A week ago I was in a teens retreat of Elevate. It was held at MMRC or Mt. Makiling Recreation Center for 4 days. During the retreat I found an opportunity to orchestrate a social experiment. A social experiment is a research project conducted with human subjects in the real world. This experiment is simple enough, if I shout “everybody clap your hands,” and I clap, my accomplices will clap, and then everybody claps. It reveals human’s weakness, error, and fault called social conformity. But it also exposes a deep and not so simple allegory about modern attitudes. So? Shall we?
A ROOM, A PROPOSAL, AND SOME PEOPLE
For this experiment, I only needed a few components, namely accomplices, a place to do it in, and a plan. So in my free time, I recruited several participants (my friends and business partners) and a few facilitators (not all should know, it would ruin the point experiment). I summoned up my courage and asked them a favor if they could clap when I say so, and they agreed. So back to formulation! As I proposed, the experiment was to take place on Saturday celebration after praise and worship, when everybody’s mood is high. It required a lot of arrangement and cunning scheming. So when the ripe time came, with my accomplices I shouted “EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS!” (applause). I might say, it was more than I expected. I anticipated that I would be ignored as usual, yet half of them clapped! My friends were also astonished of the results. So what happened back there?
This social experiment involves Psychology, particularly social conformity. Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. In conformity, people often discard logical reasoning to “fit” in with the group. So when I and my accomplices clap they join too. Even if they don’t know the purpose of the applause, they clapped anyway. It was because it made them feel good about it, they don’t want to be a sore thumb or the “odd” one. They follow a principal rule: Everybody’s doing it, so should I. There were 2 factors that contributed to the success: (1) I had the facilitators on my side, or some authority. It became an advantage to me because of the confidence the participants have that whatever the facilitators do is right. (2) The time was a crucial part of the arrangement, so I selected a time when everyone is in an ecstatic mood. I chose such a time because when someone is in high spirits they are easier to manipulate. They often ignore details like the time, who shouted, and why they are clapping.
But then again, they probably were just having fun.
(Here are some conformity videos you would like)
THE ALLEGORY of MODERN ATTITUDES
This procedure exhibits 2 kinds of people: the people who clap and those who don’t.
The clappers displayed 2 sides. First is the good side: their obedience. As said in Romans 13:1, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” They followed the facilitators with no resistance and question. This is an important attitude of Christianity and being Christ-like. But the Bible has a promise for those that obey: “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33) But it also matters who you are obeying. With that, we arrive at the second side: gullibility. Obeying is healthy, unless you accompany it with discernment. You need to know which people you need to obey. Because if you conform to wrong folks, it would cost your life. Or else you will be vulnerable to the Enemy and his henchmen. So you only need to follow authorities “God has established” to make sure, but of course “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), then that’s certain.
Non-clappers on the other hand, conveyed a hard headed and proud standpoint. They view themselves higher than others. So they most likely ignored the “CLAP YOUR HANDS” notion. But to shine some light on them, they also demonstrate firmness and steadfastness. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13. They have an unwavering personality. A hard head, someone hard to influence, and a stronghold if built the right way and built on solid ground.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64: 8
Men should be like clay, soft so that God can mold them and then harden so the Enemy cannot break them. After that, they can be used to carry the message to others. They can be a vessel of God for His glory. Men should avoid being like gum, hard, that when “chewing”(trouble) comes they soften up and become useless, eventually they get thrown out, whereas, we should be like clay, soft enough that God can mold us and hard enough to remain in faith. “Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” Deuteronomy 11:1
So next time somebody shouts “CLAP YOUR HANDS” beware. (evil laughter)