Demonization: Open Up And Let The Light In

Why do people hate what they do not understand?

As a society – we tend to not be accepting of things we don’t understand. Others beliefs, lifestyles, ideas, and so on. Is it based on fear? Are we inherintely afraid of what we do not understand? Why do we shy away from what we can’t explain – or the things we may not agree with? Wouldn’t society be a much more harmonious and ‘connected’ place if we opened up a little and made an effort to educate ourselves on the entire spectrum, instead of becoming ‘experts’ in one narrow way of thinking? Why are we intolerant of difference?

Seth Godin had this to say on the topic of Demonization:

The closer you get to someone, something, some brand, some organization… the harder it is to demonize it, objectify it or hate it.

So, if you want to not be hated, open up. Let people in. Engage. Interact.

How does this relate to us as bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs? It comes down to opening up and establishing connections. Being transparent (for the most part) as a blogger is absolutely critical in order to connect with your audience and community. If people don’t understand YOU, they won’t care what you have to say. It takes courage to open up and allow yourself be challenged. You may not agree with everything your community has to say, you’ll likely be faced with criticism along the way, but a writer is nothing without an audience, and a diverse array of opinions makes for an interesting read and much more engaging discussion. The more open you are, and the more you try to understand what you currently do not, odds are – you’ll become much more accepting and you’ll wonder why you hated it or disagreed in the first place.

As entrepreneurs and business people – establishing connections with your consumers is what can and will separate you from the rest. Example: If you open up a coffee shop, will you ever be able to compete with the Starbucks of the world? Probably not, but what you can do is take the time to connect with your community of consumers. Service goes a long way – and it’s important to form intimate connections. Why? It adds to the perceived value of what you’re selling. If people believe in you, if they trust you and understand you better – the support will come naturally. Relationships are the foundation of good business practice. Making money and achieving desired results are, of course, extremely important. But it all starts with a ‘hello’ – it all starts by reaching out and letting people in.

Challenge yourself to look inward

What is something you disagree with? Think about an idea or belief that you don’t understand. Research it, talk to people, engage in discussion. Write about it, blog about it, talk to your friends about it – get a conversation going. Share your own thoughts but remain open-minded – each of us can benefit by becoming more transparent. Insight and knowledge create awareness, understanding, and even compassion.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” Maybe if we all take time to get to know one another, maybe it we took of the ‘pants’ that restrain our beliefs, the world would be a much better place.


21 Responses
  • Eva Reply

    Good work with the blog… The layout just keeps getting better each time I visit!

    This is an interesting viewpoint on vulnerability. Too often we automatically assume that opening up –> hurt. But it’s one of those things where the more you risk the more you have to gain.

    • Matt Reply

      Hola Eva! Thanks for the compliment on the blog – it’s coming together, piece by piece. By the way, if you register on wordpress.com you won’t show up as a psychedelic green icon.

      I agree with your analysis of opening up being a risk/reward situation. It does take courage to put yourself out there, and because you’re more vulnerable, you leave yourself open to criticism – but, as you so aptly put, the more you risk the more you have to gain. Perhaps it’s not so much the fear of becoming vulnerable, but rather, it’s the fear of unknown, and the reluctance of an individual to challenge themselves to learn something new.

      What do you think holds people back? Why inspires racism, bigotry, and hatred toward others? Is it ‘just the way’ someone is brought up? Or is it more? I’m interested to hear where you think our fear and hatred is rooted from. Why are we so intolerant to people who are different from what we are ‘used’ to?

  • Eva Reply

    Good work with the blog… The layout just keeps getting better each time I visit!

    This is an interesting viewpoint on vulnerability. Too often we automatically assume that opening up –> hurt. But it’s one of those things where the more you risk the more you have to gain.

    • Matt Reply

      Hola Eva! Thanks for the compliment on the blog – it’s coming together, piece by piece. By the way, if you register on wordpress.com you won’t show up as a psychedelic green icon.

      I agree with your analysis of opening up being a risk/reward situation. It does take courage to put yourself out there, and because you’re more vulnerable, you leave yourself open to criticism – but, as you so aptly put, the more you risk the more you have to gain. Perhaps it’s not so much the fear of becoming vulnerable, but rather, it’s the fear of unknown, and the reluctance of an individual to challenge themselves to learn something new.

      What do you think holds people back? Why inspires racism, bigotry, and hatred toward others? Is it ‘just the way’ someone is brought up? Or is it more? I’m interested to hear where you think our fear and hatred is rooted from. Why are we so intolerant to people who are different from what we are ‘used’ to?

  • Sam Reply

    I totally agree that people are more apt to care about what we bloggers have to say if we open up. I’ve written about this exact topic. First, I shared 25 things about myself, and then in another post, I offered answers to a bunch of random questions. The result of both posts was the discovery of things I have in common with fellow bloggers. So, opening up just a little is definitely worth it.

    • Matt Reply

      Thanks for coming by Sam. I agree – once people see the ‘human’ side of us, it really helps in people understanding our perspective. Connecting with your audience is what separates a blog from a COMMUNITY. The latter is what I am trying to promote here – a community of bloggers and opinionated individuals sharing and promoting their own beliefs and ideas. I don’t want to talk AT you all, I want to talk with you.

