Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I have read and agree with YOU'RE WRONG

If you've spent any time whatsoever on the social part of the interwebs, you have without a doubt stumbled across this truth about human nature:

People suck at agreeing.

You've seen it happen. I'd even wager that you've seen it happen several times. It goes like this: someone writes something, and someone else disagrees with it. Or, rather, they agree with 96% of it, and disagree with this one particular detail. And they proceed to tell the world that they, in fact, disagree with these 4%, and will fight anyone who challenges them. Including the original author.

Now, if you get into a fight with someone you agree 96% with, you're doing it wrong.

The reason for this happening is that only the disagreement is communicated. All that other stuff is simply understood as going without saying, and is thus left unsaid. And is thus not a part of the conversation, leading to the interaction being all about those four lousy percent.

People suck at agreeing. This is why.

In order to avoid getting in to this same situation ourselves (or, at least, to mitigate the risk of getting in to them), it is advisable to communicate this ratio between agreeing and disagreeing. Which can be done with something as simple as saying "I agree with just about everything you've said, and appreciate you've taken the time to say it, but I wonder about this one aspect" or something to the same effect. Whatever wordage is appropriate to communicate that the disagreement is a minor one, and that this is not an invitation to a fight.

If it is a subtle point, you might find that it takes quite the wordage to expound the disagreement over it. Which might lead you to calculate this extra reaffirment of agreement as an unnecessary expense of energy. To which I reply: it might be. It might also be less energy that getting in to a fight. It might, moreover, also be an indication that it is a proper moment to just say "+1" and move on to other things.

 Agreeing is harder than it looks. Don't you agree?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The window of opportunity

The Johari window is, quite unironically and quite without brand marketing, a foursquare field. That is, a two by two grid, where the rows and columns (both of them) interact with each other. It is a metaphor used to explain a knower's relation to the self - each of the four squares representing a mode of knowledge about the self.

The first square, top left, consists of what the knower and the people in the general vicinity both know. The second square, top right, consists of what the knower doesn't know, but the people nearby knows. The third square, bottom left, consists of what the knower knows but the others don't. And the fourth square, bottom right, consists of what no one knows.

Confusing? I know, right!

This window is usually used by psychologists and human resources people in order to clarify the epistemic truth that there are things we do not know about ourselves. And, moreover, that we can get to know these things by being social with others - they know things we don't. By interacting with others, we get a window into ourselves, and so on and so forth.

As teaching tools go, it's a classic.

The first three squares tend to be rather straightforward. Things we all know about me, things others know but I don't, things I know but others don't. Got it. But what about that last one? The things no one knows? What gives?

Here, the space for ideology opens. And, to be sure, for interpellation - for creating a subject that might or might not exist.

For instance: taxes. I don't know how much I'm supposed to pay, they don't know how much I'm supposed to pay. Nobody knows. But by imposing various forms of structural violence, knowledge about who I am are forced into being. In essence, they say this: You will find out how much money you are supposed to pay, and you will tell us, and then we will both know.

Suddenly, you are a taxpayer, regardless of whatever you and your peers knows you to be.

Ideology doesn't give too much of a care about what you think. It knows your mind, before it even knows about you. And it knows just what to do, should you happen to think otherwise. -