08 June 2010

My mom started a website about me!

Not really. But that was my first thought when I came across YouAreNotSoSmart.com yesterday (via Kottke.org). While it's not another attempt by my mom to kill my self-esteem, it is a pretty cool blog that looks at various social misconceptions we all have about how we view ourselves and how we interact with the world. It's written by journalist David McRaney. Typically, he uses psychological research and evolution to dissect the myth and pinpoint its origins.

Here's a little sample:

The Misconception: You prefer the things we own over the things we don’t because we made rational choices when we bought them.

The Truth: You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

... If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.

Branding builds on this by giving you the option to create the person you think you are through choosing to align yourself with the mystique of certain products.

Apple advertising, for instance, doesn’t mention how good their computers are. Instead, they give you examples of the sort of people who purchase those computers. The idea is to encourage you to say, “Yeah, I’m not some stuffy, conservative nerd. I have taste and talent and took art classes in college.”
There's a lot more to that post, so you should read the whole thing.

If you're like me, a couple of the posts will prompt you to say, "Well, certainly other blockheads out there do this stuff, but not me! My New Yorker subscription is purely for the good writing. Not because it reinforces how I want to view myself and where I fit in the world! Poppycock!!!" But take a took a good long think about it. In a way, I find pulling back the biological curtains of our social quirks to be kind of comforting. Like, Hey, maybe I'm not a lame loser who has a myriad of weird social hang-ups and insecurities. Maybe I'm like most people, and that's okay, because we're hard-wired that way. Alright....

(Note: My mom doesn't actually try to kill my self-esteem. It's just a fun little myth I like to perpetuate. All told, my mom is a good mom.)


  1. Read it! very fascinating........

  2. Curse it, Tanner, I already have too many websites I try to read everyday; I don't need another one!