Fragility and the Power of Suggestion

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Each time I go to the bathroom, I expect to walk into my bedroom and find myself sleeping on the bed. Not “myself” myself but a different me that’s still me. I always thought that time, aside from being the temporal dimension, is a very fragile and unforgiving one. Almost every story we hear and every movie we watch involves messing with time, turning back time, or going forward in time. People have always fantasized about time machines so they could go back in time to fix something or go forward into the future to discover something but hardly anyone dreams about living two timelines at once that are only a few minutes apart.

Sometimes you have those innocent and perfectly human moments where you have to use the bathroom but you are too sleepy to get up. Sometimes, you get up and sometimes, you sleep it off. When I wake up, I split these two realities in my head. Two, because it’s more simple to imagine. In the first reality, I get up and go to the bathroom and in the second reality, I sleep it off. Let’s invent a rule that there’s a certain hour, minute, second, and millisecond that no human is supposed to wake up but for some reason and I did. It causes a glitch where the two realities cohere. The other me got up and went to the bathroom while the other me decides to close her eyes and sleep again.

As soon as I get up, I wouldn’t notice that my reality has split into two. I would walk towards the bathroom, do my business, and walk back to the bedroom. As soon as I close my eyes and start falling asleep again, I wouldn’t notice that my reality has split into two. I would sleep and probably wake up when I hear someone walk into my bedroom. This is a spooky thought to think especially when you’re living alone like me. Sometimes, I peek into my bedroom or the bathroom to see if I am there when I am really “here”. It makes me feel like I’m going insane but I don’t see it as something so far from reality. After all, we don’t get just one.

Timelines can be so easy to mess up or duplicate because we never really notice when it happens. There is something that protects us from seeing the implications of the very small things we do each day. The butterfly effect, I bet you hear it all the time. How small causes can have large effects – as Wikipedia puts it. So let us see an example from a meta-human who sees these implications. The Flash, a speedster, is notoriously known for doing things to save other people and ending up messing the timeline. Every time he makes an innocently small change that causes good for someone, a big disaster happens in return.

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One of the greatest examples is The Flashpoint Paradox where The Flash saves his mother. Him keeping his mother alive steered another timeline into a different direction. The Bruce Wayne / Batman we used to know dies as a child. His father lives and becomes Batman. His mother succumbs into madness and becomes the Joker. Aquaman and Wonder Woman fought each other and lead a war between races which resulted into the end of the world. And it’s all because The Flash’s mother lives when she is not supposed to. That is why I say time is fragile and unforgiving. It takes very little change to make everything go so wrong.

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In the movie “Mr. Nobody”, the main character (Nemo) states several small decisions or little happenings that affected his life and other people’s lives in a big way. He stated losing the love of his life, Anna, because an unemployed man in Brazil stayed home and boiled an egg to eat. This caused a condensation and resulted into heavy rains on the other side of the world on the same day that Nemo receives Anna’s phone number after a long time of being apart. He says that he may have caused the man’s unemployment because he bought a different company’s cheaper jeans. These all lead to that exact moment that he loses contact with Anna. There were plenty of scenes like these in the movie including the part where a fragment of an eggshell dropped into the waffle batter while it was being made in the factory caused his father to stop for a moment when he bites into it which then caused him to lose track over his parked car and this lead to an accident. The car ran into a woman and kills her. In short, the small oversight of an employee from a waffle factory caused the beginning of the destruction of his family’s life, as well as the woman’s.

All these apply in real life and are probably inspired by real life. Most people do not recognize the impact of the little things we do and what more, the power of what we say. I’ve performed some experiments on the power of suggestion for quite some time. You would think that I’m not much of a talker and certainly wouldn’t have the interest in performing social experiments but I am. Perhaps, I’ve had too much fun on the experiment that you would no longer see it as an experiment but rather a lifestyle. You don’t need an army to destroy someone’s reputation and people’s lives, all you need is a single comment uttered at the perfect time and heard by the right people. The thing is, when you say something about a thing, an idea, a place, or another person, it starts to have some truth into it. When you utter the words, you bring those words to life, and as fantasy-like as it sounds, the more people who believe in those words, the more real it becomes.

If we know each other and I make a remark that someone we both know is taking advantage of women by constantly touching them and making it look “friendly”, you will consider the idea that he is. Now, if I say this in front of other women he’s close with, who had “touching” encounters with him, they will consider it too. A few may shake their heads and say “I don’t think that’s true” but the suggestion remains in the back of their minds. Every encounter they have with this man puts that suggestion into spotlight. Every encounter becomes a confirmation of the idea you planted into their minds. Such confirmations become so hard to resist and there will come a time that it is all you will see. Now that it becomes the truth, it will spread through word of mouth. Maybe it will reach the ears of new people who are yet to meet this guy and they will have that initial impression. Most of the time, they wouldn’t give him a chance to prove he’s innocent. Sometimes, they would and the confirmation phase comes to play. There you have it, you just destroyed someone’s reputation. This could lead him to getting fired, accused of sexual harassment, and not ever getting hired at all. If this man was suicidal, he’ll most likely take his already ruined life. In short, one artfully delivered remark can cause chaos or someone else’s life.

So how does this differ from the typical and petty “spread the rumors” that most teenage girls do to destroy each other’s reputation? Typical rumor-spreading does not require calculations. These rumors simply want to reach the most ears they could. They don’t target specific listeners. They could spread through texts or Facebook pages or any possible medium. And they are often first heard from sources that are not credible or people who have been known to be destructive liars. If I had the reputation for being an honest, intelligent, and credible source, people are more likely to believe whatever I say. No new findings there. If I’m the type of person who is private and rarely speaks against anybody, people will assume that whatever I speak about is big and serious. If instead of blatantly telling people something, I let myself be “overheard” while talking to a close friend and I appear to be burdened but not necessary crying or displaying “out there” emotions.. If I placed myself in a position where the people who will most likely overhear what I say are known to be talkative.. If at first interrogation, I refuse to answer their questions.. In short, if I give people the impression that my ideas are private, they assume that it’s important and must be true. After all, there’s no reason to hide something that isn’t true. Another thing to look at is if the enemy has already shown a hint of the reputation you’re trying to give him/her. If he/she does not, create that situation before making your “suggestion”. In the right place, at the right time, and with the right people, words have a powerful impact. There is no violence required to make such impacts and you are less likely to be convicted of the “crime”.

Now before you diagnose me of psychopathy, I’m saying all of these based on my observations and these techniques have become second nature to me. As crazy as it may sound, I perform such acts on good people and I rarely waste effort on revenge unless I need to stop someone that’s causing too much damage to others. You can reverse the intention by suggesting that someone has positive traits but people are more likely to believe the negative – negativity bias.

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For the highly analytical people, the power of suggestion is a subtle weapon of mass destruction. They know its importance and they utilize it. Perhaps, the best example of this evil can be found in the television series “Gotham” when Nygma decides to destroy Penguin after finding out that he ordered to kill his girlfriend. He orchestrated subtle hints that lead Penguin to kill one of his staffs, blurt something out that isn’t good for his reputation as mayor on national TV, make a fool out of him, break his heart, shoot him, and throw him into the river. Intense, isn’t it?

I guess the whole point of this insane article is to never take for granted every little detail. It’s a trait I find hard to find in most people and as arrogant as I may sound, I am amazed of their surprise and ignorance when the outcome of their actions is handed over to them.

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Fragility and the Power of Suggestion

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