Most of the stuff we do day to day follows a well-developed path of least resistance. Doesn't matter who you are or what you spend your time doing, the path of least resistance will apply. Everyone's path of least resistance is different, but on a fundamental level, we've all agreed - without having to repeat it - that there's enough struggle in life without looking for difficulty in the simple, everyday experience of being.
Behaviour - attention, anticipation- is defined by what's going on around you and responses are mostly a product of situation and habit.
Human beings exist in the here and the now (whether we feel it at the time). The moment is fact. Ask someone to punch you in the head if you doubt the power of the moment.
But there are sometimes points of discord, in the moment, between the path of least resistance and a person's deeper sense of self. Discord, when personal beliefs, valued truths, individual idiosyncrasies, meet a fork where path of least resistance goes one way and sincere, authentic self-expression goes another.
Let's call the first path the Kindred Way. It's the sensible expected response, leading to the least resistance in the real moment with the most benefit (at the time). The Kindred Way is typically the route most in sympathy with the in-group of peers or kindred or tribe expectations.
We can call the second path the Visceral Way. For most of us, most of the time, the Visceral Way runs parallel to the Kindred Way. Behaviour conforms to general traits and we arrange our lives to fit our ambitions and ideals. The Visceral Way is, however, the uncompromising path. It's consistent with your personal truth, authentically following your unadulterated belief system. It's the real you, not a role version of you, played to most smoothly navigate the moment's interactions.
The Visceral Way is sincere, not defined by the dictates of integration. It fits seamlessly with your hierarchy of what matters in life. The Visceral Way isn't hypocritical. It's not calculating - it doesn't have to calculate, because it is your natural visceral self.
Discord comes when to follow the Kindred Way becomes impossible without having to play a role conforming (or quietly accepting) a convention that's contrary to your personal Visceral Way truth. Much of the time this means minor sacrifice of fidelity but, big or small, conscious role playing - when it is not natural, organic, unnoticed - is time spent in the guise of someone who's not entirely you; and that's insincere. It frequently strays into the territory of hypocrisy.
One difference between an individuated approach to life and the approach followed by the group is the choosing of Visceral over Kindred Way when encountering one of those forks in the road. The group practices Kindred Way, training it into habit as the years go by.
The individual needs energy - youth helps - to assert the Visceral Way against a growing pressure of consensus from the group. During the 20s and 30s, some resist that pressure to submit to Kindred at the expense of Visceral. That's not to say it's always right to follow the Visceral Way; or the best choice, but it's at least an authentic, ingenuous expression of the real you.
By the 40s - and frequently before - perhaps feeling a deteriorating vital interest in the world, mindful of time passing, slowly eroding faculties, often in the aftermath of younger days excess (drug use, heavy hedonism, culture shocks) that magnify disinterest (and disconnection), the divergence of Kindred versus Visceral grows stark.
(It'll be tempting to blame the world for this divergence but it's probably more a case of personal alienation than society as a whole turning to shit since the turn of the millennia.)
There is a crystallization of society's expectations once your peer-group joins the world of the middle-aged. It assumes Kindred Way is the realistic, mature choice, whereas discordant Visceral Way - true or false - becomes a self-indulgence, of questionable worth. By this stage in life, the Kindred Way has become an ingrained habit, usually unconscious, effortless, perhaps even trained and reinforced to a point it's redefined the conformist personality and superseded their Visceral Way altogether.
The middle-aged Kindred Way is intolerant to discord and when someone follows the discordant Visceral Way, the non-conformist labels himself/herself offensive to the group. The Kindred Way comes to view the Visceral Way as an act of selfishness, a symbol of the individualist world-view incompatible with orthodoxy.
KINDRED ORTHODOXY - VISCERAL INDIVIDUALITY
I'm troubled by the unhappy reality of people's immersion in groupthink. It doesn't look positive. I'm not convinced the common denominator priorities of Kindred Way tolerate enough of the human condition to be psychologically healthy for the in-group it purports to guide through life.
