olimay: (Default)

Yesterday, I read this Slate Star Codex article about social class in the US. It responds to a post here here on Livejournal by [livejournal.com profile] sideria, which I haven't yet read. I haven't read the two different social class breakdowns the article mentioned, either Michael Church's or Unqualified Reservation's. I have to remain skeptical of the exact breakdowns, but the idea that social class still exists separately from economic class sounds pretty compelling.

I got excited enough about this idea that when you allude grouping people it can make others pretty uncomfortable. And then it can be hard to communicate what you think is valuable, especially if they haven't read or thought about the same things you have. On the drive home from Rutgers, I enthusiastically brought up the idea with Marlon. He became pretty upset partway through the conversation. He hates it when people analyze him or other people based on generalizations, and that sounded like what I was doing. He doesn't like being sequestered into a category or pidgeonholed because of social labels. He doesn't like that done to him, nor does he like doing it to other people, and neither do I. Before I brought up the topic I might have considered my personal context for approaching this topic, and how other people--even people close to me--might come from a very different place that makes the ideas come across as very different, or even offensive.

I've run into a lot of people on the web who feel it is best to speak your mind frankly, come what may. Anything past a bare minimum of diplomacy slows things down too much, and ends up wasting productive discussion time. Some people are going to get offended, others will completely misinterpret what you are saying, and that doesn't matter. Truth matters more than feelings.

This philosophy of communication and discourse doesn't work for me. Communication is difficult because it's a two-way process. You must listen just as much as you talk. Even if you are giving a lecture, it is important to consider the audience. If how you deliver your message just tries to bulldoze over the biases and sensitivities of your audience, you can easily turn a very open minded group into a crowd who can't hear a word of what you're saying. And I have no patience for social commentators who taunt readers with outrageous things, then use the defense of satire to call everyone stupid when those outrageous things are taken seriously.

Good communication is really hard. I'd like to figure out a way to better talk about things like social class, because they could be part of the many hidden patterns that shape how we communicate and interact with each other. There's more to the truth than just blurting it out. Thinking, and then saying what you are thinking is the easy. More important: figuring out how to make it meaningful for your fellow human beings, the people with whom you share this world, the people with whom you will be cooperating with to shape the future.

olimay: (Default)
I reread Duff's article about How to Deal Effectively With Peer Pressure and the JADE heuristic, and it's a great tool for avoiding needless conflict when others are trying to use peer pressure on you.

JADE is for what you're trying to avoid:
  1. Justifying

  2. Arguing

  3. Defending

  4. Explaining

It is a good heuristic. There are other times and places it might be worth having a deeper conversation, especially if this is going to be a long-term, recurring thing. There are some cases where it might be better to justify, defend, or explain--e.g. in a situation with legal consequences. (Talk to your attorney.)

Duff gives some caveats about these principles being used to defend harmful behaviors. A lot of stuff can be twisted around.

How should you respond to peer pressure? When someone tries to get you to do something you don't want to do:

  • Have a handy catch phrase that affirms your position (Duff uses the example, "I choose what goes in my body")

  • Say NO kindly and politely the first 3 times

  • The 4th time, make it clear that you would like them to respect your decision.

  • Practice saying NO before it happens

The strategy is from Andrew T. Austin.

This also applies to when you've done something wrong. When you've done something wrong:

  • Genuinely empathize and apologize for harm

  • Only if you are absolutely sure you will follow through state you will do differently; don't deepen the problem through broken promises (otherwise this procedure will become recursive)

  • Until you are sure you can keep your word, make the changes in secret

All of this is pretty helpful for me. I've had trouble dealing with peer pressure in the past; my usual response is to feel ashamed for saying no. I'm embarrassed at coming across as stubborn when people just want me to have fun. So I avoid situations where there might be peer pressure. That is a lot of situations. When I do myself into social situations I have in the past expressed this embarrassment and frustration as anger.

The concrete technique of saying no kindly and politely three times before asking people to respect other people's decisions is very helpful.

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