Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Intended for constructive conversations. Exhibits of polarizing tribalism will be deleted.
UK-with-kids
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:55 am
Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by UK-with-kids »

ffj wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:26 pm
@Jacob

You mention Wheaten scales quite a bit in interpersonal exchanges. I'm not so sure it is the all encompassing explanation you would like it to be, as people are fully capable of operating at multiple levels, even if perfect understanding isn't always there.
The scales are useful mental models, but the downside is that you shut down any debate by basically saying I'm too intellectually superior for a mere mortal like you to understand. And that can annoy people.

In the run up to the Brexit vote a senior UK politician called Michael Gove, when pressed by journalists on why all the 'experts' were saying Brexit would be a disaster, said:
I think the people in this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.
He was crucified for saying it, but I'm sure it struck a chord with people who suspected the establishment were trying to fix the election by blinding them with science.

What is more helpful is explaining why you disagree with somebody, not just lecturing them on how stupid they are. This is analogous to Hilary Clinton's comments about Trump voters and partly explains the current culture of anti-intellectualism.

IlliniDave
Posts: 3125
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by IlliniDave »

BWND wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:46 pm
Hi everyone,

Has anyone ever experimented with trying to avoid political discussions on the 'micro' level, reserving their engagement for the 'macro' stuff? It's something I have been pondering for a while as a strategy for myself to reduce frustration and to try and improve the quality and tone of debates/conversations.
I've learned that trying to bring bigger-picture, longer-term perspective into random contemporary political discussions is a way to make myself the object of derision. To paraphrase it politely, I get the "You're the problem," accusation, get my gender and race thrown in my face, etc. It's a noble thought but be aware angry people aren't in the mood to step back and consider other vantage points.

Like-minded folks seem pretty few and far between nowadays, but when I find them there is really no temptation to take politically-flavored discussions to the micro-level, aside from the longstanding American tradition of poking fun at all politicians. The natural discussion is broader in scope. Most of us in this country go our whole lives without an individual politician having a direct long-lasting material influence on it.

Ere, more specifically FI, has something to do with my outlook. Having put a check into one of life's major boxes means I have the bandwidth to contemplate a future that, while somewhat modest, is more than wishful thinking. At the same time my propensity to be a forward looking probably contributed to getting on a path to FI to begin with. Still, knowing that engaging "The Man" is voluntary is major shift in perspective.

Age has something to do with it. Observing politics from a safe distance and relatively neutral position over a handful of decades allows one to spot patterns, or at least potential patterns, that often belie contemporary narrative.

This is going to sound sappy, but the biggest seismic shift came from the first time holding a grandchild. Knowing that in some way I was responsible for the baby's existence, and that most of the child's life will be lived after I'm gone, caused me to think seriously and deeply about what happens after I'm pushing daisies more so than I ever had before.

So in a conversation with a bunch of 25 year olds (common occurrence at work) I'm seen as a bit obtuse and anachronistic. And they tease me in a good natured way. Fortunately they are all generous souls and allow me to see things in a peculiar way (peculiar from their perspective) without tossing me on the Nazi or Commie discard piles.

Point is, I guess, that if you can find one or a group of discussion partners that are willing to disconnect politics from the personal and from personalities and emotion, the conversations can indeed be much more productive and enjoyable.

However, all that said, I also believe it is important to recognize that there are real people out there who are really struggling and sometimes suffering. Today. Uniformly rolling them up into a statistic or dismissible demographic is inhumane. Ditto for framing everything in one's future doomsday scenario of choice. In such instances (dialogue with those people or those who see themselves as advocates for those people) trying to draw the interaction into a more abstract idea-based realm is something I've had exactly zero success with. And to be fair, no one who wakes up every day on the south or west side of Chicago with a realistic fear their child will catch a bullet loosed in a gang battle should give two shits about peak-this or hyper-that. The more uncertain surviving the present day is, the less meaningful what might happen next year or thirty years from now becomes. The danger in retreating into the happy realm of political philosophy (or of hyper-partisan mudslinging) is losing empathy for those people.

It's a much smoother road to just find a suitable echo chamber in the podcast world, choose a hero, and participate in the discussion vicariously. I do admit I succumb to the temptation at times, though in my defense I also sometimes listen to people who, frankly, piss me off, in an attempt to try to walk the walk and understand where they are coming from. Yet as time goes on I do less and less of the latter.

