This post is going to be in draft mode until my husband finishes the book. It is his book and I really shouldn’t be reading it. In 17 years together, I have only read two of his books before he read it. Once without his permission. Which I haven’t done again until this one. And once with his permission.
I want to talk about the book, but I don’t want to impinge on his reading of it. And I don’t want to upset him with my take.
At this point I am over halfway through and I believe that this book is primarily, not entirely, but primarily, a reiteration of other people’s ideas in either a new way or in a new grouping. R seems to have a fascination with exactly that kind of book. I tend to go, “Oh, I heard that already.” And then I don’t respect the book as much as R does. Most of the ideas in the book I have heard before. I will admit, though, that R’s first quotation and the implications he got from it, gave me a more positive take on the book. Also, as R says, the information is presented in a new way and that makes it more useful.
The Broken Window. This is the idea, and it works in a neighborhood and in a single home, that a single small, seemingly insignificant thing– like a broken window–will usher in a vast negative atmosphere. One broken window will become two, six, seventy, in short order. And crime will follow. I find that if all the rooms I have responsibility for are clean, most of the other rooms are cleaner. (I won’t say clean. I wouldn’t want to lie. But cleaner.)
Then there is the “group of 12.” This is the idea that you can be good friends, close friends with only 12 people. And that’s not a bad thing. I’ve heard this idea often. But Gladwell presents it in a different way. He says, “Write down the names of the people that you would be devastated if they died.” That’s your 12, he tells you. Fascinating presentation.
Suicides in the paper. Okay, I don’t think I knew this. Micronesia has 160 teen suicides per 100,000. US has 12 per 100,000. Big difference. It’s become “fashionable” in Micronesia to be a male teen and kill yourself. But a similar phenomenon happens in the US. When the newspapers print a famous suicide article, there are 10 days of higher suicides and higher traffic fatalities. (Death by car.)
So maybe, just maybe, the newspapers should stop printing suicide stories. –They might say it is news. Yes, but if it hurts people why do it? They might argue that those people would commit suicide anyway. Not true, otherwise the averages would be down for an extended period until the average caught up. But that’s not how it works.
Then there is the presentation on people growing up. Is it nature or nurture? Well, it seems that it is 50% one and 50% the other. But it’s not your parents that provide the nurture. It’s your peers. (How does this work with homeschoolers? Are we as parents more likely to be our children’s nurturing because they are with us so much more in so many different settings?) It doesn’t matter if you have books in the house, whatever, it’s the friends the kids have that matters.