"What if we all did that?" …my foot! – Part 2

[…Continued from Part 1.]

My second problem with this “What if we all did that?” reasoning is this: it’s not about everyone doing it – it’s about you doing it, it’s about one person doing it.

  • The fact is, other people are going to vote (and some aren’t). Base your decision on that info.
  • The fact is, other people will throw their trash into a trashcan (and some won’t). Base your decision on that info.
  • The fact is, other people will tell the truth (and some won’t). Base your decision on that info.

If you’re going to base your decision on what other people do, go for it. Examine what other people are doing and make your decision based on the data you gather.

If, on the other hand, you’re NOT going to base your decision on what other people do, fine. Figure out what you are going to base it on instead.

But this whole charade about finding some sort of middle ground? Hogwash! Don’t try to base your decision on what would happen if people acted totally differently. Don’t try to base your decision on a absurd hypothetical of what would happen if everyone followed your decision.

Of all the options you have, the option to base your decision on that hypothetical is the option LEAST grounded in reality. It’s completely fabricated.

I’m perhaps the most idealistic person I know. Ask my friends. But at the same time, I try to stay practical in the action I take, even if that sounds like a contradiction.

I say that because I’m all for doing the “ideal” thing, but we have to remember that the ideal action is situation dependent. Giving your nephew a lollipop might be the ideal decision for his birthday… but might not be the ideal decision right before bedtime. And that’s just one example.

Even if you and I are trying to create an ideal situation, an ideal life, an ideal world with what we do, the only way to do that is to take into account the actual situations we’re in. It’s insane to base our decisions on hypotheticals that aren’t remotely possible.

Here’s my overall takeaway: drop the “What if we all did that?” reasoning. You’ll end up with some wonderful results:

  1. You’ll have to find legitimate reasons for why you do certain things, like why you vote or don’t litter, which makes your beliefs more robust.
  2. And if you can’t find legitimate reasons for what you’re already doing, maybe you’ll change your mind and act differently… basing your decisions on reality instead of a philosophical fabrication someone fed you.

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