psychology of crowds & how we group people (and the american election)
“You are here for a purpose.
There is not a duplicate of you in the whole wide world; there never has been, there never will be. You were brought here now to fill a certain need.
Take time to consider what it might be.”
I do this … and I do this all the time. And I don’t like it when I recognize I do it.
Clumping people together in some generalization.
But we do it all the time.
And, boy oh boy, we are certainly doing it with regard to Trump followers.
- Assuming someone who doesn’t have ‘an education’ is stupid.
- All old white men vote the same way is stupid.
- Women will never vote for a sexist old white man is a stupid thought.
All of these are … well … stupid & wrong.
And while I am a generations guy <meaning that I believe a larger generation cohort takes on some attitudes because of it contextual place in history and the past generations impact upon them> that does not mean I do not believe individuals have their own brain and their own beliefs/opinions. They may cluster on occasion but day in and day out most people wake up, do their own thing and make up their own minds.
We may not like what someone thinks but most people are not sheep blindly following the herd. That doesn’t mean we don’t all selectively make ‘sheep-like’ decisions.
I would suggest that all of us, yes, all of us take on some sheep aspects in Life. We do so because in those particular things we are comfortable with an idea and are comfortable with the others in our cluster. People outside of our ‘herd’ simplistically point fingers and unequivocally state “sheep.”
I’m sick of blanket statements about men and women, or any group, by supposedly intelligent people.
All it really achieves is to depersonalize the individual and lump everyone into broad categories which, frankly, many people frequently don’t fit into.
Some people in broad groups are this way, others aren’t. Period. End of story.
There is a psychology of crowds. But the funny thing is that most crowds are driven by … uh oh … self. As in ‘self-interest.’
If you have ever studied attitudes & behaviors of people or even dabbled in marketing in any way you will have explored the psychology of crowds and its relationship to individuality & self interest.
Suffice it to say … crowds are tricky things.
You can gather a crowd through emotion or gather a crowd through reason.
One view, not mine, is to gather a crowd … any way you can … because once you have a crowd you can communicate with them. Manage them through emotion and connect with them rationally.
The other view, mine, is if you gather a crowd with reason they are likeminded rationally and therefore more receptive to the emotional message you may offer.
One tries to convert emotion to rational. The other tries to convert rational to emotional. Yeah. I am being very simplistic and there are degrees within what I just wrote. But let’s keep it simple for the sake of this discussion.
The emotional play is powerful … but built on a weird combination of vaguery and tangible. The vaguery is in some intangible ‘better than what currently is’ <even if what is resides somewhere at the bottom of some shithole and I am offering something still within the shithole … just not the bottom> and the tangible is almost always found in the past … like … “get the US back to what it was before.”
Inevitably emotion is a combination of anger at what is and desire for what was to become what will be.
The true vaguery resides in the … well … how.
How is it possible to go back?
How is it possible to revert all that has happened?
How is it possible to be what I was before when I know so much more now?
“I love the old days, you know?
There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back any more.”
But his vaguery is always couched in the ultimate solution to any person in a desperate situation – “I will do whatever it takes. I am willing to destroy anything to create a win.”
He needs no detail in his mind because he simply suggests everything & anything is on the table.
And that not only stirs up the crowd <who doesn’t like the sound of ‘destroy to create’?> but most of all … the rhetoric maintains a strong self-interest tone.
In other words … “do anything because what do I have to lose … the status quo ain’t giving me shit now.” <in fact … just like this bombastic guy is telling me … I am in a frickin’ shithole>.
In the end … the rhetoric implies sweeping change. Not better change for the average schmuck, just change.
I say all this because <circling back to the beginning> far too often we clump people together in some fantastical grouping and ignore the foundational aspects of why they are willing to behave the way they are behaving. Because no matter what kind of anger everyone wants to point out ad nausea … the reality is that this is all about self-interest.
Let me explain using the diagram above.
At the foundation of what weakTrump exudes is aggressive definitions of ‘the shithole we are in’ leading to almost a fever pitch of blaming, finger pointing and anger.
He has no ideology except a promise of something better than the shithole he is claiming everyone is in.
While I laugh in horror at this bizarre spectacle I admire his grasp of psychology … “if I can convince you that you are dying of thirst even muddy bacteria driven water is a ‘win’”.
He convinces every one to believe in the deepest shithole <disaster state> he can define which increases our belief radical change is necessary and that inevitably affects how much risk we assess … and if he has done his job well … by the time we make our ‘self-interest decision’ we are somewhere on the bad side of the spectrum of “what the hell … what do I have to lose?”
Please note. To win the election all he needs to do is create a universe of 51% of voting population somewhere, anywhere, on the left hand side of the spectrum. Correspondingly, to beat Trump someone has to convince 51% of the voting population they reside somewhere on the right hand side “less of a shithole to no shithole” spectrum.
But weakTrump is good at this … he appears tough with regard to self-interest because … well … he has been successful himself focused on self-interest.
Therefore many people, who may believe they have nothing to lose today feel like it is in THEIR best self-interest to take the risk with the only person who is willing to do whatever it takes to get out of the shithole.
Or as one Trump supporter said:
“I’m willing to pay for it. I want to see my country winning again. Trump is a winner. And I’m sick of losing.”
In 2014 something like 63% of the American people didn’t vote. 80% of young people didn’t vote.
In 2016 over 50% of the American people feel like either America is in the shithole, sliding into the shithole or teetering on the edge of sliding into the shithole. This makes his message pretty powerful. If people, driven by self-interest, are paying attention they will be compelled to consider voting … and voting for weakTrump.
If you wanna beat weakTrump it will take a two pronged effort.
First is attacking his mysterious plans to get America out of the shithole he apparently feels the country is in. The more risky he sounds the more likely some people will be to think long & hard about whether we, and the person thinking specifically, are truly in that deep a shithole.
Second is attacking the concept of ‘the shithole.’ I am certainly not suggesting some optimistic rosy ‘everything is great’ message … but someone needs to rationally explain that America is not in a crisis, not a disaster and certainly not in the shithole. I think of this like America is a high performing 8 cylinder engine that is not running smoothly at the moment. But I am still an 8 cylinder engine and I still haven’t stopped running and I still haven’t exploded sitting on the side of the road unrepairable.
To any of the politics blowhards out there … I hope you read this or Trump is gonna frickin’ kick your ass in November and I am going to be stuck with that asshat as my president.
Suffice it to say … that would suck.