Current Events: Downstream of Culture

When you look at a lot of the mess going on in current society, at the base of it all, what we have is a relationship problem. As in, people do not learn how to properly do relationships. At all.

Yes, I know, I’m speaking from the viewpoint of someone who needs notes and a flowchart to even start to understand the network of social connections in any given place or situation. On the other hand I think that puts me in the same position as an early epidemiologist trying to figure out disease transmission. I can’t use what “everybody knows”, I have to write down the facts as I see them and see if they make any sense. And that is how Dr. John Snow knew how to ignore the “miasmas” and take the handle off one specific water pump to stop a cholera epidemic.

So what I see is that, at least for the past several decades, people have not been taught what a good relationship is. How to be a good parent. Sibling. Boss. Employee. Random entrepreneur getting by. Most especially, how to be a good spouse.

Arranged Companions: Marriage and Intimacy in Qing China, by Waijing Lu, is a Kindle sample I stumbled on researching Northeast China around the Ming-Qing transition. One of the bits it lays out is that in Confucian thought, marriage is the beginning of all human relations, and the arrival of civilization. And the cornerstone to a marriage is that you must treat your spouse with respect. “As an honored guest in your house,” as one commentator put it.

When was the last time you ever heard someone in general conversation, or any Hollywood production, talk about respecting someone you’re in an intimate relationship with? Or want a relationship with? There’s plenty of lust displayed, and “will they or won’t they”, and sometimes genuine affection and communication… but how often do you see respect? How often do you see listening, acknowledging when someone has better skills or ideas than you do, or even quiet disagreements over what’s the best course of action, without devolving into a Dramatic screaming fight?

Granted, screaming fights make for easily filmed drama, but who wants to live that way? I mean, just look at Tony Stark in the MCU. Billionaire, genius, philanthropist, and he still gets no respect.

(Seriously, “I would cut the wire” is a legit answer to Captain America’s question. As General Patton himself said, you’re not supposed to die for your country, you’re supposed to make some other poor bastard die for his country.)

People model their behavior on their heroes. When people who are supposed to be heroes do not show each other respect, we have a Problem.

How to solve the problem? The only thing I can think of is twofold: bring back all the old stories we can find, where people do respect each other, and write more like them. Because without respect, civilization crumbles.

And while Mad Max is a very dramatic world, none of us want to live there.

85 thoughts on “Current Events: Downstream of Culture

      1. … Actually, kind of on that note, does anyone have any recommendations for places to have a civil discussion about Star Wars worldbuilding? I have some Jedi Thoughts I’m kicking around for a fic that I’d like to bounce off a few people equally interested in world building nuts and bolts, but if there’s one fandom that’s infamous for being explosive, it’s that.

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  1. I was thankfully raised in a home that has that respect between my parents, and it’s still going strong at 46 years. 2 of my sisters did not have that respect between both spouses (one mostly the sisters fault, one mostly the husbands fault), and both fell apart within 5 years. However, it is possible to keep a marriage together for a lot of years without that respect, my grandma stayed married to my unfaithful grandpa for a lot of years before their divorce, because they both wanted to support their kids.

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  2. Yes, I know, I’m speaking from the viewpoint of someone who needs notes and a flowchart to even start to understand the network of social connections in any given place or situation.

    Which is exactly why you’re well positioned to do so.

    (She writes, before reading the rest.)

    You not only can tell There Is Something Off, you have slowly built up the tools to get an idea.

    Contrast with someone who is naturally good at relationships, or even who was just taught good-enough stop-gaps; they’re both very vulnerable to social hacking.

    While you, who are learning it as a foreign language, are more likely to do the Social Stuff version of writing out The Chaos.

    Same way that folks who are inherently good at math tend to run into something where they have absolute heck figuring it out because they didn’t have to build the tools, they had them already– and they’re not good teachers, either. Or how someone who just *is tall* won’t be practiced in figuring out “how to get that thing off the top shelf without getting smacked in the nose.”

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    1. *Rueful* I have seen so, so much social hacking. I still can’t figure out why it’s not blindingly obvious to most people… but then, most people have not had a constant loop of, Believe Person X, Get Consequences, Go back to Person X for explanation, Get smirking, “We must have had a miscommunication”.

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      1. I very much understand that. I was lucky enough to not have people taking malicious advantage of it, just lots of actual miscommunication because I take everything literally and have a really hard time spotting and reading subtext.

