Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Explaining the Anti-Quarantiners

As a centrist, I see the Right as the Left does, and vice versa. Temperamentally cooler and more pragmatic than either side (i.e. I roll my eyes an awful lot), I'm "for" institutionalism, incrementalism, and competence (here, fwiw, was my 2016 presidential platform). With a foot in each camp, I'm well-positioned to explain one side to the other, and have done so in a series of postings labeled "Right Whispering".

The "Liberation” movement was 1. artificially contrived, funded, and whipped into A Thing, much like the Tea Party (see this invaluable short Twitter thread explaining the history of this move), and 2. a perfectly understandable framing issue on the part of those who are falling for it.

The second's more interesting to me.

I've previously explained the stalwart tough-guy credo of blue collar workers that made the guys working on the toxic, smoking WTC pile assume they'd be fine, and that made me confident I'd avoid hearing damage despite decades of aural abuse:
In the 80s and 90s I was (here’s video proof) one of the hardest-working musicians in New York City. I spent thousands upon thousands of hours laboring directly in front of screaming guitar amps, PA systems, and corn-fed trumpeters whose sense of self worth revolved around playing higher and louder than the human auditory system can tolerate. Unsurprisingly, mine couldn't.

I imagined I'd be ok; that I'd be an exception. Full-time professional musicians are essentially blue collar workers (though better trained than doctors or lawyers), and we have that familiar stoic toughness. I remember watching the guys toiling atop the smoking Trade Center pile after 9/11, all of them figuring that their tenacity, combined with the sacred nature of their mission, made them indestructible. Tough guys don't sweat fumes.

I was horror-struck by the tableau of inevitable cancer. Yet, in my own irrational tough guy pride, I kept returning to my position in front of guitar amps, PA systems, and brutish trumpeters, certain that I was exempt. After all, I performed miracles, screaming my head off on a difficult instrument for twelve hours at a stretch (often doubling or tripling up my gigs), maintaining high standards even while dead tired. I could tough it out through anything. As someone who could "get 'er done," I was like a Conway Twitty hero plowin' fields with his all-American John Deere slide trombone can I get a "hallelujah"?

Sure enough, I wound up, shmuck-like, with more than 50% hearing loss.
So I've been there. I've done the same move these "liberationists" are doing right now. And maybe I can help you see them in a different light.

A certain type of person keeps watching the tender/delicate classes set their hair on fire over this and that. It seems like a nonstop series of hysterical wolf-cryings. That's why they tend not to evacuate for hurricanes, or hew to health fads, or read the label, or chew each bite 35 times. One type of person is innately complacent; the other innately alarmed. Neither is more irrational; both just keep digging in,overreacting to the evident daffiness of the other side. Such is life in a binary society.

Each has a framing, and they're as incompatible as Betamax and VHS. But the thing to remember is that while people with different framings appear to be in completely different movies (making their actions hard to fathom), in their heads - i.e. from their perspective - it all makes sense.

No one framing works for all scenarios, though we cling desperately to the familiar perspective composing our comfort zone and identity. In extreme circumstances, our misplaced clinging becomes dangerous or even fatal (that's why a lithe perspective is essential). Consider the WTC recovery workers who held on to their framing far too stubbornly. And consider yourself, deeming those guys heroes and the anti-quarantine liberators rabid fools when both operated from the same stalwart get-er-done no-nonsense framing. This disjoint demonstrates that your framing, too, fails to serve all purposes in all contexts. We all fall prey to this, more often than we like to admit. The music stops and we're suddenly chairless.

If you imagine you've never clung to a perspective past the point where it stopped fitting circumstance (making you seem, to external observers, out of your damned mind), then you haven't paid much attention. And this blinkered inflexibility reflects a perspective every bit as frozen as that of these poor "liberation" schlubs.

See also "Framing Disjoints"


Adam said...

Do you think some of this, and I include your examples, are dunning Kroger effect things. And I'm absolutely not meaning dk = dumb, just a problem with meta cognition.

Jim Leff said...

I'd go the other way. Dunning-Kruger doesn't explain framing, framing explains Dunning-Kruger. Dunning-Kruger is an observation, not an explanation. It doesn't get at the cause.

I've written extensively about causation of Dunning-Kruger. Here, fwiw, are all mentions: https://jimleff.blogspot.com/search?q=dunning-kruger&max-results=20&by-date=true

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