OK, first off, let me say that this show is disturbing on many, many levels. It is essentially about how far peer pressure, social compliance, and coercion can take an individual. And in the case of this show, which is basically a social experiment and reality show all in one, it is "pushing" someone off the roof of a building and murdering them.
As many of you know, I am a voracious student of the mind, the subconscious, and our conditioning; and as I watched this show to dissect it to truly understand how a normal human being can reach the level of actually considering killing someone - in 1 hour, a number of things dawned on me - some great lessons for both life and business.
First, is how easily we can be manipulated through social pressure to do things. In fact, the opening scene of the show is a tiny experiment to show how easy it is to manipulate someone just by impersonating an authority figure. A total stranger is persuaded to essentially kidnap a child in minutes because they think a well-rehearsed actor, playing a police officer, is real, so they follow the instructions of the "officer."
It was amazing to see how easily it was for someone to impersonate an authority figure under the guise of an emergency and get someone to comply. The lesson I took from this is how readily we can turn over control of our lives - especially in an instant age where things move so fast. We almost forget to stop and think because our minds are moving non-stop. For me, it highlighted the fact of how important it is to practice and work on our emotional intelligence and control over our emotions - being careful not to let them "just run us," but instead choosing whether we let them dictate our reactions and actions.
The next lesson I took from this tiny little experiment is that we must be healthy skeptics. We must, as Thomas Jefferson said even in his time, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." Now, my point is not so much about religion, but about the fact that we must not do things blindly or out of fear, and get back to using reason in our lives and business pursuits.
Now, granted the show is a total setup for the target person, with every psychological trigger choreographed ahead of time, it does highlight some very important issues with societal pressures. First, the size of social presence has a huge affect. The bigger the crowd doing something, the more likely most people will go along. For a great example on this (besides watching The Push), check out this video of the "Dancing Guy."
The second thing I took away is how much the need to "fit in" for people can blind us to doing the right thing. The thing we know we should do. There are so many times in the episode where you can see the target of the show agonizing over doing what he knows is right and sometimes even vocalizing it...only to cave and go along with crowd.
Lastly, is something we already all know, but maybe don't necessarily think about - when you proceed in a lie, the deeper you go into it leads to a terribly tangled web that is almost impossible to get out of, eats at you, and impairs your judgement. (Well, only if you have a conscience of any kind).
I urge you, if you watch the show, ask yourself at what point you would stop and not continue to follow the crowd.
My biggest takeaways and lessons for life and business were the following:
The biggest lesson? Stand up for yourself and make a stand to do what you know is right no matter which way the herd or lemmings are going.
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