Be Sure Someone Cares

If you have a group where no one is caring for one another’s emotions and no one is caring for their own emotions, you’re going to end up with some bad consequences.

One of the various methods of thinking about forms that small communities can take is in how people’s needs are met. In a more communal setup, everyone takes care of everyone else’s needs. This leads to everyone’s needs being met because people can ignore large portions of self-interest while still getting their needs met due to the kindness and involvement of others. In more self-oriented societies, everyone primarily takes care of themselves. If everyone spends large amounts of time and effort on taking care of themselves and mostly ignoring the needs of other people, then most everyone involved would still get all of their needs taken care of.

The first obvious flaw in the communal setup is that it’s open to exploitation by someone who pursues self-interest as a net-taker while masquerading as a net-giver. The second flaw is that if after all is said and done there are not enough resources to go around and meet everyone’s needs, then everyone in the community will suffer badly for it. A matching flaw in the self-oriented model is that people who can’t take care of themselves and could only survive with the assistance of others will get left behind and starve/die/fail with no one taking care of them even if there are enough resources to go around.

In contrast to the two extreme systems I mentioned above, I’ve seen lots of small communities of geeky people in the US where a third option is chosen. These communities exist where no one takes care of the emotional needs of other people AND no one in them is taking care of their own emotional needs and wellbeing. Whether you prefer either of the two models I mentioned earlier, it’s obvious that this third model is the worst of all.

If no one is taking care of anyone else and no one is taking care of themselves, then everyone is going to starve out on the basic necessities to stay personally and psychologically healthy. I strongly suggest pushing any communities you are a part of away from this third model if you ever notice it occurring in practice.

The easiest transition away from the third model is most likely to move more towards the communal model than the self-oriented one. The buy in costs are lower since all you really need to do is convince one or two Hufflepuff-oriented people to start actively caring for other people. If those two people still need someone else taking care of their needs, then you can assist with that yourself or find another way to make that happen. (Two is a much easier target to fulfill than however many people are actually in your group). After that, try out other opportunities like getting people to form pairs or small groups where people start opening up more with one another and start building up emotional support. There are lots of ways to do this that are readily available online. Most popular methods include small group activities (2-4 people), alcohol, and shared misery. I’m 99% confident there are much better methods for this that could be created/discovered/teased out of reality and I have a strong interest in finding out what those actually are and spreading them around. I’ll have to write more about that later!

This seems to be similar to what I’ve seen done in practice, although perhaps I’m just pattern matching. It’s easier to get a few people to start caring for others than to spontaneously get everyone to start practicing self-care. Starting a movement towards a more healthy community yourself is also an opportunity for personal gain and advancement (if you lacked motivation already or were attempting to be too self-sacrificing). I’ll detail that part a bit later. I’d be interested in other people’s ideas on this topic.

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