Thursday, April 4, 2013

Amiable Amy, Creepy Blogger - A Challenge

When you watch those two videos, don't you feel that one gives you warm, fuzzy feelings of positivity and empowerment, while the other is just... creepy? One makes you want to hug the person, while the other just makes you want to call the cops.

Actually, one is by Amy Walker, the other is by yours truly, and mine is a reaction to hers.

This blog is not about those videos per se, but about the reactions to those videos - and more precisely, what our reactions can teach us about ourselves.

Of course, one cannot contest the fact that Amy Walker is way more attractive than me. She is also a well-known actress. And, of course, she is a woman.

When I did my video, my intention was simply to spread the positive message she gave, a message about acceptance and empowerment. I thought that this was a good idea, and wouldn't it be nice if the thing went viral and lots of people started sharing their own version of that positivity.

Of course, this is not how things went down. The comments to my video were largely negative. At first, I was a bit angry - not as in, gotta go and kill a coder - just a bit frustrated. After the anger subsided, I became fascinated with the question why people would reject a message of positivity and empowerment, in an environment like youtube where no harm whatsoever can be done, at least not directly.

So here are my hypotheses:

One is about the halo-effect - the well-known psychological effect where tend to ascribe positive ethical attributes to people who we find physically attractive. It's why protagonists in a romantic drama will never be ugly, fat people with pimples and a dry-speaking challenge. People like that can, of course, be the most loving, caring and gentle of all. We just don't like to see them in our movies, and if we do, we can't have them be the good guys. It's why Legolas is blond and beautiful, while Uruk-Hai are black, ugly, and covered in mud (yes, that's also a racist stereotype, right there). Noble immortality and ugliness do not mix.

Another is about a gender stereotype. A woman being generally supportive to humanity is believable, but if a guy does the same, then he must be after something. Men are not supposed to behave that way.

The third is, of course, simply a lack of acting skills on my part. When Amy Walker wants to do "supportive", then she does, while I can only try to be honest. We have to work with what we've got. I could improve those skills, but frankly, the thing doesn't matter enough to me. (And, of course, I have the very same prejudices and biases in my head as everyone does, which might also help explain why it does come out a bit weird when I try it.)

And last but not least, there is the issue of general cautiousness. A stranger on the street telling me, out of the blue, that I am a good person who deserves to reach his goals - something fishy must be going on! I'd fully expect them to ask for money in the next sentence. Even if it's the internet, even if the guy cannot actually hurt me, still my gut reaction is to run away fast and far.

So, here's your challenge:

  • Re-watch those two videos
  • Be absolutely positive about the fact that you really know nothing about Amy or me
  • Be aware of your emotional reactions
  • Instead of projecting those feelings on me or Amy Walker, look into your soul and try to find out what they tell you about yourself
  • Post your insights somewhere on the internet

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