        I got very good at explaining how and why people think both because of my own experience, and because I had to help explain things to my cousin, who is equally literally, and was home-schooled, so lacked some of the socialization that I had.

        Admittedly, that lack of public schooling, means that he utterly lacks that fear and shame that almost everyone associates with failure, and having seen him as a model I’ve come to realize is something that is taught, not natural. But that actually makes him more likely to miscommunicate because he can’t see the underlying fear of failure that drives lots of peoples actions and responses.

        For him, mistakes and failure are simply learning experiences, not a cause for shame. The shame is something most people are taught to feel via socialization at a young age. He missed out on that.

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      2. “And even when the SOBs do it in text, people just ACCEPT it.”

        In text, or on widely-record–and available–video. And honestly not just limited to the person saying it. A certain high-ranked politician keeps inducing shock in people with his policies–“But he ran as a moderate! We didn’t know he’d do _that_!”

        And I just keep shaking my head, wondering what campaign these people were watching, ’cause none of this comes as a surprise to me at all. This _is_ what he ran on doing, and it’s what he’s _been_ doing for pretty much his entire career.

        Is it really so hard for people to pay attention?

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      3. …What? No, seriously, _what_? This is Myrrh Shafat, right? The woman who holds that it would be a sin for her to engage in bedroom activities because she’s incapable of having children? That Myrrh? (Who I suspect would also be mildly insulted at being considered a “vampire hunter”, if only because it suggests she can only handle small fry?)

        Ye gads. I tend to think I’m not the quickest on the uptake myself, but I can usually spot a declarative sentence when I see one!

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      4. There’s a group of trolls on Instapundit that focus on Sarah Hoyt’s posts and make obnoxious and generally painfully ignorant comments about them.

        …. it’s partly my fault, someone asked for suggestions for good indy books with nice covers and that was the one I suggested.

        I think I actually responded to that nonsense, too, with something to the effect of “English. Do you speak it? She’s a freaking nun.”

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      5. “Example, the comments over on Instapundit some months back …”

        I’ve been told by people whose judgment I trust (on this matter) that one should *never* read the comments at Insty.

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      6. This is actually one of the things that research into Autism is figuring out, backwards. It’s not that “normal people” are “good at relationships”… it’s that they’ve got good “just keep going without even realizing when something doesn’t make sense or when stuff isn’t working like you think it should”, and as long as they don’t run into something catastrophic they’ll _appear_ to be doing great. But that’s only with both sides running on “just bull through while being blind to the fact that’s how you’re doing it”, and everyone running the same way will look at the one who calls out “something’s up” as the source of the problem because the rest of them are convinced they’re “good at this” and literally can’t see that they aren’t. And as Foxfier said about “not having built the tools”, when they _do_ fail, they fail hard, because they’re only going to fail when the problem is utterly insurmountable by their current technique.

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      7. And as Foxfier said about “not having built the tools”, when they _do_ fail, they fail hard, because they’re only going to fail when the problem is utterly insurmountable by their current technique.

        FWIW, I have a long tradition of “Odd” people on both sides of the family– so my mom, and my paternal grandmother, knew that they had to explain some things that a lot of people apparently don’t get explained.

        Among them, that any “normal group” that does not have room for the weird kid who asks awkward questions? Is not normal. At the same time, asking awkward questions doesn’t make one inherently needed– the ability/desire to interface with the group enough to follow the methods for doing so (“being polite”) is the fail safe on the other side.

        There has been a LOT of destruction of healthy relationships.

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      8. “one should *never* read the comments at Insty.”

        Well, not on the book promo posts, at any rate.

        And any “war of the sexes” posts are probably better avoided too.

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      9. “Sex fiend” is part and parcel of their inability to accept strong emotions. What appears to be strong emotion must be lust.

        I have seen many febrile declarations that two men in a certain story are gay despite the number of children they have had including from affairs.

        Which is another aspect of the problem.

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  3. As someone who grew up with my grandparents on both sides and everyone descended from them living within one town of me in any direction while growing up, I’ve never understood the lack of connection and respect that other people seem to have with their families.

    Even their immediate families. While I was going to school both I and my younger sisters heard all kinds of stories from our classmates about getting into ugly fights with their siblings, and we just did not understand it. How can you not love and respect your family? We might not always understand and agree with each other, but other people just seem to treat each other so poorly.

