Monday, January 24, 2011

We know the bad stuff.

Of course we do, because we feel those pangs all the time.  To overeat.  To yell when talking will do.  To beat someone into the elevator (i.e. to get there first, not beat them into submission so they fall into an elevator!), or subway, or bus, when the "threat" is waiting a few minutes to sit in front of our monitors to see what shovel of bits will come at us for the day.  I'm certainly under the impression that it isn't too hard to figure out the behaviors that harm us.  They are patterned in a way.  The trick is to recognize each jolt of excitement that comes right before the behavior, and to sort to of pick up that jolt and examine it with the same instinctual response we get from  watching someone put their hand on a hot stove, or when we see a mother feed her infant soda.

Part of the problem is that some behavior isn't about the professed behavior--perhaps a lot of behavior, okay, fine.  A friend of mine always used to say that politics was about showing group allegiance.  I didn't want to hear it for the longest time because I wanted politics to be about something else, something you know, meaningful and what I deemed relevant. 

In my office there's a dude who is, admittedly, quite intelligent.  His thing is to talk about how smart you are (to your face) and especially about how stupid others are, or might be, or whatever.  And then it becomes a running theme to conversations for a lot of other people who want to, I think, simply get a foothold on why they don't like the "stupid" person's authority or way of communicating.  So, this guy, he's on tremendously safe ground, knowing that there's a fair amount of anxiety about how people feel relative to the "stupid" person.  It treats him well, and he will tell you that his roll is to keep everyone functioning, and that's just that. 

The hard part is to understand both sides of an equation and try to say something when you yourself are not on equal ground with the sayer, and by virtue of saying anything but "she's stupid" can potentially a) displease folks who want group consistency, and b) be labeled stupid.

You'll probably say that this isn't a big deal if you have self-esteem, a healthy understanding of the relative politics of the place, and of hierarchy, and don't take it personally.  And it isn't so much, in the same way that we can talk about environmental problems in a policy arena on one hand, but somehow be personally impacted on the other.  It isn't so clear cut, but when those elevator doors start to shut, i sure do get a jump in my step.  It is particularly when I'm forced to get off my lazy ass and bring in some money when claims about "stupidity" seem so prevalent food like to my hungry glance.  Or booze like to my raging, etc.

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