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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 436: Politicians are not People

This is a continuation from my posts starting with this one - please read for context.

As adults, we may be aware that different groups we belong to will reward (or punish) us for expressing support for a particular attitude position. We may even find ourselves expressing one view on a topic to one audience and another view to a different audience. Indeed, elections are sometimes won or lost on a candidate's success at delivering the right view to the right audience. But politicians (and ordinary people) who are perceived as shifting their responses to accommodate the views of different audiences may hurt themselves, if caught, by looking as though they are not taking a firm stand on anything. Fortunately for most of us, not only is it implausible that our every word might be replayed to another audience with a different view, but our potentially incompatible audiences tend to remain physically separated (Goffman, 1959). What this means is that we are less likely than politicians to be caught expressing different attitudes to different audiences. In your own life, consider the attitudes that your parents would appreciate versus those that your peers would reward. You may assure your parents that you will eat healthy food and limit your consumption of alcohol. Yet at school, you might join your friends in praising late night pizza binges and beer such that your parents would see your at-school attitudes as incompatible with the views you had only just expressed to them. - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition), by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

Conformity. Fitting people's views. Acting within accepted norms. These are part of an interesting construct - the belief that the opinions of other people are more valuable than most things, like common sense. Because of our unwavering desire to conform to the norms, we have allowed this world to become one big, nonsensical set of norms.

"It's OK to deceive people, but only if they don't find out."

"It's less OK for a public figure to deceive, but only because he/she is more likely to be found out."

Practically everyone is Schizophrenic - or rather everyone has multiple personalities - all the different faces we put on for all the different situations we "find" ourselves in - as if we frequently black out and then just wake up in these "situations". It's no wonder that everyone is trying to "find themselves" - all our lives we are conforming and adapting to the situations we are in and the people we are with - we are not shown how to deal with this. Somehow, we figure out how to navigate the murky waters of our social reality, saying this for those people, doing that for those other people - we are all just programmed machines with automatic response mechanisms for all the different possible scenarios we may encounter.

We are so easily manipulated - all you need to do is know which words "activate" which responses for us, then you can make us happy, sad, excited, zealous, murderous - whatever - as easily as just pushing a button. Politicians know this - that is how they win their elections. They work out which words (buttons) will "activate" the most people, and then they stick those words into every public thing that they do.

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