My favorite comic book of all time is The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. If you aren’t into comic books don’t run away just yet. I can’t say I have read many myself, but this was recommended while I had a lot of time on my hands (I miss college…) and I got hooked.
There is a character in this comic, goes by the name “Destruction”, that says “there’s no such thing as a one-sided coin…there are two sides to every sky.”
It isn’t hard to understand exactly what I am talking about when I say social influence. Peer pressure, mentoring, group think, we all deal with this form of motivation each and every day. Even when you rebel you are falling for the impact of social influence. Maybe you feel so negatively affected by others that you have to change your behavior to either remove yourself from its power, or even fight against it.
The duality of this source of motivation is also rather apparent.
People can accomplish so much together. Society as we know it is the result of our countless ancestors working together to create something better than there was before. Teachers use authority to influence children in positive ways despite the desire to be doing “literally anything but math.”
If we get really clever with it, the possibilities are extraordinary. Like convincing nearly 1,000 people to go to another country so you can orchestrate a mass murder.
Or draw in millions of kids to a game that is proving to be rather addictive.
It is clear to see that we need to be careful when wielding the power of Social Influence.
So how can you tell the difference at its conception?
Usually the end goal is a good indicator.
Are we trying to build up those we are influencing, or build up ourselves?
That can be tricky still. We often are not a good judge of our own selfishness, or simply do not understand that what is best for us, may not be the best for someone else.
A great example is the TV show Game of Thrones. As a fan I want to talk about it with just about anyone I meet, and if you haven’t seen it “you just Have to watch this.”
I have a friend who just didn’t like it. Tried two whole seasons and still wasn’t into it.
While that was a shock at first, it is a perfectly reasonable thing to not be into high fantasy
This poor person has been repeatedly accosted over this position because GoT is so tangentially related to other things she enjoys. I felt bad when I saw her face as I asked the question she hated answering, but has had to do so over and over again.
The show has been a cultural phenomenon. People across generations and a variety of interests have all found a common interest, and who doesn’t love sharing something like that with others?
What worked for a large portion of the population has negatively impacted those in the minority.
Neither are “right.” It’s a freakin TV show.
You shouldn’t stop trying to share your passion because of this minority.
You also shouldn’t berate someone in this minority over their “suspect” taste in television.
With Social Influence there is no “silver bullet”, no “one size fits all,” and we do not all “need a thneed.”
Keep your motives pure, and you can usually get it right, but even with the best intentions things can go wrong. When that happens you have to be ready to listen.
Someone will tell you what you are doing wrong.
Co-founder of Cerebral Cellar