      This is one of the reasons why I have included an outlet for you all to share and voice your questions and suggestions. I want people to tell me what they’re interested in and what I should be writing about. Transparency is crucial to successful writing and communication.

  • Sam Reply

    I totally agree that people are more apt to care about what we bloggers have to say if we open up. I’ve written about this exact topic. First, I shared 25 things about myself, and then in another post, I offered answers to a bunch of random questions. The result of both posts was the discovery of things I have in common with fellow bloggers. So, opening up just a little is definitely worth it.

    • Matt Reply

      Thanks for coming by Sam. I agree – once people see the ‘human’ side of us, it really helps in people understanding our perspective. Connecting with your audience is what separates a blog from a COMMUNITY. The latter is what I am trying to promote here – a community of bloggers and opinionated individuals sharing and promoting their own beliefs and ideas. I don’t want to talk AT you all, I want to talk with you.

      This is one of the reasons why I have included an outlet for you all to share and voice your questions and suggestions. I want people to tell me what they’re interested in and what I should be writing about. Transparency is crucial to successful writing and communication.

  • Ranika Reply

    Great article, Matt. I agree that transparency has allowed me to understand people better–and it’s turned adversaries into friends.

    • Matt Reply

      Ranika, thanks for coming by. I strive to maintain a high level of transparency here on the blog – encouraging back and forth discussion. A high level of community engagement helps all of us to learn and grow!

  • Ranika Reply

    Great article, Matt. I agree that transparency has allowed me to understand people better–and it’s turned adversaries into friends.

    • Matt Reply

      Ranika, thanks for coming by. I strive to maintain a high level of transparency here on the blog – encouraging back and forth discussion. A high level of community engagement helps all of us to learn and grow!

  • Chanthana Reply

    Thanks for posting this via Twitter (from the archives). People seem to hate things more easily and often than embrace or give time to understand the unknown. And I agree with Eva’s comment. People are afraid of being risky which leads to vulnerability or getting hurt. How can we keep an open-mind but remain somewhat guarded? Great article.

    • Matt Reply

      Chanthana – Thanks for coming by and breathing some new life into an old post (I always hate to see good conversations die, but so is the life cycle of any blog post, eh?) – It’s a difficult balance between being open minded but not allowing ourselves to become 100% transparent. We want to welcome in new ideas and beliefs, but we don’t want to reveal everything about ourselves and have someone walk all over us. Talk about a Catch 22.

  • Chanthana Reply

    Thanks for posting this via Twitter (from the archives). People seem to hate things more easily and often than embrace or give time to understand the unknown. And I agree with Eva’s comment. People are afraid of being risky which leads to vulnerability or getting hurt. How can we keep an open-mind but remain somewhat guarded? Great article.

    • Matt Reply

      Chanthana – Thanks for coming by and breathing some new life into an old post (I always hate to see good conversations die, but so is the life cycle of any blog post, eh?) – It’s a difficult balance between being open minded but not allowing ourselves to become 100% transparent. We want to welcome in new ideas and beliefs, but we don’t want to reveal everything about ourselves and have someone walk all over us. Talk about a Catch 22.

  • Mana Reply

    Hey Matt, I'm glad you re-posted this on Twitter otherwise I would have missed it :) . I think of it as fear of the unknown and fear of change. Fear that comes across as hatred. It's a lot easier mentally, takes a lot less effort, physically, to stay as we are. It's very encouraging to know people like you who are energized by a challenge.

  • Rich Pulvino Reply

    Very good post, Matt. While fear of change and uncertainty drive a lot of demonization, laziness also plays a role. People accept their fear or dislike of something as being, “Well, that's the way I am and who are you to change me?”

    I think a lot of the time people don't want to get to know others, or understand a belief they don't like, simply because it takes a lot of effort. People who don't want to venture outside of their train of thought are lazy. It feels much more comfortable to read and soak up information that we agree we, because it reinforces that we are right.

    The thing is, I believe we are all guilty of this from time to time, some more often than others. But if we are working to correct ourselves, open up, and let in some new ideas, then that is a big step in the right direction.

    Great read, Matt!

    Cheers,
    Rich

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Thanks for stopping by Mana. Been thinking about this concept a lot recently so I figured it was worth a re-post (hardly anyone read this blog last March).

    Change is inconvenient, that's for sure (I put together an entire ebook on this topic if you haven't checked it out –> http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/the-inconvenien…) and it is scary, but like you said, I'd rather use the challenge of learning and trying new things as motivation, rather than being held back by it.

    PS – let's get together in the next week or two for coffee or a drink before I ship out of town. Let me know…

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Thanks for the comment Rich. You hit the nail on the head bringing up the 'laziness' aspect. We are very reluctant to change because we're used to what we're used to (if that makes sense). We get complacent and settle in to the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality. But the only way toward evolution is revolution – change is inevitable – might as well embrace it and open up your mind to new ideas. Narrow-mindedness never got anyone anywhere.

  • William Hunnell Reply

    Really? Have we been preaching from the same ‘Bible’? You’ve managed to put into words things that I’ve grown to understand. 

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