Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Culture Blogs: Faces of Manipulation (1 of Many)

Manipulation has so many faces that it isn't even funny.  Like the Many Faced God in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice often we don't recognize what all of the faces are about.  Today I'd like to reveal to you one of the many faces of manipulation.  Peer pressure.

This is a form of manipulation everyone has dealt with their entire lives.  But how you've dealt with it has a lot to do with the kind of person that you chose to really be peers with.  Like the comic to underneath illustrates you can bludgeon someone into your choice by making them feel like they have no other choices available to themselves.  Especially when their knowledge isn't as broad as your own.
Curtesy of dndorks.com Check them out they're pretty funny, if you play D&D.  FYI: Druids are better healers.
This is an example of peer pressure.  Both of these guys are playing D&D together.  The one gets told what he's going to do because of what everyone else has chosen. It isn't fair at all.  But face it folks all of us have dealt with this kind of manipulation multiple times in our lives.

The Joker was one of the most memorable villians we've ever seen use this to the greatest end.  He set up a social "experiment" where a cruise ship and a ship of criminals are both dead in the water and he claims to have set up bombs on each.  The people on each boat are told that there is a time limit on the bombs, but they can save themselves if they are willing to push a button to destroy the other ship.  I'll not ruin the experiment for you if you haven't seen the movie, but it is great food for thought.  Because sometimes I wonder if I would have had the strength to push the button or get rid of the detonator.

Have you ever seen one person who is made stronger because of the peer pressure though?  They choose deliberately not to give in.  This is why I think peer pressure can be good, because you wouldn't have people who have such inner strength without it.  A perfect example of the kind of person who can be born of peer pressure is Anne Frank.

How many of us would have kept a disposition of love and joy while the government killed our people?  How many of us would still think people are still fundamentally good while being hunted in a game of genocide?  I wonder about such a question sometimes.  I would like to think I would keep such a disposition, but I've also been to Iraq and come home with various different ways my head has been messed up.  But I love the Iraqi people, they are certainly odd and many of the things they choose to do to one another make me want to cry, but I see them as people just like the rest of us who are trying to figure out their place in this world.  I can't blame a people who have been oppressed for living as if they have no civilization.  Oppression is a peer pressure all its own.

I for one believe that those who don't give in to negative peer pressure over years of torturous abuse have chosen a different peer group.  A peer group of good people that they don't want to let down.  Whether that be your family, your friends, or your God.  Peer pressure exists in every family.  We use it when we tell our children that we are disappointed in them or we beat them for their poor decisions.  Another part of this idea to consider.

I leave you with these ideas to consider as I close today.  I don't know how much peer pressure affects me.  But I'm trying to learn how to be an influencer of positive peer pressure.  It has been difficult, but I believe that if I keep working at it I'll be successful at it eventually.  Maybe I already am.  But I don't really matter here.  Rather you do.

I've chosen where I stand in my peer groups.  Stand or fall, I'll get back up and try and retain the stand I've taken.  I want people to believe that there are human beings out there that actually love everyone.   And ultimately the only human powers in the world that change hearts are love and hate.

Our books of the month remain Tankborn by Karen Sandler and Dhalgren by Samuel Delany.  In any book that deals with the concepts of race and racism like these do, the question of how one will be shaped by the pressures around them is ever present.  Joker chose to be shaped into a sociopathic sadist by what things were done to him.  Anne Frank chose to be a light to the human race.

One lucky follower of the blog will receive each of these books.  Cause I know that not everyone can follow my blog there are two ways to get entries.  One is to actually follow the blog this will get your name put into my hat three times, and the other is to leave a comment on the blog.  For each comment I receive on my blog during the month of March (I think it has said February a few times, my apologies) I'll put your name into the hat once.  I enjoy doing this because it gets me reading different books, supporting authors I love, and it allows me an opportunity to give back to you, my audience.

Tomorrow is the weekly Mashup and the End of the First Round of Words in Eighty Days.  I'll talk about my success and failures and what I hope for the next round then.  Jayrod Garrett, the First OG signing out.  Oh, I got a question: How has peer pressure shaped you in your life or how does it shape the world around you?
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