Saturday, November 11, 2006

the SEP field of social interaction

Disclaimer: I am not a serious student of sociology, although I have had a spiffy liberal arts education. Moving along...

A post about mockery and now this. When I started this blog, I assumed it would mostly revolve around my chosen specialty/vocation. What can I say? I haven't had much to write about lately, tech-wise. I do have the following tidbit of commentary. The agreement between Microsoft and Novel about SUSE has inspired me to rewrite the well-known Gandhi quote "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" to "First Microsoft ignores you, then Microsoft spreads FUD about you, then Microsoft pretends to peacefully coexist with you, then Microsoft or you crushes the other". Not as poetic, but accurate.

Enough preamble ramble. My experiences in society have reminded me of the HitchHiker's series once more. This time, it's the Somebody Else's Problem field. The SEP field is a field that accomplishes the same effect as a typical invisibility field, but by masking everything in the field as "somebody else's problem". It exploits the natural human (and all aliens?) impulse to not take responsibility for something unless necessary.

An SEP field-like effect can occur in social interactions, too. An SEP field social interaction consists of someone not acknowledging his counterpart's very existence. As I once heard someone joke, "His existence is not pertinent to my reality". The SEP field effect is not the same as ignoring someone else, because that would imply that the other person was noticed and then disregarded. It is also not the same as indifference, because that also implies an uncaring awareness of the other person. Within the SEP field, people may as well not exist at all, because in either case the impact is precisely null. In fact, this could be a useful detection method for social SEP fields. If someone's absence is not noted in any way, then clearly an SEP field may be masking that individual when he/she is present.

I should further note that the SEP field of social interaction is not a reliable indicator of cruelty or inhumanity. Simply put, someone would have to acknowledge someone else exists in order for an act of cruelty or inhumanity to occur. Those within the SEP field are not necessarily hated, ignored, low-class, etc. They're just nonexistent to others. I don't know if the SEP field has been explored in sociology, but I'm reminded of the categories of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, where I think of Gemeinschaft as "society in which people interact based on relationships" and Gesellschaft as "society in which people interact based on purpose". I'm more inclined to put the SEP field of social interaction in Gesellschaft, though I suppose it really fits in neither, given that SEP fields negate normal society.

How can one defeat an SEP field? Hell if I know. Oh, wait: Hell is other people. Aw, now I'm just confused.

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