Is there really such a thing as a stupid question? While most of my school years were spent feeling too embarrassed to actually raise my hand in class for fear that I would indeed be the one student in the history of education to ask that “stupid question,” I’d like to ask one now.
“Can I ask a question?”
Seems simple, right? Well, unless you ask something stupid, then not only shouldn’t you have asked, but you’ll suffer the consequences for asking. Suffer? Consequences? Huh? Let’s get to the point.
While my PhD expertise is in cultural anthropology, I appreciate the sociological applications for understanding the tactics used for changing an entire culture. It also requires that no questions be asked. One is called, “social norming.” We’ve used it in law enforcement for decades. Instead of only arresting our way to create compliance, we gain cultural support and allow that wave of enthusiasm to dictate a new normal as we define it.
Catchy slogans like “Arrive Alive, Drive 55,” “Just Say No,” “You Drink, You Drive, You Die,” “Buckle Up,” “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” – sound familiar? They’re not necessarily bad and can be as effective as the clarity of recall they have in your mind right now, but coordinated for advancing control over a population for political purposes, it can be toxic.
“How do you get everyone to buy in?” you might ask. Well, let’s go back to Mr. Sociology and look at what’s called the Diffusion of Innovation Theory. It doesn’t require everyone to buy in to get a wave started. Actually, only 2.5% of people will understand or imagine the idea. These are the innovators who introduce seemingly unthinkable concepts that the other 97.5% scoff at and dismiss as a “stupid question.”
Can you think of 2.5% of people in your circle who often ask, “What about…?” and then the others laugh at, dismiss or ignore? Yep, they are the Innovators among you. Now, exponentially increase that influence into society.
But how can only 2.5% of people change culture? Great question. They don’t. All they need to influence is the next 13.5% called the Early Adopters, and now you have social momentum or social media trending topics. Have you stood in line to buy the iPhone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and so on? Did you understand the intricacies of the dual processors and megapixel improvements with each release, or did you just had to have the newest version? You’re an Early Adopter!
Don’t worry, you’re still not at the breaking point of tipping a cultural revolution, But you’re close! Once the Steve Jobs, or the Bill Gates, or even the AOC’s of this world introduce something so seemingly foreign, there are those who cling to their ideas as if it’s the very fabric of life itself, you’re getting warm. That enthusiasm is like a shoulder wedged against the wall of our current normal.
With enough social sharing of new slogans or cultural ideals through a process called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, the bulk of society begins to accept what the Innovators and Early Adopters have already bought into. The Early Majority, or 34% of the population will do it because they see influencers like actors and athletes doing it, commercials promoting it as something they should be doing and the sense of wanting to assimilate so they are considered in the know.
With this 34%, you now have a social tipping point of an energized 50% who have adopted the new normal. With this pressure from peers, the next 34%, or the Late Majority will conform because they have no choice or simply wish to avoid the criticism or being ostracized by those they see as enlightened now living the new normal. Simply put, these are the sheeple who need to feel like they fit in and comply for themselves and not the social good.
So back to “Can I ask a question?” The remaining 16% of the society are called Lagards. There’s a negative connotation associated with this cultural tailend because this is the group who dare to ask a question. They haven’t lined up, and instead, challenge the cool kids by raising their hand in objection. Not defiance, but objective inquiry. See the distinction?
Yet, once the 84% of society are now moving in a new direction than what was once normal, the 16% face termination, extinction and ridicule as conspiracy theorists. They are smothered by social media hives locked into the tribe-mind. The Laggards, who only want to ask a question are now excluded because they dared to do what we’ve always been encouraged to do – Ask Questions.
Is that the new normal we want? This video collection is an example of both Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon and social norming as dictated by corporate media. Don’t worry, it’s not banned from YouTube (yet) or trying to change your mind about what you believe. I was surprised to see one of my local NOLA channels on here, but in reality, maybe not surprised at all.
I know this is a super long post with a lot of things included, but we’re crossing cultural thresholds at an alarming pace and the reality is that we cannot reverse the effect on population percentages once they’ve achieved capacity if we refrain from asking questions.
Is one of your local news stations included in this collection?
Stay Curious, Scott