Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Community Contained

May 19, 2014 Leave a comment

The term “community” refers to a group of people sharing common values. Whether it be topics as grandiose as religion or culture or as minor as shopping preferences, the commonalities of experience become the glue for our cohesion. We float between different communities daily. From the office to the home or the stores and roads and sidewalks we exist within a framework of community. And though we often function in these groups without awareness, our behavior and expectations of these communities varies. One expects a certain type of treatment at the office that is far different from that experienced on the highway.

We can learn quite a bit about who we are simply by considering our communities. The part is often reflective of the whole. What drove us to engage with the people we do? Do they speak to some need within us or do we provide something for them. Perhaps all human relationships can be simplified to a need fulfillment basis. Life is short so why bother spending it with people who “don’t get us”? What is a stranger but a person so beyond our perspective that they seem almost alien.

Communities are signs of commonality. We can feel a sense of safety knowing that we’re surrounded by people with common ideas. The greatest threat is something beyond our knowledge. That which we know we can predict and launch an offense. The effects of our communities is so profound that its difficult to distinguish where we differ from those who we engage with. How are we different from the crowd? Ultimately our very presence in the crowd reveals a certain level of common experience. It is only when we’re on the outside of a community that we can begin to consider its features. Can we ever get a sense of who we are? Perhaps the initial step is looking where we are and the people who surround us everyday: in the crowd we find reflections and the clues to who we are.

Impersonal The Person

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

In her interview with Brian Lehrer, Danah Boyd discusses contemporary challenges in child maturation. Well-versed in technologies complicated relationship with parents and their children, her work bases its conclusions on anecdotal evidence with young people. Her arguments are cogent and well-researched, and present a slew of new ideas about technology. From Boyd it becomes clear that a new perspective about technology must be developed to educate both parents and children. How has the internet changed the way we mature? Clearly, the relationship between peers has been altered drastically by technology. In Boyd we hear the complicated levels of these changes: alterations both for peers in similar age groups and between peers of different groups.

Each generation relates to technology differently. The ways in which an older generation uses Facebook is drastically different from a younger generation. Despite a common platform the two groups both utilize and understand the technology differently. From this great void of understanding comes significant confusion. How do children relate to their parents posting on Facebook? What do children do when their parents refuse them Facebook access or insist they function as a gate-keeper?

As our relationship with technology develops so to will our relationship with those who use technology. Just as users of Facebook come to understand the platform, the means of understanding others who use the platform will develop. Will a sense of someone’s “Facebook-self” become more common? Are we capable of allowing someone to exist as someone else on the internet? The online world is rich with opportunities to be someone else. In these new identities an amazing wealth of power can be seized. Where confusion enters the picture is when these distinct personalities are blurred. With the use of alternative identities it becomes critical that distinctions remain intact. How do parents keep their children safe? Ultimately each family must reach their own conclusion; though, a recognition of the multiple identities of online life is essential. Disregarding this is to disregard the rules of the internet and the very reality in which we live.


Narrative Nets

March 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Given unknown circumstances there is often a need to create details. Observe an individual standing by the side of the road with a sign requesting help. What are the details of this person’s story? Why are we not in this sad position, asking the anonymous public for assistance. One might wonder why its this person and not himself in this position? What actions or factors of my existence have delivered me to a place where such humiliations are avoidable?

To fill in missing details strings both from curiosity and panic. Charged with the countless questions born from these observations, one must wonder both why it exists and what protects himself from this existence. We are fearful of such calamities and seek out reasons to justify our sense of security. How close are we to such a life? Are we so secure that begging for money by the side of the road is above us? Who am I to feel its tragic? Could I handle such a deed if my children were in need?

One calming source of answers is delusion. Create the details for the person: make a back story and justify the differences. Did the person commit a crime? Is it a scam that they are playing? Creating these lies is less about the individual observed and more about us as the observer. A certain sense of safety comes from thinking their plight comes from action. If they’ve done something wrong we can feel that by acting correctly and protecting ourselves we’ll never live their life. Of course these are just lies and we cannot know what protects us from the tragedy. From what source do our privileges stem? Mere resources that can disappear by whims. Nothing is for certain and the resources from which we build a life are profoundly vulnerable. Are we merely our paycheck? Does our life come less from who we are and more from what our income does allow? Are our dreams framed in income brackets? For many the difference between luxury and destitution are but weeks without a paycheck.

Of A Heightened Expectation

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Unequal levels of justice exist in society. For some, especially those who work with the vulnerable in society, we demand better behavior and enact more severe punishment for violations of our trust. In many ways we match our vulnerability with the justice doled out for violations.

