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The Blame Game

A month ago, I caught a cold. And it sucked. The first thing I did was take a COVID home test and it was negative. Good and bad. Unlike past colds, this bug was different and slow moving. I felt miserable for about a week, but the worse part was the persistent cough and all the gooey gross stuff I was coughing up. Of course, I felt like lashing out at whoever or whatever made me sick, because I am a big baby when I'm sick and blaming others for my cold seemed like a most logical thing to do.

Well, five weeks later and I am finally getting back to "normal", and with it, my thoughts of vengeance against the source of my misery has gone away too, but it did get me to think why we are so quick to blame others for our lot in life.

The fine art of making others responsible for all the bad things that happen to us is something our society appears to support as perfectly acceptable. The blame game is promulgated all around us, from politics to the media, within business and social settings, with strangers and those close to us. Psychology talks about the "self-serving bias", with researchers discovering that many of us are happy to take the credit for ourselves for the good things in life, but lay blame on circumstance or others when things go bad, and in so doing, we seem more than willing to put at risk our relationships, families, and career. Yet we do it.

The blame game appears to go against the equilibrium prescription of game theory that people only make decisions shaped by rationality, selfishness and utility maximization.

It is quite the conundrum.

For those of us who are prone to blame others, there is some reprieve. It turns out we have our own national holiday, Blame Someone Else Day, which falls on the first Friday the 13th of the year which gives people, like us, a chance to get away with shifting the blame onto somebody else and not feel too guilty about it. So unfortunately, my blame game will have to wait until January 13 next year.

We have Anne Moeller of Clio, Michigan, to blame for this occasion. It was she who came up with this "unofficial" holiday in 1982. Story goes that one day, Moeller experienced a domino effect of misfortunes, starting with her alarm clock failing to go off in the morning and therefore affecting the series of appointments she had set for that day. According to the legend, she spent the day blaming others and making excuses for her tardiness. Since it happened to be a Friday the 13th, Moeller thought this special holiday should be established and observed on the first Friday the 13th of each year.

If you find yourself celebrating this holiday, you can start preparing now by making a list of things that may be amiss and who or what to blame for them. However, if you find this holiday to be unappealing and not worth your time, don’t blame me, someone else told me to write this.

(to be continued)

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