Thursday, May 12, 2005

How to win friends and influence people

Dear Mr. Knowitall,

I want to win friends and influence people, but I'm too lazy to read the book. Do you have any advice?

People are a lot like robots. But squishier. Everything you need to know about people you can learn from observing Hollywood's most beloved mechanical characters.

The earliest robots in film were played by cowboys on stage at saloons called Nickelodeons in the 1800's. Back then, they didn't have psychologists to inform their performances, so they often acted in an over-the-top, comical manner. Fast forward a few decades and we have the likes of R2-D2, (R2-Day-Towa in Huttesse) in Star Wars, and Mighty Joe Young in King Kong. These robots can teach us a wealth of secrets about humans and how to befriend/influence them. Here is a quick list of 'bots and what they teach us about people:

  1. Mechanical Bipeds from Metropolis ~ 19-something: Hard work pays off.
  2. Frankenstein's Monster from Frankenstein ~ 19-something later: People respect tall people.
  3. H.A.L. from 2001: The Year We Make Contacts ~ 1970-something: A.I. is evil
  4. Jason from Friday the 13th ~ 1970-something: Teasing ugly little boys at camp turns them into killer robots.
  5. Great White Shark from Jaws ~ 1976?: People are unreliable.
  6. C-3PO from Star Wars ~ 1977: People are snotty cowards.
  7. Lobot from The Empire Strikes Back ~ 1980: People are reliable.
  8. None from The Never Ending Story ~ 1988: There weren't any robots in this movie. Pity. Imagine how much cooler it would have been with a robot.
  9. RoboCop from RoboCop ~ 1986: Deep down inside, everyone is a hero.
  10. T-500 from The Terminator ~ 1984: Deep down inside, everyone is a killer.
  11. T-500 from Terminator 2 ~ 1991: Deep down inside, every killer is a hero.
  12. T-500 from Terminator 3 ~ 2003: People can get too old to play robots in movies.
  13. Mechanical Owl from that one movie about the Greek gods ~ 1981: He's SO cute, and talks just like R2-D2! Um… Like people!
  14. Tick-Tock from Return to Oz ~ 1985: People cry tears of oil.
  15. Johnny 5 from Short Circuit ~ 1986: Being an obnoxious, pop-culture spewing loudmouth will make you popular.
  16. Hayden Christenson from The Clone Wars ~ 2002: It's all Obiwan's FAULT! He's holding him BACK!
  17. Teddy Bear from A.I. ~ 2002: A.I. is kind, loving, and loyal.
  18. Battle Droids from The Phantom Menace ~ 1999: If the capitol ship is destroyed people become useless piles of scrap metal.
  19. Ed 209 from Robocop ~ 1986: People can't walk down stairs.
  20. The Iron Giant from The Iron Giant ~ 1942: Even though people are made of metal, they have hearts of gold. Which is also a kind of metal.
  21. Data from Star Trek ~ 1921-2003: People wish they were human.
  22. Sonny from I, Robot ~ 2004: Often times, robots can act better than people
  23. Darth Vader from Revenge of the Sith ~ 2005: Huuuuuuugh-Haaaaaaaaaaagh.

With these things in mind you can see it's pretty easy to create a definitive list of how people work and why. Once you figure out how to tap into that you will be able to fully befriend/control anyone. It's all about simple, unchanging rules. Of course some people have different (or stupid) personalities. But they aren't really worth captivating/manipulating anyway. Remember the whole reason people exist is to further your own ends, and if they don't fit into your expectations it is perfectly acceptable to marginalize and ignore them. So, excluding those types, how does one learn the rules that all people follow? Watch lots of movies and T.V. Especially M.T.V. (That reminds me:

  1. Carson Daily from Total Request Live ~ 1995-?: It's possible to build a cult of personality with no personality.)

Shows like "The Reel World" and "Who Wants To Marry A Creepy Millionaire?" can teach you a lot about how people in the real world behave. Just pretend you are like that old woman who wasted her whole life watching monkeys in Africa, and carefully observe what the people on these shows do. (Have a note-pad and pencil handy in case you want to doodle.) It's all a simple matter of cause-and-effect*. In math terms this is called Algebra 2. When X does Y, than Z does A.

Once your list is compiled you are ready to effectively subjugate/hypnotize anyone. Here are some great ways to get started on your path to world domination:

  1. Take the time to get to know your victim/friend before using and discarding them. Well… at least get to know their name.
  2. Looking people in the eye while talking to them may cause them to think you challenging them for dominance of the herd. Don't do it!
  3. Shaking hands is often the first impression that someone has of you; besides your name. But really, even if you shake hands like Palsy-stricken child, if your name is Lance or Dirk, it doesn't matter. They will have to respect you for your name.
  4. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says: "You can't judge a book by its cover." This is strange since the ancient Chinese used scrolls. This saying has no application to people.
  5. To stay confident enough to successfully seduce/bully people, try to imagine everyone in their underwear. And sea-sick. And breaking out with acne. And covered in dirty cat litter. And on fire. That always does the trick for me.
  6. If you are always right, (as I am) then you need to remember that everyone else is always wrong.
  7. To keep your friends loyal to you, make sure you pay them at least one dollar for every time you insult them or physically damage them.
  8. If you don't like what someone is saying, try pushing or pulling on various parts of their body to turn the volume down. Conversely, if they are saying something good, turn it up.
  9. Begin each conversation with a powerful head-butt. This will establish your dominance early.
  10. People like honesty and hate liars. So try to keep them from finding out about all your lies.

So you can see that fooling people into being your friends, and then influencing them to do what you want is quite simple. Though some so-called "experts" claim that interpersonal communication is a Gordian knot of subtlety and nuance I think they are just trying to sound smart. Just remember, simple rules, simple results. And there is no attitude problem a quick re-boot can't solve.

*Copywrite 2005 – exclusively owned by Mr. Knowitall industries.

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