Friday, 30 January 2015

Ye, Stick in the Mud, Sticks to Stones, Judgement to War.

Ye, Stick in the Mud

Ye, Stick in the Mud is a comical look at judging. Most of us have people like this in our lives and most of us if we are honest are people like this from time to time. Not only do we judge and label but we take an odd pleasure in it. We like it and it usual connection to gossip. It serves the ego, particularly arriving at the conclusion someone else is lacking and thereby less than you. It grants an odd but fleeting power to know you're better than at least one other person on Earth. But believe it or not your judgment and labelling lead to racism and war… what, you say, Pryde, that's just crazy talk. 

Let me explain ...

We rank and compete, judge and label, to know our place in the tribe and to know who is in the tribe and who is not, the in-group versus the out-group. Most societies have two sets of standards for behaviour … one for those who are part of us and one for those who are part of them. Once a person or a group is labelled them and thereby separate from the whole. It is only a small step to label them as the enemy, a thing to fear, compete with, or worse case scenario eliminate and then we get war.

War sucks … everyone is nodding their heads  but judging and tribe building has served a purposeJudging stems from the social-pyschological evolution of our species and as such has allowed for the existence of every human alive … even you. Having certain traits that firmly established grandma and grandpa in a group absolutely allowed for their survival. Relatively slow, weak and defenceless, alone in nature, most humans are pretty pitiful and wouldn't last long. Belonging to a group was and probably always will be essential to survival.

So why do sages say don't judge if judgement serves evolution this is where I get all metaphysical on you. Sages understand our separateness is only an illusion and that we are indeed all one. They know from the changes in their own thought patterns that we can go beyond evolved instinct and make decision based on love and true rationality; that we can guide the evolution of our species away from inflicting suffering on one another. Being that we are all connected, the suffering of another affects you whether you like it not, whether you know it or not. Call it karma, call it the butterfly effect, call it legacy … but suffering leads to more suffering.

So what do you mean by true rationality …

Taking in all known factors and with detachment and love, making the decision you see as serving the greater good. It does not mean seeing your agenda through by selectively choosing factors to hi-light. With true rationality you are truly non-partisan. Hands up those who have no political affiliations and/or ascribe to no label … left, right, democratic. anarchist, libertarian, intellectual, everyman … see we like to label ourselves too. We hold onto our labels and the beliefs ascribed to our labels like a man trying to prevent his fall into an abyss by grasping at cut glass, refusing to cooperate with his brother to build a ladder. Grasp as tightly as you like, eventually you're still going to fall, bloody hands and all. But maybe … just maybe … with our growing knowledge of how our minds work we're ready to change.

How to Heal the World

In my next Blog I'll look at little more into judgment and how we can move beyond and into empathy.
Blessing to all you rock and roll and country stars alike.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Maybe We Should Feed The Trolls …

With my first Vlog I'm going to look at the most common challenge us online folks face … the internet troll. The site Urban dictionary attempted to put a positive spin on trolling, suggesting it is the art of deliberately, cleverly and secretly pissing people off.  Someone might need to take another look at his definition of art but the suggestion is trolling has standards and not every malcontent on the internet can claim the moniker troll. Most sites were not as flattering to the troll's ego as UD. Other top hits included words like narcissists, psychopaths and sadists and my favourite online trolls really are horrible people. Ouch … Well, I have a friend who confessed to me that he used to troll and I know him to also have a very kind side, which led me to question the psychology going on between the two polar ideas that trolls are just so clever that they need to spread that clever around by making others feel less or that they are throwaway villains.

I visited one more site with the title internet trolls can't help themselves. It quoted one Olivier Morin, a cultural anthropologist, who claims that trolls are more or less just like you and me only more intense and because the internet protects one's identity … which it doesn't … not really. But armed with an avatar and screen name, trolls/we lose our inhibitions and throw off social norms. Okay … I've had pen names and yes, I said things that I wouldn't have said using my real name. But not because I wanted to hurt anyone or get a rise; rather because I really felt what I was saying to be the truth. I was afraid espousing something as controversial as the truth I would be judged negatively.

Did that make me a troll? From my perspective … of course not. 

When I asked my friend why he trolled he told me to get a reaction. But of course he wasn't just looking for any reaction … no he was looking for an emotional and negative reaction. And this is, in my opinion, what makes a troll. Motivation. A troll won't just state an opinion or the fact but pepper his response with insults … true enough sometimes they are clever and funny. But that cleverness is used not just to attack ideas but to attack personhood of the other. WHY … to create a foe and defeat a foe and thereby gain validation … usually two-fold validation. One … having led someone to be emotional the troll feels more intelligent than said emotional-one. The troll's faith in his intelligence is a faith that must be bolstered by making someone else feel inferior. Many of us may have had authority figures like this in our own lives … fathers or older siblings … you. Ringing a bell. The other reason goes much deeper and is very much connected to the first reason. The need for validation through attention … any attention. The easiest, almost sure fire way to gain attention is through negative behaviour. We see this with emotionally-neglected and abused children all the time.

Believe it or not the troll isn't just looking to make you upset but to emotionally bond with you and the only way he may know how is through eliciting a negative emotional response. My friend had been horribly bullied throughout school and intimacy was something that he readily admitted to struggling with. That's right trolls are suffering just like you and me.

So how do we deal with the troll ...

First off deal with yourself. Step away from the keyboard …  feel your emotions … if he makes you angry … be angry … if he makes you sad be sad … but don't feed your emotions with commentary … let them be … they'll expand and dissipate and you'll see clearly again.

That said there are some thought patterns that might help ….

Maybe he's not a troll; maybe he just doesn't agree and doesn't know how to express himself in a more constructive, less confrontational manner and maybe … gasp … he has a point. So don't be too attached to your own opinions. Nothing changes faster than opinion. We humans jig those things all the time and why ... to back up our actions. Almost always your actions will come first and your opinions after. So if someone comes along and … shudder … disagrees with you … don't sweat it. Tomorrow likely you are going to disagree with you too.

And remember it's not personal. No matter what awful thing the troll types … he doesn't know you. He is basing his opinions on your opinions and opinions change. So in the very same way your opinions do not define you, his opinions define you even less. And the insults … dollars to donuts someone said something very similar to him when he was most vulnerable… probably many times … and probably it was someone one who was meant to protect and love him.  He is continuing to act out the drama with you because it is safer or he is unable to act it out with his original opponent.

So whatever you do … don't repeat the pattern.

We see it all the time don't feed the trolls and most of the time this is the best advice, especially if you are awash in anger and sadness … so delete and block at will. But if you do encounter a troll and you find yourself invulnerable to his words feed him with good-natured humour and empathy. Laugh with him. Teach him there is another way to communicate and relate. Because we are all on this journey through space and time together and there is no throwing anyone overboard, not even the trolls.