Showing posts with label socialization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label socialization. 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.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is Internet Porn Ruining Our Next Generation? Is Censorship the Answer?

beliefnet
Thanks for considering the children.

Nice social conscience.IamGreatest
Most computers, smart phones and even home routers have controls to exclude unwanted internet content.  Parents who think porn is bad can filter it.  Social controls (your conscience) is not the answer. 

But if you really want to consider the children teach them early and often "About your Sexuality" or its successor "Our Whole Lives" curriculum from UU and UCC which treats sexuality as a natural part of the human existence.  If you don't teach them they will learn it from advertisements and TV reality shows.  Or their porn loving friends. 

Education always works.  Censorship never does.  

I read a study a few months ago about young boys and the effects of viewing porn (as a mom of two boys, I was curious) and it focused on the fact that porn skews a person's view of sex and of 'normalcy.' In the study, the boys interviewed thought all girls looked like the girls in porn and if they didn't then that was weird (i.e., all girls were fully shaved, etc). It also discussed how the sex in porn is not even realistic and so it causes young men (and young girls that view it) to have unrealistic expectations. IMO, porn is not harmless and it's not something that should be viewed by children.christiangirl

If young boys and girls don't know what normal is, of course porn will skew their view of sex and 'normalcy.'  If they are kept in the dark of "we don't talk about that" and the only light is porn, guess what, light is normal. I was given a sex education book as soon as I learned to read, about 4 or 5.  '40s. It was as might be expected poorly written and obscure but my parents encouraged me to ask them or my older sisters about anything I didn't understand. Needless to say I was a trouble maker in grade school as other kids knew I had answers to questions their parents wouldn't talk about.  

Mammals have sex at puberty and are interested in it far before that.  Humans are mammals.  They will figure it out one way or the other. 

And, yet, grown men have their views on sex skewed by porn. It's not just about whether or not a kid is taught about 'normal' sex prior to their viewing porn. ...watching too much porn desensitizes us to 'normal' sex. Studies back me up...christiangirl

I suspect that none of those studies included grown men that didn't learn about sex from the church (sex is sin, and the missionary position while still sinful is excusable for procreation.) Or in the military: FFF&F. 

I know and have followed many children both boys and girls that were taught properly about sexuality pre-puberty and most of them find kinky porn to be a stupid waste of time. Most had good relationships with the opposite sex through early puberty and later in life.  None of them had unwanted children. This is confirmed by follow up studies on children that were exposed to the About Your Sexuality and Our Whole Lives curriculums both by UU and UCC research.

Are you actually suggesting that parents take an active roll in raising their own kids? You're asking way too much.mountain_humanist
Liberals think it is the governments job, i.e. "it takes a village."Seraphim
Since religious parents and many others have shown they can't do the job of teaching sexuality and defusing porn, perhaps the village stepping in is not a bad idea.

 In subjects like sexual mores that have such an important impact on peoples "village" I think the government and schools should stay entirely out of the picture. Government and schools will fall to the lowest common denominator usually "Just say no" as unrealistic as that is for sex or anything else. 
First and most important are the parents, supported either by their church or secular resources, eg, charitable organizations providing information and contraceptives for those choosing that route, or the many "Sex Ed" books available at the library, some written at the child's level of development.  Amazon has a whole section in children's books>Growing Up and Facts of Life.  As noted earlier put a few on the child's bookshelf and encourage questions.  When the child needs them hesh will find them. 

Perhaps surprisingly I think the child's church should be the choice for parents who do not choose to be involved.  Make sure your church school has a sexuality resource center no matter what the doctrine is.  The child will have to live with the consequences of that doctrine so they had best know what it is.  Note that child is pre-pubescent.  If they learn before the hormones kick in they are more likely to make better choices. 

The worst choice for parents who don't want to be involved actively is unfortunately porn.  Make sure the door is open to talk about it.  They will see it.  Banned or not.  If they can't talk to parents and mentors, they will learn from peers and porn stars.  

Still,  education simply cannot satiate curiosity,  it won't.  Your 12 year old is still going to want to see what he can see on the internet.   After all I have seen and even done I still have curiosity myself from time to time.

That is where things can get weird,  even with eduation kids are still forming impressions and still forming connections and can get things sadly wrong with some of the stuff they can see online.

I almost ( I said almost, not quite)  think you should do some porny web surfing with kids to be there to correct where things are wrong and where it is not realistic.   But I also believe in strong boundaries and can't imagine doing something like that myself. Funderey

There is a difference between education and indoctrination.  Education is open inquiry where questions and issues are invited and welcome.  When a 12 year old surfs some disturbing porn, either they will hide it if indoctrinated and get things wrong, or if educated ask a trusted mentor what the hell is this?  But they have to know what "Normal sexuality" is in their culture before they can ask about "Abnormal sex"   
I still find you wildly unrealistic and out of touch here.   NO, your average run of the mill - NON indoctrinated, not even religious 12 year old is not going to be totally up front and honest about the porn he or she surfed. They will talk to their friends if it is particularly weird. funderey

One of the early activities in a sexuality education curriculum is defusing taboos.  A bunch of taboo words are written on a sheet of butcher paper, and the kids are asked to write synonyms under them and cross out any wrong synonyms.  Then the fun begins.  "What is wrong with that crossed out word?" asks the facilitator. The kids begin to argue and all sorts of taboos see the light of day.  But the kids learn that they can discuss anything at all, and they do.  One thing they usually argue about is whether a word is nice or not, and the facilitator smiles.  Sexuality education has just sprung up unannounced.