One of my fatal flaws is being a habitual peacemaker, meaning I can't take my own advice that really when it comes to politics, it's best to speak only when spoken to, and even then say as little as possible. I think we desperately need more and broader empathy right now, but with the machine working overtime to narrow or obliterate it, meaningful attempts to preserve or rekindle general empathy are beyond my competencies. I used to refer to my little cabin-in-the-woods as my hideout in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. That's now evolving to a serious metaphor. I'll probably still open my mouth on occasion until one day when I'll regret it so much I just stop. Anyone who asks, I'd say opt out of politics talk, at least until cancel culture is obliterated, and let your vote do your talking for you.

ertyu
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by ertyu »

One of the worst things about he said-she said outrage politics aimed at riling up the masses is that it can drown out the fact that the personal *is* political. iDave, this is where I assume the divide comes from between you and your younger colleagues. You're telling them, "this is just to rile you up for election time, I've seen it all before, isn't the first time this happens and it won't be the last." They're telling you, "actually, having a leader who can hold himself back from making racist and misogynistic comments kind of influences how women and non-white people are treated in this country. this isn't incinsequential at all."

You say holding a grandchild was meaningful to you. Now imagine this grandchild was a black girl. Suddenly, all sorts of things will become visible and salient to you that seemed like "just election rile-up" before.

IlliniDave
Posts: 3125
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by IlliniDave »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 5:23 am

You say holding a grandchild was meaningful to you. Now imagine this grandchild was a black girl. Suddenly, all sorts of things will become visible and salient to you that seemed like "just election rile-up" before.
I will say that what I perceive as one of the bigger difficulties is the insistence of trying to paint everything with race. That statement I quoted can easily be taken as a backhanded way to label me a racist. I don't know if that's your intent or not, and really I don't care--if you already believe I am intellectually and emotionally incapable of seeing beyond myself and people with similar immutable physical traits, there's nothing I can do to change that.

Also, your imagined conversations between me and my youthful colleagues are substantially off-base. We don't argue, we exchange ideas and perspectives and learn from each other. We don't discuss DT much exept as the poster child for why fake tans are a bad idea, and best as I can recall, the election hasn't come up except as a substantial unknown for the subset of us who like to talk about investing. Besides, I thought I was very clear that trying to go to abstract and big picture, while easier, had the downside of disassociating one from empathy with people who have valid day-to-day struggles. Inhumane was the word I chose.

I'm one of those weird people who actually still uses a dictionary, albeit mostly on line these days. In casual conversation I may get a little loose with my use of the word politics, but when the topic is politics I lean towards more of a dictionary definition. So in this particular context I use it more in the sense of the contest for control of governmental power. As I've expanded on elsewhere, I'm skeptical that the vast majority of politicians have people in mind except when they need to harvest votes, and even then it's in the context of the politicians' best interest, not that of the broader populace. Obviously discussing politics with non-politicians can be a highly personal matter. My point was trying to steer conversation to a safer macro level isn't necessarily a strategy to promote sanity, as it often amplifies the contentiousness of the interaction, at least in my anecdotal experience.

ertyu
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by ertyu »

No, this was not a backhanded way to label you as racist. On the Balkans, if you want to call someone a racist, you call them a racist--and the racist in question probably says, "Yeah, I am a racist - so?" So I was not trying to call you anything.

Alphaville
Posts: 2432
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by Alphaville »

the point of all the recent protests etc is that racism operates at the macro level. it’s not random events in a neutral context. the knee on the neck is very much macro. just because that particular micro knee is not on your particular micro neck, it doesn’t mean it’s not there at the macro level.

to universalize one’s particular safe micro neck is not addressing macro issues, but ignoring them.

focusing on the actual macro level actually requires addressing racism.

BWND
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:08 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by BWND »

Lots of interesting input here. I'm glad I put the thread up. Thanks everyone so far!

Rather than replying to individual posts that @me I might just note down how my thinking has evolved since the conversation started.

Quite a few people have mentioned the importance of intervention in the micro fray for reasons as varied as critical interventions required immediately to preserve the community you find yourself in or to counter negative values, to actually maintaining the ability to relate to your fellow humans, which could be lost in a full retreat. The points have been well made.