For those who take advantage of our vulnerability we provide dual layers of punishment. Media stories are peppered with tales of “teachers gone wrong” and others who have failed at professional obligations. Public shaming comes before social justice and anyone who breaks public trust faces a trial by media long before appearing before a judge. In these initial stages there is no protection and one is dependent on public patience or the ability to communicate well in the face of fire.

To those whose violations of trust have been proven in a court of law we hold minimal patience. Justice is fast and never enough in cases of figures whose violations of the vulnerable have been proven. Granted our trust dare not violate it. Do so and brave the forces of a public whose own sense of security and social trust hinges less on you as the person and more on the basis of what you represent. Violating Doctor or Teacher, you are less an individual and more a symbol of social expectation.

Unintended Damage: Reactions and Response

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Mass violence creates dual layers of destruction. An immediate layer of destruction comes as the moment occurs: a mass shooting causes injuries and death at the scene of the act. This is the most powerful moment of drama, the moment when an actor’s plans are carried out. In a sense, this initial moment is when victims are created: plans become reality.

The initial moment is fast, but its reaction is the secondary layer of destruction and creates more long-term changes that will affect those beyond the initial scene of the crime. In our reaction we aim with the best intentions of prevention: we sense a vulnerability and do what we can to protect ourselves from a similar act. These reactions are crucial to protect ourselves but come with an adjustment to our society and often requires an elimination of personal freedom. If acts of violence depend on areas of vulnerability we must eliminate these vulnerabilities to be safe. Complete safety requires complete control…but is this what we want?

A weak, but accurate image is to imagine society as a cardboard box. As the animal in this sanctuary the vulnerabilities we need to breathe and see only serve us if they keep us safe. A delicate balance must be found. History helps us calibrate our society but emotion makes us prone to rapid change and we may find panic inspiring us to cover more holes and hide ourselves away. Moving to a system of protection may feel better but we risk losing the culture of ideas we need to stay alive. A healthy society can only exist if dangerous ideas and people can exist. Yes, it is a hazard and yes we will be hurt over and over, but our freedom is too important to trade away for notions of better safety. One wonders whether these moves to better safety are even affective: will not dangerous people find ways to hurt others if the inspired? How much can we do to protect ourselves from human enthusiasm.

In Common Community

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Communities are as much about inclusion as exclusion. Via links of commonality we form our communities, but how similar are we to our commune neighbors? Often we use single factors to establish our community: religious belief, racial makeup or financial status, while complex, are far too vague to symbolize commonality. Many of our communities are made up of incredible diversity, variances in perspectives that leave us linked by only minor features and vulnerable to disagreements.

How do we decide what determines community? At what point does a trait become important enough to determine human relationships? Security is the common factor in all relationships and by extension all communities. We group with others for our own benefit. Clustered we are more secure and protected from factors that could destroy the individual. Strength in numbers comes as we can gather more food, utilize diverse skills or simply exist as a larger mass of humanity. The benefits of community come not only in the ability to gather and do more but also just exist as a cluster larger than another. Significant power comes simply from larger mass.

Assume we cluster and begin to function as a united entity. How successful this “we” are becomes dependent not on the strength of our bond but in our ability to navigate our differences. Links are not comprehensive and we will certainly be less similar than we are similar. What really matters in determining our success is the strength of our connection and desire for the greater good of the whole. Herein lies the role of sacrifice and risk: in order to reach a level of success higher than we might as a lone actor we cluster together, absorb the risk in doing so in order to achieve something more. This is community and the high risk/ high reward at play in all potential bonds.

The Noblest of Functions

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Technology provides us with many benefits. If one was to consider each provision and rank them according to benefit, the role of security would certainly be the highest. Technology does many things; it entertains and distracts, it makes life easier and more efficient, but it also can make us safer and protect us from the hazards of daily life. When tech does this it becomes something more than a supplement to life; it becomes a viable tool for daily life.

“Safety Technology” comes in two major forms differentiated on the basis of human interaction. A cell phone fits into one category of safety technology that requires the human being to carry the device. These tools are in a state of waiting and need only human input to perform their function. The role of these devices is utility on demand- a function stemming only from a moment when the user reaches out to utilize the device. Use here is intentional and clearly defined.

The other category of tech includes devices that function without human intention. Included here are safety belts and security systems. These tools function without human input and, as is the case with the security system, are designed to perform without the awareness of a user. The security system is designed to work in secret and to function beyond the level of awareness of some users. The safety belt is similar in that its role is one of automatic response despite human desire.

Technology has many roles but its most important is the role of protector. Some are critical of technology’s heavy exposure to daily human life. While some caution is warranted, technology that makes users safer and secure is a worthy and noble calling for all devices. In our tech we trust and when functioning to make us safe we should recognize the great value therein.

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