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I called these lists "An Ideologue's Idea Log" because of a) the similarity in pronunciation, and b) my penchant for running off at the mouth about things, especially things having to do with how society works.

But recently I've decided that I really need to stop doing that. It wastes my time and annoys the pig*, as the saying goes. As Gabrielle Reese once said, and I paraphrase here: Of those whom your message reaches, thirty percent will love you, thirty percent will hate you, and thirty percent won't give a shit no matter what you do.

That leaves ten percent to be moved by what I say or do. Yeah, not really worth it, is it? So, in that spirit, I'm making a list of ten things I need to remember, pretty much all the time, and especially when I come into contact with ideas that I don't agree with:

  1. Ninety percent of all people have already made up their minds about any given subject.

    That leaves me a ten percent chance of actually changing anyone's mind about anything. And I don't know about you, but if I know ahead of time that I've got a one in ten chance of something working, I'll usually decide to exert my effort on something with a higher chance of success.

  2. Of that ninety percent, one third will love me, one third will hate me, and one third won't care.

    If someone sends me a nastygram on my LJ or Facebook, there's a three out of four chance that nothing I can say in response will make them happy. So it's best to ignore the nastygrams.

    Now if someone's relatively polite in bringing up objections to what I say or do, then there's probably a good chance that they're not in the "hate me" category, which probably increases my chance of coming to some sort of agreement with said person.

  3. People don't operate on logic.

    The scientific method works this way: a) form a hypothesis, b) test the hypothesis rigorously, c) conclude based on the data from the tests. But people work this way: a) form a hypothesis (or, in most cases, be given one by an authority figure), b) conclude based on gut instinct or what someone else tells you, c) filter all incoming data based on whether or not it fits your conclusion.

    This is what makes socialists like me able to dismiss the successes of capitalism as "the corporate masters manipulating the system", and it's what makes libertarians like some of my friends able to dismiss the success of nationalized heath care systems as "the government masters fudging the numbers". Neither of these things are true, but try telling that to some people . . .

  4. The more emotionally invested people are in an idea, the less likely they are to change their minds about it.

  5. The more vociferously that a person proclaims that their zeal is not emotional in nature, the more emotional in nature their zeal is.

  6. If someone gets angry, they're emotionally invested.

  7. Anger is never the first emotion.

    Anger is always the child of another, more primal, reaction: fear, pain, or shock. It may happen so fast you don't notice it, but psychologists and neurologists have tested this to death, and they're pretty solid on the idea. First you feel the fear/pain/shock, and then you react with anger towards whatever scared/hurt/shocked you. This means . . .

  8. Anyone who's angry with me is scared, hurt, or shocked by something I did or said.

    Puts things into a different perspective, doesn't it? Think about the last time someone was really angry with you. Now think about what happened to provoke that anger. Did you do or say something that might have caused the other person to react with fear, pain, or shock? Whether or not it was a logical or reasonable response?

    For instance, when my boss got angry with me, I thought he was just being a hard-ass. But once I put it through this thought process, I realized that he was scared. He was scared that something I did would reflect poorly on him to his boss. This is why some managers are so bad at managing. They know that they're responsible not only for what they themselves do, but for what everyone they manage does, too. And that scares them into being tyrannical.

    I've got boatloads of other examples. But, then again, so do all of you.

  9. Whatever a person's politics or religion are, each person is trying to live a happy life.

    Didn't the Declaration of Independence say that one of our "inalienable rights" is "the pursuit of happiness"?

  10. Everyone else's happiness is just as important to them as mine is to me.

    If something I'm doing is in opposition to what someone else thinks of as their "happiness", then they're going to try to stop me. However, if they just politely let me know why they don't like what I'm doing, I'll usually try to accommodate their concerns in some way, either by doing what I'm doing a little differently or by attempting to assure them that their fears are unfounded**. It may not assuage them, but it's worth the effort, in my opinion.

    And I'm aware that this may sound like a contradiction of one or two of the other items in this list, but it really isn't. As I said earlier, someone who's being polite is likely not in the "hate me no matter what" category. It's not a guarantee, but it tips the odds more strongly in my favor.

Yeah, this is a big list. Maybe I'll make a wallet-sized version and keep it in my pocket so I can look at it whenever I feel I need to.

Or, you know, enter it into my smartphone. That could work, too.


*From the saying "Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." No, I'm not calling anyone here a pig. It's a figure of speech.

**Or, rarely, if they bring up a factor that I've missed, and which sheds entirely new light on what I'm doing, I'll stop.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
This is a good list. This is one of the reasons why I strive to keep people that I do not agree with in my life... even if they say or do things that actually impact me (like people who voted... and campaigned for... and raised money for... Prop. 8). I know that they just want to live a happy life, too, and they REALLY ARE AFRAID of how "X" is going to impact that. I strive to meet them in their place of fear, which is hard, sometimes, when I am the very thing that they fear most. However, often things that are feared are really just misunderstood.
Sep. 30th, 2014 06:30 pm (UTC)
True enough. But some people have built so much of their sense of self around what they don't like that it's nearly impossible to change their minds. They have to go through a literal identity crisis before they'll see how they've mischaracterized something. Hence my 30/30/30/10 guideline.
Sep. 30th, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
I have one friend on FB who I have known since high school. She is ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that the majority of people of color are on welfare, and that Obama is going to take all of her hard earned money to support these lazy people. And, not only that, but marriage equality WILL lead to Armageddon, which, of course, also terrifies her, even though she continuously says that she is ready for it.

Obama terrifies her. People of color terrify her. Gay people terrify her. Actually, her GOD terrifies her, but, its likes using the playground strategy of siding with the bully so that they bully doesn't come after you.

I feel sorry for her, but I stick with her so that she is able to see something about what my life is like. I think I may be making a difference.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:05 am (UTC)
Thou art a braver soul than I.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:24 am (UTC)
There is a fine line between courage and insanity.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:55 am (UTC)
Ah, yeah. I know that line. I recognize it every time I cross it again. ;-)
Oct. 1st, 2014 02:06 am (UTC)
"Anger is never the first emotion" is the one of these that I find most striking. I wonder what it means when instead of anger one has started to just be sad.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:05 am (UTC)
Sadness is another reaction to pain, so it's a related response and it might make sense to think about the root of the pain behind it.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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