Have you ever found yourself in a pub while you should be studying? Playing a computer game while you should be doing something important? I’m sure we’ve all been in these types of situations, and there are a couple of standard things we humans do to make peace with ourselves. You see, we all have a certain set of beliefs and values and in order to not be at constant war with ourselves, we either adapt our behaviour in a way that fits our beliefs and values or vice versa.
So, in our example: We either adapt our current behaviour by leaving the pub to study/ stop playing the computer game, or we adapt our values and beliefs by kidding ourselves into thinking that we have plenty of time to study the next morning (we won’t, because we’re hungover)/ the thing we’re supposed to do isn’t that important anyway (it is).
What I’m talking about here is cognitive dissonance and the reduction of it. Those of you who follow me on twitter know that I’ve been jabbering on about it, but for clarity’s sake, an explanation is in order. A famous example of the reduction of cognitive dissonance is “The Fox and the Grapes” by ancient-Greek storyteller Aesop. In this example, the fox wants to eat grapes. When it finds out that the grapes are out of its reach, it kids itself into thinking that it didn't actually want the grapes in the first place.
A psychologist’s goldmine
Now let’s talk about Luis Suárez. If I were a psychologist there’d be no cheaper and more interesting social experiment than to monitor the reactions of Arsenal fans on Twitter to the Gunners being linked to the Uruguayan cannibal. Now, I’m not here to name and shame the person in the picture above or to stir the debate about whether we should be signing him or not. Others, like @JonnyOneill, have done an absolutely marvellous job at that (now you know my opinion on the matter), but the fact that we’re desperately trying to make peace with ourselves by trying to explain his behaviour, speaks volumes.
I don’t even think it’s hypocritical. Well, it is, but it’s more the "hypocriticality" of the human brain searching for equilibrium than anything else. It happens all the time and it’s natural (“Let’s get M’Vila, he’s great. Oh he isn't coming? He sucks anyway.”), but it’s something we should be aware of. The brain is one tricky, thought-hacking bastard, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't manually try to hack it right back in order to face reality.
Reality, in this case, being: Whether he’s really a racist or not (I don’t think he is. I think he’s a sociopathic twat who’d try anything to distract an opponent, and that’s not my brain mind-fucking me), Suárez has been banned for probably calling Patrice Evra something naughty about his race. If we were to sign him, it’d greatly damage our fight for equality and alienate a lot of our foreign fans.
We were all proud when Arsenal became the first club to achieve Kick It Out’s ‘Advanced Level of the Equality Standard’. This quote by Ivan Gazidis illustrates what that meant for Arsenal:
“A football club is about more than just the game. I am profoundly proud to see what has been achieved here at Arsenal. It is fundamental that a football club is representative of its community, and the most visible manifestation of this is what happens on the field. We have over 20 different nationalities in our squad and this is something that reflects the multiculturalism that is inherent in the world’s game, but also in the Islington community, and London on a broader scale.
“In the community, Arsenal is promoting and celebrating the diversity and multiculturalism of our community. I am proud of the work we are doing, but I want to also emphasize how far we still have to go to eradicate all forms of discrimination.”
If you think about it, Luis Suárez just does not fit that picture. Furthermore, he’s proven to be a repeat offender for getting himself banned for biting an opponent. He dives, makes frustration-driven late tackles on opposition ankles; the lot. We can only imagine the amount of replays we’d have to offer to the Sheffield Uniteds of this world because Luis did something dishonourable. BigFREEbet would take bets for Arsène Wenger saying he ‘didn’t see the incident’ to protect Suárez. He'd still be a cheating bastard but he would be our cheating bastard. Again, I’m not trying to make a case here (subconsciously I am, forgive me), but that’s how it is and we shouldn’t deny that.
I do believe that people can change and that it’s possible to house-train someone like Suárez, but we just don’t know if we actually could. If you still want Arsenal to sign him despite all that, I can’t blame you. Luis is obviously a fantastic, trophy-hungry player and we’d have similar targets in that regard. Well, except eating Ivanović maybe.
"Hello kind sir! Despite my anger I’m referring to your skin colour in a friendly manner."
Another interesting phenomenon is the things we do to maintain our newfound equilibrium. Patrice ‘he’s just saying that because he doesn’t want to cause any more trouble’ Evra is suddenly a great source of information on Luis’ racistness. Confirmatory bias, as psychologists and wannabes like me call it, is something we’re bound to display when subconsciously corrupting our beliefs, especially when messing with deeply entrenched values like racial equality. It’s not even about whether Suárez is or is not a racist, but the fact that ‘Luis’ grandfather is black’ is suddenly great logic to prove that he isn’t.
It’s the same bias that causes the massive rift in our fan base. Those who want Arsène out refuse to look at evidence that Arsène has done much better than they want to believe. Same goes for the people who think that Le Prof is the almighty one. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s just our need to confirm our beliefs that causes the attitude polarization.
Anyway, I find myself being subject to the exact psychological processes I’m trying to warn you about. As a final test, allow me to Morpheus-of-the-Matrixly let you choose between the red or the blue pill. Choose both and, like your author, feel at war with yourself.
Choose the red pill, to feel disgusted with Luis "The Cheat" Suárez.
Choose the blue pill, to admire the greatness of Luis "Ours" Suárez.
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