    I admittedly have a lot more trouble connecting to and understanding people that I haven’t known for years, but at least part of that seems to be just different underlying understandings about how relationships are supposed to work.

    … I do understand that not everybody has family that is worth loving and respecting, but so many people don’t even seem willing to try.

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      1. Current modern society has also placed one of the swiftest teachers of “here’s why you shouldn’t behave that way” out of parents’ reach. Yes, some parents are abusive, but denying all parents the right to physically discipline their child when they act out has done so much harm to parent/child relationships. And of course, most children over the age of seven or so use “I’m gonna call CPS!” as a weapon against their parents when said parents attempt to discipline them. And social workers are told to believe the child above all else, with (to my admittedly limited knowledge) no acknowledgement of the fact said child might be lying in order to get the parents in trouble for trying to discipline them.

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      2. You two have different halves of a known pattern of abuse; opening abuse investigations when the agent reasonably believes there is, at most, minor abuse going on (the observed, “always believe the kids”), and not opening an investigation when there are obviously major issues which will be sucking up attention into ONLY ONE CASE for years on end. (What you observed, and what is the case in most of the “horrific death of minor child” cases that hit the news, when you get down and actually dig into them, including that horrible case with the van full of adopted kids murdered by their mothers.)

        It’s not uniform– I’ve got cousins who escaped bad places and came to my family, for example– but there’s enough to severely damage faith in the system.

        Non-abusive divorced mothers– especially those that do not try to block their children off from the husband entirely– run into a similar thing. “Everyone knows” that the mother always gets custody, and always gets child support, and always gets all kinds of support, so when that objectively doesn’t happen, they figure There Is Something Horribly Wrong With Her. (or she’s lying)

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      3. I guess I wasn’t clear about what I meant. I have been told by someone who is a social worker that when they get a call from a child, their instructions from higher up are to believe the child speaks the truth until they have reason to think said child is lying. They, initially, have to take the call at face value. But I’m in California, so it may be different where you are.

        Thing is, even just getting a visit from CPS, even if it comes to nothing, can ruin your reputation as a parent, socially speaking.

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      4. Being on the homeschool side, I’ve heard both sets of stories (and the third and fourth options, of “believe the outsider with an obvious axe to grind, over believing anyone involve or any of the other neighbors” and “believe the person with the right political or (anti-)religious beliefs to be an acceptable informant and believe the opposite of those with the wrong beliefs”). This includes hearing specific cases of each form every few years. It’s not just regional, tho, in the sense of “what location”. It’s very much “who is in authority in this region, and what are their beliefs about how it should be done”.

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    1. As someone who likewise grew up in a very happy, respectful, loving immediate family, a book I found supremely helpful in helping friends work through difficulties with their families is Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson. It illustrates a lot of the toxic behaviors that crop up in those kinds of situations, and as an outsider looking in it gave me some insight as to what’s going on and a pattern to look for.

      I will say, though, as someone with multiple friends from very unhealthy backgrounds, while I understand why those sorts of relationships often end in anger and implosion, I have been very blessed to witness multiple such relationships where at least the one recognizing the problem is able to maintain a respectful if somewhat more distant relationship with the problematic relative. It is difficult and sometimes very painful, but it is possible.

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  4. So what I see is that, at least for the past several decades, people have not been taught what a good relationship is. How to be a good parent. Sibling. Boss. Employee. Random entrepreneur getting by. Most especially, how to be a good spouse.

    I think it’s a bit worse– we’ve been taught “Good relationship” stuff that is actively bad, but very dramatic, based on a philosophy, or based on “I have seen it work in movies.” If not all three.
    Say, the shorthand of couples fighting and being catty at eachother– if you can do that to someone, it can mean that you trust eachother.
    It can also just be abusive, rather than playing.

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    1. I think the “reality TV shows” were a major factor. People took them as “how REAL relationships work” instead of the hyper-poisonous office politics they were.

      (I was forced to watch a season of Survivor with someone. I despise the show and all spinoffs.)

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      1. Jerry Springer, and some of the Judge shows, likewise brought the most outrageous samples forward as anything short of horrifying….

        They probably helped further popularize it, but even in sitcoms– how often are the families at all healthy?

        There’s… uh… The Addams Family, those two like eachother and work together as a unit against/interfaced to the Outside World….

        And…

        Um….

