On this week’s Community Concerns, I want to talk about a phrase that makes my blood boil every time I hear it: drinking the Kool Aid. If you aren’t familiar with the phrase, “drinking the Kool Aid” means the unquestioned faith in another’s words or instructions. The phrase comes from the 1978 Jonestown Massacre where over nine hundred people died from drinking poisoned Kool Aid. The survivors have heavily objected to the use of this term, because a number of the members were forced at gunpoint to drink the poison and others were not aware that the Kool Aid was poisoned to begin with. It’s insensitive, but it does fit the term alternatively as describing someone who unquestioningly follows another into certain doom, knowingly or otherwise. Look it up.
For some reason, drinking the Kool Aid has become the phrase that everyone and their brother uses in conversation, from politics to gaming and beyond, and it almost acts as a beacon to let you know that you’re dealing with an ignorant person who has no interest in a serious conversation. I personally find it offensive because it is yet another tragic event that people trivialize by using it in reference in a contextually inappropriate manner. It is similar to the kind of people who are banned from a game, kicked out of a store, or arrested for committing a crime, and they immediately refer to the moderators/police as the Gestapo. You know who was as bad as the Gestapo? The Gestapo.
They come from the trolls and the fans. I have seriously considered publicizing the emails I receive whenever I complete an analysis of NCSoft’s quarterly finances. If the company has a positive quarter, I get emails from the City of Heroes and Tabula Rasa fans telling me to stop drinking the Kool Aid and that the reports are fake. If the quarter is bad, I get emails from the NCSoft fans telling me to stop drinking the Kool Aid and to source my data from the reports instead of from the trolls. For the record, all of my data is sourced from NCSoft, but you get the point. Either way, I’m dead in someone’s eyes.
The lesson that I have taken from this is that I will never comprehend the level of cynicism that one must possess to believe that every quarterly report must be viewed with the same skepticism as Enron (I get this analogy quite a bit), that we must assume that every businessman is the next Bernie Madoff (this as well), and that any expression of trust is evidence of naivete or stupidity. I’d have better chances of discovering life that exists in the fourth dimension.