Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Peripheral Experiences and Personal Impression

I think much of our interest in something is determined by what we hear about it. First hearing about a negative experience with, for example, a movie or product is often enough to color our view of the same for good. And many people feel threatened by a negative review or impression of something they enjoy.

I think there's a reason that our consciousness works this way - conformity can be a way of institutionalizing proven, tried methods into our daily lives. But feeling insecure about things you've invested in can also be a way to introduce imbalance and dissatisfaction into life. So I've been training myself to look at things another way.

After realizing that it's more important to enjoy something and be personally satisfied than to stretch out a decision or create unnecessary advance distress, I've tried to twist the way I view what I'll call "peripheral experiences," the way that others discuss and review products and people. After realizing that I was often inclined to give extra credence to a single negative peripheral experience even amidst a sea of general acclaim, I've since tried to rely on "information shortcuts" to determine what I'll like. For example, when trying to decide a movie I'd like to see with a friend, I've found that a single positive review from a critic I respect steers me more reliably in an enjoyable direction than going through excessive research. My mind is thus clearer and I'm less inclined to overanalyze the experience and not enjoy it.

Information shortcuts can consist of anything - the experience of a friend with similar tastes, aggregate reviews, or manufacturer. It's quite similar to the ways that many people vote - if you know that a particular party tends to match many of your opinions, then you have a point of reference for building an image of a particular candidate. Likewise, if you've long been impressed by a particular guitar amp manufacturer and you see a new, affordable model with features that you like, just a little cursory research will be necessary to make a safe purchasing decision.

By choosing simple, reliable methods that tend to steer you in the right directions, you're more able to analyze your own impressions and experiences and enjoy something for its utility, entertainment value or benefit rather than counterproductive, contradicting peripheral experiences.

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