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      2. Now, to be fair to TV folks– that’s because they didn’t NEED internal conflict, they were… argh, I didn’t do English that looked at the flavors of conflicts…. Against The World? rather than Against Self?
        So a good place to look for more healthy relationships would be Against Nature?

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      3. :snickers: Oh, gads, that hit my brain considering stuff the kids watch… The Kratt brothers are pretty stupid (group dynamics) wise, but not BAD, and then I thought of other sibling relationships, and… that made me think of Frozen…..

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      4. I think you’re looking for Man vs. Man? Lessee if I remember the four conflicts right. There was….Man vs. Self, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, and….

        MAN vs. SOCIETY!!! THAT’s the one I almost forgot! You were searching for Man vs. Society. I think.

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      5. Very possible.
        I never really learned them– I recognize the broad strokes as useful, but the assumptions make things not work if you go too strict.

        For example, I would classify Inside The Group drama as “man vs self,” even though there are multiple characters– “Man vs Man” would have to be outside of the unit-of-conflict.

        …. K, you know that anime that has countries as characters? THAT would be a way to visualize why it’s “man vs self.”

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      6. Yes, that would be a good series for that! And I see your point. Inside the Group stories would fit “man vs. self” whereas “man vs. man” would fit “threat from outside the group.”

        Against the World – that would be more “man vs. society,” and depending on the story, you could have an entire Group against Society. Group could be family, clan, a wandering team of space explorers telling a society the gods they worship are false, etc. The “man” in this case could be singular or plural, but would fit in either case. :thumbsup:

        And the Addams Family, et al, wouldn’t need to do “man vs. society” very often, so they would be more “man vs. self” in that they’re dealing with conflicts within the Group (family). Which means they usually have to deal with themselves and their faults, so…I think you have the right idea here. 🙂

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      7. There’s a show I got recommended about 7-8 years ago called Man, Woman, Wild. Husband has wilderness-survival training (former special forces or some such), wife doesn’t. They get dropped in the middle of somewhere remote with some small amount of gear (don’t know how much, except I’m pretty sure they have a knife and/or machete) and he teaches her how to survive in that environment. Of course, if they ever ran into real trouble the cameraman would call for help. Only watched one episode before deciding it wasn’t something I’d enjoy personally, but as I recall their relationship dynamics were good and healthy. She was treating him with respect and acknowledging him as the leader, and he was kind and good to her. (Note: kind and good are usually, but not always, the same thing). Might be worth checking out as a possible example.

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      8. Don’t forget the Munsters! I didn’t see Thunderbirds Are Go, but would that qualify, too? Know I’m forgetting a couple – oh, The Big Valley and Bonanza were pretty good, even if there was only one parent alive for most of the series…

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      9. I never saw the Munsters, so I can’t count that- the Found Families are usually fairly healthy, yes, to the point that one of the few TV shows we absolutely banned was some Lego monstrosity where the found family was utterly toxic but it’s OK because they were *Cool*.

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      10. I HATE reality TV shows, for this reason among others. That’s not how real relationships, let alone a real survivor situation, *actually work.* Grrr….

        Also, did my earlier comment get sent to Spam, Trash, or did it not post? I thought for sure I hit “send.” It took two tries, maybe I did something wrong…

        Liked by 3 people

  5. How often do you see listening, acknowledging when someone has better skills or ideas than you do, or even quiet disagreements over what’s the best course of action, without devolving into a Dramatic screaming fight?

    The only one I can think of is Hawkeye and Widow, where they just don’t even QUESTION “of course the other person will handle this, they’re better at it– of course I’ll do this, I’m better at it.” Not shown much of Mrs. Hawkeye, but he definitely has confidence in her abilities, even if they aren’t suited to superheroics!

    Support Characters would be a really good place for this– the loving parents who are actually loving and functional, the secondary characters you go to for help.

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    1. Which is actually another place modern storytelling has utterly failed, as I noted in comments on another of Vathara’s posts a year or two ago. That comment was about children’s/YA fiction, with reference to The Sugar Creek Gang stories as “how it used to be done better”, with the main point being that modern storytelling has gotten to the point of “only one can actually have blame, which also means only one can actually have glory… therefore if anyone outside The Hero (teams count as a single unit vs the rest, but within the team a micro-version still applies) is even actively helpful they ruin the hero’s glory, therefore there cannot be anyone else allowed to be competent/helpful/etc (and thus all the adults are utterly incompetent or malicious given what we see them do)”.

