The Rookery

Madeline's thoughts on social deduction games, forum/community meta, and any other philosophical musings
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Asymmetric Arguments

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Never argue with idiots; they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.
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There are some annoying behaviors that I've been able to see correlations between. Maybe the same exact circumstances don't translate (today it's X's pet gecko, tomorrow it's Y's pet butterfly), but there are enough broad similarities that I can generalize them to the topographic model.

There is, however, another strain of behavior in the forum format that really weighs on me, and is not obviously correlated with personality extremes in this scale. So I feel like I should address it separately, but because of the nature of the beast it's difficult for me to talk about head-on, even here. Hence an appeal to metaphor.

A lot of arguments we engage in are "symmetric" in the sense that both parties have roughly the same amount to gain or lose.

A: Bright pink and lime green is the best color combination in the world!
B: No it's the worst!
A: Well you just have no taste!
B: I have more taste in one bud than you have in your whole tongue!
...
A: Fine, I'm going to paint my house pink and lime just to spite you!

Unless A and B share a house, this decision is well within A's rights. A reacts by changing things that only affect A. B might react by throwing out all their own pink and lime T-shirts, again, changing things that only affect B. So both of them have the same stakes in the argument of taste.

It's possible that the conversation might not get that argumentative, maybe one or both of them are just soft-spoken personalities. But maybe they're also relatively easygoing people who have strong opinions about color theory and keep politely saying "nope, won't ever agree."

Now consider this case (I stress that this is a metaphor, I don't believe any of you support littering beaches IRL, please do not hurt the baby seagulls):

C: I have a bunch of trash, I'm going to dispose of it on this public beach here.
D: I really wish you wouldn't do that.
C: Why not? It's my trash, I'm free to do with it as I please.
D: Well, the beach is...like...our common, public space. If you pollute it, then everybody is hurt.
C: Well maybe you're invested in it, but I'm not.
D: So like, on everybody's behalf, including the generations yet to come, could you...MAYBE NOT DO THIS?
C: NO YOU'RE WRONG, TAKE THIS *dumps trash*
D: *sighs, picks up some plastic, but isn't able to save a seagull who randomly chokes on a glass shard and dies*

D isn't really able to do anything to C, but C is able to do something that D finds hurtful, both to themselves and to potentially unseen others (while C doesn't care). Because of this, D has more incentive than C not to escalate the conversation and potentially provoke C. So they stifle their true feelings, and the only people who can speak freely are the pro-litter brigade (and maybe their close friends). Either you believe in a common cultural patrimony, or you don't, but it doesn't seem like it's even possible to discuss.
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Subscribe sub options Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:05 pm
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