Consent and Etiquette

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Richard Goulter

I wouldn’t want to be too abstract about all this.

The short story “And Then There Were None” by E.F. Russell describes a society where consent is of the utmost importance. (More specifically, a free society, governed by two things: “Freedom - I Won’t”, and the notion of obligations). – Meredith Patterson makes some excellent observations/remarks. – I find the story interesting in the same way that the idea of ‘Basic Income’ is fascinating: it sounds so stupid, & you can’t help but ask questions “how would that system deal with …?”.

The countries I’ve lived in have been governed more by politeness as the rule.
It’s impolite to cause others to be uncomfortable, etc.; which leads to various grievances as people’s feelings don’t align with the outward appearances. (This makes it awfully difficult for the INTJs to make sense of the world).
– I found it strange that my friend would update contact details as they bumped into an acquaintance, while telling me afterwards that they’d rather avoid talking with people from that circle. – If everyone’s playing the game of politeness, it adds a layer of indirection.
– Similarly, I was rebuked by a Subway worker as I ordered with “This please”, “that please”: “Sir, no ‘please this, please that’; this is my job.”. – I thought that was pretty interesting.

In any case; politeness usually defers to consent if everyone plays by the rules; you ask to sit at the table, which respects the consent of the person you might intrude upon. (Their politeness might then dictate they not refuse, which seems unfortunate).
– The kind of ‘politeness’ which says it’s rude to grieve others seems to work against consent, though. (If it’s rude to leave an undesirable conversation; you’re stuck in a conversation you’d rather not be a part of).
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, overall.

This plays out a bit on social media, of course.
I guess everyone interprets things differently. (Alice Maz has an absolutely fantastic piece discussing a common scenario where tensions form due to such meta-miscommunication).
I reckon with Facebook, the dynamic is such: it’s high-cost to “unfriend” someone (especially an in-person acquaintance). Muting is cheap in comparison (since the person you mute has no direct way to tell you’ve muted them), but feels ‘bad’; and, for me, I feel if you’re muting people just for their different (or even obnoxious!) viewpoint, what’s to stop you from being in an echo-chamber or self-affirming filter-bubble? – The snobbish would phrase it like this: With Facebook, you’re stuck seeing the inane shit your friends post. (A less snobbish interpretation is you’re seeing what’s analogous to small talk).

So it should be especially clear that talking about politics is “bad”.
That sounds like a “duh” statement.
How does it take paragraphs to get to such a statement?
– And yet. It’s damn annoying to see even two or three people post an absurd viewpoint. (Two or three tends to look like “a lot”, somehow). – It’s impolite/rude to shit on someone’s rug; so the Facebook equivalent of sub-tweeting is a temptation.

The thing that kinda sucks about this, is it means the conscientious will suppress their political opinions. (The wise will even know it’s better to not share them!). – And the folk who do share are either obnoxious, or living in a filter-bubble. (Which I guess is pretty much the same thing).
– Sometimes I wanna small-talk inane shit; but since I hardly see my fellow countrymen on a day-to-day basis.. it can suck a bit.

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