We took a turn in 2018
“Please, hold still while I stereotype you.”
Oh, I’m very sorry! Please excuse my social radar system. It’s always eager to judge. And, by the way, so is yours.
You are not defined as a person by an opinion.
Granted, it is a phrase. And phrases come and go without many of them putting their teeth into our minds.
But this one sank its teeth into ours.
Take, for instance, your love for animals, passion for learning, curiosity about history, and enjoyment of kicking back with a good book. Or your need to wind down and reboot on Jigidi.
Neither comes from the opinions you hold in politics, religion, your gender, or your sexuality.
It comes from the perfect sum of cells and circuits that is - you.
But due to how our subconscious social radar system works, we may never find each other. Although I too enjoy many of the same things, and may also hold other qualities that fit your soul like a glove.
This post is about why that is and how we’re aiming to counter it on Jigidi by creating a framed community.
Our social radar system
We humans have a complex social radar system that works around the clock to steer us towards ‘good fits’ for us. It picks up cues from the outer world to find our “in-groups.”
Groups with whom we have something in common.
What our social brain tags as our in- or out-group can seem arbitrary to the observing eye. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist from Stanford University, has demonstrated how merely being told that you now are part of a random group will make you (subconsciously) ‘tag’ input from this group with a higher value than others.
So far, so good.
Seems both effective, safe, and smart that our unconsciousness steers us in directions of (expectedly) likeminded fellow humans. And, en route, makes sure that we glide in via a not too defensive mindset; thus, cutting our desired in-group more slack than our out-groups.
But here’s the thing about our social radar system: It deals in rough measures and is quite taken to stereotypes. And it’s generally not too bothered by the spill percentage when deeming people in or out.
The information our social brains are sifting through will not always be a closely detailed and nuanced profile of each and every individual or situation we encounter. In fact it is much more likely to be a broad-brush shorthand sketch of ‘people like me’ or ‘people like them’. So the information being input into our social satnav may not be wholly accurate and may even be misleading. Welcome to the world of stereotypes and prejudice (Gina Rippon, The Gendered Brain, 2019).
So, is humankind then doomed to miss out on encounters that had the potential to enrich our minds and hearts - all due to rough measures done by our subconsciousness that causes us to stop looking and listening?
Not at all.
But we must work consciously to counter the quick and dirty measures (particularly in online environments).
And to that end, we began a chain of interlinked changes during 2018.
Not all puzzles are created equal (anymore)
At Jigidi, we aim to enable human connectivity across all kinds of borders - with creative and mental stimulation as the engine.
But, by 2018, it had become apparent that our aim required us to take the matter of major divisive topics seriously.
This meant casting aside the principle that all (legal) content was welcome on Jigidi, thus ruling out, for instance, politics, religion, and sexual objectification.
It, also, meant casting aside the notion that filtering was the responsibility of those who found the content offensive.
When we created the new guidelines, we designed them to drive behavior fueled with kindness, creativity, and curiosity. We call it being generously human. And in the process, we paid much attention to the following:
- Once we come across comments and puzzles that indicate an out-group for us, we instinctively stop looking and listening to that person
We deem outputs from that person or group of lesser value to us (thus, offense comes with an even more generous hand)
Any judgments concerning the groups we identify with will become characteristics we unknowingly let play a part in how we see ourselves (why, for instance, sexual objectification can be disconcerting)
While ruling out topics can seem like a crude way to go about business, this measure minimizes the number of significant stop-signs that may cause us to deem each other in or out prematurely. With all that this entails.
But isn’t it just part of being a social human being?
Yes, it is.
But when recognizing the human capacity for altruism and compassion, we can all do better in this area.
Once we see that our subconscious social radar system is prone to rough measures, we can pick up where our inner satnav left off - and consciously take it upon ourselves to let curiosity, generosity, and kindness steer our approach. Before ruling each other out right off the bat.
It all comes down to paying attention and caring about each other’s circumstances ♥
In doing that we minimize the risk of missing out on little touches of human magic; like a nudge that tweaks our path for today towards something new and unexpected; or maybe even friendship.
With lots of love,