I mentioned in my last blog entry that I feel that if everybody’s doing it, then I need to think about whether it really fits with my wants/needs. This is easy for big things, but how much rises that high on the radar for smaller things? So much of our lives are habits we’ve developed so we don’t have to expend a lot of mental energy thinking about things that aren’t worth it. Think about this: do you want to spend hours deciding where to go for lunch, or are you going to ask your lunch buddies for suggestions, and wind out at one of the same old places you always go, or going to a place suggested by the “cool kids?” Breaking our habits takes effort, and we don’t always feel like going to that trouble.
But sometimes we are tipped on to things that become favorites. I can think of a lot of things I might not have known about unless somebody told me about it. Books, TV series, movies, and restaurants come to mind. Those are good and easy, because if you don’t like it then you can quit, without having invested much in it. The bigger things usually fall into that sphere of influence where you have to hear it from several sources, or have some experience with it or other things like it. Things like vacations, cars, and technology fall in this category. It took a combination of experience and suggestions to sell me on the phone and laptop I have, and I’m not a big fan of tablets because I haven’t had good experiences with them. But I know plenty of people who ran out and bought things because everybody else had one, so they wanted it too.
Why are some people more susceptible to the power of suggestion than others? And why are some things more open to suggestion than others? I’ll check books, websites, or TV series if you mention them and they sound interesting, but the bigger the investment, the more I research and determine to make up my mind, regardless of what others think. I remember an advertisement that was running when I bought my car. It was a security camera in a store. An announcement came on saying “the Camry in the parking lot left its lights on,” and everybody left the store. It was followed by an announcement that the Camry was the most popular car in America. I immediately dismissed it as a possibility, because I didn’t want to drive the same car that everybody else was driving. Maybe that commercial sold more Camry’s in 2006, but it lost me. Why? I frustrate people by being different, but sometimes they piss me off by being so normal. If we value individuality and uniqueness, then why do so many blindly conform to the masses?
We all say we want to be unique, but some of us mean it more than others. Does wanting to be able to find my car in a parking lot make me socially divergent? And how influential do you need to be to inspire change? Studies say five percent divergence can inspire the remaining 95% to change their ways, but people have to be paying attention to that five percent to notice. What’s the tipping factor? And what determines what reaches whom? Why did everybody have to buy a new car when I bought one, but nobody notices when I get a drastic haircut (or rather, they act like they don’t notice)?
It’s a good question. So I challenge you to take a look around. Are you doing the same things as others, or not? Why? Are you ok with that? And what do you notice in the people and things around you? Do you know why some things stand out, and others don’t?
Deep questions, and I suppose the answers are different for each of us. But one thing’s for certain: those answers reveal a lot about our personality, values, and character.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.