Matt Perryman

Don’t serve the diabetic with a bag of sugar

By Matt Perryman

Would you give a bag of sugar to a diabetic if they wanted it real bad?

I hope not, but I’ve seen the equivalent happen and so have you.

That’s the person that picks up a 12-pack for the guy with an obvious drinking problem. The person that keeps on buying fast food for their immobile 500 lb partner. The fentanyl dealer “serving” the addict.

If it isn’t obvious from these examples, you aren’t doing these people any good by giving them what they want.

That rule works in the other direction, by the way.

Doing what is to someone’s benefit does not always benefit them. A dose of good medicine that reliably cures a disease can be fatal to certain people.

There are no guarantees of harm or benefit from any action you take.

Which makes it stupid and short-sighted to believe you’ve got it all figured out in advance. Believing that you’re “doing good” or “preventing harm” requires believing that you can see the future.

Unless they’re changing your name Maud’Dib, you’ve got no business thinking like that.

It’s more helpful to think like a doctor. A good doctor, not one of the Big Farma sales reps in a white labcoat.

A good doctor attends to the patient’s true needs.

He’s not out there asking the patient what they want.

What they want is to not be at the doctor’s office and not have to take some nasty medicine.

Ask people what they want and they’ll keep doing the behaviors that got them sick and twisted to begin with.

The point of medical care is to diagnose the real cause of the symptoms and prescribe the course of treatment.

“Want” doesn’t come into it.

Yet there’s this idea out there that you should “listen to your audience” and give them what they want.

Don’t believe it.

Call that “Ridley Scott syndrome”. When you listen to what the fans want, the work suffers and the fans suffer. Everybody loses.

What the fans want and what they’ll love when you give it to them — there’s a difference worth remembering.

Matt Perryman

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