I couldn’t understand the complete thought process behind some of the recent political discussions until I watched a documentary about alien abductions.
This man was, in his mind, being possessed by a space inhabitant of the planet Koldas and I thought, “Is this guy putting on a show, or does he sincerely believe this shit?” It’s the same feeling I get when I watch Tomi Lahren.
Have you ever heard of the Illusory Truth Effect? I am going to be presumptuous and say no, but I bet you’ve heard the saying “If you tell yourself something enough, you will start to believe it.” That doesn’t sound so bad. You probably used that concept when memorizing the multiplication tables, or trying to remember to turn off the coffee machine before you left the house.
Repetition has always made me nervous though. The thought of doing the same thing over and over literally makes me sweat. I get anxious. For some, anxiety causes them to shrink. This shrinking leads to panic, which then produces irrational thought or behavior. I like to skip all of the in-between and go straight for unreasonable conduct. So when I am feeling in a box or deep in routine, it takes everything in me to not act out on it. Maybe that’s not anxiety. Maybe it’s something else. I am sure there is a name for it; “they” have a name for everything.
Now that you know about my anxiety, let’s take the seemingly innocent idea of repetition and use it on someone who is easily influenced. Or, someone who has been taught a certain ideology most of their life and go ahead and tell them they are wrong.
Congratulations, you are now challenging their way of life.
If you tell someone something long enough, they will start to believe it. So much so, that if proof were lying out on a silver platter disproving their conviction, they would still believe it to be true. A bit scary, eh?
If repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth, then how the hell do you combat that? You could belittle them I suppose, or laugh.
Imagine laughing at the guy who lives in the middle of nowhere, sitting in his wooden rocker “preparing to transmit” messages from extraterrestrials. You know you want to. I wanted to. But I sort of felt bad for the guy.
In light of recent events, after watching this, I started to empathize with people who do not appear to have empathy for anyone at all. Like this guy:
“I feel that if a Muslim woman wants to move into this country, she needs to leave her towel home. Because the reason this country is here and safe today is because of Jesus Christ.” (Interviewee Bill Jackson to Brian Mann of NPR, Jan 28, 2017)
That statement makes no sense whatsoever. And really, we could tell the man behind that senseless comment to go drink his beer and scratch his balls as he had planned prior to running into an NPR reporter. I don’t want to do that. Okay, maybe I do a little bit.
A lot of us feel that these people should know better. But do you know what is more powerful than well-known facts? Repetition. Consider that when you are out blasting your own beliefs on other people, and maybe take into account how those people who confuse the hell out of you ended up that way. More than just a “bad day” caused it. I am not justifying their hate. Every day I want to go out and save all the babies. I just hope you all using social media as your voice are also seeking to educate. It sucks to be attacked, even if you are wrong.
It’s like, I know what I am eating is bad, but get off my back, dude.
It isn’t easy to break a lifetime of perceived truth, endorsed by hours of biased research. I am talking to you too, person who thinks they research all sides of the issue. Google isn’t only tracking your behavior to serve you ads for hiking gear. I don’t care how vague your search is, Google knows what you want to read.
So next time you are on Facebook, sharing screenshots of tweets and incomplete news, keep in mind that a post isn’t like a bumper sticker—you don’t get to just drive around in the comfort of your own cushioned space while you tell the world how you feel. People will engage, so step up your game.
Getting others to understand why you think they are brain-dead will take strategy and understanding, not 432 comments.
Autumn Van Ravenhorst is a staff writer and columnist for SouthernMinn Scene. If you live in the Owatonna area, she’d also be happy to sell you an ad in this wonderful magazine. Drop her a line at AVanRavenhorst@owatonna.com