I think for my own personal development I do need to shift my focus to the macro in order to better judge when those interventions are warranted and when all I'd be doing is adding to the noise. From the contributions so far, I now expect that if I go down this road, I'll gain insights into issues that don't appear to have particularly pleasant outcomes and are insolvable within my estimated lifetime. I might also find myself 'alone' in more situations. However, I hope to grow as a person.

ZAF put in a firefighter analogy. To put it in a mini Wheaton scale** way (**see comment at end):

The problem is the fire. The solution involves resources such as time and water.

Level 1: New homeowner. Massive panic. The chair by the wall is the first fire they see. All water expended on this.
Level 2: Experienced homeowner. Reads firefighting blogs. Knows lots of tips from the blogs. Goes straight to putting out the roof and beams fires to preserve structural integrity.
Level 3: Experienced firefighter. Wrote one of the firefighting blogs read by level 2. Doesn't just see a chair on fire. Sees a possible ignition of a structural beam behind the chair and an obstruction to others getting in and out. Puts out the chair on fire with an appropriate amount of force (water and time). Increased access helps other firefighters get in to help.

I see political discussions from micro to macro zooming out in line with that scale, with my resource as my time and patience and willpower in place of water. The Level 3 above knows precisely why they have prioritised engaging at the micro level over the macro, structural level. Unless I spend much less time putting out small fires, I won't have the time to grow to understand when and why I might do it.

**On Wheaton scales. I don't think applying a moral or qualitative measure of some sort (L4 is better than L2) by default is always correct. It's about finding relative position on the scales and judging your approach to communication with other levels accordingly. A tool that is neutral if you will. There are really good threads on here on the scales so I don't propose sidetracking this one.

On engaging in the micro for enjoyment in a verbal sparring kind of way - debate as sport. I also can enjoy those interactions. In my experience, however, they work far better person to person than written (messaging, emails, forums). Face to face you can see when the other person is getting hurt, feels like they are being trolled and adjust your approach. Digitally they have far greater tendency to flame out of all proportions. To that end, I definitely think reserving participation in the micro for offline interactions is positive.

IlliniDave
Posts: 3125
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by IlliniDave »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:52 am
the point of all the recent protests etc is that racism operates at the macro level. it’s not random events in a neutral context. the knee on the neck is very much macro. just because that particular micro knee is not on your particular micro neck, it doesn’t mean it’s not there at the macro level.

to universalize one’s particular safe micro neck is not addressing macro issues, but ignoring them.

focusing on the actual macro level actually requires addressing racism.
Good points, maybe I missed some of the context in the thread overall.

-When I read the OP, I did not glean that this a racism-only discussion
-Perhaps what I'm calling "macro" in the context of the discussions evolution is more "super-macro". I was basing it on:
Macro - think geopolitics, long-term economic trends, in the shorter term, think focus on actual policy positions put forward in an election campaign.
If there was an actual policy position put forward by one of the campaigns that was being discussed somewhere in the thread I was not responding to or attempting to criticize/minimize it. A person sharing a few personal experiences to contextualize her/his thoughts shouldn't be taken as a broad brush denial of the importance of people with dissimilar experiences. It's often possible to get to the same place by many different roads, or at least to places close enough that constructive interaction is possible.

I do agree that in the same way there are some political topics that can't be well-addressed in a broader sense in some situations, there are other political topics that in some situations demand it. My default is to view things from a wider, longer-term perspective. Sometimes that causes me to err by failing to recognize that there are real people expressing real discontent right now for very valid reasons. That aspect of my remarks was in part a confession (here's where I've made mistakes juggling micro vs macro from having sort of a macro bias) and an unsolicited PSA that while macro has its time and place and value, when talking with people it's often a good idea to understand as much as you can about where they are coming from, and what immediate pressing concerns they might have.

Ironically, I apparently made the same error in this discussion by being too broad and general in my initial remarks in an effort to avoid stomping on any land mines.

It's also possible you weren't considering what I said at all in your statements, and if that's the case, my apologies for misunderstanding and unnecessary clarifications.

CS
Posts: 659
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by CS »

@alphaville

Yes. Excellent point.

BWND
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:08 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by BWND »

@IlliniDave You haven't mistaken anything. This isn't a racism-only discussion. No policy positions are being put forward by me and as far as I was concerned any examples included in the thread have been for illustrative purposes only.

