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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Social skills

At one time most people had to learn how to get along with people who were not like them. It was pretty common to have to interact with people you might not have liked at all. It's a basic skill, but too many don't get a chance to develop the talent.

Thanks to the Internet it's now possible to connect with people who think like you. No matter how unusual your particular interests may be, there's most likely a bunch of people out there in the wide world doing the same thing.

Even when fulfilling our day to day needs it's possible to avoid people we don't like. Don't like the guy at the bank? Do your banking on-line. Hate the clerk at the local store? Order your stuff from Amazon.

Don't like what they say on the 6 o'clock news? There are sites on the Internet that will tell you whatever it is you want to hear.

The problem is that you lose the social skills needed to get along with people. It pays to know your neighbors, even if they don't have the same political views as you and favor Star Wars over Star Trek. When something bad happens, everything from natural disasters to social unrest, being able to work together is a huge survival advantage.

Maybe a little more effort should be made to find common ground with our fellow man. We are all sharing the same planet.



  1. You're really on a roll with these great topics. This one puts me in mind of the old saying -- the devil's in the details.

    I agree that we, generally speaking, have become worse at cultivating and using said social skills. Prompts some questions:

    * Did the generations before us really do this better? I'm not sure, but I think so.

    * If so, how exactly did they do it? Better formal preparation? Homogenization? Segregation? Ignoring troublesome things better than we do? If so, again, how? Avoiding topics entirely (three ancient taboos of polite conversation -- politics, religion, and something else)?

    * Considering the ease, invitation, and temptation of expressing opinions online (he says with ironic awareness), how can we simultaneously live in that hyper-connected world of diverse and often offensive and overwhelming opinions and develop any skill at tolerance?

    * When you have one half of the country systematically and routinely ignoring established fact, and the other half having self-righteous, ineffectual conversations among themselves, and each half certain beyond any doubt that their side is correct, where's the off-ramp?

    1. I think we once did better because we had to. The on-line world has few consequences so people get pretty rude there. They may be bad because they can be without penalty.

      Right now the lack of commonly accepted facts makes it very difficult to communicate. We used to disagree about what to do, but now we can't even agree on what the problems are.

    2. Agree. Regarding facts, how did that happen? Regardless, seems to highlight another fact -- no progress is automatically permanent.

    3. Agree. Regarding facts, how did that happen? Regardless, seems to highlight another fact -- no progress is automatically permanent.

  2. The trouble with meeting on common ground, people are all different and it may be harder to find a neutral place or subject.

    1. True, but most people want to help their fellow man. I take some comfort in that so many people will help out others in need.

  3. But have we always been this hard-hearted and I just never noticed before, or has something really changed? I used to believe the line that we are exceptional, taking that to mean "exceptionally good". Now I wonder.

    1. I have hope -foolish hope maybe, but is that a bad thing? Of course, hope is not a plan and I've got those too.