Friday, October 06, 2006

Bad Decisions

I read an interesting article on why people make bad decisions which did a nice job of pointing the finger at some of the reasoning behind decision making that has always made me scratch my head. Not only of choices others make but that I myself make. If anyone has made a bad decision in their day, it's me. In fact, 90% of the decisions I made today weren't that great, so you can imagine my whole life.

All of the topics that brought up felt pretty solid to me but two of them especially leapt out to me:

I've seen this often in others and I hope strongly that this is not something that I am burdened with. I've seen this concept many times on exams that don't test what you know but rather how well you respond to trick questions and I've fallen for it several times. I can attribute that to second-guessing myself however. Yet when it comes to real life, I have to wonder if I let the influence of my peers affect my decisions.

I suspect there would be a lot of factors to take into account. For example, I'm a pretty laid back sort of person and I have very little interest in arguments and debate, amiable or otherwise. If I have an opinion and you don't agree, I'm pretty okay with that. I don't feel any need to bend others to my will. But of course there are many people out there who thrive on such things and argue just to be doing so, no matter how minor an issue. So often times I might find myself agreeing that, yes, mushrooms are fantastic [read: they are not fantastic] because I don't have enough desire in me to battle over the tastiness level of fungus with a guy who gets all up in my grill because I picked mushrooms off of my pizza slice. All of this is a conscious decision that I make however. It makes me wonder if there are times when I change my entire viewpoint or at least my public responses because of a majority view on the topic? Probably. I can't think of an example of it happening recently, so that is a hopeful sign that perhaps I don't do it often.

I know we all want to be "unique snowflakes" but how many of us stay so steadfast that we never compromise what we actually believe? And if there are very few people of that nature, as I suspect, how far are we from conforming with our neighbor, who has also conformed with their neighbor, in an exponentially growing magnitude until we are all one giant hive mind with only a few true individuals remaining? Maybe we're already at that point. Perhaps that is where true heroes and leaders come from.

Attribution Error
Anyone who has lived/driven around the airport area in Nashville as I have can probably forgive me this fault. I've been nearly hit head-on at least 9 times since I've moved here and no doubt you have too. We're talking people running through a stop light that has been red for a minute or two already. Then of course they shoot me a bird as if my wild swerving (and screaming like a girl) to avoid their station wagon of destruction was some sort of offense to them. If anyone reading is one of these people, I apologize ahead of time for not wanting to slam into your vehicle at 60 mph.

I can get behind the idea of assuming people are being jerks by their behaviors on the road. Yet no matter how aware you are of the fact that not everyone on the road is trying to screw you over, I bet most of us still assume the guy who cut us off is an ass. And I know I've cut off my share of people accidentally and no doubt they assumed I was the jerk. But I have to point out that you can usually tell by the method of their driving if they are cutting you off by accident or out of spite. People who are doing a purposeful cutoff tend to jerk the car dramatically into your lane as sort of an exclamation point on the fact that they are doing it, so that the person being shafted (you) will realize who did the shafting. I know I do it.

But as I stated, I can go with this thought process. I am constantly reminding myself on the road to not let any of the insane events that happen there bother me. Because, despite being a laid back sort of guy, how people behave in their cars can get me worked up if I don't watch myself. Every day at work I deal with people who make me wonder how they get by in their lives with the decisions they make and people on the road just reemphasis the fact that people all over the place make foolish choices.

I suppose the trick is to try and make less mistakes than the next guy.

1 comment:

Liz said...

If you join fencing you won't have to worry about that "conformity" thing. We're all big geeks.

No, really, I heartily encourage you to try fencing! It's such a good workout, and there are swords!