UK-with-kids
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:55 am
Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by UK-with-kids »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:52 am
the point of all the recent protests etc is that racism operates at the macro level. it’s not random events in a neutral context. the knee on the neck is very much macro. just because that particular micro knee is not on your particular micro neck, it doesn’t mean it’s not there at the macro level.

to universalize one’s particular safe micro neck is not addressing macro issues, but ignoring them.

focusing on the actual macro level actually requires addressing racism.
You have to be careful about inferring the general from the particular. What is the macro issue around knee on the neck? Is it that the police mistreat black people? Is it that conditions in society are worse for black people?

In the UK at least, people might be surprised that more white people die in custody than black people, both in absolute terms and proportional to the numbers arrested. (A disproportionate number of black people are arrested in the first place though, which is a slightly different issue). Source: https://bbc.co.uk/news/amp/52890363

A quick look back at history will also confirm that conditions for black people and racism in general are definitely getting better - we no longer have slavery or legalised segregation for example, and educational opportunities have improved over the last few decades.

But people are angry about the continuing unfairness right now, and the ways it impacts them today. It's no good dismissing their "micro" complaints by highlighting that the "macro" story is one of ongoing albeit slow improvement.

As a result it's often the case that one emotive story leads to huge political changes - Rosa Parks springs to mind. In the UK the macro racism situation has been at the forefront recently because of an incident that happened in the US. I'm not saying for a moment that the complaints aren't relevant to here, I just note that the connections between what happened to George Floyd and all those statues getting torn down in Britain are somewhat arbitrary in timing and extent.

Perhaps that's the way history really happens - suddenly and all at once in unpredictable and seemingly random ways. So much for slowly evolving macro trends.

UK-with-kids
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:55 am
Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by UK-with-kids »

There's another point I wanted to make on macro versus micro, which is that we can't really know what the trends are in advance. So with all that detached wisdom you might end up not only failing on empathy, but actually being wrong too!

There are macro trends which fit the current narrative but (might) turn out differently. For example:
- Increased productivity and technology was going to lead to the age of leisure, with everyone working part-time. But we instead ended up working harder for more stuff and more debt.
- Emerging markets - how do you know which markets are going to 'emerge' in advance?
- Peak oil will lead to local economies with lower energy usage OR we'll carry on as we are and technology will come to the rescue. Both can't be right!
- Urbanisation is increasing everywhere in the world and we have an ageing population. Maybe, I dunno, a global pandemic that particularly hits the elderly and densely populated cities might affect that. It happened in the middle ages.

J_
Posts: 735
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:12 pm
Location: Netherlands/Austria

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by J_ »

On a more personal level my reaction to the title of this topic:

Sometimes when I go to bed or when I rise in the morning I discuss with myself about life. How to live, how to have a view on life which gives me space to breathe…

I paint myself a picture of the world I think I know, the world in general, Europe, the Netherlands, Austria the towns and surounding landscapes where I live, the houses I live in, our garden, my friends..
And that picture is always changing: political, environmental, economical, social, psychological, dangers to health.
This is the (my) macro part, I try to discover trends which will affect my personal life. These trends are changing and I try to find ways to react adequate.

I use in preparing my reaction my experiences I have gathered during my lifetime, the important lessons about ere, the books which gives me unexpected outlooks like Antifragile, In over our Heads, Spinoza’s Ethics, Sapiens, the ere forums.

And so I paint my micro view for the days and months which will follow, the ways I want to live in the nearby future, the sports I want to practise, the (mini) adventures I want to undertake, what I want to study further, what will have priority and what can wait. And each day brings its own unplanned events so my plans get even more adaptations. And so my micro view evolves, and can I keep my sanity...


Alphaville
Posts: 2432
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by Alphaville »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:13 am
You have to be careful about inferring the general from the particular. What is the macro issue around knee on the neck? Is it that the police mistreat black people? Is it that conditions in society are worse for black people?
yes, i’m speaking specifically in the context of the current protests in the usa. they’re addressing macro structural issues, not random isolated ones. the reason people talk about race so much is because truly it’s everywhere here.

i live in a country that was founded and built on the conquest and extermination of native people and the slavery of black people, based on a discourse of white supremacy and manifest destiny. this is not news. this is macro level and structural from inception.

yes, thing have gotten less awful over the centuries, but the legacy of our original sins lives on, and how long does it need to go on? and who is to say that things will keep getting better if left unchecked, and not get worse instead? after slavery, jim crow, the kkk, the tulsa race massacre, the tuskeegee experiment, redlining, segregation, contra cocaine trafficking ending up in inner cities, the militarization of a police force, resegregation of schools.... come on! it’s so far from over it’s a joke.

