Life is a psychology experiment!
If you’re ever involved in a psychology experiment, remember, whatever you are told is the point of the experiment- isn’t the point of the experiment. Every psychology experiment involves an element of misdirection. The experiment is designed to get you focused on something irrelevant so that your natural, or default, behavior can be observed.
The kicker is, anything, anything at all, that you participate in with other people is potentially a psychological experiment. Especially and literally true online, where you are almost certainly being tracked in some way unless you are taking unusual measures. And guess what? Taking unusual measures gets noticed too.
So what can you do with this knowledge?
You could choose not to participate- but that’s still a choice. Refusing to participate puts you in a bin just like choosing the red or blue pill. But you should realize that this isn’t new. We have been doing this to ourselves informally and without rigor for, well, ever.
A more useful choice might be to always be aware, to be mindful, of the minds outside our own who observe us. The watchers. Whether the watcher is your significant other or the NSA, be aware that there is an intelligent actor behind the curtain. A person with wants, thoughts, and assumptions not our own.
Consider what that person observes.
They can only ever see what we take action on. The (let’s assume) rich internal life in your mind is not visible to them. They see only what you act on. That which you do is you. Your desire is what you do and what you ask for.
We all have a narrative, a story, in our minds of who we are, and who other people are. This is a useful, but fallible, shortcut that helps us make sense of the world. That fallibility becomes a problem when the stories we tell ourselves don’t match reality, or when what other people see us doing doesn’t match up with our inner narrative.
One of the most remarkable things humans can do is share the narrative. We tell stories. Sometimes those stories are useful and instructive.
“This is how you drive a car…”
Sometimes they are collective memory, connective tissue of families and communities.
“You remember of your grandfather who was in the army…”
But sometimes they become dangerous, destructive and unhealthy generalizations.
“You’re too fat to ever…”
“Asians are all the same…”
“Republicans are just dumb…”
The stories we repeat are added to the narrative of who we are. So perhaps you should think about what face you are showing the observers. Is the “you” the observers see matching up with the “you” in your mind? Is it who you want them to see? Is it the “real you”? If it isn’t the real you, why isn’t it?
The good news is, if your inner narrative isn’t matching what other people see, you can change the story. It takes time, and most of all, it takes action. You have to decide to change and act on it.