Temporary Tattoos from EDC Las Vegas

Today I will tell you how Insomniac Events is using temporary tattoos to convert people into die-hard fans. I doubt they are doing it on purpose. Even so, it will work like a charm for the future of the rave scene. First some context.

Dance music will continue to grow as long as the total number of fans is going up. That means the scene needs to add more fans each year than it loses. This is true at the global level as well as the local level. Local clubs need local fans, and global festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival need a powerful draw. Let’s face it. If you’re hopping on a jet for this, you expect something special.

One approach is to add more fans to the mix. That is what happens with EDM going mainstream. Each year, dance music has more fans join than the previous year. But there is another option. The total amount of fans will grow if less people leave the scene each year. That might be a more appealing option. Let me explain.

After you go to a few raves, you start to adopt rave culture into your identity. Suddenly, the unPLUR first timers who rudely push through the crowd stick out in your memory. You don’t like them as much. As welcoming as our scene is, they bring the cultural experience down by being uninitiated.

I wrote in a previous post that kandi and PLUR spreads rave culture through contact. Even non-ravers want to be a part of it. These temporary tattoos will work the same persuasive magic.

The strongest persuasion is visual. Your irrational mind pays special attention to what we see. The first time you wear kandi, you might be excited to show it off. But before that excitement hits you, there is nervousness. It can take a bit of courage to wear it out of the house the first time.

The act of overcoming your nerves and attaching kandi to your wrist sends a signal to yourself and others that you are part of the scene. It is a visual identifier. You no longer need to say, “I love it here.” It becomes a part of your identity on a subconscious level. If you don’t believe me, go look at some of the articles about how resistant people are when festivals ban kandi. They don’t like it because it is a part of their identity, and identity is powerful. Which brings me to the temporary tattoos.

Getting a tattoo is a huge commitment. It’s permanent. It costs money. It hurts. But once you add a tattoo to your body, that’s a permanent shift in your identity (unless you end up disliking the result enough to get it removed). In comparison, a temporary tattoo is a little thing you wear for a day or two and wash off.

But it’s still a commitment.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I often write about the consistency principle. The principle states that people prefer to act, feel and think in a manner consistent with the past. In your hallucinated reality, there is always a reason why you don’t like changing. But in my world, that is almost always bullshit. All you need to check is how you feel. Ever had to go back on your word before? Then you know the discomfort.

By the time dance music and festivals are a routine part of your world, it is probably getting mixed in to your feeling of identity. Identity is among the strongest beliefs a person holds.

The night of the Carnival, you add a small, temporary tattoo to your body, and then excitedly display it. People approach you to ask about it, to show you theirs, to make friends because they trust you will get along — all based on a temporary tattoo. That excitement associates itself with the seemingly temporary identity you have adopted for the weekend. In the future, you will be more inclined to seek out those situations again.

The tattoo probably also suggests the idea of a real tattoo to some people. If a temporary tattoo nudges your identity, then a real tattoo is a tackle.

I doubt anyone at Insomniac realizes what they are doing here. They probably consider it a fun addition to an already beautiful package. It’s also really good persuasion.

Once festivals become a part of your identity, it can be difficult to shake. The habits get mixed in to your sense of self. Trust me, I know first hand. As soon as you leave the festival, you long to go back.

Welcome to the tribe!

Labels and Consistency

I consider labels to be a tool. They can be useful or dangerous. It depends who is wielding them.

As I often say, consistency is a powerful part of persuasion. It’s possible to shake yourself out of it, but you might need to ask someone who knows how if you can’t do it on your own.

For example, if you think of yourself as a stupid person and adopt the label into your identity, you will be more likely to consider simple mistakes as evidence of your own stupidity. In the future, you might feel embarrassed or dislike someone for voicing a better idea at the time, even if they make the same mistakes you do when you aren’t looking. Noticing yourself do something that seems smart might even make you feel bad because it clashes with the idea that you are a stupid person who makes bad decisions.

It also affects how you view other people. Suppose you label someone as trustworthy. Because the label was your idea, all of their future actions will be colored by the notion of trust. You might let them get away with things others wouldn’t because you trust them.

The heart of this is cognitive dissonance. If you set yourself a belief that a family member is hard working, and later see them lazily watching television while chores are unfinished, you might give them a pass. The alternative is admitting you made a poor judge of character. No one likes being wrong.

If you never focus your attention on whether or not they possess a certain character trait (e.g. honest, helpful, defensive, cool), you’ll probably never have a conscious opinion on whether they possess it. If you see a person who you previously labeled as “selfish” give money to a homeless person, you might be surprised that you misjudged them. But that surprise would be impossible if you had never given them that label. It seems obvious when I say it, but it’s true.

