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Idiots, Maniacs, and Detroit Red Wings Fans

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Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? - George Carlin

It's a solid observation made into a great bit by one of the masters of joke delivery, George Carlin. There's a number of other amazing comics who could deliver that line well, but none really nailed down the tone of such an observation like Carlin could. He had a style that neither tried to apologize for the stupid ways people worked nor tried to claim he was above acting like that too. Carlin was cool in ways I'm not. For one, Carlin wouldn't spend a blogpost explaining his joke like I'm about to do. Maybe I can slip in the F-bomb somewhere around here to try and capture that?

What Carlin is getting at here is a psychological feature in humans called the fundamental attribution error. Although the title says "error", it's kind of a feature. Humans aren't really capable of treating any more than 12 dozen or so people like they're actually people (their Monkeysphere). The reason for fundamental attribution is a categorical shortcut our brains use to kind of protect us from the crushing paralysis of caring about every single other person on Earth as much as we care about those closest to us.

So you get cut off in traffic by somebody and that person is an asshole. that's all they are to you. They have wronged you regardless of YOUR needs to get through traffic. It's just the way it works. You cut somebody off in traffic? Well hell, that's because you absolutely have to get in that lane and they were following too close without realizing how absolutely crucial it was to YOU that you get into that lane. Who's the asshole now? well... it's the person who was blocking you and forced you to cut them off.

I know, there are a decent number of you thinking "no, I'm the asshole and I'm proud of that!" yeah, good job Dr. House. You've figured out the glitch. It doesn't mean that those other people mean anything more to you though. Fundamentally, they're still just obstacles to you. Using fundamental attribution on yourself is a different kind of mental shortcut.

So what does this have to do with Red Wings fans?

In the last two days, I've written about how logically, I think the Red Wings should avoid making terribly big splashes in deference to making minor adjustments to an already pretty-good team and I've also written about how minor adjustments might be fine, but what I want to see is a real shake-up.

For all intents & purposes, those two articles could be titled "Don't be a maniac, the Wings are just fine" and "Hey idiot, do something fun." The difference here being the speed at which one drives to a conclusion about the team or a player which isn't exactly positive.

Overall, it's kind of a fun phenomenon to look at like this. Everybody has a certain way they feel about their team and they each have their own personal reasons for feeling exactly as they do... but when two people watch the same thing and come to differing opinions, you'll see the idiot vs. maniac thing come out.

idiotvmaniac

That was one of our Facebook comments on the 'Shake things up' post. Clearly this commenter stops short of calling me a maniac, and clearly I'm not outright calling this person an idiot, but it's the dynamic driving the entire disagreement (the rest of which went about as well as Facebook comments tend to go). I don't know this person as a fan and this person clearly doesn't know me; we're not in each other's monkeyspheres and we're never going to be. Instead, it's easier to blow off a blowhard (especially online).

So don't be an idiot or a maniac?

Yeah, that would help. If you could all get to thinking exactly how I think about everything, that would make things way more friendly on the internet.

No of course not. This is a hobby for everybody except the people unfortunate enough to have been born with the burden of blood-duty to a professional sports team. I guess I'm not directly saying you should think or act in any specific way, but I know keeping in mind that the people you're talking to are also people will help make sure that this community continues to do a great job of discussing ideas rather than simply honking our horns and flipping each other off in traffic. We don't always do that, but you fine folks in our comments section are way better at acting like humans than all those other idiots and maniacs out there.

Also, George Carlin was great.