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    2. If the characters support each other, you need to work harder at the plot. Because they still need to be orchestrated so they can be told apart. Also the problem has to be built up to take both of them working together and still give them problems.

      Take fairy tales. There are supportive relationships: the siblings (or half-siblings, or even stepsiblings, though that’s rare), the couple (though they are often split up for drama) can work together while fleeing her father, and very few others. Generally the family is missing at least one parent, has few children, and otherwise does not clutter up the story with superfluous characters.

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      1. Part of the reason I brought up the Sugar Creek Gang, was because that series avoided the problem by use of timing and location (and the era the stories were written in). The kids would be out playing, and happen to be in the right place at the right time (with generally good reasons why it made sense, and wasn’t just plot fiat), without means of communication (no cell phones in those days), and weren’t expected back for several hours. The adults had _already_ done their part, training the kids to be self-sufficient (the good way, by actually teaching them how to do things, not the modern bad way of being so neglectful or harmful that they had to learn in self-defense), and the kids were perfectly willing to bring the problem to an adult if it was possible and necessary, and everyone was quite willing to consider “you brought proof something was going on, and the police were able to take it from there” as “the kids saved the day” (unlike modern stories where that would be “the kids failed, because the police had to get involved”).

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      2. Oh, I know that it’s easier to tell stories when individuals are in conflict, I just get tired of a steady diet of absolutely nothing but those easier to tell stories, and none with the working together effectively types.

        Well, nearly none– haven’t watched Leverage, but I get the impression it’s made of this trope.

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      3. I was a dedicated follower of The Boxcar Children for many years. Of course I grew out of them and haven’t read any in decades so I don’t remember enough to have any objective idea whether they were well-written. Does anyone else here remember those books?

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      4. I remember them.

        There were a lot of them.

        Likewise with another property, Babysitter’s Club.

        Thing is, it has been a very long time for me.

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      5. SCG is the set I remember most, but yes, I read lots of those other series of similar vintage when I was younger. Boxcar Children was more “fun” and less realistic, with a lot of blatant plot fiat of “they just happen to (without good justification) be able to do what’s needed, have the right knowledge, etc” (really, when you get down to it, Boxcar Children was Western Isekai Light :p). Still a fun read, and with better relationship stuff than modern children’s fiction.
        Also, since I notice I didn’t give examples about SCG vs modern stories:
        In one SCG story, the kids are out exploring one of the abandoned houses in the nearby countryside (think, hillbilly territory) when they encounter an “escaped criminal”. He catches them unexpectedly, but not all of the group was together at the time, so instead of stupidly trying to attack him or just raging against him like in a modern story, the oldest of the boys keeps his attention to protect the younger ones, while also trying to defuse the situation (offering food, and talking diplomatically) long enough (while being loud enough about it) for the boy who wasn’t present to hear what’s going on and go for help. Which does end up working in the end, with adults coming to the rescue. And the kids are rightfully praised for their quick thinking in that situation, and it’s not treated as shameful that they had to be rescued.

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  6. There are a lot of mental or physical behaviors that can seem pretty simple. It can be easy to think that this means that the behaviors have no use or value. Some of these behaviors can be very powerful and important.

    One of the places I had ‘use language precisely’ role modeled for me was the novels of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith.

    Trying to think, and to speak precisely can have a lot of benefits that one would not predict without having seen it.

    Of course, not everything that a modern or older novel has asserted is true has proven to be true.

    I had gotten the impression many places, teachers, novels, etc., that physics was a lot more deterministic and calculable than it turned out to be later in my experience.

    Novels are limited by the knowledge of the author.

    But, general knowledge of behavior in a functioning society.

    Which somewhat means putting on our ‘anthropologist, but ignoring academic theory of anthropology’ hats. (Because the academic theory of anthropology seems to include filling in the unknown blanks with stuff that the verifiable theory in other fields can suggest is untrue.) What societies seem to be more functional? What societies seem to be less functional?

    There does seem to be a faction in our society that has made a deliberate effort to raise people to be non-functional.

    I mean, look at the freakishness in the distribution of spree killers.

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      1. Actually what he said was “spree killer”. They’re two distinctly different phenomena.

        A serial killer is caught up in the power of life and death as (often) a sexual thrill, and can be very functional in life until they get stressed and start hunting their next victim. They NEVER intend to get caught. See Jeffrey Dahmer.

