My theory or persuasion is very simple and probably colored by the fact that I, in terms of personality, am very different from most people (present company mostly excluded) in that I am not very good at convincing most people that what I say is correct.

(Mind you, I have a very good track record of being correct, but that’s besides the point.)

Now this may be skewed by the fact that I tend to think somewhat differently compared to most people (present company mostly excluded) and therefore I have some actual convincing to do. Conversely, most people think mostly in the same way and therefore they will naturally need less convincing to align their thoughts. It’s not easy to tell.

Now, my position is that the only person who can convince you of something is you; at least that’s what I think.

My operational theory is, therefore, that since I can not persuade anyone to take a different position, I will work in two different capacities

  • Provide the background environment that will allow someone to convince themselves on their own in their own good time. In other words, I provide the raw material of thinking(*). To give an example, something finally clicked for DW and she began downsizing her DVD and music collection. We have lived together for six years. She knows all my theories. That does not mean she has been persuaded though.
  • Provide moral support to those who have already seen the light so to speak and thus find themselves part of a persecuted minority—it seems like most mammals (humans included) like to hate on whoever is different from themselves. Consequently, it requires quite a bit of backbone to do things differently from everybody else (back to the Asch experiment), since doing things differently results in all kinds or subtle and not so subtle personal attacks, especially if the alternative choice actually makes sense(**). The reason is that in this case the people feel indirectly judged, since the message can’t be automatically be written of like, say, a crazy person.

(*) Incidentally, this is how well-designed propaganda works. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d strongly urge you to read Propaganda by Jacques Ellul which along with Catton’s Overshoot (unrelated) is one of the most disturbing and scariest books I ever read.

(**) Hence the occasional rant, which is practically always a response to some article I read challenging my way of life. Sometimes I even get challenged directly (yeah, getting mildly famous on the interwebs). This actually makes it a lot easier for me to write a post; it fuels the fire, hehe.

Now, one can consider: Should I really focus on the second aspect? It’s a tricky question. The first aspect concerns mostly a logical issue: How do you do it? What are the technical challenges? The second aspect concerns mostly an emotional issue: How do you deal with it? How do you deal with other people? Do you bend when pushed or do you resist? Are you air or earth? (Water is probably the best strategy when dealing with people.)

Rationally speaking, I am way better qualified to deal with the first issue than the second issue. I say this because I only share personality type with about 1% of the population. On the other hand, I suspect I share personality type with 50% of you, the readers.

I somehow think that both are needed.

Originally posted 2010-07-01 00:47:32.