Last week I wrote up a short post called To Kill a Good Idea. It was a conversation between two people where one person presented an unusual idea and the other person quickly rejected it.
It turned out to be one of those conversations where LOTS of things were going on, much more than it seemed at first (even to me, and I wrote up the post!). The more I thought about the quick back-and-forth between person A and person B--and the more I thought about your comments--the more I began to see all of these toxic elements:
1) Snark: Sure, snark can be funny, but it is also fundamentally destructive to new ideas. Better to avoid it.
2) Condescension: Person B is being superior for no good reason. It's also entirely possible he or she doesn't even realize it.
3) Ego defense: It's easy for Person B to slam down an unusual new idea if his or her ego sees it as some kind of existential threat.
4) A "Not Invented Here" mentality: If somebody else has a good idea and you didn't think of it (the idea wasn't invented "here" in your brain) it is stunningly easy to denigrate that idea. After all, if you didn't think of it, it can't be any good... right? This is yet another form of ego defense.
5) Confabulation: Reacting negatively (and emotionally) to an idea, but then unconsciously confabulating a plausible and intellectual-sounding rejection (as in: Wait, no clothes... no *underwear* for a year?). The progression is emotional response-->limbic reaction-->intelligent-sounding rejection made up on the spot. The brilliant book You Are Not So Smart addresses this rapid-fire mental progression repeatedly (and hilariously).
6) Extreme reach fallacy: Several commenters nailed this one. Person B jumps to an extreme interpretation of The Great American Apparel Diet, taking it to mean that you cannot buy underwear for a year. Obviously the idea now sounds completely stupid, and Person B get to feel superior.
7) Having a scarcity mentality about good ideas--or more broadly speaking, having a generalized scarcity mentality about things like success, reputation, credit, ideas, concepts, strategies and so on. There is an unlimited abundance of good ideas: The "Person B's" of the world could take comfort in knowing that it's okay when someone else comes up with a good idea once in a while! This doesn't mean Person B's relative status is somehow lowered.
It's incredible that all of this destructive thinking can happen so quickly and so... unconsciously ...in such a short conversation. Imagine being person B, and going through all your days fiercely defending your ego from... everything. How many amazing ideas would you miss out on over the course of your life?
A quick postscript: I'd like to thank my readers for your attention and comments as I continue to explore subject areas tangential to cooking. I'm trying to work these things out for myself and I'm grateful to have all of you along for the journey!
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
For those readers interested in supporting Casual Kitchen, the easiest way is to do so is to do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site. You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.