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  • Writer's pictureMichael Wellings

The Crowd Mentality

It has come to our attention recently that Tide laundry detergent has been featured in the news quite often over the past few days. Specifically, Tide Pods. Not because Tide has a revolutionary new formula that cleans laundry even more effectively than it currently does, but because teenagers are eating them. Literally. Called the “Tide Pod Challenge”, the process involves a young boy or girl first filming themselves eating a Tide Pod or similar such detergent, and then uploading the results to social media. As a result of this new social media trend, there have been several deaths and an incredible amount of hospitalizations. YouTube has even banned videos that depict the consumption of laundry detergent products in an effort to curb the horrifying results of the “challenge.” Remember in Back to the Future Part II, where in 2015 everyone had hoverboards and such? Well, it’s 2018 and we’re literally having to tell kids not to eat laundry detergent.

Interestingly, the type of “crowd mentality” that is evident in the Tide Pod Challenge is prevalent in other aspects of life as well. Many people have an emotional tie to follow others and do what others do. It’s a simple, easily observable aspect of our society today. You see it with social media trends (remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?) and also in times of strife. Take the Great Recession, for example. In 2008 when the markets tanked, there was a massive sell-off as people lost money left and right. Nobody knew when the market would recover, and many tried to salvage what investments they had by selling them. It is an understandable response; people literally saw their money disappearing before their eyes, and most likely faced severe pressure from their families and friends to save whatever they had left before it too vanished. If you faced significant pressure to follow the crowd, and didn’t have another voice arguing the opposite, what would you do?

As a financial advisory company, we earn our keep by doing our best to help people make sound investment decisions. Sometimes, this involves talking people off a ledge. In our case, the ledge might be selling off all equity positions in an attempt to save money during a market downturn. The people that sold during the ’08-‘09 recession missed out on some significant gains that were made in the subsequent years, gains that would have been realized had there been a voice of reason present at the time. We pride ourselves on being able to be that voice of reason and reassurance to our clients during market declines and bear markets.

Whenever you’re pressured to do something in life, please consider all the possible repercussions and consequences that could happen. Talk to parties who are knowledgeable about the kind of situation you are facing. As examples, if you are currently tempted to eat a Tide Pod for the sake of social media, please contact the poison control center and learn about what will happen if you do. If you’re ever worried about what to do in an investment situation, call a Certified Financial Planner (hopefully us).

Seriously though, don’t eat the Tide Pods.

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