the green, green grass of your world

I’ve been holding back on commenting on the powerful post by “olderwoman.” I’ve been less tempted to comment on it directly, and more on some of the commentary on the post, on the extension of the conversation over on Crooked Timber, and the extensions of the conversation on scatterplot. Finally, I just got to the point where I decided to just write my own post about one of the things that bugs me about that whole conversation. That thing is this tendency we seem to have toward a perceptual bias in which, when things are tough for us, that we always seem to think we have it worse than other people–the grass is always greener in someone else’s life than ours.

I’m not one who thinks much of trying to put different people’s suffering on a scale and trying to determine who has it worse, mainly because the vast majority of the time we really have little idea what is going on in other people’s lives and how something that might seem insignificant to us could be a major hassle, or even debilitating, in theirs. Have you ever been embarrassed after doing something like mocking or criticizing someone for poor performance only to learn that one of their Continue reading “the green, green grass of your world”

how does this add up?

Why does one negative comment have so much power over all of the positive feedback one receives? Why can one negative response spoil so much positive in a matter of seconds? There must be tons out there on this, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

This applies in all sorts of areas and I suspect many people react similarly although I would love to hear if there are those who don’t. Possibly it’s related to self-esteem, but I’m not sure to what extent.

Examples can come from all sorts of areas. Continue reading “how does this add up?”

i’ll bite.

No one wants to be the poster who posts after a wildly successful (or controversial) blog entry because nothing seems like it could possibly compare to what came before it. But, eventually someone’s going to have to post again. Plus, I want to say something related to all of this, and I’d like to hear what other people think as well.

Of all the hype and comments about olderwoman’s post and related (or unrelated) matters, the one that struck the deepest chord in me was this one, on metafilter: Continue reading “i’ll bite.”

blog reflections

As Jeremy noted in a private communication, we got more traffic in the last couple days than a run of ASR. As my first experience in blogland, it was fascinating to see the attributions made off site. It is clear that most of the traffic was generated by Kieran Healy’s extract of the “angry” paragraph and that most of the commentators on other sites never read the whole post. You would think that “I chose to be angry rather than accept defeat and adapt to my constraints” would have been a tip-off, but apparently it was not. Continue reading “blog reflections”

choices, consequences, constraints

“While they are young, the children come first.” Last week, cleaning out old files, I found a stack of priority worksheets I’d written in 1989, in one of my bursts of self-improvement. (Ironically, my taste for self-improvement books and schemes is one of the things my children find embarrassing and annoying.) So I was already reflecting on choices and their consequences when Jeremy posted “someday” and Shamus posted “how do you say no?” With a little luck, Continue reading “choices, consequences, constraints”

sociology in the news!

From the Washington Post blog [HT: rdstevens]:

“A very attractive woman — looked like she just got finished teaching a sociology class at Bryn Mawr College, if you know what I mean — she said, ‘Senator Biden . . . I came fully prepared to be unimpressed with you.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you very much.’ “Joe Biden , telling a Concord, N.H., audience about a young woman who challenged him for wearing a flag pin (as reported by the Concord Monitor’s Ethan Wilensky-Lanford).

Insight into what he means welcome. (Also, here are the people who actually teach sociology at Bryn Mawr.)