Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Green Shark

I was sitting on a plane once and two kids were playing on the seats next to me. One of them, couldn't be more than 5, was being pestered by his older brother. The younger kid had a little plush blue shark that he was quite fond of. The older brother kept calling the shark green on purpose which the little one would cry out "No its not! Its blue!!" in an annoyed tone. But the brother kept on insisting it was green, trolling the younger kid.

After hearing her younger son scream "no its blue!" angrily a couple times the mother got annoyed and asked the child. "What color is the shark?"

"It's blue" replied the child.

"Ok you know the shark is blue, stop worrying about what your brother thinks" she instructed.

It was comical to witness the entire scene and particularly the behavior of the young child. Why did it matter to him what color his brother thought the shark was? Why did he get so angry and annoyed about it (being teased in itself)?

Some thoughts:

1) The child doesn't know how to deal with a trolling situation, he understands he is getting teased, and gets angry about it

2) "Someone on the internet is wrong!" syndrome. Some people can't let it go and need to make sure the person who is seeing things differently changes their mind or at least understands. The child is angry that his brother is wrong

3)  Maybe its the fact that it is his brother and not some random person on the internet. Maybe the brother is respected by the younger brother and part of his tribe. Thus it is important that someone so close to him understands and sees things the same.

It was an interesting situation and the more I think about it, the more I lean towards 1 as it is the simplest (Occam's Razor!).

Do we have our own green sharks?

Could there be some takeaway from this situation? Maybe we all have experienced our own green sharks: when someone tells us something is different then what we clearly see.

I think the mom's advice is good in most situations: ignore it. Let them have their opinion and move on.

but... what if they are wrong? Which is why it is so situational dependent because in some cases it is the responsible thing to inform and educate. Dialog is good for both parties, but when it crosses that, let them have their opinion. Don't forget.. what if it is YOU who is wrong?

As our communities grow and opinions spread, our goal should not be to convince everyone to see things the way we, or our tribe, sees things. Instead it is more important that we learn to co-exist with the with other's opinions.