Use this to your advantage by labeling people and activities appropriately. Want to stop watching TV? Label it a “waste” and explain to yourself why. Make a small list of the ways it is painful to watch TV, and enjoyable to do a more productive activity. Need to help a friend improve their self-image? Ask them what is their best characteristic, agree with them (provided they give you a positive answer), and then ask how they know that. Get some reasons out of them so they dig into the position. You’ll have helped them become a better person and feel good that you helped someone else.

Math and Pain

My first memory of math is a classmate groaning about it. Elementary school probably. Then in highschool, when we heard the news of algebra coming up.

Part of the problem is that the hard work of learning math isn’t linked immediately to an enjoyable outcome. Kids don’t find out that it will help us earn a lot of money, and if teachers did show them how, they wouldn’t care because they are too young at that point. The teachers could first amp the kids up on how much they love their parents and want to help them, want to give back, how proud they could make them. That might help.

But the big thing is how much pain we learn to associate with doing math at an early age. It doesn’t have to be stressing. I know people who love it. My linear algebra teacher? I bet she thinks about math the way I think about music and writing. Can’t stop won’t stop. How did she get there?

She learned somewhere along the way that sitting and working through an equation can be rewarding. The process itself can be rewarding. You know you’re going to solve it, or you’re going to get something out of trying.

The current situation is that students sit around and add social proof to each other’s distaste for it. What if things went the other way?

Over time, you can change your feelings towards something by associating different sensations with it. This can be done on purpose by a professional or on your own. When you stub your toe, you learn really quick to avoid that corner. It’s the same with any other activity. But it can go the other way too. You can learn to associate good feelings with an activity.

What if teachers spent five or ten minutes at the start and end of every math class asking them what they’re looking forward to, what was rewarding about the experience?

Over time, this focusing effect will compound. Their memories of math would be altered from a focus on negative feelings to positive ones. And very quickly the students would become better at math.

The GOP Shoots Itself in the Foot Without Coverage

A man once told me the best ideas would float to the top. I hope I write this well enough for it to get the message across. The GOP will understand why leaving preexisting conditions uncovered in a healthcare bill is bad for their party.

First, some background.

Democratic voters tend to be more empathetic than Republican voters. The science agrees with this statement. In my persuasion filter worldview, I see a bunch of people who reduce their empathy or amp it up to fit with their political identity. As a person who identifies with neither side, I can tell you every GOPer has empathy. Most of them love their parents. If you ask them, they love their country and it’s citizens. That’s the point of patriotism.

The Democrats always support having preexisting conditions covered by health insurance. They say “you can’t deny coverage because of a preexisting condition.” Thats to prevent the insurance companies from passing over everyone they know will be a bad bet. They don’t like that, and so they lobby to have that clause removed. Successfully, it looks like.

I am suspicious there is a better solution out there. I don’t know what it is yet. But in the meantime, we might be able to convince the GOP it’s in their best interests to support people with preexisting conditions. I’ll show you why.

When someone lacking medical insurance comes down with a condition, they are stuck with crippling debt to treat the problem. Most people would agree, that’s something you wouldn’t wish upon anybody.

Helping and empathy are linked. From the point where the doctor sits across his desk and looks at your family member, and gives the bad news, you and your family carry a weight on your shoulders. Somebody in your family needs help and you don’t know if you have enough of it to give. And I’d put money on not having enough to give throwing your empathy centre into overdrive.

The end result is that whether the person recovers or not, gets out of the debt or not, lives or not, that memory will be strongly tied to empathy. The people effected will tell their friends, and post on social media. They will share their story. As the story spreads, so will the empathy. It will literally reinforce the feeling in the minds of the public.

What do we know about how people vote? Again, Democrats tend to vote out of empathy for their fellow citizen. It makes sense that when you increase the collective empathy of the nation, we’re going to get more Democrats.

So the GOP has two options. They can change now and win. It will be difficult for their base at first, but over time, they will support preexisting condition coverage. In fact, I bet it happens pretty fast. No voter on either side wants to see a fellow American suffer unnecessarily.

But if they wait, they can feel like they’re winning now, and lose later. Hard.

The DNC on the other hand has two options to win: win now or win later. So long as they keep supporting people with preexisting conditions now, they’ll collect further support from people who are hurt by the new healthcare bill in the future. The cost is high, but the end result will be a healthcare bill that covers all Americans.

But I think we’d all prefer the change happen sooner rather than later.

Over time, I’ll try to refine this point. It needs work to resonate with Republican voters. Either way, the GOP might recognize they are going to lose voters over this. They can take all the money they want: it won’t change anything if something turns the public against them. Like this will. And that should scare them.

