I don’t consume any of the carbonated malt drinks. I discovered very early on that I didn’t like them. Not for any health or prejudiced reasons, I just didn’t (and still don’t) like the bitter aftertaste. I tried to like them. I felt I was weird because everyone (or at least everyone I knew) loved malt drinks. It is the preference at parties and many other functions as many believe it is a better option to other lower priced carbonated soft drinks. I have been at get-togethers where it was the only drink served and I had to pass on it, but not without escaping the curious stares of fellow attendees some of whom would ask why I wasn’t having it, wondering if it had to do with some weight loss program. My reply has always been the same – ‘No, it has nothing to do with a diet plan. I just don’t like the taste.’ I have come to accept it and have long since stopped trying to force myself to drink it.
In a similar manner, I am not a fan of some epic fantasy movies. A good example is the highly rated ‘Lord of the Rings’ which I gave up on when I found that I always ended up dozing off on the several occasions that I tried to watch it. Up till today I haven’t seen the first part till the end let alone the other two installments of the series. The same applies to the rave of the moment – ‘Game of Thrones.’ I don’t understand all the fuss about the movie! I was very curious about it and really tried to follow and enjoy it because of all the rave reviews, awards and nominations it garnered, but I had to admit to myself along the line that it just wasn’t my thing. Let’s just say I prefer movies that pique my interest in other ways.
As mundane as the examples above may appear, it is a reflection of what happens in more defining areas of our lives. Many times, we are almost apologetic about our peculiarity and preferences in certain situations and circumstances. There is the need to feel accepted by others and as such a tendency to jump on the bandwagon of what is trending or generally acceptable. The only reason why I tried to compel myself to like malt drinks willy-nilly was because everyone around me seemed to enjoy it, and even though there are a couple of other foods I have never liked too, for some reason the ‘malt issue’ was the one that bothered me a little. It’s even more pronounced in bigger issues like a differing opinion on a controversial topic and general perspective to life. Many times we are subconsciously pressured into adopting popular beliefs as ours, even when that niggling feeling that tugs at our heart strings convicts us about not being true to ourselves.
A typical example of the bandwagon mentality is the old Latin proverb ‘Vox populi, vox dei’ which literally translates as ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God.’ We are quick to chant it when expressing solidarity. In a bid to get the attention of people in authority, we proclaim that the voice of the people is the voice of God. This is at best partly true and at worst the erroneous postulation of a philosophy craving individual’s ignorance which could be tantamount to blasphemy. The voice of the people isn’t necessarily the voice of God. How dare we equate the way an angry mob reasons to the manner of thinking of the supreme being? God’s ways are not our ways, therefore it is logical to assume that our views would most likely not be his. This is aptly captured in the words of American politician, Alexander Hamilton who said ‘The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.’
Many people are fickle minded. Once a line of thought or course of action is popular, most people are likely to support it rather than take a lone stance even if they are convinced otherwise in their heart of hearts. The lure of belonging to a group who think the same way is usually too great to be passed up for the high but lonely road that the non conformist often finds himself. We see it everyday and in every aspect of our lives. A line of business appears to be lucrative and people go into it without performing due diligence. Time was when everyone went into sachet water business because it was reportedly profitable. It didn’t matter that they would end up bagging untreated well water as ‘pure water.’ After the last elections, many politicians defected from the PDP to the APC simply because the latter are now the ruling party and they believe their selfish interests will be better served there.
‘Going with the flow’ may not seem like such a big deal (after all it is often said that if you can’t beat them, you join them) except that the one who is always swayed by the crowd will in a matter of time lose himself completely in it. We lose our individuality and uniqueness and consequently deprive the world of something special when we trade our distinct qualities for the short lived solace that the bandwagon offers.