Respectful (Opportunity Cost)

Occupy Wall Street is about spreading “love”. Protestors and conspiracy theorists are about spreading “awareness”. All these people who say so much on all these mass media routes are “spreading” whatever it is they’re spreading.

I’m not sure if they’re trying to make light of all the efforts of absolutely everyone who has ever existed and ever will exist, or if they are just incapable of empathy.

The implications of each have two possibilities. “Spreaders” are either claiming that their actions are an optimal method to whatever they claim, or that nobody has what they claim. These people are not idle chatter, they honestly believe they are doing things to “change the world”. What is not idle is purposive, and if something is purposive then optimizations will be made for that purpose. When we read about disaster aid and the Red Cross helping spread free provisions, we get the image that they are the only ones there, or one of the very few there, and they are making a major difference. That is the same use of language here: the situation is there are people who need some resource and people who have some resource. This is true for all markets, but we do not regularly talk about bread or cars because the equilibrium is approximately achieved. Only when there are great discrepancies are these things talked about. So “spreaders” are claiming one of the two possibilities – high demand low supply, or a radically more efficient way of distributing supply. There is no other optimization.

Changes in culture happen either due to mass oppression (psychological or biological), a change in technology, or contact with another culture. The first is very obviously not optimal. Outside of natural causes like earthquakes, cyclones, and crop failure, the only thing that can cause the first is the government. The second is optimal. This is what entrepreneurs and engineers do. The third is by chance. It can also be directed vaguely by artists.

Do they have an optimal method?

“Spreaders” don’t change anything except by perhaps using the first method, which always leads to lowered standards of living and often mass murder. People have always said simple to ridiculous things throughout time. Perhaps at the dawn of mass media a single person’s “voice” had some effect – this would be the third type. But we’re all more or less used to it by now. Another person yelling and screaming something doesn’t change anything.


Do people lack what they are trying to give?

The stories always talk about how everyone has something they care dearly for. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to – the kind mother, the hard father, the stoic college undergrad, the partying teenager – they all seek something. By logic we can also easily find out that anyone who believes anything, believes they are doing the best they can to achieve it. Nobody looks in the mirror and honestly thinks “I’m evil”. Nobody looks in the mirror and honestly thinks “I’m worthless”. If they did, then they would already be on their way to finding a way to amend that. It is by definition both logically and psychologically impossible to want to be wrong as a net value.

There’s an interesting subversion that happens. Immediately after watching such movies, we believe that everyone we meet and everyone we know is someone we can empathize with if we choose… but quite shortly after, pretty much everyone just goes back to seeing people as masses of flesh and water that move around. There is nothing wrong with this. It is dictated to happen due to Dunbar’s Number. I talked about this a little before. The problem arises when we want to make them believe what we believe – i.e., what these “spreaders” are trying to do. If you are simply interacting with them, there is no need to humanize them fully. Simply interact with them in an optimal way which gets you what you want. But to honestly make them honestly hold true what you hold true, this requires you to humanize them fully. You need to know who they are to figure out what exactly it is that they believe wrongly, and then start from there.

Of course, you can’t do that if you try. Everyone has their reasons for believing in things, and if they think there’s something inconsistent in their perception structure then they’d already be on it. If you are a friend or someone who is close and understands them, then you will find them acceptable. If you are not, then you will not care. If you are neither, that is, you think they’re wrong, you’re right, and that they need to believe what you believe, then you will find out you will almost always be blown off or that you will lose in a pissing contest with them.

“Spreaders” are this last category, except they’re winners, so they never give up. They can tell people they’re wrong precisely because they didn’t try to humanize their targets.

If people thought they were lacking in love, they would be working on being more courteous and accepting of others. If people thought they were lacking in awareness, they would be educating themselves. If they didn’t think they were lacking, or thought that the lack was acceptable, then they would be fine in not doing anything in relation to that “vacancy” – indeed, they would not even perceive it (Do you care that you don’t know how to hang-glide? Do you worry about that on a daily basis? Me neither).

