Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Behold, I Will Corrupt Your Seed, and Spread Dung Upon Your Faces

Jonah Lehrer:

Psychologists refer to this as the paradox of power. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude. According to psychologists, one of the main problems with authority is that it makes us less sympathetic to the concerns and emotions of others. For instance, several studies have found that people in positions of authority are more likely to rely on stereotypes and generalizations when judging other people. They also spend much less time making eye contact, at least when a person without power is talking.

...But here’s the catch: We still think we do care, at least in the abstract. That’s because power quickly turns us into hypocrites.

...The larger lesson is that Foucault had a point: The dynamics of power can profoundly influence how we think. When we climb the ladder of status, our inner arguments get warped and our natural sympathy for others is vanquished. Instead of fretting about the effects of our actions, we just go ahead and act. We deserve what we want. And how dare they resist. Don’t they know who we are?

This is why I enjoy self-depreciating humor. Not only is it just simply funny in and of itself, it keeps you from taking yourself too seriously, and it keeps people from wanting to give you any power. I'm fugly, stupid, boring and untalented. Don't ask me to do anything; I'll just fuck it up. In fact, I can't write well, either. Why are you even reading this? Don't you have anything better to do? Go away!

There. Now my immortal soul is safe. Socrates would nod approvingly.