when the kids these days talk about “privilege” they are not saying that you or some other particular person committed these crimes. they’re saying that a certain group of people draws unfair advantages from the macro structure left in place by the legacy of those crimes. if you can live in the united states of america and not think about race for a whole week, i don’t think you’re enlightened, i think you’re just privileged and oblivious. and, you know, good for you if you can live that way, but how about we extend that same provilege to everyone?

things like being able to call the police without fear that you’ll end up getting killed instead of protected, or being able to get an interview for a job if your name doesn’t “sound right”, or being presumed criminal/violent/dangerous, and that sort of thing? in america you can’t just be black and mind your own business— someone is always looking at you as a threat. you go to a supermarket and you get followed by the store detective. you‘re a member of your state legislature canvassing your constituents and someone will soon call the cops on you, i mean, all the information is out there, and we know it. very macro.

and hey, if you try to remind people that black lives matter, that it’s not okay to be shooting defenseless unarmed people, or strangling them for selling cigarettes, they’ll respond that “all lives matter!” as if everyone was treated the same way, when clearly it’s not. but some people need to continue the pretense, because it’s uncomfortable to see reality.

anyway that’s my rant on that very macro subject with its inseparable micro trench warfare.

as for the uk, that’s a whole other kettle of fish and i don’t know enough about it to discuss it much. i know roughly what england did to ireland, and to the west indies, and to india, etc... but i don’t live there, so i only know things from reading, like the windrush generation and that sort of thing— but only as an outsider. i don’t live and breathe your country so i can’t say what really goes on there.

ps- rosa parks was chosen because she was a sympathetic poster girl for the movement with many social connections. it’s a bit sad that other people who had done the same did not get the same recognition but please realize a black woman taking a political stance has to be above any and all reproach or else she’ll quickly be found guilty. same as kamala’s accent.

tonyedgecombe
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:11 pm
Location: Oxford, UK Walkscore: 3

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by tonyedgecombe »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:13 am
In the UK at least, people might be surprised that more white people die in custody than black people, both in absolute terms and proportional to the numbers arrested. (A disproportionate number of black people are arrested in the first place though, which is a slightly different issue). Source: https://bbc.co.uk/news/amp/52890363
If I was arguing from the opposite perspective I'd note that 8% of the deaths are black people but they are only 3% of the population.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/112 ... ethnicity/

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12979
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by jacob »

Hmmmmm! ERE Wheaton levels or Wheaton levels in general... there are so many angles to consider here and I know exhaustive answers tend to diminish the primary point which is to improve communications and not to win arguments or club people on the head.

I remember the time before [developing the table]. We had all the observations and years of experience with people accusing others of being too extreme or downright insane, alternative people accusing others of being assholes. People finding others inspirational and also people telling others that they should just try a little harder. A few could navigate this intuitively, but most, by far, including me, either got defensive or gave advice based on their personal anecdotal evidence.

The ERE Wheaton levels/table sorted these comments into groups after discovering there's a transitive relation buried in the data (Wheaton's first insight.)

Having hashed out the table based on years (about 10 years) of experience, communication improved and instead of telling people they were too extreme or that they should try a little harder, it became possible to understand where they were in their journey and point towards inspirational sources rather than just "politely" telling people to try harder and not be lazy or an asshole.

And obviously Paul Wheaton did the same thing for ecology having observed similar issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWQsgTD3ifY

All this happened in 2016. It has worked way too well to easily give it up and return to the animosity shit show that mostly was before.

Back then the table (no framework is perfect) also had the issue of some identifying with multiple levels suggesting that identifying with any given level was a meaningless exercise. (Read through the linked thread.) You get similar resistance when it comes to personality models or any model really. When building a theoretical mode, you're always engaged in an exercise of emphasizing what you yourself think are pertinent points while disregarding others. Others may disagree. In particular if you're far off how other people see things, your proposed hacking/cutting will have no overlap. Conversely, people in the center range and therefore being able to relate to most whether left or right or up or down will question what the point was. Almost everybody is +/-1 from their perspective, so why bother?

Anyway ... that was trying to understand the different informed/misinformed perceptions of ERE.

