Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Thursday, April 13, 2017

On Humor

 Another guest post to begin an essay I have been thinking about for a couple of years now.
 
Nyah Wynne
Somehow we have gotten this notion in the culture that humor is value-neutral. That something being a joke means it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't affect anything. But it's absurd. Humor has a powerful social function. Several in fact. It can help people bind over shared adversity. It can smooth over feelings of social discomfort around uncomfortable or uncertain events and ideas. In this last, a message about how to think about something is often included implicitly. But it also plays a very large role in social censure and definition of in/out group. As social censure it acts as an attack against people -doing- things that are culturally deemed unacceptable but not so bad that they warrant punishment(or where social systems don't exist to enact punishment). This can be very useful, as mocking those acting rudely or engaging in petty cruelty can help to correct those actions, or can be destructive if the taboos they enforce/reinforce are unjust.

But this same social censure can end up targeting whole groups of people along utterly arbitrary lines. And when they do they tend to create/reinforce and recreate in each new generation systems of social advantage/oppression. Humor is possibly The Strongest Inculcation Tool for teaching prejudice. Because it is a set of social cues we are primed to respond to without thinking. Because humor has such a strong group-bonding component, the social incentive to laugh along with the joke is high. And when you see others laugh with the joke, the incentive to tell similar jokes is high. And the group bonds over it, and the message sinks in without really ever being critically appraised. And eventually that message forms a baseline subconscious assumption about the world unless you run into a strong reason to actively work to weed it out.

It ends up playing a part in defining on a deep level who is and isn't fully worthy of empathy. Who 'deserves' abuse. Who should automatically be respected and who shouldn't. And these same things end up coloring how we see the world. How we respond to what people in various groups say and how they act. Who is given the benefit of the doubt and who is suspect. Who is assumed to be competent or worth listening to. What sorts of ideas are even worth consideration, because humor is extremely good at painting whole ideas as beneath contemplation and therefor dismissed -without ever being consciously evaluated-. Whose ideas are worthy of such thought.

Because the same mechanism involved in many of these sorts of jokes is the social tool we use to single out rude people, or liars, or people who cheat. It's never just a joke. It's a bit of prejudice you learned at some point that you never even noticed yourself learning, which you are passing on without realizing you are doing it. No one joke is going to just make a person prejudiced, but each little bit adds up. Because as rational and introspective as we might think we are, as humans we are all pretty impressionable, and worse we tend to be very blind to how we are being affected.

Think about your humor. What you laugh at. What jokes you pass along. And if you get called on a joke, instead of getting defensive, consider questioning the joke itself. Why you found it funny, but also what sort of messages it's conveying. You telling this kind of joke doesn't make you a bad person, you just picked up somewhere that it was funny. But it still has an effect, even if you don't see it.
Mel Brooks/Groucho Marks:

Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
 All humor is ultimately a pratfall, but most important the pratfall happens to "them" not "us."  Think of any ethnic joke.  OK you got one don't you?  Now name your most important in-group.  Your church, your school, your community.  Now tell the joke with the ethnic group replaced by the in-group name preferably aloud in the in-group.  Is it still comedy or does it become a tragic comment on the failing of the group, or worse it makes you rude to point it out.  

 The truth of the pratfall is irrelevant to the designation.  You may claim it is ironic, or if it is perceived to be on them, satire but the message is clear: This is what they are/do and we must be careful that it never happens to us.  

 One of my favorite religious jokes is the poem 
We are the world's sweet chosen few.
The rest of you be damned!
There is room enough in Hell for you,
We won't have Heaven crammed.
Note the open sewer there.  It may be simply a mud hole if you don't believe in Hell, but nevertheless if one of "us" fell into that mud hole all would rally around to rescue the victim, and the joke falls flat.  The message for apostates is unmistakable and the message for non-believers is that you deserve the open sewer preferably sooner rather later, and "we" will be glad to help. 

