Being a Realist About Human Behavior

Had an interesting convo on Twitter the other day, which got me thinking about human behavior. It started as a discussion about Weight Watchers (WW). I don't remember if I ever discussed this on the blog, but I was a member for a time, and had some success. I noted on Twitter that WW does emphasize healthy eating, getting exercise, etc, but they can't force their members to follow their plan 100%. Folks are simply gonna do what they want to do, and if a person wants to eat a Big Mac instead of a salad, they are going to do it. Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with WW as a plan, it simply means that they can't mandate or alter a person's behavior. All they can do is present the info & why someone should follow their advice - everything else is left up to the individual, and if the individual wants & chooses to do something different, that's not a failure on the part of WW.

The person I was speaking with disagreed 100%, so I tapped out & continued on with my Twitter antics. But the topic kept me thinking. This really boils down to keeping it real with yourself about human behavior. As much as we would like things to be a certain way, and for people to behave a certain way, we have ZERO control over what they do. We have two options: to simply present our way of thinking & turn a blind eye all other possible behavior; or we can consider the less desirable options & try to help folks make the best of the less-desirable.

A perfect example of this is the whole sex ed debate. Some folks think telling kids about sex, condoms, etc will just open the floodgates, therefore they think teaching abstinence only will keep kids from humping. Other folks (including myself) know that kids are gonna do it anyway, especially since mainstream/pop culture rams sex down their throats anyway, so why not give them all the info, both the good & bad about it, along with ways to protect themselves in case they do decide to do it.

No matter what I (or others) think the right answer/behavior should be, we all know that folks are gonna do what they wanna do. Its been happening since the beginning of time. I refuse to demonize folks who take that into account & try to work around/within the constraints of human behavior. Everyone isn't going to be reached with a "one size fits all" approach. Sometimes you have to adjust the message/approach to do the most good, even if you don't get the result you originally intended to get.

If it was as simple as telling people what they "should" do, then we'd have no premarital sex, no crime, everyone would be a college graduate, etc. Clearly we don't live in that world. And in many ways, mainstream/pop culture sends contradictory messages to people, which adds to the confusion & the inability to dictate the behavior of others. There are simply too many "wrong" things for people to do....and by completely ignoring those things, you often alienate more folks than if you'd been more forgiving & open with your message.