Since then I've been trying to understand the different perceptions of politics as well as figure out a general model of human development regardless of axis. This project is not done yet. However, it appears that multiple researchers have arrived at roughly the same schematas. This strongly suggests that human nature (potential and limits) is the same no matter how one tries to develop it. Whether it's ecology, ERE, chess, management-theory, skills, morals, or politics. The overlaps are too obvious to ignore. The patterns are the same. They're being discovered independently from all kinds of directions. They're legit.

From the perspective of this thread (micro/mezzo/macro) and as someone going into the world, I think they're worth keeping in mind. Perceptions of other people's skills are not always obvious, because for some skills it takes one to know one!!

Basketball is an example of something everybody has had some experience with at all levels. You know how to do a jumpshot and a layup and you understand that the difference between you and a pro is that they just do it far better than you. You can probably dribble a ball including between your legs and around your back albeit not very well. You have experience with all the concepts. You can play all of the game, but just not as well as an experienced player. An experienced player can do all that as well as keeping track of who is guarding who and which lines are open and making something happen from that. (I speak as someone who have only shot some hoops back in school. I may be talking out of my ass---in which case I would be confirming my greater point.) Thus Basketball has very few levels, maybe just 1 or 2.

A better example might be the 100m dash, essentially THE Olympic discipline. There's really no doubt in anyone's mind who is faster. There are no excuses. Faster is just faster.

Running only has 1 level.

Gymnastics is an example of something very few has had any experience with except for the most basic level. Furthermore, it's clear that there are moves at higher levels that are so complex that WL1 can't even identify them by looking at them. With further training having learned some component moves like a roundoff) it becomes possible to identify them and with further training one might attempt them. Still insofar one can do a double salto, it might still be clear that a triple salto is a whole different game while being unclear how it is achieved.

Gymnastics has multiple levels.

Swordplay is something most people have had experience with at the most basic level banging two sticks together Eroll Flynn style. However, beyond this, there's more going like distancing, balance, covering, angles, and feeling pressure. Unlike basketball, where you see everything, and gymnastics where you realize that you don't see everything, swordplay is an example of something where people initially think they see everything but later realize that there's so much more to it.

Swordplay also has multiple levels but less obviously.

The problem is when some human activity resembles swordplay (like ERE or politics) more than it resembles basketball (driving a car) or doing gymnastics (theoretical physics).

In this case, w/o the understanding that Wheaton levels bring to the table, people quickly end up calling each other ignorant assholes or worse while missing each others points entirely. The reason is that it is not entirely clear when they're talking across each other. For example, one person might be expressing grievances while projecting it on another group, another might argue that this conflict is a deliberate distraction, while yet another argues that one can just ignore the whole conflict. And so on.

Whereas an overall structure, like Wheaton levels or other macro-models explaining why there are these kinds of arguments in the first place might create some resolution. From a moderation perspective, this is preferable to the "good old days" of settling things with the online equivalent of fist-fights, especially for the one(s) who have to clean up after the fight is over.

I therefore refer to WLs and other structures of human interaction a lot because raising awareness about them avoids a lot of non-constructive behavior that I would otherwise have to deal with in other ways. (I don't have the luxury of just ignoring it.)

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2134
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by classical_Liberal »

A critical component to communication with anyone is compassion and empathy. It fits into all the models being discussed here(Kegan, Wheaton, personality, etc.), though may require the user to function at Kegan 4 in at least some aspects, some of the time. The most powerful phrase I've ever used in nursing is "I'm so sorry this is happening to you, it must be so hard for you", and meaning it.

To have compassion/empathy we have to understand the hard constraints that someone who is "not me" may have in their life. This may be something like IQ (not being able to recognize complex patterns), or how they were raised, who their social network consists of, and, of course, where they are in these various models. Hence a greater understanding of various models is very helpful.

Sometimes people can move the needle on these constraints, sometimes they cannot. For example, pretty much anyone here recognizes that FI is much harder, if not impossible, in Venezuela at this time. If someone has a hard constraint of needing to live in Venezuela, it doesn't do much good to talk to them investing and SWR's. Thinking if they only listened to you they'd be OK. Trying to do so will only bring about anger and frustration. Instead, if we listen without assumptions, then choose to have empathy and compassion with this person's hard constraints, maybe we can actually move the needle on progress for them. Like, maybe I can tell them how to make wine from any fruit, some sugar and bread yeast. They can have a tangible good to trade with, using items that are available to them within their hard constraints. This is the difference between inciting anger/frustration and helpfulness. The difference between someone viewing you as a valuable resource and an elitist d-bag.

