Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Overlapping Circles

Gossip has power. We are talented self-policers. We care what other people think, particularly our closest network of relationships. A friend recently told me 'you shouldn't be afraid to use the word 'I' more often'. I care deeply what other people think. At times excessively so. I do adjust my behaviour according to who I am around, what I know of them, and what brings the best out of our relationship. Context makes communication richer. I think there should only be a very small set of things we aren't prepared to adjust. Most of those things are what I think should be laws. A few of them should be flavoured fences. Most should be relationships.

Part of the power of free speech is we know where our crazies are. Laws would hide them. The positive of Donald Trump, for example, is that we can't pretend that we don't have issues with racism, xenophobia, and all sorts of other fears and prejudices. Shutting Trump down would be like hiding the last veg you don't like under your Gem squash. It is still there. Mom will find out. The only way you grow is by dealing with what needs to be dealt with.

Gossip only works if there are big overlaps in relationship circles. Another thing that Donald Trump shows is that there aren't enough people who are friends with our crazies. You don't have to agree with everything someone says to be friends with them. Think of parents and their children. Sometimes the little critters are absolute monsters. Parents become master strategic Generals in warfare, using the art of distraction. They know the kid they love is in there. They ignore some things. Put boundaries around other things. They engage.

I have been sitting around a pool with a big group of friends laughing about someone who keeps posting overly personal 'self promotions' on Facebook. You know that next time anyone in that group is posting something, they are going to wonder whether they will be the subject of a group conversation at a later stage. The conversation wouldn't have happened if there weren't a majority of people who saw agreement in others. Those conversations would have spread as people discovered Facebook, tried it out, made mistakes, heard the moaning, and slowly learnt how different people feel about different behaviours. Then adjusted.

I don't have the aversion some people have to selfies. I know lots of people who do. So I don't send them to those people. My Mom loves my selfies. My friend Lou would kill me if I sent her a bunch. Annoyance rises if I send any, but that is called teasing. Other than some Black Scorpions around the world, I limit them on Facebook. As to #Hashtags, I don't use them very often at all. They drive some people nuts. One or two make sense to me sometimes when there is a genuine 'category of things', e.g. if you are talking about #RhodesMustFall or #FriendshipMustRise. #When #someone #starts to #HashtagTheWorld and there are #more # than #words, it #drives some #people #nuts. Slowly we #learn.

I think Facebook is improving. I notice less overtly self promotional stuff. I see more conversations that are meaningful. I think Whatsapp is improving. More people put their phones on silent, and so don't get driven crazy by continuous beeping as a group conversation gets going. 

Facebook doesn't need laws. Whatsapp doesn't need laws. Speech doesn't need laws. What we need is more people we care about, who we are willing to adjust our behaviour for. 
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