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The 3 Horsemen of the Choice Apocalypse and How to Deal With Them

Pineapple pizza Credit: Getty choice paradox

The pineapple on pizza debate seems inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, right? From The Washington Post to The Independent to Twitter (of course), a lot of “research” and name-calling has gone into this personal choice.

Pizza is hard to mess up, that’s not debatable. A lot of things are up for debate though: viewpoints, political stances, the ongoing war between Android and Apple users, fashion trends, pizza toppings.

The most absurd thing about humanity is our belief that the way we live is objectively the best way to live. Others should live like us too!

How laughable is this? Just because you like something doesn’t mean others should, and vice-versa.

Some people truly abuse their god-given right (evolution-given right, if that’s what you want) to tear apart at other’s life choices. Pineapple?!

These people can, according to my 20+ year research, be divided in 3 groups:

  1. Devil’s advocates
  2. Special snowflakes
  3. Lazy thinkers

I made the mistake myself, calling the condition “the most absurd thing about humanity,” not acknowledging the unending nature that characterizes possibilities and absurdities.

Devil’s advocates

If you tell them something, they will, without doubt, dig deep into their consciousness to find something that discredits what you just said. They don’t do it because they care about the topic or that it matters to them in any way. I doubt the devil and its advocates care for anything in the first place. Conversations with devil’s advocates are at best boring, at worst mindbogglingly frustrating. Your claims could be based on years of experience, or life lessons, they don’t matter as long as they can think of the one story that is the exception to the rule.

assorted mask wall decors Photo by Dan Sealey on Unsplash choice devil's advocates
“But what about the daughter of my friend’s coworker? She knew someone who died from drinking coffee, and you’re telling me it’s healthy?!”

How to deal with them

Devil’s advocates usually go for “controversial” topics, and if some things are off-limits for you like it’s the case for me, with things like hmm… human rights, it’s better to just engage in polite, general conversation.

I know, I know, it’s hard to not show off your amazing conversational and persuasion skills at every chance you get, but unless they’re your best bet at the resemblance of a decent conversation throughout the whole night/event/project, don’t.

They can spark your curiosity, make you rethink things, but most of the time all they’ll make you rethink is why the fuck you’re there, and how they are your best bet at a decent conversation.

Special snowflakes

They lack any kind of substance. If devil’s advocates usually come with a handy arsenal of intelligence or wit, good luck coming across an intelligent, self-confident special snowflake.

Special snowflakes’ only hope at making an impression is faking one. How does one fake an impression? So let’s say everyone at the event you’re at is raving about the pizza. SS will try it and say they didn’t like it just because others did.In a world where most people try to fit in, while SS do the most to stand out, in a sad turn of events for them, the people who naturally stand out quickly see special snowflakes for who they are and what they’re trying to do. From food to movies, to fashion, to random conversation topics, they will say things just to…say things.

snowflakes by Aaron Burden on Unsplash choice special snowflakes
“Actually, I hate Rihanna. She’s just so…basic.”

How to deal with them

Devil’s advocates make me gag, special snowflakes make me sad. Whenever given the choice, I stray far, far, far away from such people. Isn’t it tiring, having to remember all the things you claimed to dislike?! They surely will be flaky in interpersonal relationships, and thus, not someone I will choose to spend time with.

Most special snowflakes I’ve met also come with a deep inferiority complex. Depending on how much you have to deal with them or how close they are, you could get involved to show them that there are better ways to seem special, like, being special:

  • specializing in a niche industry
  • having a cool hobby
  • being passionate about topics without attaching your self-worth to them, and how “in” they are at the moment.

What makes you valuable? One answer is: the fact that you are a person. This way of answering rests on the thought that all people are equally worthy: value is something you get for free, by being a certain kind of creature. Another way to answer would be to talk about value that you (in particular, as opposed to others) have acquired for yourself. You have exercised your agency, choice and capacities in such a way as to make yourself (especially) valuable.

Agnes Callard, Who Wants to Play the Status Game?

Most SS aren’t inherently bad people, even though they sometimes take it to the extremes when confronted about their white lies. They just need to work on themselves more.

Lazy thinkers

Heuristics, cognitive laziness, shallowness, patterns, these concepts, and others intertwined would much better describe this “condition” than the words I’ve chosen. However, in this instance, as Ramit Sethi recommends, I chose to speak their language: lazy thinkers.

Lazy thinkers are very common on Twitter. Some posts just baffle me. If the person would have thought about it for two more seconds, they wouldn’t have reached that conclusion. Yet, in this age of digital information overconsumption, two seconds are a huge favor to ask of our limited attention spans.

They have a somewhat solid foundation of ideas they rely on, they’ve usually held those beliefs for years. Lazy thinkers have a weak set of arguments, though, especially if you dare to as much as stray a bit from the conversations they’re used to having.

koala having a rest Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash choice lazy thinkers
“I just figured that since you said 6+4=10, you thought that was the only and the best way we could get to 10.”

How to deal with them

When you get in an argument with a lazy thinker, you lose a few brain cells trying to understand their logic. No one can think of all the outcomes when involved in decision making or discussions. Lazy thinkers take that too far. They think of 1/20000000000 of the possible outcomes.

While devil’s advocates can think of 20000000000 possible outcomes and remind you of the single one that proves you wrong, lazy thinkers only think of one or two overall.

Conversations with them usually leave you feeling ‘???’. Also, good luck trying to get them to contribute in any significant way in conversations or creative endeavors.

Lazy thinkers either:

  • become such because of their non-demanding positions or place in society
  • have been that way since kids- you know what’s harder to change.

Their neurological pathways may be rusty, but they’re not completely closed.

Dealing with them is easy and hard because of the same reason. There is so much they miss and don’t take into consideration when making a point, that it’s hard to decide what to tackle first. I’d start by simply mentioning the 2-3 most important facts they’re not taking into account, then expanding on those. You might be in luck and see that they’ll start mimicking your argument structure. It’s normal human behavior to do so.

This is a giant unsolved problem, and it touches us all. We may not explicitly articulate it, but we feel it, and project the psychic turmoil it generates onto our interactions with one another: there is a hierarchy, one of us is more valuable—no, no, no, hierarchy is evil, everyone is equally valuable; I want to be at the top—no, no, no, I’m perfectly comfortable wherever you are.

Agnes Callard, Who Wants to Play the Status Game?

“Play silly games, win silly prizes.”

That was my stream of consciousness this Sunday, but I’d love to expand more on the paradox of choice, status games, and the 3 horsemen. If you liked this, you’ll probably enjoy: Fuck Your Brutal Honesty and Shhhh… Listen! Do You Hear the Sound of Vulnerability?

1 thought on “The 3 Horsemen of the Choice Apocalypse and How to Deal With Them”

  1. Haha! This article has spice! Put that on your pizza and eat it! Or. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Yep. Stomp out those you have described. No room for complacency.

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