Don't give in, just say "no"
Lady's Hill Golf Club
Never Join Anything
Now, if all that pirate stuff gives you the urge to rush out and sign up with the nearest crew or, indeed, to join any group, crew, club, society or organization, here's an important concept that you should all grasp...
As a species, human beings are notoriously gregarious. That's why we seem to have a propensity for grouping together in towns and cities - the world has over 400 cities with populations greater than one million. It is this same characteristic that causes us to want to rush out and join things: clubs, societies, committees and fads. Apart from the fact that it's an inherent desire, the precise nature of this need is quite diverse. The one thing that can be said to be true in all cases is that you should never give in to these primal instincts.
Peoples' reasons for joining things are, as I suggested, astonishingly varied. In some cases it's a throwback to some ancient herding instinct, in some a desire to 'belong' and, in others, a submission to pressure. In each case, you would be quite wrong to submit to the coercion to join things. The herding instinct is a defunct and (in evolutionary terms) degrading relic of our ancestry. Lower orders do it to lessen the chances of a predator singling out an individual as lunch. This is, in effect, a means of hiding in a crowd. We should no more give in to such urges than we should accede to copulating in public, sniffing each other's bottoms or picking fleas off of our relatives. We grew out of all that centuries ago (well, most of us). So, just because seven and a half million other people choose to go and live in London, this is no good reason for you to move there too.
Similar in nature is the desire to belong. The subtle difference between this and the herding instinct is that this is driven by a more recent human characteristic: not wishing to appear to be different. People who are different attract fear, bigotry, ridicule and rejection from others (although to attract rejection could be considered to be something of an oxymoron). Teenagers are frighteningly consummate examples of this. The crowd wears a particular brand of trainers; therefore your teenage son wants to do the same in order to demonstrate his belonging to that group. Failing to conform to the group rules is to invite derision, social rebuke and (in extreme cases) reprimand by being hung upside-down in warm marmalade.
More distinct is the last motivator: outside pressure. This is the worst of all. Although they will nearly always deny it, the reason some sad individuals end-up being the treasurer for their local residents' caravan beautification society is because someone else pressured them into it. This pressure can take a number of forms: flattery, vanity, conscience, social ambition, social duty and threats of violence. Here are examples of each:
Flattery. This is the oldest trick in the book (or it would be if there were such a book). Members of local protest groups have been known to use this one to coerce neighbours into joining. It works well in this instance because we are normally on our guard against the more obvious ploys, such as social duty and threats of violence, and this one catches us unaware. The trick is to build-up the target's self-esteem to such an extent that to refuse to join would be to deny that the adulation is true. Now see how easy it is: 'You're such a resourceful organiser, that you could produce our monthly newsletter standing on your head and it will be so much better with you at the helm than it used to be'. The gullible fall for this one every time.
Vanity. Working on the same human weakness as flattery, this one is partially self-generated. In this case, the individual already believes himself or herself to possess a particular talent or characteristic that is terribly in demand and it takes very little effort to perpetuate this self-esteem. Often they are deluded enough to believe that they are the only person within a community to possess these, often imaginary, gifts. The effect is the same in that one's sense of 'self' drives the poor unfortunate into joining, this time voluntarily, although the crafty recruiter will have nurtured the impulse. Like this: 'You really need someone who has an eye for spring arrangements. The Vicar is bound to be delighted with my flowers.'
Conscience. An abominable mortal flaw, conscience can easily be stimulated into action through the simplest and most transparent of lies. The watchword here is 'guilt'. When attempting to compel an individual into joining (for example) a committee, the coercer might convince the coercee that his or her failure to join up would result in the downfall of a particular project or worthy cause. Alternatively, retrospective intimidation may be employed in which case it is something that the coercee has already done that has brought about a state of catastrophe that can only be remedied by his or her instantaneous enrolment. Either is a despicable artifice to be resisted at all costs. This is because if they need to resort to such extreme duress, the job they're trying to get you into must be really appalling. Thus, Conscience: 'I don't know where else to turn. If you can't find just eight or nine hours a week to help I'm afraid the old peoples' aeronautical studies group will simply have to fold. They'll be so disappointed.'
Social Ambition. Ooh, we hate this one! This is the classic reason for Range Rover driving, shopping at Waitrose and company executives joining the local golf club. The more exclusive the club, the more desirable. The more desirable, the more difficult to get in. This, horrifyingly, leads our social climbers to go to almost any lengths to make a successful application. Sycophancy, discrediting fellow applicants, bribery and conspiracy are the weapons of deceit adopted here. Also, it's not enough for this group of 'joiner' to belong, this parvenu will want to make sure that everyone knows that he (usually) or she (sadly sometimes) has joined. Joining as a status symbol leads to snobbery and pretentiousness. To illustrate Social Ambition: 'Darling, we simply have to join Lady's Hill Golf Club. The Smitherington-Smythes and the Farquar-Hendersons are members and I utterly couldn't bear it if we didn't get in. Why not let it slip that the Morrison-Phorbes drive a Vauxhall and then we might get their slot?'
Social Duty. On the face of it, this looks like a really good reason for joining. You could be excused for thinking that people who join out of a sense of duty – for the general good, as it were – were servants of the highest principles. You would be deplorably mistaken. The human psyche doesn't include a sense of social duty. It is an illusion whose purpose it is to salve our innate sense of guilt or to make us feel good about ourselves. To show just how distasteful this type of motivation really is, consider that it is this that drives seemingly ordinary people to join political parties and to become MPs! I must apologize if this revelation shocks or in any way upsets you, but it is true. These hapless, guileless boobies have deceived themselves into believing that their thirst for power and recognition is actually a self-sacrificing intent to serve their fellow man. So, here's an example of Social Duty: 'I really do not seek the public attention and acclaim that such high office attracts, but I am, notwithstanding the considerable financial remuneration, a slave to my duty to serve my country.'
Threats of Violence. You could be forgiven for believing this to be the worst kind of intimidation. It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It is the purest, most direct and least ambiguous of all forms of motivation. There is no under-hand, psychological duress at work here; it is simply an openly stated, freely offered choice between two alternatives. Thus, Threats of Violence: 'Join the IRA or Seamus will be round at the weekend to drill your kneecaps.'
So there we have it. These are the motivators for joining. Of course, it is fair to say that, very occasionally, people do join things just because they want to. Joining the local pub darts team because you like hanging out with other sweaty, oleaginous, nylon-clad, beer bellies could be argued to be a perfectly acceptable reason. And you may be right, but this sort of thing happens so infrequently as to be virtually irrelevant to the subject.
So, if most people end up joining for reasons other than a desire to do whatever it is that which they're joining does, it must mean that most 'joiners' join things that they really wouldn't normally join. In other words, you really don't want to be doing this. Once you've joined and the full horror of your aberration becomes clear to you, it's invariably too late to do anything about it. Trying to get out again makes you, firstly, appear indecisive, secondly, feel guilty and, thirdly, vulnerable to the full raft of inducements already listed. You are, in a word, trapped.