Human brain works in certain predictable ways. An example is empathy. If we are in the same room, if you ‘yawn’ you are almost certain to get company. I will also yawn. Advertising and marketing people utilize this human quality to sell their wares. During the last decade, I believe, mobile-phone marketing-companies used to send smart young people in public transport vehicles with expensive, latest model mobile phones. People with sufficient disposable income, which there would be plenty in a public transport vehicle, would be predisposed to buying one themselves; and then, in turn display it in public. This had an exponentiation effect. This works almost to the point of evil.
There was a child whose father had only money for an immunization shot. The child needed a candy for the money. What would the father do? If he buys the candy, the child would go unprotected. If he goes in for the vaccine, then the child would be hard to pacify. This is the sort of dilemma we face when we are supposed to take a decision in these settings. The money is better off spent on the important things.
For me, there is only a remedy for this. Deciding for ourselves what we really need and resisting the urge to buy but-everybody-buys-these-stuff kind of things. But this is easier said than done. Man is a social being.
Talking about the flip side of influence, the following story describes it at its best:
A Brahman was carrying a goat on his back. Three thieves saw this and they planned to extort the animal out of this upper-cast man. They went like this. The first thief approached him and said,
“My lord, why are you carrying a dog on your back?”
“This is not a dog, fool! This is a goat.”
At the next corner, the second thief approached him.
“My lord, this is a dog on your back.”
This time the Brahman didn’t say anything, but tried to walk fast.
After sometime, third thief approached him and started mocking him,
“Look, a dog on the back!”
That was enough. The Brahman simply put the animal down and walked away.
After he went, the three thieves came together and eloped with the goat.