Bike Summit: Selfishness

While some of the speakers were talking, there were a few assumptions that sounded good, but I wasn’t sure whether I totally agreed with.

One of them was the notion that we have to buy into motorists selfishness in order to “sell” cycling.

In many ways, that does sound reasonable. After all, good advertising functions best when it can tap into preconceived impulses and ideas. It’s a fool’s errand to try to change human nature.

On the other hand, how selfish are we, really?

Although there are many ads on TV that promote selfishness, I wonder if that’s because it’s necessary to be selfish in order to crave their products.

On the other hand, is there any way to tap into people’s natural feelings of altruism?

I don’t mean people’s guilt, I mean their wanting to help others. For example, there’s usually a huge outpouring for disaster victims and there was a huge groundswell of support for US soldiers aka “support the troops.”

In the same way, why does it always have to be motorists vs. cyclists?

Why can’t motorists voluntarily give up some of their space, money, etc, for cyclists?

I’m not saying that this is the only way to go.

Selfishness does exist. Motoring ads and lifestyle encourage and tap into infantile selfishness.

But people are not simple creatures who are all selfish or all altruistic.

Perhaps by merely mentioning and trying to play into people’s selfishness, we make them more selfish.

If I talk about food, you become hungry. If I talk about selfishness, you will probably think along those lines. I wonder how many people will think altruism if this is presented to them in the right way?

Anyway, these are just some of my own personal thoughts while listening to speakers.


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