications and some games, and the classic Start menu becomes a zoo of folders, most of which you don’t care about.  And if you’re like me, you forego the Start menu in favor of pinning apps to the Quick Launch.

Even if you can’t live without the classic Start menu, guess what?  You can download an application which gives you a freaking Start menu.  With Update 1, you could boot directly to the Desktop, so Windows 8 can look exactly like Windows 7, if you really want it to.

Most of the hatred directed towards Windows 8 was because a lot of people react to change with fear and hatred.  Unfortunately, a bunch of people started spewing this fear and hatred all at the same time, and like a yawn, it was contagious.  Now, people troll posts with pithy, uneducated statements about the operating system reflexively, even though there have been substantial improvements made to it through simple updates.


Global Warming

This one is going to be a little bit weird, but here goes: I’m skeptical.

I’m not a stupid man.  I’m not saying that it isn’t happening, or that it isn’t caused by humans.

I’m just saying that public opinion suggests that everyone should be freaking out about it, all the time, and I think that is bullshit.

Here’s what we, the average people, should do about Global Warming:

  1. Walk more and drive less
  2. Turn stuff off if it doesn’t need to be on
  3. Clean up after yourself
  4. Vote your conscience
  5. Don’t freak out

Realistically, what else can you do?  Buy an electric car?  That’s probably a good idea, as long as the manufacture of the batteries isn’t as bad for the environment as the emissions from your fossil burner.  Invest in solar and wind?  Sure, if that’s your thing.  Most people I know don’t have the means to invest in anything, but if you’ve got the funds and your conscience dictates it, then do it.

It doesn’t hurt to intelligently move away from fossil fuels.  Just don’t do it blindly.  Do some research.

And be skeptical.  I am not completely convinced that climate change is going on, or that humans have caused it.  Again, I’m not saying it isn’t going on, or that we’re not responsible.  I’m just saying that we’ve discovered that there is methane leaking from the bottom of the ocean.  I’m just saying that California is suffering from a drought, while Burning Man is getting rained out.  I’m just saying that we’re experiencing some of the strangest weather we’ve ever recorded, while at the same time being told that climate change has paused, and that the pause may last for another decade.

I’m saying that there is a LOT of noise, and while I will do what I can to do my part to make the world a better place, I’m not going to freak out.  It won’t do anyone any good, no matter how much the news wants to take a process that takes decades to fit into the 24 hour click cycle.



A lot of people seem to really want to hate on the president these days, and I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s because my memories of George W. Bush are still too vibrant in my mind.  I have legitimate reasons for disliking George W. Bush.  It’s one of those times in my life where it may have looked like I was going with the herd, but really, the herd’s opinion, educated or uneducated as it may have been, coincided with mine.

But here’s something you might not know… I didn’t like Bill Clinton, either!  I detested him, for the mockery that he made of the office he held.  I could not stand that he let his selfishness tarnish the presidency.  At the time, I couldn’t stand how he’d reduced the size of the military as well, being as I was in the Air Force at the time.  I had some reasons to hate Slick Willy.  Admittedly, I was much younger than, and my opinions were not founded entirely on rational thought or research.

I digress.  This section is supposed to be about President Obama.

I think he’s an intelligent and capable man that has been dealt a bad hand.  In addition to all of the pressures of being the first black president, he also had a horrendous economy to deal with, an adversarial congress to continuously fight, a Middle East in constant turmoil, and expectations squared on his shoulders set so high that they were impossible to achieve.  If he’d been born on Krypton, and was capable of walking on water as well as being able to turn water into wine, he might have been able to live up to the expectations.

The expectations were so high, he was given a Nobel Prize before he had a chance to do anything.

Maybe it’s true that Obamacare is a mess.  I don’t actually know.  I haven’t tried to study it, so I don’t have an informed opinion on the merits or flaws of Obamacare.  I do know that millions of Americans are insured now that could not be insured before.  That seems like a good thing.

I also know that Obamacare is based on a plan that Romney put into place.  That makes me think that the people that raised the biggest stink about Obamacare did so because it was from Obama, rather than the merits or faults of the plan.


Final thoughts

Following popular opinion is the antithesis to scientific thought.  Following popular opinion is about giving up critical thinking for doing what everyone else is doing.  It’s laziness.  It’s immaturity.  It’s bowing to peer pressure.

The next time you find yourself falling in step with the public opinion, stop and give a thought to what you’re doing.  It’s only through thoughtfulness that we can stop being sheep and start doing amazing things.  Invention comes from thinking about a problem in a different way, and trying something that no one else has tried before.  Conversely, propagating inequality comes from following the majority, and doing what the everyone else is doing, no matter who it might hurt.

So please.  Be thoughtful and deliberate in your actions, and don’t just go with the herd.