        A spree killer is, generally, someone who fantasizes about going out in a blaze of glory to cope with all the inadequacies in their life, and eventually does so. See most school shooters.

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      2. Yeah, spree killer is a very different thing from a serial killer. Okay, both are murderers who are crazy, but way different.

        One of the basic takeaways, if the issues are randomly distributed, something about American culture is /really/ effective at redirecting people away from developing into spree killers. In some circumstances, but not all circumstances.

        If spree killers were simply folks going crazy at random, you would expect that a population that was 40% conservative would produce spree killers that were 40% conservative.

        Now, media and officials talk a lot about conservative spree shooters, imply that there are many, and that conservatism is a driver.

        What happens if you look into these cases after the initial stories about the ‘white conservative’ shooter, after the media shuts up? Or, for a story that they do not suddenly shut up about, if you read enough details to start putting the true facts together?

        If you exclude Charles Whitman (brain cancer), and look at murder shooters who have many targets, or who are indiscriminate in targeting, what hops out? a) criminals b) recreational drug abuse c) psychiatric drugs d) kids from broken vaguely progressive homes, who also had federal bureaucracies (public schools, etc) in their lives, and no one else.

        The criminals are not really spree shooters, if they are crazy it is other kinds of crazy.

        The drugs work by making someone crazy, perhaps too quickly for any sort of coping mechanism to be learned.

        The broken homes thing is basically a residue issue. Lots of kids have issues. But, there are sources of emotional investment, or sinks of emotional investment, that can lead a person to feel like they have something to live for. Family, church, ‘traditional values’, these things all may pull someone away from a depressed fixation on murders as being a fun or productive thing. Broken families, schools, and other ‘throw a bureaucracy at it’ approaches are the circumstances that fail to stabilize people.

        Christianity and Judaism can be pretty good. The various /cults/ of ‘throw a central government bureaucracy at it’ are often void of any values that would lead one to question if murdering a bunch of random people is at all sane and productive.

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      3. Family, church, ‘traditional values’, these things all may pull someone away from a depressed fixation on murders as being a fun or productive thing. Broken families, schools, and other ‘throw a bureaucracy at it’ approaches are the circumstances that fail to stabilize people.

        Christianity and Judaism can be pretty good.

        I once scared a very nice chaplain by being too honest.

        I was having issues with depression, and he very gently asked if I had ever considered violence against myself.

        …he was not reassured to have me explain that if I was upset enough to kill someone, it would be the specific person causing the problem, not whoever was easily available.

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      4. I know this isn’t a funny topic, but I pictured that scene with the chaplain and had to giggle at the possible look on their face. Ironically I have had the same thought. I have never really thought about harming myself but if I ever got upset enough to genuinely want to kill some one, it would never occur to me to just start shooting randomly.

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      5. One of the narratives around spree killers and serial killers is that they are a result of unique badness of American culture.

        This does not seem to be the case.

        Now, trying to do crime or criminal rates across national borders is basically apples and oranges.

        When I was looking up serial killers on wikipedia, I recall reading about a couple of instances of prolific serial killers in South America. Child murderers with victims in the hundreds.

        Spree killers likewise not purely American. I understand that a term in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines is amok or running amok. (In the Philippines, there was actually a different name when it is an Islamic terror soldier, possibly lone wolf, and not a random person just snapping. These guys would shave their heads and stuff, there may have been an actual Islamic ‘blessing’ by clergy. It is said that ‘Moro’ (term for the people) ‘Juramendo’ (sp?) were actually the motivation for the .45 ACP when we were in the Philippines.)

        Anyway, the time lag after the late seventies establishment of the Federal Department of Education, and resulting changes in local school bureaucracies, correlates with the rise to current levels of school shootings. I tend to figure Federal DoE is a cause, but the nineties could simply be when the media was directed to hype spree shootings. The school shooters seem to be heavily copy catting.

        Before the school shooters, the common term was ‘going postal’. From the frequency of workplace spree killings involving the United States Postal Service. Apparently some combination of workplace stressors with maybe some of the folks hired/job seekers.

        Pedophiles possibly should be classified as serial killers, or possibly as a separate category with some overlap.

        Other prolific criminal murderers?

        Well, the business minded folks, who are sometimes quite insane and careless, tend to align to criminal conspiracies.

        There are also people simply crazy, violent, and prone to hanging around stupid people and going stupid places. These tend to have quite a long pattern of bad behavior, and if they are allowed, will wind up killing more people after the first. Sometimes they are completely independent, sometimes they are the employees that criminal conspiracies /want/.

