Last summer while on vacation I read How We Decide. The title caught my eye in the ship’s library because I tend to be one of the most indecisive people ever. Why? Could this book help me?
Actually, it did.
It enlightened me on not only my own problems. (Which, curiously enough, the author suffered from too. It was while he was standing in the grocery store unable to make a decision between cereal boxes that he got the inspiration for his book.)
I also learned the science behind why I’m indecisive and how my brain processes information.
But I learned some other neat things in the process, like why it’s pointless to argue with people (especially over politics and religion).
Wayne has always told me that. I figured it was because he hated conflict and would do anything to avoid it.
Not me. I used to always be ready to put up my dukes and get down to it. (To borrow from Pat Benatar.)
I’ve mellowed a lot in my older age. That, and I like to believe I’ve grown wiser. Can’t fight every battle. Gotta pick the important ones and leave the others behind.
But not everyone does that. Most people choose to fight. Even loosing battles.
The Role of Depression
They also love to be offended. Just Google it if you don’t believe me: “Why do people love to be offended” Hits galore come up, along with explanations.
Unhappiness plays a big factor. It’s the whole “misery loves company” idea. People say they want to be happy, but when they’re in the dumps it’s actually more comforting for them to seek out offenses to reinforce their angst, depression and melancholy.
Yes. But the other thing Wayne has always told me (my husband is smart), that How We Decide also emphasized is that people are nuts. Okay, that’s not how it was put.
We’re irrational creatures, even when we think we’re making rational decisions.
Because we’re also emotional. And that gets in our way more than anything. (A fantastic book about all this is Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.)
So does ego.
You know why Trump got elected?
The Monkey and the Circus
Well, lots of things helped him. He suffers from “affluenza” and it infected the masses. They mistakenly believe that because he’s so wealthy, he must be a great man. They cut him slack for his outrageous comments and behavior because he is rich. Basically, he’s extended privileges because he’s privileged. (Again, people are nuts –er, predictably irrational. Money and being great do not hand in hand go, but try telling that to those who voted for him based on his money.)
Then there’s the bonehead media who inadvertently helped him.
In the beginning, back during the primaries, they quickly saw readership/viewership/hits go up. They had a Golden Monkey dancing and making people hungry to see what crazy stunts he’d pull next. Before they knew it, it had snowballed out of control, social media kicked in, where people feel emboldened to share their views on politics and religion, and “fake news” spread faster than herpes in a whore house.
The masses who love being offended ate up all the controversy and absurdity, and next thing you know we’re stuck with an ego-maniacal joker for the next four years. (I refuse to write eight. Although, after I make my next point, you’ll see why it’s very likely he will serve two terms.)
I Can’t Be Wrong if I’m Right, and I’m Never Wrong
The biggest take away I got from How We Decide was that it’s pointless to argue with people who are unwilling to concede they might be mistaken because to be wrong is to be bad and no one wants to be bad.
Social media has been one big experiment in this over the last year+. I haven’t seen any Trump supporter change their mind when provided with very good reason to do so. (If you have, I’d love to hear about it.) And boy has there been some good reasons: racism, sexism, Communist sympathies…
So why haven’t more people been swayed against him?
Because while deciding might sometimes be hard, it’s even harder to change our mind once we’ve made it up. Even when we’re presented with logical, rational facts.
It all goes back to the ego, and not wanting to admit we’re wrong because then we’re bad. And, again, no one wants to be bad. That’s for other people. We don’t make mistakes. They do.
Be Negative and They Will Come
All I know is that once upon a time I read some book about how to increase blog readership. It was several years ago when I was going hot and heavy on Haunt Jaunts and had a pretty good readership, but I wanted to up it.
That’s all I remember. And I had to admit that I was drawn to posts with controversial headlines.
So I went through a phase that I now sort of regret: I set out to be negative to attract attention. (Anyone who personally knows me will tell you negative does not come naturally to me. I’m perpetually positive. And I’m glad. Being sour is an odd fit.)
The Lesson Learned
At any rate, I learned the hard way that being offensive will get you more hits. Four of the ten of my all-time most popular posts are the most “offensive” (ie. negative) ones I’ve ever written.
- Is This Why Donna LaCroix Was Mad at the Ghost Hunters?
- WTF Is This Thing? Dover Demon or Hoax?
- The Faked Footage Ghost Hunters Doesn’t Want You to See
- Full of Shit: TIME Magazine and Fact or Faked
Which makes me sad every time I see them on HJ’s “Trending” section. (Which is usually daily that at least one of them shows up.)
Why? I should be happy because they are mega hit all-stars right?
Wrong. They’re not representative of my very best work. Some of the posts I consider the best aren’t in my Top 20…because they’re too “good-hearted” I believe. And that’s boring.
So that’s the take away I’ve gotten from the 2016 election: People love to be offended. Kindness matters, but only in theory. People want the blood and guts.