People who have empathy respect that. The most respectable characters in stories always seem to be able to read the protagonist’s feelings correctly, even though the protagonist has barely said anything about the specific problem or issue. This is because the focus isn’t on how the protagonist is wrong (or really, even focusing on the protagonist at all), but what the protagonist wants and how he or she wants change things him/herself. No extra discussion ever exists: if the protagonist doesn’t ask for help, no overdrawn detail is given; if the protagonist doesn’t care, no serious talk ever takes place. The respectable character accepts the incentives of the situation that protagonist is in, and works within that.

“Spreaders” are correct in a sense, that they are changing the incentives of the situation so that people change. If you read that things which kill you are being poured into your water by your municipal water supply, you’re going to have some reaction that would be different than if you went to a different site or read a different article. If your commute to work is being blocked by people who are standing out into the middle of the street, you’re going to be doing things you wouldn’t be doing if they weren’t there. They are indeed “out there doing things, making a change in the world”.

But it’s meaningless.

You change someone who you want to change, but at what cost? How much time and energy have you given up? Was it worth trading off those other things you now didn’t do because you were spreading? What percentage of people you’ve held up will not think of you as just an annoyance, or worse, and enemy? What percentage of that will bother to honestly take into consideration anything that was said, if heard at all over all the noise and seen through all the chaos?

Is it greater than that which would have honestly taken into consideration your beliefs if you had been respectful to everyone and gained a charisma such that, when you open your mouth, all become silent to grasp and savor your every syllable?

Consider that there are two people in the world – you, and another. You do not know everything about the other person. You cannot. Given this, you want them to act a certain way.

Would you “spread” that idea to them?

well yea, exactly, he was a protestor like the others. The fact he was a veteran shouldn’t really be a main focus of the story.

the police wasnt going around asking “Hey are you a war veteran?” yea. ” Okay prepare your face”

It doesn’t particularly matter that the police didn’t know he was a war veteran. This is why etiquette exists. You don’t go around randomly talking about this or that sensitive issue, because any person you talk to could be that kind of thing you’re poking fun at. That is the point they are trying to make here. You said earlier that if you were given a 10 minute notice that a boot was coming, you should get out of the way. This is the same with police brutality – they should know that any person they train their sights on could be someone very important.

– discussion on Scott Olsen

It’s meaningless because the costs and risks are levels of magnitude greater than any greatest possible benefit.

Let’s say they do lack what “spreaders” are trying to give. Let’s pretend it’s right. Let’s take every story as wrong and think that it’s okay to think of people as beings who need to be “fixed”. So what if they lack it?

In a sense, I pay the same cost any time I write up anything like this. There are people who will be offended at my words. However, I aim for holding a culturally acceptable level of respect. While we may disagree that I am any more courteous than the generic political debate forum, it is fairly obvious that my blogging does not operate on the physical equivalent of vandalizing and raiding hot dog carts when they stop giving free food. While parties are offended in both cases, and really all cases (you can always find someone offended at what you’re doing, or what you’re not doing), there is a difference on a fundamental level.

I do not engage in “drama”. Disagree with me, it is your prerogative. Agree with me, also your prerogative. I respect your decision. My hope is to gather a group of people with whom I can discuss what I’d like. If I fail, it is my problem. It is not yours.

With “spreaders”, it is not their problem. It is yours.

YOU should feel bad that you are destroying the planet.
YOU should feel bad that you are killing babies.
YOU should feel bad that you are not recognizing Jesus as your savior.
YOU should feel bad that you are supporting the ruling elite (ex: Illuminati, bourgeoisie, 1%, etc.), and the oppression of the masses (ex: 99%, proletariat, the people, etc.).

They are trading in respect for truth, or love, or justice, or morality, or critical thinking… when nothing can exist without respect. It gets you less than nowhere.

It takes one to imagine and create a world.

But it takes another to acknowledge it and bring it into existence.

– Umineko no Naku Koro ni


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