Short for "Sheep people." A member of the mindless masses that shows charactaristics shared with sheep, including limited mental capacity, as well as showing herd behavior, depending on the views and opinions of the people around them.
Synonym: Stupid people
Antonym: Individuals

Sheeple is a portmanteau created by combining the words "sheep" and "people." A population of sheeple. Someone is considered a sheeple if they take no heed to good information, choose inaction no matter the case, mindlessly follow the example of the masses, or blindly follow authority. If you are a sheeple you are not an individual. The corral gate is open, yet, no sheep will leave, even though there is greener grass outside the fence, even though the crowded interior is covered in feces and urine. It is not that sheeple believe the status quo is always acceptable, it is that they think it is inevitable.

Follow the asshole in front of you, a Herd Mentality:
“Government schools (are) laboratories of social engineering in order to produce “sheeple” who would neither know nor care about, much less challenge, the goal of socialist world government.” (News with Views) There is some partial truth to this. The education system creates someone who is likely to acquiesce to authority, and thus undermines their own human individuality. They believe whatever they hear, whatever they are told, without any consideration to the accuracy. Heck, look at the spawn of the Internet. Unlike print journalism, there is no necessary accurate truths – but even so still blindly followed.

Sheeple is also often used in a religious or political context. If someone pays taxes without regard and/or accepts whatever the government and the mass media tells them, they are one of many sheeple. In religion, the term is applicable to Christians in the sense that followers of the faith consider themselves a flock who follows their shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Obviously, then, the term sheeple is negative, and would be used to degrade an individual or a group of people.

The term was created by right wing conspiracy theorists. “The term sheeple, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1984, has been used increasingly in the last couple of years due to the enhanced marketing potential afforded by online and satellite channel media. It is often used to describe people who act in direct reaction to saturation advertising, going out and buying the ‘must-have’ fashions and fads of the moment.” (Mac Mill and Dictionary) Although this is the first written form of the word, the description dates back even further.

Plato's Republic has often been called the origin of the “sheeple consciousness.”

We also see the term or at least its definition used to this day. My favorite, all time favorite example, is in a must read book by Terry Goodkind titled Naked Empire. In short, the main character Richard teaches a long ago cut off society how to break their sheeple tendencies. He teaches them how to fight and take control of themselves. But for a more thorough example read the Moneeple story.

Moneeple – or a Monkey story of Sheeple:

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is the basis for most federal bureaucracies.” (World News Stand)

This particular example of monkeys gone bad can be applied to the Holocaust. Not everyone back in that time sat and watched as that all took place – but just enough did. Today we can see today’s sheeple in the political context. Barely more than half of eligible voters choose to exercise their right to vote in the United States. Yet most complain and are unhappy with the results of democratic policy. And yet, in the year 2000, when elections were as close as they have ever been in The States, people still sleep. The argument of society is that “Nothing can be done.” Perhaps this is just a corner that a two party system backed a country into, but that is doubtful. The U.S. went through many many parties before only two have been dominant over a long span of time. But the thought still has merit. Regardless, by 2004 about a 5% increase in voter turnout – as high as it has been since 1968, amounts to a 60% voter turnout. 4/10 people in America still don’t think they can make a difference, 4/10 people in America are sheeple.

”The term has also come to be used to describe hoplophobes and other similar persons - people with an illogical fear of weapons, fire, cars, machinery etc, and certain other thing such as men in camouflage or ethnic minorities. In this sense it is used paticularily amongst gun and knife enthusiasts.” (Wikipedia)

You can see a video with the context of sheeple titled: “The Naked Truth: Awaken the sheeple,” by clicking here.

This has been an exercise of pulling the wool over the sheep.

The "sheeple versus enlightened" framework has a few flaws.

For one thing, asking people to be individualistic plays into the consumerist culture that people are trying to rebel against. That is because individualism has, for the past 40 or so years, been realized mostly by purchasing differently than everyone else. Buying your way into coolness, in other words. As a result, there has been a massive increase in demand for choice of products, and companies have reaped greater profits by catering to individualistic tastes. There was a time, and some of you are old enough to remember, when companies were associated with conservatism and conformity. The 1970s movie Rollerball has, as villains, a group of Coporate Conservative Conformists.

