Sunday 9 October 2022

What is it about, then?...

 This blog post is about the Youtube video: It's not about the nail.  If you have not seen it, watch it now (it's less than two minutes long), or the rest of this post won't make sense - and you will miss a work of genius (the video, I mean, not this blog post...)

I showed it to a colleague a while back, and she laughed, as everyone does, and said how true it was.

I remarked that I imagine that different people see it so differently. And she looked askance. Clearly in her (at least initial, instinctive) view, there was only one way to understand it.  And I suspect many people see it like that; but that there is more than one 'only one way.'

That is whichever interpretation people put on it, they see that as the obvious (and implicitly only) interpretation.

In broad terms some of the interpretations I have heard are these.  Some people see it as illustrating how idiotic some people can be: so wrapped up in their inner world, in self-reflexivity and a need to be understood and validated, that they cannot see, let alone address, simple and obvious problems, the solving of which would cause them and others great relief.

On the other hand, others see it as illustrating the obvious truth that there is simply no point trying to fix someone else's problem; at the very least, without listening to them thoroughly first, and even then, only by invitation.

And then some get into the sex stereotyping conversations: women, as the nurturers, need to receive empathy and form emotional connection before moving onto pragmatic problem-solving. Whereas men, as the hunter-gatherers need to take action and prove their worth, before engaging in the softer business of relationship-building. 

And whilst it is easy to denigrate such stereotypes, it is also true that stereotypes often have some foundation; but are then over-generalised. In this case, it is interesting that Myers Briggs report that, across cultures and countries, on the Thinking/Feeling scale, the responses from females are 60:40 in favour of Feeling; and from males, 60:40 in favour of Thinking.  So maybe women are a bit more likely to address the relational aspect of the situation first, and men more likely to try to fix - on average.  But that still leaves 40% of each sex with the minority preference - which is one reason why stereotypes are so problematic.

And why I find peoples' response to this video so interesting is for that reason too: it can be very revealing of their stereotypes, and discussing others'  differing responses is often both entertaining and enlightening.

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