the identity behind the mask | which differentiates my group from your group |

A Polish neurologist acquaintance of mine sent me this article, continuing with the theme of our previous discussion. It’s all about the personas that each of us human beings pull around ourselves like a veil. The word person, is derived from the Latin word referencing the masks that Greek actors wore on stage, to be seen from people far away. I touched on the subject of masks in an earlier blog, referring to these gangs in Los Angeles who use masquerade together with dance, as a stand-off against other gangs.
http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/the-role-of-the-clown-humor-in-imparting-information

The blog “You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion, prominently states in the introduction to the concept.

The Misconception: You are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is; who celebrates diversity and respects others points of view.

The Truth: You are driven to create and form groups and then believe that others are wrong, just because they are others. ! you are as deluded as the rest of us !

“You Are Not So Smart” is a blog devoted to self delusion and irrational thinking. “There is a growing body of research suggesting you have no idea why you act or think the way you do. The origins of your emotional states, your motivations, your behaviors and beliefs are largely inaccessible to your conscious mind.”

The particular article my friend sent, entitled the illusion of asymmetric insight, talks about the various masks that we use and identify ourselves with, both individually and in groups. What is asymmetric, is the lopsided way that we tend to believe that we understand what lies behind another person or group’s mask, yet feel that the other could not begin to comprehend the degree of complexity that lies beyond our own.

“The idea is this: You put on a mask and uniform before leaving for work. You put on another set for school. You have costume for friends of different persuasions and one just for family. Who you are alone is not who you are with a lover or a friend….and if you don’t step back occasionally and feel a bit bizarre how you are wearing a socially constructed mask and uniform, you are probably a psychopath.”

“You know, as a citizen of the Internet, you obfuscate the truth of your character. You hide your fears and transgressions and vulnerable yearnings for meaning, for purpose, for connection. “… So, you don social masks just like every human going back to the first campfires….You seem rather confident in them, in their ability to communicate and conceal that which you want on display and that which you wish was not. Groups too don these masks. Political parties establish platforms, companies give employees handbooks, countries write out constitutions, tree houses post club rules. Every human gathering and institution from the Gay Pride Parade to the KKK works to remain connected by developing a set a norms and values which signals to members when they are dealing with members of the in-group and help identify others as part of the out-group. The peculiar thing though is that once you feel this, once you feel included in a human institution or ideology, you can’t help but see outsiders through a warped lens called the illusion of asymmetric insight.”

In a series of experiments and questionnaires put out by a cross study or researchers at Stanford together with the University of Illinois, the data gathered revealed that “Most people rated their insight into their best friend as keen, yet in the other direction, felt that the insight that their friend’s possessed of them was lacking”….and when it came to groups, “Both groups thought they knew more about their opponents than their opponents knew about themselves.”

“The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves.”

“The researchers explained this is how one eventually arrives at the illusion of naive realism, or believing your thoughts and perceptions are true, accurate and correct, therefore if someone sees things differently than you or disagrees with you in some way it is the result of a bias or an influence or a shortcoming. You feel like the other person must have been tainted in some way, otherwise they would see the world the way you do – the right way.”

“All primates depend on groups to survive and thrive, and human groups thrive most of all. It is in your nature to form them….humans have an innate drive to develop and observe norms and rituals (which) will express itself even in a cultural vacuum, but there is a dark side to this behavior. As psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, our minds “unite us into teams, divide us against other teams, and blind us to the truth.”

“When you feel the warm comfort of belonging to a team, a tribe, a group – to a party, an ideology, a religion or a nation – you instinctively turn others into members of outgroups, into outsiders.”

If this peaks your interest, read the entire article for yourself! I just wanted to skip to the poignant parts and paraphrase it, for those who don’t have the time or inclination.

Today, scanning the headlines, I found an article which magnetically pulled my attention to it. Once I listened to but the first featured video of an interview with this professor of philosophy, it resonated with me. I write about it in my other blog.

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/a-c-grayling-the-freedom-of-creating-ones-own-meaning-is-a-terrifying-responsibility

The philosopher, A.C. Grayling talks about the fact that the meaning which lies behind things/events, effectively comes from whatever we personally designate – as that which has this or that value. And that our universe, the world that we each create around ourself, is all there is. There is no God, no other deities, just us, that render its meaning. A concept which in itself, is quite a frightening responsibility.

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About carolkeiter
Aspiring writer, artist, musician and composer who was born and raised in the United States and has resided in several European countries. Communication is my forte; both through using various tools and in approaching people of divers backgrounds to gather information. Speak conversational - advanced intermediate - French, German and Spanish. Love interacting with people in cultural centers as much as going to remote places to learn more about the different creatures that share our planet. Love of the outdoors and of a variety of outdoor sports. Driven to learn and expand my own consciousness and understanding through curiosity and love of life. Creative skills merge with analytical ones, leading to an interest in a myriad of topics; ranging from politics, economics, science to environmental. Motivated to use my art, music and writing to support and educate people towards humane practices that support and respect all of life, including practices supporting a healthy planet.

One Response to the identity behind the mask | which differentiates my group from your group |

  1. Pingback: A.C Grayling | The Freedom of Creating One’s Own Meaning is a Terrifying Responsibility | | digesthis

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