A few weeks ago, I participated in a social experiment. The premise was that every time an opportunity presented itself to me, I had to respond with “yes”. To read about that week and my observations, click here: https://kevinwojo.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/yes-man-part-one-of-two/
This post is the second half of this concept of saying “Yes”. In this post, I wanted to share with my readers some of the things I learned from conducting this experiment. (If anything, at least read number four)
1. I learned that people will freak out when you tell them you are conducting a social experiment, but won’t elaborate on what it is you are doing. I didn’t want to let people know that I was saying “Yes” to everything because I didn’t want them to act differently than normal and because I knew that they would possibly take advantage of me. However, I couldn’t contain my excitement and mentioned to a few people that I was conducting a week-long experiment. These people went crazy trying to figure out what I was or wasn’t doing for a week. No one ended up guessing correctly, though their speculations were quite humorous: “You’re going to dress really weird.” “You’re going to grow out your beard and see what people say about it.” “You’re just telling people you’re conducting a social experiment but not really doing anything and observing us to see how we react to feeling like you’re actually conducting an experiment when you’re really not.”
2. I learned that trying new foods doesn’t always result in death. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a rather picky eater. I like most meats, but rarely ever have an adequate variety of vegetables or fruits. During the week-long span of the experiment, I got asked to try a pineapple and blue potatoes and I responded with “Yes”. Normally I would have just pushed the foods away and stuck with my safety net of familiar foods, but trying these two foods did not cause me to throw up from a grotesque taste. It proved to me that there are still plenty of other foods out there I could try that will not in fact cause me to double over and die a slow and excruciatingly painful death.
3. I realized the importance of roommates when it comes to providing me with opportunities. The majority of the people who asked me to do something during that week were my roommates. Without them, the list of things I said “Yes” to would have been much shorter. It made me realize just how much my roommates and I actually do together and made me think about what life would be like if I were to commute. Would I miss out on a lot of opportunities? Or would I have access to all new possibilities? For the time being, I’m grateful for my roommates and the shenanigans we get into.
4. I speculated as to how people would have taken advantage of me if they knew I had to say “Yes” to anything. Once my experiment was done, I revealed to my roommates, “This past week, whenever anyone asked me to do something that wasn’t illegal or life-threatening, I had to say ‘Yes’”. They immediately started to think out loud, “Dude, if I would have known that, I could have told you to jump off a bridge.” “I could have made you transfer all the money in your bank account into mine.” “I could have made you write my English paper.” Now to an extent, I realize that they were just having fun and brainstorming some ideas that they most likely wouldn’t have actually gone through with. But I really began to wonder if these guys were capable of taking advantage of me like that. I began to wonder “If they would have known about the experiment, would they really have asked for thousands of dollars from me, and actually kept it? Would they honestly make me write their paper?” If you had been aware that week that any opportunity you presented to me would have resulted in my response being “Yes”, what would you have asked for? I think you will find that your answer will tell you a lot about what kind of person you are.
I learned more things from this experiment than what is listed above, but I really wanted to share with you all these four things, especially number four. I’m happy I conducted this experiment and am looking forward to more types of social experiments like this in the future. Not only do they teach me a lot of different things, but they’re pretty fun to be a part of, too!