As a kid, I’m wiling to bet that you probably tried using social proof as an argument on many occasions.
If your parents ever told you that you weren’t allowed to do something, did you come back with the argument “But everyone else is doing it”? Whether you knew it or not, by using that argument, you were actually trying to use social proof to prove that what you wanted to do was actually OK.
Of course, if your parents were anything like mine, they actually had a good understanding of just how negative social proof can be. You probably got a typical response that went something like this; “If everyone else was jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?”. Your parents made a good point. But more on that later.
First, let me explain what social proof is, and why you should avoid becoming a victim of it.
What Is Social Proof
Social proof could be described as a sheep mentality. When we don’t know what to do or how to act, we often look to see what other people are doing, and simply follow their lead. The underlying assumption is that other people somehow possess more knowledge or skill than we do.
The problem lies in the word assumption.
Do we really have any sort of proof that other people know better than we do? I’m willing to bet that those ‘other people’ are just doing what they saw somebody else do. Hence the sheep analogy. Everyone is following everyone else just like a herd of sheep.
In a lot of ways, following the herd is an easy thing to become a victim of. If you do what everyone else does, you fit in. Nobody looks at you funny, and nobody judges you. It appears to be a safe way to live you life. Although, appearances can be deceiving.
Social proof could actually be holding you back from becoming a successful, happy person. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Examples of How Social Proof Can Harm You
1. How about these sage words of advice; “Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a good job”. This is what most people try to do right? The problem with this mentality is that most people end up in jobs they hate. They’re not following their passion and they’re likely preventing themselves from enjoying the type of success they would like.
Let me ask you, how many people with jobs do you know that are both as happy and successful as they would like to be? Chances are that they’re struggling financially, they’re stressed out from their workload and worried about losing their jobs.
If you want to be more and have more than everyone else, you have to do things differently than everyone else.
2. Diet. Did you know that the acronym for the standard American diet is SAD? There’s a good reason for this. Most of us are eating nutrient deficient foods that are brimming with fats and sugars. Then we wonder why we’re overweight, sick, and tired.
Again, the crowd is wrong. Just because everyone else is eating a horrible diet, it doesn’t mean you should too. If you want to be healthy and strong, dare to be different and do what you know is right, not what everyone else is doing.
Follow Your Parents Advice – Live Consciously
If you want to avoid becoming a victim of social proof, you should start by becoming conscious of your daily habits. Start examining the things you do on a daily basis and ask yourself if they are helping you, or harming you.
- are the foods your eating going to give you the health and vitality you want?
- are you taking the actions required to bring you the success you want, or are you using your free time to watch television like everyone else?
- do you get pulled into sessions of complaint with friends and coworkers, or are you consciously choosing to be different and have a positive attitude instead?
These are just a couple of examples to get you thinking.
Follow your parents’ advice. Don’t jump of the same cliff as everyone else, forge a new path instead.
Ask yourself if following the herd is going to bring you the success, happiness, health, and relationships you want in life. If not, what could you start doing instead that will start moving you in the direction you want to go?