The ability of the human mind to build patterns is wondrous and horrific. We can make instinctive judgements that avoid issues before we are even aware they exist or find our way through a city we’ve never visited without a map. But we can make instinctive judgements that create issues that didn’t exist or lead us away from our destination. And while it is a powerful enough thing to consider in the abstract, I find that pales compared to the experience of realising I am doing it in the moment and even knowing I am is not enough to overcome the unconscious shaping.
My wife and I were having a conversation last week with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages; one of the things they mentioned was that a new colleague was “very American”, and my wife and I both immediately knew exactly what they meant: the intense enthusiasm, the hyperbolic reactions, the largeness of presence and gesture.
Which reminded me of my experience watching this talk by Deval Patrick:
His ideas seemed sound but it felt off. I knew this was because he sounds “like a politician”; however, even knowing that I couldn’t set aside that sensation of falseness. Which was obviously a weird sensation because I agreed his suggestions were worth trying but also didn’t.
So, I tried an experiment this morning: I channeled my inner side-hustler and listened to the talk at a higher speed. The shift in pitch &c. made it sound artificial; but, ironically, also removed the unconscious false echo of wrongness.
Strange thing the mind.