Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Feel Good, Fake Actions

I've written other posts about the dangers of fake action: action that has little or no potential to produce anything worthwhile but which provides the doer with an alibi. "I mentioned it at a staff meeting" and "I sent out a memo" are signs of such behavior.

A variation of fake action is driven by a desire to feel good, not by alibi creation. The "feel good fake action" is tokenism that is somehow supposed to announce to the world that the performer is a noble person. This can be baffling to those who scrutinize it for real substance because there is none, but they miss the action's origins. Substance is far down on the list of desired components - nice, if possible, but not really required - because if the action demonstrates that the performer is a kind, tolerant,  and generous intellectual then nothing else need be added. Any critics are ignorant souls who just haven't "evolved" enough.

I've seen diversity efforts that fall into the FGFA category. The organization may have lousy equal opportunity practices but its cafeteria has an ethnic food day and there are plenty of employee committees to placate a legion of interest groups. No one loses sleep because the substance is missing or considers that there can be real victims of such skewed priorities. There is a smugness because they feel so darned good about all of the "good" they are doing.

Fake good, of course, but it's the thought that counts. Results are optional.

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