Sunday, June 10, 2007

Learning from egos in the online world

Ever wonder, why people go crazy in the online world, swearing at one another in the online forums, abusing someone to an extent that they would change their user names and going against the sites' moderators and admins to such an extent that they would be banned, and a lot of times it doesn't make much sense to a neutral reader. Though this seems to be a very good topic of research for a grad student in Psychology, the logic behind it is pretty simple. Every body needs a feeling of importance. Call it ego, call it self-respect or call it any thing that you would like when attributed to you. The bottom line is people want to feel important. They want appreciation of their work. They want someone to assert the fact that they know, that they are an important part of this society and they are good.

It is only this fact of feeling important, that makes many people post thousands of pictures and posts in online forums and communities. It is this, that makes people take creative and weird videos and post them on Youtube. It is this, that makes many people get dvds, rip movies and post pictures and clippings from these movies to movies forums ignoring what could happen to them if they are caught of piracy. It is this feeling that makes people carry thousands of posts in online forums. And what do they ask for. They want you to thank them for what they are doing. They want you to tell them that they are creative, and that their work is the best. If you don't believe me, check it out yourself by joining in one of these forums and watch out for the so-called "Senior Members" or the biggies in those forums. Check out how far can people go in wasting their personal time to get that feeling of being important.

You might have a feeling that these guys are a bunch of losers. Of course they are not. These are people with families', great jobs in IT or other fields, who spend some time very frequently to get that feeling of importance in the virtual world. It doesn't matter that the other person hasn't seen them, it doesn't matter that if the other person is actually typing the truth, it doesn't matter if their online name has nothing to do with their real name and that the praise is for their virtual id. All that matters is the fact that what they had done is important and that someone else asserted that they are good and creative.

So, what does all this prove to us. If an unknown person with a virtual id could do so much for you in an online forum for your enjoyment, so that you would appreciate their efforts, what does it tell us of the people in the real world. You need not read Dale Carnegie's How to win friends and influence people to understand that people need a feeling of importance. Things like the online forums and many things around you teach this very effectively and practically to us. The next time you feel that a colleague in your office has done a decent job on something, go ahead and appreciate them. You do not need to flatter them, just tell them honestly what you feel about it. If you are a manager, tell some one who works for you, once in a while, how much you appreciate their work. Send them an email of appreciation. Most people quit jobs not because of the money or the challenges but because their work is not appreciated. Give people honest appreciation, and make them feel important. A person with a satisfied ego is bound to stay lot longer than a person who is substantially overpaid.

Also, you can use the same in your family relations. The next time your wife makes a good meal, tell her how good it is, tell her once in a while that you appreciate all that she is doing. This is also equally applicable to kids. When your kid ace in a course or do something good, tell them you are proud of them. In an effort to keep you proud, they will do what you want them to do even without your telling them. If you observe, all that is needed is honest appreciation, which takes you probably a couple of minutes, the effects can only be experienced than explained..

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