I. Good Apples and Bad Apples
I wrote this article the day before the 2021 US Presidential inauguration, a day that historians may point to as the first non-peaceful transition of power in United States history. I find that vaguely unsettling.
I came into 2021 cruising on Optimism, as I always do at the start of a year. I felt body-slammed from that path as I witnessed America’s first citizens-led insurrection, and I have had trouble feeling grounded since then.
That instability has not been helped by my currently working with two people who live near central Washington DC. They saw smoke rising on the day of the insurrection and are personally impacted by the presence of armed soldiers, lockdowns (not of the pandemic variety), and a pervasive sense of foreboding. Imagine having that in your neighborhood.
Have you ever been in an accident or near accident? Can you remember that split-second reaction when you realized impact was imminent, when your body seized up for impact, your arms braced against the front dashboard, your foot jammed on the brake so hard it felt like you were pressing your foot to the pavement, willing it all to stop?
Do you remember how your body felt crazy tense in every cell? That’s how my body has felt for the past two weeks. Yikes! Everything I’ve ever learned and taught about body work and centering? Doing it. Often.
I hope that by the time you read this article the transition will have occurred without issue. Yet my point remains: we’ve been in this place for a couple of weeks or months and it’s exhausting!
Everyone, deep breath…
Thankfully, as I wrestled with a topic for this month, this delightful column from one of my favorite bloggers arrived. I offer here a summary of Mark’s article, a lovely reminder that what we see on our screens… IT IS NOT REAL!
Why We Forget That Most People Are Good
Mark Manson is the irreverent author of “the best-selling self-help book for people who hate self-help books, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck“. So be warned: Mark is an articulate writer, but he doesn’t care if he offends you 🙂
My Summary – link to full text below
The more time people spend online, the more cynical they become. People who are online all day likely believe humanity is one giant festering shit pool, while people who actually go outside and do things probably think most people are OK.
Why? Part of this is due to the Negativity Bias. Humans give anywhere from 3 to 5 times the weight to negative comments as we do positive. Thus, trolls get a disproportionate amount of attention and influence whenever they speak. It explains why you can receive 50 compliments on your post but that one person who dissed you makes you want to tear everything down.
Another reason is the old saying “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.“ Studies in one social media arena found that 74% of online conflicts were instigated by only 1% of users. And worse, most of these online conflicts were not fought by the fire starters but by the innocent bystanders who got sucked into them. Similar statistics exist around violent crime, medical malpractice, sexual assault, and acts of overt racism…a small percent is responsible for the vast majority of vitriol and hateful behavior.
It’s always been this way. Why does it seem so much worse today?
That’s the Exposure Effect at work. Let’s say that one out of every 100 people is a raging asshole. Decades ago, you would interact with 10 or 20 people each day so you could go a week without meeting a raging piece of shit. Today, how many people you are exposed to on a daily basis on the Internet, on social media, via 24-hour news? Hundreds. Because it’s in your face all the time, you have come to believe that hatred is omnipresent, incompetence is universal, bigotry is the norm, and compassion the exception. Yet nothing about human society has changed, only our awareness of it has.
Finally, Mark says, never forget that most people are good.
He details in his Attention Diet the research and approach he’s used to block and unfollow anybody and everybody who is toxic online. Toxic people have an outside influence on our perceptions of the world, he posits, so by cutting out 1% you might save yourself from 74% of the bullshit. And this can transform your general mood and your life.
For the full text: https://markmanson.net/newsletters/mindfck-Monday-66
I’ll be back sooner than next month. A lot is happening. Meanwhile:
Remember, Leadership is not about a title: Anyone can be a leader who treat others with compassion and kindness.
And a corollary: regardless of title, anyone who thinks and behaves only in terms of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and regards others as ‘less than’ is NOT a leader. At least not one I would ever follow.