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Sunday, August 28, 2011
Outsourced Brainpower: An Untapped Resource for Opinion Molders
Common sense incorrectly suggests that we should always think for ourselves. Actually, we often outsource brainpower for valid reasons, usually to friends, spouses, and other family members.
Let’s say your teenage son is fascinated with computers, and you’re just barely computer savvy enough to be reading this article. Of course, you’re going to direct computer questions to your son, but there’s more to it than that. Your son knows that you expect him to know, so he’s more motivated to learn. In fact, each family member outsources some of his brainpower to other family members.
Most people rely on brainpower outsourcing when they vote. The good news is, they don't outsource their brainpower to the corporate media. For people who “don’t have time to keep up with the issues,” as they say, that’s not really a bad strategy because most people who employ that strategy are outsourcing their brainpower to people they know, trust, and respect.
People like that are called mavens—people who eagerly acquire information and share it with others. Because others recognize political mavens as such, they willingly outsource their political brainpower to them, which, in turn, further encourages them to keep up with the issues. In many cases, these mavens are also connectors: people who seem to know everybody and everybody seems to know them.
They really should. Most elections are won or lost within a range of three percentage points. A switch of 1.5% of the vote can change the outcome of most elections. At the same time, think of how many people are still undecided when they arrive at the polling place—probably more than 1.5%. That suggests that most elections are decided by shallow, uninformed people who decided how they would vote only on the spur of the moment.
Is it any surprise, then, that most congressmen are better looking and have more hair than the average people in their age groups? It’s true. Check out “How We Created the Mess in Washington, Part 1.”
Let’s get back to the mavens to whom people outsource their political brainpower.
Candidates for public office, as well as political pundits such as I, should take the education of these mavens more seriously. Most people think that the opinion molders are all famous people such as Scott Pelley or people in respected positions, such as ghetto ministers. In a way, they are because the mavens do pay some attention to what those people say. For 80% to 95% of the people, though, the mavens are their most important sources of actionable information.
Let me stress here that the mavens can be anyone—the mailman, a mechanic, a barber, or even a minimum-wage hamburger flipper at McDonald’s. If you want to go the route of influencing the mavens, keep an open mind as to where you’re likely to find them.
There’s a touch of irony here. One of the chief arguments against relying on blogs such as this one for your information is that “professional” news sources—simply because they’re “professional”—should be considered more reliable. My counter argument has been that paid witnesses are less reliable than volunteers. Just consider who pays them. [Click here for the inside story of how Fox News withheld life-and-death information on Monsanto, due to advertising pressure.] The mavens who are the subject of this article are a slam dunk. Even before there was an Internet, it was the mavens—not the corporation-paid talking heads—who had the most influence with most people.
The Tipping Point, those three types of people are mavens, connectors, and salesmen. While you’re at it, read the book. Like most important books, it’s a small book, so it won’t take long to read. I’ve already read it twice, and I’ll probably read it again.
If we’re serious about taking our country back, we shouldn’t neglect the largest pools of outsourced brainpower and political influence in America. As a resource, they’re virtually untapped. We can change that equation.
We're all in the same boat now. It's time to identify their real opinion molders, as opposed to the talking heads that get interviewed by the corporate media, and start rowing.