Our brains are capable of receiving and analyzing information directly and indirectly. If we want to learn about a subject, we read books, watch instructional videos or attend classes. All these method of learning fall under direct learning where we willfully plan to learn about a subject.
The indirect learning happens when we observe an individual or a group of people doing something and we record their activity. In this method of learning neither, this particular individual or group nor the recipient intend to give or receive information. One effect of this type of learning could be in the form of social conformity. For example, if you enter a room and you see all people in this room standing up, you will do the same even if there are chairs in the room. You may laugh at a joke when everybody in your group laughs even if you did not get the joke. Here is another popular example:
In my opinion, social conformity is not always a negative thing, as many like to think of it. When an individual feels peer pressure to copy a bad behavior just to fit in a group then this indeed a negative thing of social conformity. On the other hand, social conformity may be good when it comes to adapting to a cultural difference. An American visiting North Africa or the Middle East will notice that Arabs do not show the sole of their shoe in front of others. Social conformity in such case is a positive behavior. You do not want to look rude or disrespectful of others’ culture.
In social conformity, we observe, learn and then act. This act could be a good behavior or a bad one.
Another type of indirect learning happens when we do not plan to act based on our observations. We observe and learn, but do not act. This behavior may fall under collective learning because it builds our perspective about everything.
Our perspective changes by time due to aging (experience) and to the many different people we encounter in our life. Every person we see teaches us something, even if we did not talk to him or her.
In my twenties, I was very protective and defensive of the things I believed in. And I believe most people in their twenties are like this as well. Maybe this is the reason why most political riots and demonstrations start from university campuses. I am sure there are many reasons not just one why suicide bombers are in their twenties not forties or fifties. But, one main reason is that the brain is not mature enough to doubt its belief system at twenty.
The more people we meet the more we know, but sometimes the less confident we believe in what we already know.
It is fine if you cannot fix a major problem or know which path to take in your life. It is fine to make mistakes because we all make mistakes. You are not omniscient, no human is. By time, we collect knowledge and learn.
Collective learning guides us in our journey in life.
Listening and learning from people of different background than yours will develop your belief system. Because no matter what you think of yourself be assured you will find people who are more intelligent or more pious or more experienced than you. And this is absolutely fine because we are all different.
Learn from others but do not compare yourself to others because your life is different.