“They play it safe. They are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups; less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become; afraid to respect the individual. A single person within their circumstance can move one to change, to love herself, to evolve.”
These are the powerful words Erykah Badu says in her new video, as her lifeless, completely naked body lies on the concrete, after being assassinated for expressing her individuality.
There has been plenty of buzz about the neo-soul artist’s newest music video “Window Seat.”
Most of the talk is because she gets completely naked in public; but much of the viewing audience has overlooked the very powerful message she is sending.
Badu said she is trying to express that we as a society have been brainwashed. We are constantly bombarded with images of how we should look; how much we should weigh; what we should wear; what music we should listen to and who we should love. This mentality falls into a concept called groupthink first identified by psychologist Irving Janis in 1972.
Groupthink is the type of thought exhibited by group members, who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus by eliminating individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. Members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking to avoid being seen as foolish; or out of a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group.
According to Janis, groupthink causes groups to make faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.
Everyday youth across the country are bullied (a symptom of groupthink) for being different, and sometimes for no reason at all. Some cases are so severe that they end in suicide such as Phoebe Prince (15), Carl Walker Hoover (11), Jaheem Hererra (11) and Jeremiah Lassiter (15), who have all taken their lives within the last year because of tireless bullying.
Groupthink also means that as time progresses, we put less and less emphasis on being yourself and embracing your individuality. In fact, many youth are afraid to embrace their sexuality, their race, their sexual orientation, their style, and/or their religion for fear of being persecuted, ridiculed and ostracized.
Janis believes groupthink is dangerous; and the fact that we are so petrified of each others’ differences, opinions and lifestyles that we could kill one another is a tragedy.
Why do we wait for Pharell, Lupe Fiasco and the New Boyz to tell us that it is okay to wear skinny jeans? Why is having a huge behind a problem, until Jennifer Lopez makes it an asset? Why was being gay kept on the “down-low” until people everywhere began to come out of the closet?
Our generation lives by trend; terrified of ever being the first to make a move because of apprehension about being stuck out on a limb alone. We as a generation need to become the first to embrace who we are. Stop waiting for the next man to green-light your life.
“We are so accustomed to disguising ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves,” says French author Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld.