Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Fairy-Tale Autopsies

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  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    But isn’t that absolutely what happens? Humans behave, often, appallingly badly towards people they have no connection with – people they don’t know – whereas when they do know them, because there’s a connection there’s a disinclination to be offensive.

    No that isn’t true. Humans generally behave well socially towards each other even when faced with complete strangers.

    But there is a small percentage of people who are arseholes. Antisocial/selfish/whatever general scummy behaviour you like to think of.

    The problem is that it is always much much easier to remember the scum and yet if you stop and think about it most of the people you interact with whether you know them or not are at first contact nice – well except when they are driving on Auckland roads.

    Even here on the internet the majority of folks are nice to complete strangers but it’s the minority of arseholes that are memorable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I can separate Emma from Plant Physiology.

    That honestly cracked me up.

    With some really good, well-thought-out replies and responses. And that often makes me feel very stooopid.

    Will you stop? You are erudite and brilliant and a shining star, and I won’t have this putting down of yourself.

    Yeah, seriously. A complete lack of evidence to support your thesis makes this beyond ridiculous. While in my case…

    <Quantity/Quality/Quantity/Quality>

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I don’t think it was indiscreet, just funny in a weird way that someone I don’t think I’ve ever engaged with before tonight is crowing about ‘fucking with me’, which is why I assumed the twitter account was a dummy. If it’s not then I honestly have no idea what she’s talking about.

    An analogy: I've occasionally been on (work-related) conference calls where I've gotten a bit fed up with the current speaker. My solution to this is to put my phone on mute, say "Oh for fuck sake, get over yourself!" quite loudly, and then unmute the phone and go back to it. Is that a weird or creepy thing to do? Similarly, Danielle is a prolific tweeter, and has a habit of "stepping outside the room" during PAS discussions and venting the odd thing that would not add to productive debate here.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Humans generally behave well socially towards each other even when faced with complete strangers.

    I think you do, Bart. (You like kittens too, which is a winner for me). I think you're a very nice person. And I generally behave well towards others, too. I think we (we humans) are all connected. (Actually, truth be known, I think the whole of life, planets, stars, space, humans, animals, etc. is connected.)

    But humans as a group can and do declare war on others in another group, often, as if they are completely separate. It's one of the saddest things about our race, wouldn't you say?

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to recordari,

    A complete lack of evidence to support your thesis makes this beyond ridiculous.

    I didn't go to university. Didn't do theses. Can't really argue to save myself. (But I'm learning, here! Hah!)

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    But humans as a group can and do declare war on others

    Yes I agree when you get humans in groups the behaviour of the group often seems to drop to the lowest common denominator, which is also true when a group is trying to agree on a restaurant.

    And I also think you're right that having no connection makes it easier to be an arsehole.

    But I still firmly believe that most people, on first contact with a stranger, are nice. Most people we meet are decent. Most people we meet are fair.

    That why I hate rules based on the assumption everyone will be selfish arseholes, because in my experience that isn't true.

    But there are definitely arseholes out there and a percentage of humans who really are happy to screw over others (I call them accountants but that's me being mean).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    But humans as a group can and do declare war on others in another group, often, as if they are completely separate. It’s one of the saddest things about our race, wouldn’t you say?

    But this is, almost always, a group behaviour. It's the perception of others as individuals that allows us to be nice to them; it's when we descend into seeing people only as representatives of the nation/ethnic group/religion/group we don't like, the Others, that the sort of mindless nastiness you're talking about really comes to the fore. When humans engage as individuals, without preconception, as Bart says, they're usually perfectly pleasant. The trouble being that those preconceptions can be pretty hard-wired, and that it's also a very human thing to want to categorise other people as soon as possible.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Dowden, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    Actually, truth be known, I think the whole of life, planets, stars, space, humans animals etc. is connected

    So Bart shouldn't separate his Twitter; which'd probably lead to a renaissance in plant biology research funding, increased student numbers, and a whole new genus of pretty, witty, talking plants that look like Emma.

    Canberra • Since Dec 2007 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But I still firmly believe that most people, on first contact with a stranger, are nice.

    I think so too. And it helps that you are your own best advertisement for this argument. You could only have been nicer had you actually been wearing a kitten on each shoulder :-)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    When humans engage as individuals, without preconception, as Bart says, they're usually perfectly pleasant. The trouble being that those preconceptions can be pretty hard-wired, and that it's also a very human thing to want to categorise other people as soon as possible.

    Hence the "oh but not you" stage, where a person will hold onto their prejudice against the group just fine, while excluding individuals they know who belong to the group.

    Like Bart, I firmly believe people are mostly decent. "Decent" isn't actually a very high bar, it's not asking exceptional behaviour from them. From a Mod POV, if you have a community that believes people are basically arseholes, you get an over-protected seige mentality which is quite hostile to try to come into.

    I can separate Emma from Plant Physiology.

    But then I would have to follow you twice so I can still read your journal links, right?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Paul Dowden,

    and a whole new genus of pretty, witty, talking plants that look like Emma.

    Dude, too early in the day for me to be blushing. Also? If we do this? I wanna see if one of those can mind my children for me.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    [TMI]

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    [posted by mistake]

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But I still firmly believe that most people, on first contact with a stranger, are nice. Most people we meet are decent. Most people we meet are fair.

    Global research says Kiwis are rather tolerant and social contributors.

    New Zealanders are keen volunteers, kind to strangers and tolerate migrants, minorities and gays, a study says.