Ego Suspension

When you talk to someone you’ve just met, they don’t care about you. That’s just reality. But if you want to learn more about them and what they want, this isn’t a downside. It’s an opportunity.

People love attention. It is one of your lesser known and more valuable resources. When you direct your full attention towards what somebody is saying, they pick up on it and feel a subconscious hit of reward chemical. They like you more.

Picture yourself in a situation where you’re getting to know someone. Your instinct is to comment on what they say and inject your own thoughts into the conversation. There is a time and place for that. But if you want to, you can suspend your ego, ask the person questions, and mostly listen. Offer validation where you can. 

People flock to someone who is good at this. If you’re interested in learning these skills, with practice exercises, go look up former FBI agent Robin Dreeke on Amazon.

My iPhone Is Female: A Love Story

This is a story about how I associated my phone with a gender through a visual metaphor. It is a peek under the hood at how your mind processes information. It’s also completely absurd.

I was at my second Electric Daisy Carnival and I was really redacted. Like so redacted. It was a good night.

I had bought a portable battery for my phone the prior evening. If you don’t go to major festivals, you don’t know how much use a phone goes through trying to meet up with people. It’s exhausting for a phone’s battery. So I bought a portable charger to remedy the problem.

This particular charger would be useless for anything but a smartphone. It had a USB plug for an iPhone charger to connect to. Without a smart phone to give battery to, it would be a paperweight. 

As I stood there looking at my phone, appreciating the convenience of the battery pack, I realized it was like a couple. An exaggerated couple.

The battery pack was giving everything it had to support my phone. My phone was its sole reason to exist. So it hit me: the charger is male, and my phone must be female. Metaphorically. 

Yes, they’re both soulless couplings of plastic and metal. But with a little magic in the air, it

Why Vegans and Sober People Won’t Stop Talking About It

As you may know, I am a student of persuasion. That means I have a fine-tuned radar for the effects of social influence. You probably know already that “peer pressure” is a thing, but you don’t recognize how far it goes. I spend a lot of brain power looking for it, and it’s everywhere.

One thing you start to recognize is what resistance looks like. When your mind encounters information it doesn’t like, it has to react in order to protect its beliefs. It comes out physiologically in a number of ways. This is called cognitive dissonance. Just as a person who passionately believes vaccines are dangerous is completely immune to science and factual reasoning, vegans and sober people can be subconsciously compelled to defend their behaviors. (Note that I think being sober is great. But veganism is not for me.)

For context, this is just speculation. I have no way to confirm this because there is no control group. But it lines up well with my past observations of social proof, tribal behavior and cognitive dissonance. Onward.

There’s something called the backfire effect, which to me looks a lot like cognitive dissonance in a specific form. This is what happens when you present a Creationist with facts about the age of rocks, bones and plant fossils. Their mind doesn’t like the existence of conflicting information, because the alternative to being right is feeling like an idiot. So they dig in. Hard.

And this is the case with everything you believe strongly. If you regularly act on the belief and your identity is crafted around it, good luck giving that up. It would take someone extremely persuasive to move you from that position, whatever it may be.

I know what a successful attempt looks like. The person kind of looks away, squints or grimaces, and goes, “huh.” That’s one of the ways I recognize a successful attempt to persuade. But what does the result of a failed persuasion attempt look like? I have a suspicion I know what it looks like from afar.

Reaffirming your identity feels good. It removes some of the cognitive dissonance that is shielding you from seeing the other side of things. So naturally when you find information that doesn’t jive with who you are, one of your reactions is to dig in.

Vegans have a lot of conflicting facts to deal with. A short period without animal proteins and fats might have a net positive outcome for your health. But veganism is probably bad for your health over the long term. There’s lots of research pointing in that direction, which means vegans have to resist a lot of persuasion that is based on the credibility of scientists.

When something uncomfortable about veganism enters their mind, they publicly reaffirm their identity. That feels good and produces positive social proof for veganism. The result is that they tend to hang out together and feel healthy about their diet, even though it’s probably not healthy to be a vegan. (I had to use bold italics for the word “not” so the vegans could read it. Otherwise, something else in the room would suddenly appear to be more interesting. I’m serious.)

I think people who don’t drink do a lot of the same things. They tell everyone about how sober they are until they replace all their drinker friends with non-drinker friends. Eventually after sober people are left with only sober friends who have better things to do, they stop talking about it.

But the big difference is that sobriety has more obvious benefits. Alcohol costs an absurd amount of money. If you drink and you are over the age of 25, you could have learned to socialize without alcohol by now because it would be necessary. Instead you continue to limp along with a crutch. And while a glass of wine now and then might be good for your health (regular drinkers read that as “alcohol can be good for you” and think, “That’s me!”), the net is bad on any scale, large or small.

Can you tell I don’t drink much?