        But, for most of these types, a prolific murderer is usually in the range of tens to hundreds of victims.

        When you look at the higher end of mass murderers, hundreds can be a day’s work.

        Vasily Blokhin was Stalin’s ‘Chief Executioner’, which should be read as favored pet murderer*. Blokhin was who Stalin used for his most favored cronies, apparently partly because Blokhin would mimic the expressions afterwards for Stalin. But, at times he also worked at such high volumes that he needed firearms, because cutting, strangling, etc., would be too slow and too wearying. Blokhin took a suitcase of German manufactured, high quality, pistols into Poland with him, apparently because he didn’t think Russian manufacture would have the necessary reliability. One of his notable ‘jobs’ in Poland was the Katynn Forest Massacre, where over around thirty days, at the rate of around two hundred a day, he personally shot seven thousand people. Now, he had personal assistants on that, and probably the NKVD or someone actually rounding the people up, but that is still a staggering number.

        Basically, the mass murderers can out do everyone else. (Though, criminal conspiracies do at times carry out mass murders.)

        This perspective is part of why after WWII, so many Americans set out to make mass murder impossible in America.

        This perspective is why so many current Americans refuse to compromise those safeguards against mass murder, merely for the sake of security concerns about crazy individuals without an organization behind them.

        Organizations, particularly those with state backing, can be very dangerous.

        Fortunately, the bigger the organization, the more it absolutely needs a paper trail. You can interdict some things using the paper trail. And, mass murder can be made prohibitively expensive in America, simply by doing some things to make the necessary size of the organization large.

        *Actual executioners, with at least semi-licit legal processes behind their work, tend to have career workloads in the tens to hundreds.

        Liked by 4 people

  7. “When was the last time you ever heard someone in general conversation, or any Hollywood production, talk about respecting someone you’re in an intimate relationship with? Or want a relationship with? There’s plenty of lust displayed, and “will they or won’t they”, and sometimes genuine affection and communication… but how often do you see respect? How often do you see listening, acknowledging when someone has better skills or ideas than you do, or even quiet disagreements over what’s the best course of action, without devolving into a Dramatic screaming fight?”

    This! So. Much. THIS! ^ Give me romantic couples that tease each other fondly and softly, show concern for one another by expression or just little “be carefuls,” or quietly argue and whisper, “I don’t want to lose you.” None of this screaming Drama to shout from the rooftops that, “Look, we CARE, okay?” Screaming from the rooftops doesn’t prove you care. It proves you have the communication skills of a five-year-old – at best!

    And in that vein, can we *PLEASE,* for the love of all that’s holy, have couples that show they trust each other? That *aren’t* worried when they’re separated because, “Oh, yeah, my wife/husband can take care of him/herself. Anything that gets in the way is going to get dead fast.” Battle couples, for instance. As Foxfier said, MCU Hawkeye and Black Widow had battle couple repartee and teamwork *without* being in a romantic relationship, for cryin’ out loud. It isn’t that hard!

    “(Seriously, “I would cut the wire” is a legit answer to Captain America’s question. As General Patton himself said, you’re not supposed to die for your country, you’re supposed to make some other poor bastard die for his country.)” Legitimately true, and it’s worth noting that in this argument, Steve and Tony are *both* correct. Tony is right to cut the wire, make the other guy die for his country – and Steve is right that sometimes, someone else is going to lie down on that wire and die, because there is no other way to save those they care about.

    I am suddenly reminded of this clip from a Stargate SG-1 season ten episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MlEhyvuevY. Mitchell’s speech always stuck with me, and now I think I know part of why. The hard part of being on a hero team isn’t risking one’s own life. Tony risks his life with bravado and knows its not that hard – for *him.* What he doesn’t want to admit is something Steve learned the hard way to accept: The hard part is watching one’s teammates and friends risk *their* lives to save the day. Because that hurts a lot more than anything that will happen to the hero personally.

    Tony saw Yinsen save his life at the cost of his own, then Coulson die trying to stop Loki. He hates it, he doesn’t want to accept it, and Steve (after Loki’s magical mind influence wears off), recognizes *why* he doesn’t like it. So he comes to try and help Tony the way Peggy helped him after he lost Bucky. He tries to tell him again that, sometimes, you can’t take all the risks for the team. One person in a unit can’t carry that weight entirely on his own shoulders because the responsibility is shared in a team. We’re all human and can only do so much, and there are times when the other person’s skills and strength is better suited to the task than yours. Even when it means they have to sacrifice themselves for your sake and the rest of team’s.