    ...

    New Zealanders ranked fourth alongside Britain in the pro-social category, with 57% of participants saying they had volunteered time, donated money or helped a stranger in the previous month.

    The US, at 60%, was the most pro-social OECD country.

    (Note that's saying something good about the US)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to recordari,

    [TMI]

    that was fine

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    it's also a very human thing to want to categorise other people as soon as possible.

    it's a survival response to assess friend and foe, isn't it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    and a whole new genus of pretty, witty, talking plants that look like Emma

    I, for one, welcome our new plantae overlords.

    Sorry...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Oh well. Since Sacha is one of the nice people mentioned, I’ll repost it.

    I think we should never underestimated the power of social media and group discussions to make people feel very self-conscious, even amongst the nicest of people. Sometimes this can be a good thing, as lord knows we all need a good look in the mirror at times, but occasionally, and often due to the meta-psycho-physical stuff going on that you can’t see, it can be downright depressing.

    So at these times one shouldn’t participate, right? But then it’s at these times when the right reciprocal response from one of the aforementioned ‘nice people’ can make all the difference.

    So I do my best to make you laugh or resonate with a song or book, sometimes without much success. When I can make you cry, I’ll know I’m getting somewhere.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    it's a survival response to assess friend and foe, isn't it?

    Most of the lasting impression happens in the first few minutes. This might be part of the barrier for lurkers, the feeling that their first post could end up being how they are judged for ever?

    But I'm not sure if first impressions on the internet are so deep. Well, they're not for me, anyway. I actually find it extremely difficult to remember people who have only spoken a few times. In an physical meeting, you are bombarded with far more memory hooks - the person's real name, the look of their face, their manner, their dress, what they look at, how they respond non-verbally to you, how they smell, what they're drinking, what they want to talk about, who they are standing with, etc.

    We take so much of the non-verbals for granted, and some people tend to think most of our communication is done that way. I disagree - I think that what is communicated in that way is the stuff that would have been relevant right across human existence, but the newer stuff takes a lot longer. So picking up if someone is predatory and violent, or considers you a potential sexual partner, are things you need to know fast, before the chance to act passes. But picking up what their position is on some abstract idea can be much harder work. And it could end up being just as important. This is a new thing, in evolutionary timescales. We're all learning how to be netizens, and what kind of netizens we want to be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    But I'm not sure if first impressions on the internet are so deep. Well, they're not for me, anyway.

    Really the only thing I think someone shouldn't do with their first comment is be really aggressively negative. Without any previous context to gentle it, that comment will be seen in the worst possible light.

    But I find it interesting how many borderline lurkers (and thank you so much for your comemnts, because lurkers are just the hardest people to get information on, by definition) are concerned about their comments being ignored, rather than strongly judged.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    But I find it interesting how many borderline lurkers (and thank you so much for your comemnts, because lurkers are just the hardest people to get information on, by definition) are concerned about their comments being ignored, rather than strongly judged.

    Probably fairly - conversation moves fast here, and it's easy to get lost in ongoing debate, and then feel like there was no point bothering to comment, or that your comment must have been stupid and/or irrelevant if no-one bothered to respond to it. Or to just give up because the thread's jumped five pages since you had a chance to check it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    Just looking now, I see that I have less than one tenth of Emma's post count, depite, like her, having been on PAS since it started. Why the Lurky McLurkerson? Misanthropic apathy, mostly. You all seem like lovely people, but I just don't care enough to engage with you most of the time - this also translates into the belief that none of you really care about anything I might have to say.

    I've managed to insinuate myself into/start a couple of arguments here in the past week; apologies to anyone who might have addressed my posts and then never received a reply - I buggered off out of those threads and never looked back as soon as I felt I'd said my piece. Two reasons: The first is that I'm remarkably conflict-averse in any case; the second is an online argument I had with a guy eleven years ago over the general crapness of the films of Joel Schumacher (I advanced the opinion that the crapness was considerable). Reading back over that and seeing what complete dicks we both came across as, I resolved never to get drawn into another argument again. I still have moments of weakness every now and then, but I always try to get out as quick as I can.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Josh Addison,

    Oh I have so much to say to that post, and it's only 7 mins till my next lot of small anarchists descend. (Actually, several of them are already in the playground since, let's face it, this place rules). Anyway, will come back to it after work. So don't run away, Josh.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    concerned about their comments being ignored, rather than strongly judged.

    It's a fair concern too, being ignored invalidates the effort spent, which might be considerable. Especially the emotional effort, for first timers. That's why I take Russell's cue in trying to be helpful to them, even if I'm not always bowled over by what they're saying. It pays off too - just because they are a new voice, sometimes the perspective change is really insightful. They should also be aware that I'm rather nervous too - I might be one of the people they profoundly disagree with, and my attention might discourage them. But I figure, how else am I going to find out?

    ETA Snap on Lucy. And herein is my solution: I consider what I'm saying to be complementary to Lucy's contribution, rather than lessened by it.

    Misanthropic apathy, mostly.

    You're being too harsh on yourself. You share your thoughts - that is a gift. You don't want to scrap over them - perfectly understandable. Probably quite sensible for a busy person with sufficient self-knowledge to know that arguing can make them act in ways they don't like.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Paul Dowden,

    So Bart shouldn't separate his Twitter; which'd probably lead to a renaissance in plant biology research funding, increased student numbers, and a whole new genus of pretty, witty, talking plants that look like Emma.

    And why not, pray?

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

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