The Message and The Messenger

I read something I liked recently, and I’m putting it here to remind myself.

“What is written should stand exclusive from the messenger.”

I would have used “independent” instead of “exclusive” but the meaning is clear.

This was something written in the comments to Jacob’s (of Early Retirement Extreme fame) last post  on his blog. There are people who have been dismissing Jacob’s writing simply because he chose to go back to work for reasons that are not related to the financial. To them, that diminishes every point he has ever made regarding financial independence and early retirement, and even his various thought provoking philosophical ramblings, which people previously would have agreed with.

This could very well apply to the reaction J.D. Roth (of Get Rich Slowly ) received from some of his readers when he disclosed that he had sold his blog for a fortune. Readers suddenly had problems relating to his advice, because he was no longer one of them. His circumstances changed, his advice didn’t, but people reacted otherwise.

Ninja from Punch Debt In The Face  has a similar story and I believe many other bloggers who have successfully reached debt free milestones have encountered the same.

 It boggles the mind how it goes from “You are so right” to “You are rich, so you have no idea what a poor person’s life is like. Hence your advice sucks.” from the same people in the blink of an eye.

I have also witness this phenomenon a lot of times in real life, because I have a father who tends to link the message to the messenger. If someone he dislikes, and another person he respects told him exactly the same thing, he would find ways to discredit the former while agreeing wholeheartedly with the latter, at the same time. It frustrates the hell out of me.

 “What is written should stand exclusive from the messenger.”

Thank you.


One comment on “The Message and The Messenger

  1. Hi, I just saw this. The phenomena or condition is called the closed-mind. See e.g. Rokeach “The Open and Closed Mind”. It’s a kind of tribal thinking in the sense that statements/positions are valued subjectively according to who holds them rather than what the statements are objectively. E.g. our allies are freedom fighters but our enemies are terrorists. We’re protecting jobs, but they’re engaging in unfair trade practices. It can be incredibly annoying to the rational mind, but there’s probably some kind of evolutionary advantage to this apparent weakness, i.e. having people believe in whatever their chosen leader says without thinking makes for a more effective fighting unit.

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