"It's a joke, son." is a way of defusing criticism of behavior that is not consistent with the mores of our tribe by associating it with another tribe, preferably one that is not too dissimilar but clearly not one of us.  Interstate jokes being the most benign as the neighboring state is clearly a lot like us and only the worst of them indulge as the butt of the joke. The sharp edge remains however to remind "son" that we don't do things like that.  If the cutting edge of the humor doesn't cause a bit of discomfort in the audience of the comic it probably was wasted and unsuccessful.  

Humans laugh because they are uncomfortable but either unsure of the source of the discomfort or because the source of the discomfort is a trusted figure of some sort.  Consider tickling.  Tickling is a serious invasion of personal space.  But only someone that has permission to invade personal space can be in a position to tickle.  It is a restrained aggressive act, but protest would be inappropriate so we express our discomfort with laughter. 

Da Capo. 
 
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brain-can-distinguish-between-real-and-fake-laughter/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_MB_FEAT
“Laughter is really interesting because we observe it across all human cultures and in other species,” says Carolyn McGettigan, a cognitive neuroscientist at Royal Holloway, University of London. “It's an incredibly important social signal.” ...
Subjects whose medial prefrontal cortex “lit up” more when hearing the posed laughter were better at detecting whether laughs were genuine or not in a subsequent test. (This brain region is involved in understanding the viewpoint of others.) “If you hear a laugh that seems ambiguous in terms of what the person means,” McGettigan explains, “it makes sense that you're going to try to work out why this person sounds like this.”

 There is a lesson in this for those who persist in telling jokes that are offensive to some.  They can tell that some are "laughing to be a part of the crowd" or to be polite.  How they deal with that knowledge is an important social signal that can in an extreme situation be a reason for calling them out as an asshole that does not belong in the social circle they pretend to be in. If it is yours, kick herm the hell out. No Platform the asshole.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Community Moral Origins.

beliefnet
In the cultural and moral history of humanity multiple communities are an almost insignificant part of our heritage.  Certainly not enough to affect the basic moral conditioning we recieve. So for practical purposes the face group of your parents is your community.  It is rare even today for mama's face group to extend beyond the parish, village, etc.  Even dad's community was generally local, the store the smithy, the farm.  So culturally one can be confident that the basic community values are those of mama. 

Multiple communities really began in the 19th Century when the schoolmarm with an out of town education came to influence the children.  Cohesive community morality began the slippery slope to competing community moralities.  We are still just beginning to learn how to deal with them.  Some still don't. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Immaterial Reality and Community Wisdom.

beliefnet
I would agree that there is something beyond the material.  That which we can imagine, dream, derive inspiration from, etc. is certainly immaterial.  It may even in a sense be real, that is able to be identified and used coherently by others.  But nonetheless it is an ersatz reality, as the only way to use immaterial ideas coherently is to agree that they are defined in the mind only.  

Mystical experiences point to the collective wisdom of our community as realized within the individual’s mind.  The mystical experience allows the mind to focus on and isolate an aspect of that collective wisdom and reinforce the conceptual memory for future access.  It is nonetheless important to be aware that the realization is within the mind of the mystic, not external.

The human brain-mind (mind from here on) is necessarily well adapted to isolate and store concepts and behaviors that are important to the community.  But that activity is wholly within an individual’s mind.  The community may have effective ways to indoctrinate these concepts and behaviors.  But until they are realized and implanted in an individual mind they have no reality ersatz or other.

Defining Communities.

beliefnet
 
How fortuitous that life had not only given us minds to create Gods but also the curious nature to seek these creations, and find experiences to keep us on the trail and validate our belief.....Curious_Soul

The key word here is Gods.  Study a community's God(s) and how the community stays on the trail and validates their belief and you have defined the community and have a reasonable idea on how to relate to them.  It even works well for those who worship no god.  How they keep on the no-god trail and validate their beliefs is extremely useful information.  Which is why my community which studies all gods and trails none is so misunderstood.  No victimization, we like it that way.  But people are always trying to pin a belief where none exists. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why I Live.

beliefnet


Why do you desire to accomplish well your endeavors? Are you pleased with your creations / your accomplishments?  - 
iamachildofhis

Since they are in fact the meaning of life or at least mine, I had better accomplish my endeavors well, as they are how I affect others in my community, and how I will be remembered by them.  Overall I am quite pleased with my creations and accomplishments.  I chose most of them carefully as being beneficial to my community, and molded and shaped them to the best of my ability to
continue in the paths I set them on. Sooner or later I will die, leaving to my community my creations, my accomplishments, and "This valuable and useful space which I have occupied temporarily"  John Dobbs, atheist, from Legacy.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

God's morality?

