It's difficult to think that high school never really ends. We desperately want to believe that, when we turn our tassels and throw our caps in the air, all the drama is left behind in locker-lined hallways.
But, the truth is, it's really not. Drama and bullying are prevalent - even in the adult world. Even the college world.
I've noticed the overwhelming presence of something called "The Bandwagon Effect." A socially motivated psychological phenomenon, the Bandwagon Effect, motivates an individual to go along with the masses, regardless of their own personal beliefs. It is prevalent in all parts of our culture in all aspects.
The first time I noticed it was back in 2010 when Justin Bieber first emerged onto the scene. It was the "cool" thing to hate him. I only remember because my eleven-year-old self loved to do it. I would log onto Twitter and "favorite" endless amounts of anti-Bieber memes. All my guy friends made jokes at the singer's expense daily, and I never gave it a second thought. I laughed along, saying, "Yeah, Justin Bieber really does sound like a dying ____." And, I totally regret it. Because, honestly, I didn't think his music was awful. Yet, I still crapped on him daily and used him as the butt of endless jokes. Why?
Everybody wants to be in on it. We are social creatures. To have a different belief or idea, is to have something that sets you apart from the pack. More than anything, we human beings want to be like one another. Finding things that are "relatable" is what brings us closer together.
In recent years, the widely agreed upon laughingstock has been Donald Trump. Whether or not he really does deserve all the constant, pointed hate he gets is another story. Back when he first emerged into the political scene in 2015, it became almost a cultural running joke to make fun of him. People turned to picking apart his physical characteristics, criticizing the "Oompa Loompa" in office. Now that he's president, it's become more and more of a recurring rhetoric.
I shed light on these specific cases because of the concept of a "hate bandwagon," specifically towards a person, is the most harmful type there can be. (Maybe we can let the Donald Trump one slide, and maybe I'm contradicting myself there, but that's a whole other series of articles.) I've experienced it in middle school, and I definitely witnessed it in high school. When a single person makes a joke at someone's expense and another person laughs, it sets off a domino effect. Those in the immediate social vicinity laugh as well, keeping the joke going. They make fun not realizing what that means for the person they are bullying.
The Bandwagon Effect is interesting because it will cause a person to put aside who they are and what they believe in for the sole goal of not being left behind. It robs people of basic human decency and empathy. It catapults us back to a primal instinct. No one wants to be left out. Even at the expense of someone else.