Often in life, we find that other people can be idiots, evil or both. Whether it be the girl working in the cafe that forgot your order, or your girlfriend who says she was late because of traffic, or the bastard that takes the last slice of pizza. But then, when we do that exact same thing that annoyed us so much when someone else did it, we somehow always find an excuse that rationalises our act.
This can be explained by the phenomenon of special pleading. Instead of acknowledging the fact that what you did was incredibly rude or obnoxious, your brain automatically creates an exception to the rule. You forgot that customer’s order because you were having a bad day. You were actually late because of traffic. You took that last slice of pizza because you did not have as much as the others and everyone else looked full. This phenomenon rids us of feeling guilt after an “immoral” act and also enables our hypocrisy.
The best part is that we do not consciously know of our hypocrisy. The brain quickly devises a clever reason to explain why you are the exception to the rule, while everyone else is not. The reason is, as with so many other psychological phenomena, cognitive dissonance. The brain cannot comprehend that you would do something you find so detestable when someone else does it, so it forces itself to believe the reason it pulled out of the air to not feel guilty, as it is the only reason the brain can think of that explains your behaviour. Furthermore, as sometimes the excuses are true, our hypocrisy is reinforced and we continuously disobey the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Perhaps the more realistic, platinum rule should be: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…UNLESS”. It may not be a good moral system, but it sure explains the human condition of being an ass.