Can a cohesive community become our higher self? - Beliefnet

That's not to say Atheist haven't found a degree of peace and contentment for they abide by the same rules ...
Seefan


"True they abide by the same rules, but the rules are fundamental not God. In other words God has no choice but promote rules that are good for the society of believers, and by and large those rules would be good for any society. Do not lie, cheat, steal, kill, respect authority beginning with parents and going on from there, to God if religious, to other authorities worthy of respect if not."

The big differences of course are in the "control morality." That morality that is use to control the sheeple. Paul found the efficacy of sexual morality for paternalistic control, and Christianity has gone downhill from there. A rational sexual morality is necessarily based on the welfare of the family whatever form that takes. The pair bond seems nearly universal in nature and seems to be the most workable sexual morality in humans. That is morality that strengthens and preserves the pair bond seems best for all social groupings.

Community or God?

Can a cohesive community become our higher self? - Beliefnet

Can a cohesive community and a sense of belonging become our higher self? And be a substitute for a belief in God?
Dareesedelrae


"It depends on what you mean by a cohesive community. If you mean the village, either global or local I don't think it would be possible.

As a self chosen community among like minded friends and friends of friends I think it is the only way to replace the community of God believers. My chosen community has a similar set or mores, a similar rational approach to problem solving and a similar view that the only important activities are those that affect our community. Ourselves certainly, but the effects on the community reflect back on us. I am reminded of the famous image of the drop of water on a still water surface. Certainly the ripples radiate outward, but the reflection inward is the dominant effect of the action.

I don't really need a substitute for God. I never had one to substitute for, and all the meaning and purpose I need comes from and is directed toward that community that will carry on my legacy after I no longer can."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can Boomers find a community on the net?

uuworld.org : the promised land is under your feet: "Novelist Wallace Stegner was a close observer of American culture. He once observed that people in this country can generally be assigned to one of two categories: “boomers” or “stickers.” He lamented that the former—folks who with very little forethought will pull up stakes and head for the latest boomtown—were becoming increasingly dominant. Modern society, Stegner complained, schools its citizens in discontent and encourages us to “get up and get out.” The itch for greener pastures or greater adventure—symptomatic, perhaps, of an unresolved frontier fixation—is one we just can’t resist scratching. But, Stegner wrote, “Neither the country nor the society we build out of it can be healthy if we don’t stop raiding and running and learn to be quiet part of the time, and acquire the sense not of ownership, but of belonging.”"

There are very few of us who can find what we need for personal fulfillment if we become "Stickers" for the sake of sticking and building and maintaining a community. The school to meet our aspirations may be across the country or around the world. The job we have prepared for may not be in the same community as the school where we learned our trade. Then we grow in our trade and outgrow the job that started our career, or our significant other may have outgrown the community we live in and another community change is in order.

Friends and associates in our monkeysphere also scatter so even if we would like to be stickers, the rest of the community isn't and we are stuck with a bunch of new neighbors, new industries, and even a bunch of new people in our church. that may change it beyond our comfort level.

There may still be a few communities where sticking is a possibility, but they are rare and the vibrant cutting edge industry that is a necessity for such a community, works against the stickers maintaining a stable community.

Where are we to find our roots? Is it possible that soil and bricks are no longer necessary for rootedness, but that the nascent communities on the internet will become the new roots for the boomers? Is facebook our new village green or post office where we get our daily social strokes? Are blogs the coffee houses where we share our profound ideas with like minded profound thinkers? Is our little piece of the net the new community where the boomers are rooted? I think so. There will still be meet ups and face time but they will be increasingly mediated on the net, and with few exceptions community roots in jobs, churches, and neighborhoods will be non-existent.