Sunday, 12 June 2011

Moronic Exploits 1: Believing the Hype

Having been on this earth for well over two decades now, I'm well aware of the inherent cynicism that seems to permeate my brain. I'm sure at least a small part can be attributed to my surroundings, how I was brought up, and yada yada yada, but I'm pretty sure its just hard-wired into who I am and not really dependent on those things much at all. I mean, I've grown up middle class and white, which is about as privileged and fortunate as anyone could hope to be and yet I'm still brimming with cynicism.... Even if I grew up as a member of the nobility in the land of lollipops and puppy dogs (as gay (and now non-PC) as that sounds) I'm pretty sure that I'd still be the cynic that I am today.

(On the matter of PC'ness, when I said "white" above, I wasn't meaning to denounce other races/nationalities (with the exception of the Dutch), I was just trying to paint a specific picture of me. We cool then? Cool.)

Anyway, back to my cynicism. It's not some overarching way of life for me. I don't sit locked up in a dark room, trolling the internet, and revelling in my ability to mock the masses; taking comfort in the blue glow of my desktop, and the knowledge that I've been able to make people cry all over the world.
But yes, it is something that's always there in the back of my mind, and sometimes very much at the forefront. Whenever I encounter information about a new product, an article, an opinion, a quote, a point of view, or a claim, my brain immediately switches into full cynic mode and screams: Bullshit!

This can be an annoying first point of call because underneath this underlying scepticism of mine is the belief that the power of positive thinking is something that can have a profound influence on the way we live our lives (but not by way of "The Secret"... that's clearly bullshit!). Despite being at odds with myself on this point and sometimes wishing that I was able to accept certain things at face value more readily, when it comes down to it, I'm incredibly grateful that I am in fact a cynic.

Which brings me to the title of this post, "Believing the Hype". How is it that people are so gullible? So moronic? So stupid when it comes to detecting even the most ridiculous cases of farce?

Really? I'm the 1,000,000th visitor to your website and all I have to do is send you my credit card details and you'll express post my prize? Wow, talk about lucky!
To be honest, I have no idea how pop-up ads like that work, but they must be turning a profit from enough of the internet population to justify paying Google for the ad space. They've obviously become more sophisticated over the past few years, but I'm still at a loss as to how anyone would ever fall victim to them, and yet people obviously do in large numbers on a daily basis.

Yep, there's a sucker born every minute and a lot of people sadly, are morons. If only the world was injected with a little more cynicism... What a wonderful place it could be!

Internet marketing scams such as these are small change though, and don't really do the title of this post justice. Whole industries, and various groups, agencies and governments devote themselves to selling hype to win influence, and profit from the ignorant masses. The most frustrating aspect being that they're actually able to succeed!
When it comes to the corporate world, the pursuit of the almighty dollar is obviously the impetus that any company has to "sell" to us, but as individuals, we really only have ourselves to blame when we hand over our money for products or services that weren't as valued as we were lead to believe. Every time we fork over cash and later (or sometimes immediately) feel burned, it should serve as a lesson. It's all too easy to be exploited like this and something that we're all undoubtedly guilty of, but there is no surer sign of being a moron than continuing to let yourself be taken advantage of.

Examples of people "believing the hype" are almost entrenched into the way we as individuals operate; its almost too easy when it comes to how easily many of us can be manipulated.
Case in point is the issue of global warming. No matter what you believe (and for what its worth, belief doesn't come into it in my opinion... Its simply science), most free thinking people out there base their "belief" in the information and misinformation of whoever it is that has an influence on them. The vast majority don't even bother to research or find out about the issue, and instead align themselves with whatever groups that they are somehow able to relate to. Maybe moronic is a bit harsh, but simplistic fits nicely. This fact can be somewhat forgiven if you don't really feel the issue is that important to you, but it becomes truly moronic when you get people who decide to become activists for either side without first finding out the facts for themselves. Yep, nothing more annoying than clueless activists!

I've kind of prattled on quite a bit for a blog post. The last thing that I want for this to become is some sort of Plato like Symposium (I should be so lucky!) or essay. Needless to say though, believing the hype is something that shares an extremely close affinity with our inner moron. Everyone's guilty of it at times, but by unleashing your inner cynic (everyone will love you for it), you might avoid the pain of being burned and instead be showered with glory and awesomeness... But probably not.

Feel free to let me know of any situations where you've believed the hype, and how it ended up turning out for you.