A week after… what? While I like making suspenseful ambiguous titles, I think I should reveal the answer to you before I can continue with my entry. Last week, 2 things happened. Firstly, it was my birthday. Secondly, the world did not end when it was supposed to.
Nope, this is not an entry about my reflections of being 20 years and 1 week old.
If you’re curious, word has spread that there’s now yet another apocalyptic date in 2013. Sometime in November, I think. Just so you know, there was another apocalyptic date in 2011 too, or at least, from what I can see from this article.
Sadly, none of the believers have stepped out to address the problem of why the world didn’t accede to its promise and implode, but this article did bring up the concept of cognitive dissonance, which is what said believers are probably sitting at home and wracked with now. The article explains a little bit of what cognitive dissonance is, which is highly psychological and therefore I’m putting it as a Saturday article. However, I do believe I learned about cognitive dissonance from my Theories of Communications & New Media class. It was a very tiny section which was not even elaborated on in the notes, but basically it says that after we market a new product or innovation, we should continually reinforce customer beliefs that they had made the right choice, in order to avoid dissonance.
So for instance, you successfully get someone to buy your washing powder. Once that person has bought and used it, you ought to continually show them how this washing powder is superior to all other washing powders and that he has made the right decision to listen to you. If you don’t confirm their decision, they may start thinking that perhaps their choice wasn’t the best one after all and get confused with dissonance. This also explains why believers of the apocalypse should get together now to confirm each other’s beliefs. If left alone with hardly a sound, the believers may begin to wonder if their beliefs had been correct after all.
I think that much of my beliefs are strengthened through confirmation with other people. I think most of us are this way. I heard somewhere that our opinions of ourselves are strengthened by the affirmation of others. So if someone around you says you’re hardworking, you’ll start to believe quite firmly that you’re indeed hardworking. Needless to say, this also works the other way around, so you should not hang out with too many people who think negatively of you.
Of course, people tend to admire those who have their own opinions and stand up to them against peer pressure. These people do have doubts as well from time to time and require encouragement and agreement to keep going. I guess I do refer to the opinions of people who know better than me in a certain area, and regard them as more applicable than my own. These people in media terms are known as “opinion leaders”. For example, when it comes to hearing what anime are good, I defer to the judgments of the hardcore otakus in the Comics & Animation Society. We may read blogs and articles (such as the one I linked in this entry) and discover a fresh insight to a topic coming from a person of authority. Some of you, if I may be shamelessly optimistic here, may even learn new perspectives of topics that you have little knowledge in from the Exalted Salvation Show. For instance, for people with no knowledge of psychology, you may read my Saturday entries for information and to find out what the dominant thoughts are out there in this domain.
But goodness, I am digressing. I hope you don’t encounter too much dissonance in your life, but if you do, try to take a step back and examine your own biases. You may find that there was never any evidence that the world was going to end.