Why Do People Jump on the Bandwagon Instead of Thinking for Themselves?

Pokemon Go. Haven't heard of it? Really? Just kidding. Of course you have!

Even if you don't have kids, but you watch the news or are in touch with anything going on in the world, you at least know what it is. But you may not know exactly how it works. Basically, it's a location-based/virtual game where people wander around and catch Pokemon characters for points.

But don't you wonder how it got so popular so fast? I mean, it only debuted July 6, 2016, and it's already a huge phenomenon! Isn't that crazy? In fact, it seems downright addictive for most people -- even for adults who like to play. It has gone completely viral, and there's no telling how long it's going to last -- but probably a very long time.

Ever since my kids started playing it, I've been more fascinated by just how and why people jump on the bandwagon so fast. And I'm not just talking about Pokemon Go. There are a ton of fads that have come and gone. And people can't seem to jump on that wagon fast enough.

Let's look at just a few fads that I can remember off the top of my head:

1. Silly Bandz

You may not know about silly bandz unless you have kids who were old enough (or young enough) to be interested. In the summer of 2008, plastic wrist bands that were all shaped differently -- from butterflies to giraffes -- were worn as bracelets. And you couldn't wear just one. It had to be a whole bunch of them! And it was gender-neutral. Boys and girls alike had the compulsion to buy, wear, and trade them.

2. Jennifer Anniston's hair cut -- "The Rachel"

If you're around my age, this needs no explanation. Anyone who was a fan of the TV show Friends knows that Jennifer Anniston's haircut in the mid-1990s was 'da bomb! Everyone was flocking to their local hair salon and asking for "The Rachel" hair do. I might have even been one of them (shhhhhh...).

3. Beanie Babies

Beanie Babies seemed to be the Cabage Patch Kids of the 1990s (Cabage Patch Kids were popular in the 1980s I believe). Just like the silly bandz, you couldn't just have one Beanie Baby. You had to collect all of them.

4. Webkinz

My kids were really into the Webkinz, but not until it got really popular. The point behind Webkinz was that you had to buy a little stuffed animal, and then you went to the Webkinz website and adopted it and took care of it like a real child or pet. You had to feed it, and do all those kinds of things. At least that's what I think happens. Lol

5. Fashion trends

We all know that fashion trends change all the time. In the early 2000s, they brought back the flare and low-ride jeans. I thought they were ugly at first, because they looked straight out of the 1970s. But I grew to like them -- a lot. Then came the skinny jeans, and I was mad. I don't think they compliment most people's bodies, but most people disagree with me because that's pretty much all you see these days.

Anyway, I could go on and on listing all the fads that have come and gone over the years, but then this would turn into a book.

What I do want to point out is this question - why do people jump on the band wagon so easily and quickly? I'm not one of those people - I am usually watching everyone jump on the wagon trying to analyze why everyone is doing it (with the exception of "The Rachel"!)

I teach small group communication, and there is a phenomenon called "Group Think." That is when a group of people all start thinking the same way and don't question what the whole group thinks -- at all. And as result, everyone's ability to use their critical thinking skills just goes out the window.

Another reason people jump on the band wagon is that they don't want to be left out. Humans have a deep need for inclusion, so if they don't jump on the wagon with everyone else, they fear being the odd one out. And most people don't want to feel that way.

There's not necessarily anything wrong with needing to be included. However, I do have a problem with the "Group Think" phenomenon. I don't think our schools and our culture teach us to think for ourselves. So many people just blindly follow what other people tell them without questioning it. I actually think that's very scary.

So here is my final thought for you. Is there any part of your life where you don't think critically - but you should? I think everyone should come up with their own answers. But hey, maybe that's just my opinion.