Context Matters: Survivorship Bias and Dislike Euphoria

‘I don’t want to work under an idiot.’ – Declared a close associate’s younger cousin who wanted to go for his own business and did not want to take up a job he got immediately after his engineering graduation.

The idiot he meant was his potential boss. Problem is the guy had never met him but judged the person. He was determined to start on his own. Start he did.


18 months later he started applying for jobs again. Apparently, he was ready to work under an idiot. Its not his fault.

The winner takes all, at least the eyeballs.

Any realm, any mode, any sphere we see – people get impressed, motivated and eulogize the successful. So much so, that they start believing that if the winner did it, then they can also do it. Its inspiring!

They start imitating the winner – be it individual, be it businesses, be it teams.

We get inspired by real life heroes who solve a problem we relate to.

We chase successful businesses, operating in industries we dont even understand.

We love teams, that demonstrate winning streak and are well marketed.

What we forget is that winner is not the true reflection of the reality. Winner is truly the survivor of the circumstances. We should pay more attention to the one’s who did not survive and perished in the process. They would have a heavier tale to tell. They would tell how the survivor survived as they were in the same sea as the survivor. They saw what happened. Survivor may have not even known what s/he or it was doing.

This is the Survivorship Bias*. 

Behind every successful company, there are 100s that did not have enough capital to survive, then there are 100s that had potential founders who could never muster courage to start.

But, being an entrepreneur is a sexy vocation these days.

Its important that we look at the other side. Ignore the survivors and look at the debris in the cemetery. Thats where the real picture is being painted.

Similarly, there is a ‘Dislike Euphoria’, especially in the social media. We ‘like’ the content that is worth to be disliked. Any story filled with hate or instigating with remorse get more ‘like’ as they have the most dislike element in them.

A politician loses a hard fought battle. Social media commentators berate him and get most likes for dislike.

An incident in a day like today that may have gone unnoticed goes viral when posted online with heavy dislike element in it. It gets maximum ‘likes’.

So much is the ‘Dislike Euphoria’ that it is becoming hard to differentiate fake from reality. Like online currencies are blurring the shadow lines between the real and the shadows of lie.

People post their suicide videos, women’s modesty is snatched in live videos, hooligans go at large in a regular discussion on live video. They get most liked for the dislikes.

While there is a drift in the society, its sliding down.

Facebook has a genuine human problem with its live videos.

Facebook is a strong epitome of Survivorship Bias with a 20 something pushing the boundaries of the society to make something so big, and has the Dislike Euphoria for all the wrong reasons.

Something must change now!

*Survivorship Bias context is carefully crafted from the book ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ by Rolf Dobelli.

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