Social Dynamics

John O'Brien

Sep 1, 2022

So, the thousands of people out there in America outside the herd are finding each other.

“Egregious . Most people think that word means terrible or unheard of, or unforgivable. It has a much more interesting story than that to tell. It means outside the herd. Imagine that - thousands of people outside the herd .” Kurt Vonnegut

Glancing at the crowd

Dancing eyes keep their secrets

No ticket for you.

The year was 1969.


I was going to the Woodstock Festival. Stopping at gas stations and convenience stores was a startling experience - talk about Social Dynamics! People “with hair down to their knees!“ This proved to be a more exciting experience than Jimi Hendrix walking out on stage at six in the morning. Freedom of expression in America, of all places !

Walking through the door of some other dimension with friendly smiling people was joyful. It may have been ‘69, but the herd was still quite buttoned up and obedient. I remember my brother-in-law asking me if I knew this guy he used to see when he had lunch in Harvard Square… cuz the guy had long hair.

So, the thousands of people out there in America outside the herd are finding each other. Some of them for the most awful of reasons, with an underlying reality of the class system entrenched in the USA. But the emotions involved meeting like-minded people is a powerful motivator--see January 6 . (I don’t know if their emotional responses were similar to my joyful one in Woodstock, but emotions are involved.)


Shared narratives are within their own groups. The Proud Boys don’t have shared narratives with Antifa. (Has anyone ever seen Antifa?) How could anyone be against an anti-fascist group?


I mean, Hemingway would have joined, or at least, given money.


Have a comment about this ATM essay Join the conversation, and share your thoughts today..