Recently, I read Robert B. Cialdini’s time-tested classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In my view, this is a book each one of us should give a contemplative read. Amongst many other important topics, the author discusses the concept of social proofing elaborately. Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon. It causes people who function on auto-pilot to ape others unintentionally. That’s how celebrities, sports stars, and politicians worldwide get popular and flourish beyond what they deserve. 

Due to social proofing, our mind gets tricked by a person or team’s success. If an influential person praises, acknowledges, or endorses someone or something, everyone else follows suit. Suddenly, this other person becomes a celebrity in everyone’s eyes. The psychology working here is – if a successful person says something, it must be right. They’re successful because they’ve figured something out that we haven’t. As they say, monkey see monkey do! 

Research shows that the more insecure a person is, the more attached they are to their favorite stars. Psychologically, those successful people give us the false feeling that we are successful. The sad part here is that subconsciously, those who feel like a failure cover it up with social proof. Insecurity makes them question their beliefs and ignore their inner voice. Such people, who lack internal strength, turn a blind eye to manipulative marketing and other marketing gimmicks. Due to this, even negative behaviors like racism, nepotism, and so on feels acceptable. 

Lately, I’ve had a first-hand experience of something relevant to this topic. A GuruToons comic got me trolled in a comic-sharing forum. Reason? As a mild troller commented, “Your comic seems like a theist apologist’s high-five. And, I’m not even an atheist.” 

By now, I have developed the stomach for being trolled and ignored. This isn’t the first time I’ve faced trolling. For sticking to my principles and following my heart, this world has given me a ton of flak. In my almost 40 years of life, I’ve faced all six forms of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, mental, financial, and cultural! There have been humiliating failures and astounding successes, including a beautiful Vision of the Divine. Many wonderful people have crossed my path, and so have some not so kind ones. Honestly, it feels like I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in a single one. 

Notably, one thing has always remained with me. Time and again, nature has helped me emerge successfully out of suffering. Thanks to all of those varied experiences, I’ve now become numb to praises. Taunts by a couple of special people still hurt me, but the effects of those are diminishing rapidly as well. In either case, I remind myself, “It takes a minute for the world that praises you for making a U-turn. Besides, what can a world that doesn’t know itself know about me?” Therefore, I watched those people in that social forum troll me with a slight sense of childish amusement. To me, it felt like a live demonstration of social proofing! 

Here’s the exciting thing about this tale. That forum had several comics that made fun of theists and God. Those got welcomed, appreciated, and applauded. Yet, even the so-called theists couldn’t handle a simple cartoon that borderline teased atheists! Have you ever wondered? Why is it okay for atheists to mock theists but not vice-versa? Isn’t rejecting God as “controversial” as accepting him or her? Most importantly, are you a victim of social proofing? Think deeply! Cause aping others stalls your spiritual progress.

By the way, I have quit that forum because promoting negativity of any sort is a severe offense. While I can bear people’s trolls, partialities, and ignores, I don’t necessarily support that behavior. If I observe favoritism towards influential people or find people disrespecting me or my work, you can count on me to silently disappear from such places. Not that I think of myself as a celebrity, but because supporting such acts is not in my DNA! In my opinion, if more people mustered the courage to stand up against such demeaning behaviors, our world will be a much better place.

If you believe in standing up against negative behavior, in the true os[dot]me spirit, please make a pledge here: 

Rather than just polarizing towards popular people, I will welcome the newbies to os[dot]me with open arms! I will give them love by spending at least a few moments reading their posts. If I’m active on this forum, I will welcome new writers’ posts with my kind comments. Above all, if I observe someone getting trolled in any forum, I will not participate in it ever.

As an anomaly to my blog posts, I request you to comment on this one! If you agree with the pledge, show your support against favoritism and trolling here. Let everyone who visits os[dot]me hear your voices. Let’s make the newbies to os[dot]me feel welcomed. Concluding this impromptu os[dot]me exclusive post: together, let us show them what os[dot]me stands for.

 

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