There was a time when Conformity was not merely a social pressure, but actively endorsed. It's been a few decades since that ended. Individualism worked. It won. In large enough numbers, Special Snowflakes can be an avalanche.

And yet, consumerism remains. We still buy too much stuff and throw too much stuff away throw too much food away and use too much energy.

And if you think "well, I'll just be thrifty with my food and buy less and use less energy", well, that's the second problem. I don't really care what YOU do. You alone are not enough to heal the world. That's the whole trouble with individualism, it leads people to believe that their individual choices can change the world for the better in the absence of organized effort.

After all, it takes more than one person to build an institution. One person can destroy something, oh, that's easy. All you have to do is hit it in just the right place. But if you want to build, you need other people involved. You need other people to invest their energy and their time and and their love so that it keeps going after you're gone. You need a community to be invested.

As much as the Three Cups of Tea guy turned out to be a fraud, he got one thing right: the schools that a community helped build were ones they were willing to defend. People don't like to abandon the things they build.Teach a man to fish, and he fishes for life. That kind of thing.

And we need to build communities, because as it stands, right now we're kind of scattered on the wind. We young folk of each generation say things like "my single vote doesn't matter" and "what can I do." We think of effectiveness as our individual choices, and not as collective action. We need collective action. That's how shit gets done. That's how things get built. That's how communities are protected. By the work of many. The idea that a single, super human can fix everything is so far off the mark that even BATMAN is willing to delegate his duties now.

And people who are committed to changing their world for the better understand this. There's been movements toward that end for the past few decades. Before the Marriage Equality movement, there was ACT UP and the organized pressure to find a treatment for HIV. There was the Environmental movement. The second wave of feminism. And so on. All of these movements were championed by people who lived in the midst of an individualistic culture. It did not prevent them from finding common ground on matters of national importance.

My worry about the word "Sheeple" is that it represents a mindset that prevents YOU from finding common ground with anyone. Because it prevents you from looking for ways to connect with people. As the message at the bottom of this node says, "yeah, yeah, you think you're high and mightier than everyone." How are you going to find common ground if you think you're at the peak?

The idea that everyone is stupid and half-asleep, that everything will go right if we all just Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, is something that has pervaded American thought for the last 240 years. Ever since the Great Awakening, we've had this idea that someday we'll all get smarter all at once, we''ll all become more moral at once, Jesus will descend and everything will be made right again. In the massive cultural upheaval that was the 1950s White Flight To the Suburbs, this idea lost its Christian mooring and began to be expressed in whatever promising new spiritualism people found. Psychedelics and Eastern Mysticism were supposed to all awaken us to a state of higher consciousness and we were all supposed to see Reality, and finally realize the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

The word "Sheeple", implying a kind of sleepy conformity, is a degraded version of this cultural movement.

Meanwhile, the people who were perfectly willing to get on the level of other people were able to band together and achieve real change, and that's why the first anti-retroviral drugs came out in the 1990s instead of 2000, and that's why marriage equality was achieved this year instead of ten years from now. And that's why cultural attitudes changed in time for my own mother to be able to open her own goddamn credit account in the formative years of her adulthood. Change of this nature doesn't happen automatically, especially when lots of powerful people have a financial interest in keeping things the way they are.

It's tempting to think that good change would happen automatically, if everyone just Woke Up. But human behavior doesn't work that way. Smart people come to different conclusions. Intelligent people argue a lot. Just look at the scientific papers coming out of universities.

I don't like it when people compare other people to sheep, because it implies that they're just a bunch of dumb conformists. Maybe they aren't! Maybe they're all as smart as you are, and still don't want to change anything, because everything is satisfactory for them. Maybe they understand how the world works and are looking to manipulate it for themselves. Maybe they're not as learned as you, but they're proud and determined and well worth having in any group of people dedicated to change. How are you going to know unless you get down off your mountaintop and ask them?

And if you find a group of people all willing to work together, who knows what you all can accomplish?

The people in elected positions do. That's why they don't want you to vote in the first place. They understand the power of collective action, and they fear it. They try to undermine it. They gerrymander your collective voting power into oblivion, and they make you pay poll taxes, and they ask for IDs when you vote, in full knowledge that you're too poor to get one. And they look the other way when companies do everything they can to prevent workers from organizing. They fear the  power of organized people.

They know that, far from being a bunch of sheep, a community can be a herd of Cape Buffalo.

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