    Now that I think about it, we need more speeches like Mitchell’s and Cap’s, too. We need reminders that the hard part isn’t our part of the adventure and what we risk personally. It’s letting others make a choice that hurts at the same time it gives us a reason to love and honor them more even through the grief.

    We need that sense of responsibility and respect back. The two go hand-in-hand: how can a wife respect her husband if she doesn’t recognize that he carries responsibilities she can’t, or a husband respect his wife if he doesn’t acknowledge there are risks he can’t take from her? We keep trying to bubble-wrap people we care about to keep them from getting hurt, but we *can’t*. And the more we try, the worse things get for everyone concerned.

    Couples are a team, a duo. They *can’t* do each other’s jobs as well as their own. That’s not how being a team works. It means specializing in one area and doing well enough in the others you can survive until the other member or members of the party returns to take up their position(s) again. So children need to learn to be teammates in the family, and they learn that from their parents, who are teammates in raising them. Thus, if the parents don’t model good teamwork… Things get harder than they have to be, because no one knows what they’re supposed to be doing, only what they *think* they are supposed to do. And those two things are *not* the same at all.

    Wow, I did not intend to ramble like this. Ending comment here. :sheepish smile:

    Liked by 4 people

    1. One person in a unit can’t carry that weight entirely on his own shoulders because the responsibility is shared in a team.

      The self-rescuing princess!

      Not, note, the variations where the captive is trying to escape as best possible– nor the really funny ones where “AHAHAH! I have you now prin—cess?” because she already hoodinied out.

      The ones where “She couldn’t save herself, she didn’t deserve to be saved.” There’s other nasty versions, but that’s the worst.

      You can’t do it all yourself.

      And you can’t function, only on your own.

      …evidence for this having hit mainstream, I have had several Helpful relatives that are horrified we had more than one child in five years, and have more than two (well, three, HAD to get a boy, that’s acceptable, and yes this was said in hearing of that second daughter, and YES she heard it, and YES I am still angry) because I couldn’t take care of them all on my own.*

      That was literally the argument. “Assume husband is gone, do no more than you can manage that way.”

      That is a horrible foundation for life.

      They do not respond well to “You know what life insurance is, right?” much less arguments from minimum population replacement numbers.

      * We have seven, and no outside help even from those who got help from us as children, or who got help from those in their position at our age; I have theories part of the popularization is to excuse what someone wants to do anyways.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. *makes a garbled sound like a flushing toilet* That is so many kinds of – ARRRGH! :headdesk: Give second daughter a hug from me, okay?

        Yes, the self-saving princess idea in vogue today is nasty, toxic, and ought to be shown as such. It’s one thing to be working on saving oneself or to Houdini one’s way out of a bad situation (whereupon hilarity ensues for the audience watching). It is another thing to say, “I don’t need help! I can do it all by myself!” and get oneself – and possibly one’s friends and/or family – killed as well.

        The other version – “She couldn’t save herself, she didn’t deserve to be saved.” – bad words ensue. Do the people saying that realize how much that echoes, “He saved others, let Him save Himself”? (Probably not, rhetorical question, BUT…)

        “She/he didn’t deserve to be saved” my foot. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. That does NOT mean no one should OFFER or TRY to help. :grumbles, growls, stomps off to write it out:

        Liked by 4 people

      2. My parents have seven children too, and they got some of the same comments! I hadn’t really thought about it, but my parents did exactly what you outlined, worked together and did what they are good at, trust each other to do it and when the children came along (first one of the bunch👋 part of a set of twins) they had us help and join the team as the younger ones were born. My parents do wish they had spaced us out a little more, they had three within 2 years from the get go and all 7 within 10 years. It was definitely a struggle for those first few years, until us oldest ones could begin to manage. But they also had some outside help from family members that thankfully weren’t the ones making the comments about having too many too soon. But my parent got pretty lucky in the family side of things, as in my Mom’s adopted family is one of the examples of loving, respecting and helping everyone in the family, regardless of if they were actually born into the family or not even officially adopted in the end. I think you are amazing and I’m sorry you didn’t get any help.

        Liked by 2 people

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