Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ignorance Preserves Peace Between Friends

It's true. I like watching the Real Housewives shows. The Real Housewives of New York just ended its 4th season. A quick summary of the format. Camera crews follow 5 women around, and after each day of filming, each woman talks about what they were thinking earlier in the day as things were happening. Editing puts clips of things that happen right next to what they thought. They often were commenting on what they thought while talking to each other. Then, at the end of the year, the women get together for a "reunion show," and they all talk about what happened in the season. Well, it seems like every reunion show gets increasingly heated and out of control. People generally chalk it up to the casting of relatively outspoken and aggressive women. There is certainly some truth to that. You probably must be a little loony to think putting your life on television is a good idea. However, I have a theory that it would probably happen to anybody, man or woman.

Usually, when we go about our day, we interpret things that happen our own way, and while we do talk to other people when we have disagreements, of course there are still things that we don't say out loud. People generally have a positive view of themselves and even if they know other people have an uncharitable opinion of them, if nobody ever bothers to bring it up, there are no conflicts. If a camera crew and producer is following you around all the time, though... Plus, usually people stop thinking about things, but when it gets rehashed on TV, and then at the reunion show months after it happened, the negative feelings stick around and probably get stuck.

I think this means that a certain level of "collective cognitive dissonance" is needed for people to get along. I don't know if there's a real term for it. Actually Smark made it up. Sometimes we need to think everyone else is stupid without knowing that everyone sometimes thinks we're stupid in order to get along. People are often able to accept that they're a little bit wrong, but not too wrong. I think this rationalization is necessary for protecting one's mental health. Otherwise you would either get depressed or you'd constantly be second guessing your actions, which would probably make you depressed.

Anyway, all those women should probably quit the shows for their own mental health and emotional well-being.

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