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Let’s Explore The Ironic Relationship Between Free Thinkers and Groupthink

Let’s Explore The Ironic Relationship Between Free Thinkers and Groupthink

No matter who you are in this world, we all have a desire to believe in something real. I recently got caught up in a conversation with #ChakraAlignedTwitter about the Netflix documentary, Wild, Wild Country and their dashed perceptions of Bhagwan Rajneesh, or Osho, as he is more commonly known.

But, the conversation was not about the ways that the Rajneeshi infiltrated the town, forced their lifestyles on the residents, or engaged in shady business practices- it was about the power of a spiritual giant becoming increasingly weakened by his (very) human shortcomings.

Let’s start with three working definitions. Free spirits are independent or uninhibited people, while free thinkers are people who reject accepted opinions, especially those concerning religious beliefs. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire or harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

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Free thinkers do not believe that they are weak in will or are able to be swayed towards a popular consensus. So, how do they all end up finding each other to form a large group of free thinkers who ultimately think and move in the exact same way? I first learned of Osho from Black, spiritual creatives who were so enamored with the idea of a spiritual guru engaging in carnal pleasures, but still living in a place of enlightenment. It wasn’t so much that they put off following any sort of moral code or religious beliefs, they just wanted to hold more autonomy over what brought them personal freedom. And, in the search for setting aside popular notions, they slowly were adopting the worldview of spiritual leaders that they wanted to emulate. As someone whose spirituality is deeply rooted in Christian ideology, I understand and receive that on many levels.

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Let’s even consider Kanye for a moment- everyone who respects him as a open-minded creative who is music’s second coming (Yeezus) would also purport themselves as free-thinkers. But, even in his quest to be so out-of-the-box original, he still ends up creating a string of followers and chasing after unpopular opinions (Tr***) by aligning with other folks that he also believes to be free thinkers. And, truthfully, there are some of us who are openly rejecting his opinions right now that will end up agreeing with him in the future.

I know that sounds insane, but I want you to think about how often people named his ideas as creative genius.

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And, this is where I believe groupthink creeps in. We are so passionate about our open minds that anyone who rejects them is behind. Base-minded. Chained. So, we only align ourselves with people who accept our trains of thought because “they get us”. And, then, slowly, all of the singular melodies we once sang to now become one, indistinguishable beat of freed thought and freed minds.

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And, then, I thought to myself-

How do the freest among us end up believing in other free people to the point of spiritual reverence?

And does that, in any way, make them less free?

So, I’m just going to pose that question to you now. Are you a free thinker? If so, in what ways have your ideas been lifted to the point where you are comfortable labeling yourself as such?

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