Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yes, You ARE That Stupid (and so am I)

Even if you haven't heard about the agent Pam van Hylckama's carjacking by a rejected wannabe client, you've doubtless heard of the ill-informed mob swarming to take down the perfectly legal LendInk, or some other incident that makes you wonder "How could they have been so stupid?!"

You might've even been one of those "stupid" people and are therefore now kicking yourself for that stupidity.

If you are—whether you're sniggering or embarrassed about the stupid—stop. Stop being embarrassed if you did something dumb, and stop sniggering at those who did something foolhardy.

Because every one of us is just as stupid.

Our individual types of "stupid" just show up in different areas.

I wasn't one of the fools who helped take down LendInk or who lashed out at those folks who helped take down LendInk…but you do not want me in an argument with someone who's upset and not saying what's really bothering them. It takes me far too long to catch on when someone's being roundabout or figurative, and I therefore am gasoline on their indignation.

Yet every so often I forget and try to jump in and diffuse a situation.

Since it's never worked, expect me to know better.

You have your own areas where you do something that you know—you know—is foolish.

And if you put any of us in an echo chamber about one of our "hot button" topics, we'll be just as likely to do something dumb…because all we're hearing is "This is okay, not stupid."

(By "echo chamber", I mean a place where you only hear one opinion about what's "right" to do or say, with any problems with that opinion and alternatives to that opinion being non-existent or squashed whenever they're brought up.)

For example, take KindleBoards. If you're a self-publisher, common advice there is to go exclusive with the Kindle Select program and to price low-low-low, get as many readers as possible, as fast as possible. While that model fits some folks' publication goals, it doesn't suit everyone.

But considering the overall tone and population in the Writer's CafĂ© on KindleBoards, a writer could easily be convinced to do something that goes against their goals—like, for example, giving their book away for free. And that website isn't an echo chamber.

Oh, KindleBoards sometimes sounds like one or acts like one, but it isn't a literal echo chamber. (Ah, on most topics, anyway.)

All of us have our hot buttons, topics that bypass our analysis and get us riled. Put us in an echo chamber that appeals directly to one of those hot buttons, and…

We'll be just as stupid as those featured in our favorite "I can't believe he did that!" stories.

Do you agree with me that everyone's that dumb? Do you have any "dumb" stories to share?


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