Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Monday, May 9, 2011

What I do is contagious

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, s...Image via Wikipedia  Dr Seuss
We do not always realize how much our behaviour affects those around us. In these days of social networking, we interface with people who are to all intents and purposes perfect strangers. Well - they're not all perfect, but some of them come close.

It used to be that parents thought they influenced their children, and practised what they preached. Now most parents know that what really influences children is other kids, and stuff they take in by osmosis though digital means. Still, adults do shift each others' thinking, each others' perceptions, each others' curiosity and each others' taste, even if only temporarily. It only takes a little shift to change one's shopping habits, for example.

I found that what I lifted off a supermarket shelf recently made a nearby shopper take the very same can to read what I had so intently put on my glasses for. I saw her curiosity was moved by my absorbed reading of a label in search of carbohydrate content. Then, at the beginning of the chips-and-chocolate aisle, I stopped and veered off to the left, avoiding it altogether. Another shopper smiled and did the same, winking as he went.

Online, I found I have amazing power to direct my followers to read certain blogs, or look at pictures I like, or listen to tracks I bookmark, or smile at pictures of cats, or nod in agreement at sage snippets such as Dr Seuss's quotes. What I do seems to catch on. If I made a list of books, or links, or images, you'd most likely get curious and wonder what I like, and you might get to like it too. Or dislike it so strongly you might want to warn people off, and you would then influence another circle of people. What you do is contagious.

I have practised smiling while in the middle of a despondent mood, insanely grinning to myself in my rear-view mirror while stopped at a red light, only to find the fellow in the car to my left smiling insanely back. I have skipped a little dance while pushing my trolley (yes, I shop a lot) only to see a woman laugh and skip too. I have sung along to seventies and eighties songs on the car radio, and my son followed suit.

What amazing power we have to affect how others behave. Like it or not, humans play follow the leader more often than we think. We observe and imitate, discover and emulate, and are not always aware that what we do might end up being copied by others. We also rarely stop to think how much of what we do is original, or truly spontaneous. Which does not really matter that much. Perhaps the knowledge that what we do is catching might make us a bit more careful, and just like sneezing into a hankie not to spread the flu, we might become a bit more positive, cheerful and lighthearted so that when it does turn the circle and come back to us, it will strike us in a nice way, and make us want to copy it all over again.
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  1. Cute post and something to think about.Even in blog topics sometimes we are influenced by others or we do influence others. I'm a great singing in the car person, which often results in odd looks from otther drivers when I am on my own in the car.

  2. I love that interaction between people, especially those you just meet in passing. I suspect it's part of what makes us human.