Taking this process into the realm of thoughts and ideologies is not a hard leap. A person believes what they believe because of some hard constraints. Just like me. I may be lucky enough to see a bigger picture at this time. After listening empathetically, and knowing where they are coming from, how can I use a skill or tool in my kit that may help them see the world a bit bigger while taking the hard constraints of their situation into account?

Anyway, I'm not a saint and certainly am not capable of doing this all the time. I get just as pissed and divisive as the next person. However, when I'm at my wits ends with all of it, this is my go to thought process. It seems to work pretty well.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12979
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by jacob »

@ffj - A big part of it is me playing the role as both moderator/owner and user/civilian on this forum. When I'm wearing my moderator hat here, I very much have to take a macro-perspective and remain fairly reasonable on all the micro-conflicts insofar I want to allow them. (Otherwise the forum would just be my personal bully pulpit.) This means not only enforcing the rules but also steering (actual moderating) the threads by filling in other perspectives, etc. For example, if something becomes too one-sided, I need to provide a counter-balance so it doesn't end up as an echo-chamber where half the people stay silent.

Mentioning Wheaton levels and other systems does give away some of the game in terms of how I manage this, but it also allows others to step in and help, so it doesn't exclusively fall on me to do it. It's also more effective that way. It's basically a system describing where/how to meet people. And from a moderator perspective, providing this macro-perspective is the most effective way I know to get others to step in and assist in dealing with the micro-stuff.

This only works if there are others around who would "take" to the macro/systems-perspective. In real life, I do not count on this at all. In that case, I keep my macro-perspectives to myself and mainly use them strategically for how to interact with this or that person. I don't have a winning smile or a naturally empathetic personality, so understanding people is my best hope. Thus initially I will do a lot of observing or scanning to somehow fit a person into any of the complex set of boxes I've built, like MBTI, Kegan, Wheaton, IQ, education (kind and degree), alignment, socioeconomic ladder, and enneagram---the more the better, I'm comfortable with paradoxical contradictions. Then I'll go from there. Because trying to intuit how other people work based on how my own mind works doesn't work very well, when I'm an outlier in practically every dimension there is. (And obviously, giving away the game like this would admit a significant strategic disadvantage insofar I wanted to fight someone on the micro-level.)

Thus the macro determines when to fight (and how) and when not to fight. Knowing the macro-perspective also creates a pretty good idea of how the fight will go if it happens. This has also made me substantially less interested in fighting for the sake of fighting, e.g. "stirring things up in order to have a good discussion".

Anyhoo, this is why on the forum I mostly talk about conflicts from a macro-perspective. I am aware of how this can seem arrogant and piss people off when they're part of the conflict. I don't think the alternative is any prettier though given that I'm still the moderator. (The climate threads are an example of where I didn't engage at the macro-level and fought fire with more fire. I'm not proud of how those were handled.)

slsdly
Posts: 354
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:04 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by slsdly »

@jacob, you have expressed a desire for action as your preferred form of gratitude on a few occasions. As such, if there are actions of mine that you wish to diminish or encourage, I'm open. Publicly or privately, now or in the future, candidness works best. I realize I don't post *that* frequently, so there probably isn't much to say. I admit to shying away from most of the raging debate fires, as it rarely seems worth it. By the time my personal threshold is reached, the thread usually gets locked.

In my day-to-day, I sometimes interact with politically radicalized individuals, mostly on the left, who seem to have little interest in exploring how our actions are harmful to others and to themselves, the lack of humility, the unshakeable assumptions, and the explosive anger... I tend to hold my tongue, because it makes my life more pleasant and there have been consequences of drawing the ire of the hive mind. I've been told if I was not so much less of a hypocrite than they are on certain shared values, I would be a prime target. But speaking my mind here, if useful, would be more so just getting off my lazy duff than avoiding repercussions ;).

(On the side, perhaps self assessment on whether one is radicalized or not is not the most reliable test.)

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6831
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Focussing on the 'Macro' over the 'Micro' to maintain sanity

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

The thing I keep thinking about is how often dichotomies dissolve into the unexpected. For instance, High Church vs Low Church dissolving into No Church.

If the techno-optimists are correct in their predictions will “race” even exist 100 years from now? What if the techno-optimists are profoundly wrong?

Post Reply