Sunny Side Up: Taking the Plunge

Different academic fields have tried to quantify the notion of herd behavior to varying degrees of success. In elementary biology, there’s the idea of herd effects, while the field of psychology has coined terms such as groupthinking. In the end, however, the concept of herd behavior is a fundamental part of our human nature—it reflects our desire as individuals to “conform,” and to “do what others are doing.”

There’s nothing special in the high school atmosphere that prevents its members from falling prey to mass psychological effects. At the high school level, we have an aggregate collection of individuals that, down to its collective personalities, seems to act as nothing more than members of different groups. That is, while students like to think they enjoy the freedom of “choice,” they spend most of their time trying to find out what their friends are doing in order to jump on the bandwagon. Everybody, be they a freshman, sophomore, junior or even a soon-to-be-freshman senior, is consulting a list of ever-growing options and choosing to do what their ever-important friends are doing, not knowing that many times their friends are relying on them for their own opinions.

So in the end, the high school decision making process is a massive clumped mess, similar to a game of Katamari Damacy, where small things clump together to form an unstoppable juggernaut that eventually manages to pick up everything else. High school is where one unique idea picks up stragglers left and right until it finally gains enough steam to become the main stream. It is important for students to follow their friends’ and parents’ advice, but it is also important for all of us to take some chances and try some new things.

So if you do have an idea, a feeling or a desire to try something, go out on a limb and take the plunge. Try that something that you’ve always wanted to do—give literature a shot, try a new sport or that new club you’ve always wanted to join. Consider becoming a peer tutor, check out the summer programs or maybe even get a job—do what your heart (and what you yourself) personally want to do. Your friends will still be your friends at the end of the day, and you very might well walk away with a unique story to tell.