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“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” – Buddha

It’s hard to say what exactly makes an idea come alive. Some people are more than happy to jump on the bandwagon for lacklustre ideas, while other great ideas forever line the parade route. Some trends become traditions, others disappear from memory. Some annoying fads, like leg warmers, just  keep reappearing, Why?

Social network theorists have noted that some ideas stick because an expert (or a celebrity) promotes it, and we are stupid prone to believe everything they say. Does anyone remember “the gold is there”? I do because I worked exclusively on the ensuing lawsuits for 5 years. Bre-X Minerals announced their massive find. Experts asserted from core sample tests that this was the real deal. It was not. Investors lost billions, lawsuits were filed, and to this day, the former VP of the company enjoys his breakfast on a Cayman Island beach. Though a poor college student and single Mom, news articles touting this amazing find caught my eye and I considered investing my piddley savings in stock (though I had no clue what a stock was) in the hopes of growing that nest egg sizably. I didn’t invest in stock, but I sadly I did invest in Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster®…

thighs

Photo courtesy of http://www.wired.com

If you weren’t influenced with Gwenyth Paltrow’s juice cleanses, it could be for one of two reasons:

1) you are not cool part of the network of influencers. Who promotes an idea is less important than the network of individuals promoting an idea. When it catches on and spreads, even within your own circle of friends, it is because of the relationship or connections you have within that sphere. So if you don’t really relate to Gwenyth Paltrow, you are less likely to pay the slightest attention to her ramblings, but when your BFF starts raving, you are more likely to listen.

2) you are more likely to follow your heart. Our emotions play a big part in the choices that we make. Who we relate to and how we relate to them, whether their reputation precedes them or based on own experiences, will impact how likely we are to be influenced by them. When embracing an idea, our personal goals and self-perceptions can play a part (Atkins bandwagon – anyone?) too. And, all too often, our desire for pleasure trumps our common sense. We can become excited by an idea and start to endorse it, before we’ve fully investigated it. Sure, I could eat bacon for breakfast every day but should I? Some “experts” claim it’s a healthier fat than chemically-laced vegetable-based products, while other “experts” claim bacon is carcinogenic and causes cancer.  Which experts are right? I don’t care…I don’t have time in the morning to cook bacon, or enough cash in my wallet to buy some on a Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich!

What sparked all this research? P.B.S. We’ve been watching the Great British Baking Show every Monday on the P.B.S. television station and I have developed a greater interest in baking, which if you’ve been following my blog, you will know is not one of my strong points! Baking disasters (cooking too) abound in my homestead, complete with ugly cries and burnt offerings. I have had 2 successes this month baking bread from scratch, and 1 disaster baking square cupcakes (for a Minecraft® themed party). Non-stick baking pans are a lie! I’d work out my frustration with my thighmaster® but I sold it at a yard sale, using my powers of influence as an expert on an unsuspecting buyer.

Bottom line: Be careful what ideas you have and you hold – for they can influence those around your for good or for evil.

Happy Weekend!

Resources:

The Power of Being Influenced – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/power-being-influenced

We Are More Influenced When We Follow Our Hearts – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828073302.htm

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