The law of unintended consequences applies to much in the world and is just as applicable to the world in which you have been inserted by our kind. In terms of unintended consequences arising from an act committed or a step taken, there are three categories. There are the unexpected benefits. For instance, aspirin is used as a painkiller but has also been found to be an excellent anti-coagulant and is used to assist those with heart and circulatory problems. There are the unintended drawbacks. For instance, Prohibition in the United States during the 1920s suppressed the alcohol trade. Its unintended consequence was to drive alcohol provision into the hands of organised crime which resulted in those organisations becoming wealthier and better funded to expand their criminal activities. The final category concerns the perverse result. I have two favourites examples in this regard. The first became known as the Streisand Effect whereby the actress and singer Barbara Streisand took legal action concerning the online publication of a picture of her home. Prior to legal action only six people had downloaded the picture. Following her legal action 420 000 people downloaded it as a consequence of the coverage of the case. There is much to be said to not drawing attention to something by complaining about it in the first place. The second example of a perverse result concerns the then British government’s handling of venomous cobras in Delhi, India. It was decided in order to encourage the local populace to hunt down and reduce the number of cobras that a bounty would be offered for each cobra killed and handed in. Enterprising individuals decided it was easier just to breed the cobras than hunt them down, kill them and hand them in. Once the government realised that this was happening, they withdrew the bounty. The populace then released the now worthless cobras. Thus the number not only was not reduced but actually increased.
The unexpected drawbacks and perverse results are also applicable to you in terms of your dealing with our kind. Owing to the fact that most people do not know what they are dealing with, how we think, how we regard the world and why we do as we do, these people approach any issue concerning us with what they think are sensible and well thought out intentions. They believe that dealing with us in a certain way will bring about a desired result which will prove beneficial to them. This lack of understanding, incomplete analysis and attempt to control something which they do not actually know how to control, results in unintended consequences of the unpleasant variety. Here are ten examples of that at work.
- Giving us a dressing down
Intention – to put us in our place so we know you are displeased so we do not repeat the behaviour.
Unintended consequence – you provide us with fuel and we do it all the more as we realise how well (from our perspective) you react
- Mirroring our behaviour
Intention – it will stop us doing what we are doing
Unintended consequence – we will shift to a different manipulation and apply it with greater vigour against you
- Telling everybody how awful we behave towards you
Intention – people will believe you, support you and turn against us
Unintended consequence – you are seen as The Crazy One, your position is eroded and ours becomes stronger
- You try to reason with us
Intention – we understand the error of our ways and will correct them. You feel satisfied
Unintended consequence – you ignite our fury through this criticism of us by suggesting we are wrong in some way and you become frustrated and upset at your failure to make any headway
- You turn to one of our friends for help
Intention – we may not listen to you, but we will listen to our best friend won’t we? The problem will be resolved
Unintended consequence – you are feeding information to our lieutenant. You are seen as treacherous and this helpful intention will be turned around and used against you.
- You tell us everything about yourself
Intention – by opening up yourself to us you hope we will do the same and therefore there will be mutual trust and understanding.
Unintended consequence – you are handing us bullets which we will later fire at you based on what you have disclosed to us about your fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities
- You second guess us, anticipate and dedicate yourself to avoiding upsetting us
Intention – we will be pleased, you will not set us off in any way, there will be peace and harmony in the household
Unintended consequence – you may achieve peace and stability but at the cost of your sanity, reason, sleep and nerves and the period of stability never lasts.
- You play hard to get with us
Intention – by treating us mean we will be keen, yes?
Unintended consequence – you are criticising us. We will lash out at you and go and find someone else to triangulate with you who does what we want.
- You tell us what we really are
Intention – you gain the upper hand by letting us know that you know, you also hope to cause us to reflect on our behaviour
Unintended consequences – we deny what you are suggesting, we will not accept it and we lash out at you for having criticised us in this way
- You beg and plead for us to change
Intention – since we apparently love you, this emotive display must surely go noticed and we will respond in a constructive fashion
Unintended consequences – we drink up this delicious fuel and keep pumping it out of you by hurting you further.