What's more, I don't want to force myself into inauthentic role-play.
I don't want to be looking at another human being, knowing he or she is interacting with a false projection of the real me; even if he or she enjoys it more than the acerbic human being that's truly me. I hate wondering if another human being is being sincere or merely following polite superficial routines. More importantly, I don't want to follow groupthink if my heart's not in it. I'm not into being defined by unnecessary (or convenient) compromise. Expediency isn't worth the sacrifice.
I'm not interested in talking to an autopilot. Playing a role is an act, defined by propriety. By definition it's less personal, more stereotypical, a smokescreen hiding the nuances of character, the essential ingredients of an actual human being.
To an individual, Kindred Way becomes an exercise in obsolescence, i.e. its consensus is a convenient path of least resistance but it accepts the primacy of inherited external forces (definitions, beliefs, priorities, directions how to be, how to act, how to think, how to react) none of which respect the real worth of the protagonists.
As its grip tightens, the Kindred Way propagates a dirty aggregation of parochial traditions, not to mention it requires you submit - at times - to being dishonest, insincere, subordinated to collective symbols (flags, uniforms, suit and tie, etc), to amplifying in-group propaganda - legitimized to others by your face, your voice, your physical existence.
At best, Kindred Way may be harmless small-talk and minor polite white lies but at worst it's a virus, spreading a coarse, dehumanizing tribalism. It amounts to a shit consensus, a shitsensus. I don't want to be part of any shitsensus!
With social media, politically-dominated information feeds, and echo chamber opinion factories, the shitsensus is a polarized and definitively fascist end-game. It perpetuates racism, xenophobia, closed mindedness, parochialism, anti-individualism, conservative avarice, brainless conventionality. It's an orthodoxy that becoming absolute to its adherents, yet its details are anything but objective. They're defined by a group heritage - the baggage of dead generations - and by the vicissitudes of extant circumstances (i.e. what's happening around you). The Kindred Way is a flirtation with a corrupted terminus.
I guess I'm trying to justify an unpopular outlook, pushing back against a tide in a way that may be fruitless. Not being a hypocrite matters more than almost anything. Maybe the long-term wellbeing of loved ones is more important, but often hypocrisy is a short-term gentleness at the cost of later greater damage to the ones we care about.
Choosing Visceral over Kindred isn't an act of misanthropy, I should add. Finding groupthink abhorrent isn't always to hate everything an identifiable group think or do. Ironically, one big reason I hate the interpersonal hypocrisy - and see it often in the Kindred Way - is how corrosive it is to society.
Short-term expediency over long-term authenticity impacts the moment and damages the integrity of personal interaction but it's also degrading to the independent diversity across society as a whole. I can't shake the feeling it dooms us, as individuals, to live according to a lose-lose lowest common denominator that's reducing society to a gross, intolerant feudalism.
Having said the above, I've found rejecting the Kindred Way can be alienating, if almost everyone else in the world - one's peer group, at least - is living out versions groupthink identity. The group defends its purity by degrees of fascist countermeasures. Typically this isn't through violence but through exclusion, by closing ranks against out-group discord e.g. Kindred shutting out Visceral non-conformists.
Group extirpation of individual discord begins benignly enough with conventions of disinterest in anything (and anyone) not part of the in-group. I can't offer any solutions to this pressure to be subsumed by Kindred thinking. You'll either find it an anathema from the get go, or the Visceral will be gradually eroded until you're eventually unable, unwilling, unconcerned with the embrace of the Kindred multitude.
Want admission to the collective strength? Conform. It's Kindred Way or be an exile, irrelevant, disregarded.
Want to be part of the in-group traditions? Conform. It's Kindred Way or you're out-group, untermensch or not mensch at all.
Want to join and/or remain in a network of peers? It's Kindred Way or demotion, relegation, exile, extirpated.
"No," say I, well aware it's probably futile words shouted into the void. "Don't want to role-play. Fuck hypocrisy. Fuck conformity. Fuck subordination to falseness. Fuck obsolescence!"