I may be out of touch with the real world, but I have been asked questions by pre-pubescent kids that I had to research to answer.  And I told the kid just that.  Not that it was wrong, just that I didn't know. 
 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Born Good Learn Bad

Social animals are born socially responsible at least within their species.  That is they are born good.  Socialization begins at birth and in general reinforces good social behavior.  Play well with others, share, be empathetic, respect authority, and don't hurt others.  The good and bad news is that the socialization is exclusively within the tribe.  Belief Systems (BS) are not generally important at this stage.  I place the break at about Kindergarten, where children begin to be exposed to those outside the tribe.  At that point BS about "them" enters the socialization process and depending on the BS reinforced in Religious Education, and BS group formation in school, bad habits and prejudice may come into play in the social conditioning process. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Whiite, Male, Middle Class, MBA Perspective

beliefnet
Jun 7, 2015 -- 7:01PM, LDS wrote:
My thing is that too many people - including certain posters - are so caught up in their pet projects that they're starting to lose perspective.

I lost the white, male, middle class, MBA perspective long before I even got the MBA. Despite the fact that I am white, male, middle class and have an MBA.  I lost it so long before I entered an elite university, that it was glaringly obvious in most of my classmates and somewhat uncomfortable for me although I could not avoid it or combat it and still participate as a student.  It was kind of like being an atheist in a Christian culture.  One had to find an unobtrusive way to remain true to your values without offensive behavior.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Atheist Value Development



Atheists find value in most of the world religions in formulating their social values.  Confucianism especially as it is basically humanistic.  Atheists must necessarily develop social, moral, and ethical values in order to survive in a fundamentally religious society.  Religions have had 2-3 millennia to develop those values, some useful and some disastrous.  When you remove the "God Sayeth" from them all it is easy to tell the difference between them.  This means that it is necessary for atheists to have an understanding of the dominant religious values, as well as alternatives for the bad ones.  Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism have been very successful for a couple of millennia +.  Christianity and Islam not so much.  Zen is a popular first step away from the modern Abrahamics.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pain of Rejection

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/10/24/brain_chemistry_emotional_wounds/


Evolutionary biologists would say that it’s not surprising that our emotions have hijacked the pain system. As social creatures, mammals are dependent from birth upon others. We must forge and maintain relationships to survive and pass on our genes. Pain is a strong motivator; it is the primary way for our bodies tell us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Our intense aversion to pain causes us to instantly change behavior to ensure we don’t hurt anymore. Since the need to maintain social bonds is crucial to mammalian survival, experiencing pain when they are threatened is an adaptive way to prevent the potential danger of being alone.
 Emphasis added J'C   One of the best, concise definitions of what it is to be human.  

Socially or physically pain is nature's way of saying you fucked up.  How bad you hurt is an indication of how bad you fucked up.

She spends too much self indulgence discussing music and self expressions as anodynes for emotional pain but McCartney said it better "Hey Jude, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. "  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Conditioning the Conscience




We certainly make moral judgments immediately by necessity.  Many moral decisions are made under extreme stress.  There is no time to reason out a moral response.  

However, it does not follow that conscience is an intuitive function of the mind/brain.  The conscience is almost certainly conditioned over time most strongly influenced by family and preschool caregivers.  And, per Robert Fulghum, the kindergarten teacher.  It is ultimately a subconscious conditioning which can be consciously reconditioned later in life if necessary by training and indoctrination.  As an example military training is retraining the conscience to view "the enemy" as less than human and therefore not subject to the conscience's morality toward others in the tribe.  

The conscience cannot be ignored.  You can consciously override it but it will feel wrong if you do.  It will also take time and effort that may not be available under stress.  This is why the conscience can be reconditioned with difficulty as an adult. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alive with Stories




 “When you’re ready to wake up, you’re going to wake up, and if you’re not ready you’re going to stay pretending that you’re just a ‘poor little me.’ And since you’re all here and engaged in this sort of inquiry and listening to this sort of lecture, I assume you’re all in the process of waking up. " Alan Watts

 I was born awake and never was put to sleep by dogma.  I never had that rude awakening to find out that God, the divine and everything else was just a story.  Stories to help me learn how to be a better person and contribute to my chosen society but stories nonetheless with some truth and lots of garbage. 

My society is relatively demanding, one must think rationally and independently, one must constantly be aware of the mores of the society and comply with them intelligently rather than dogmatically, and problems must be resolved reasonably for all involved.  The stories are there to help, even the religious ones, but none of them can tell me what is right or even what to do.