Sunday, December 20, 2015

You Can't Be Virtual Always

Look, I'm a big fan of the online world.  It speeds up the collaborative process when at least a portion of it can take place online.  This semester, the teacher I'm mentoring and I have been doing at least part of our interactions online.

However -

At least 2-3 times a week, we find that it's necessary to get up, walk the relatively short distance to the other's room in the pod, and quickly confer.

Apparently, humans are just hard-wired to prefer at least SOME IRL contact.  I have people with whom I have only online interactions, and I find that I wish we were able to at least occasionally met in the physical world.

So, Rubio's decision to keep Iowa almost completely non-physical is probably a HUGE mistake.  More than the coastal people recognize, those living in the interior are accustomed to "pressing the flesh", and those politicians who haven't been face-to-face may not realize that they will likely be perceived of as "cold" - and, therefore, likely to stumble in the first hurdle.

A huge amount of human decision is Gut Feeling - basing our choices on how someone handles personal interaction.  If you think about it, we've evolved in our hardware, but our software (brain) still works hard to make sense of those tiny indicators that let us know that a stranger:

  • Likes us - can be welcomed into our trusted circle

  • Is telling the truth

  • Will be loyal

  • Responds to the same stimuli as us - shows disgust for what appalls us, feels his heart beat faster for what energizes/excites us, is suspicious of the same people that we mistrust, etc.

  • Is a leader that would inspire us to follow him


Rubio may not realize the extent to which we depend on getting those cues - and how much better we are in person at putting those indicators into context.

I've often said that intuition is not what people think it is - rather than a mysteriously-based hunch, it's the accumulated judgement of minor observations - mostly conducted without being consciously aware of the process -  that allows us to handle interactions with strangers.  I suspect that it's handled by more primitive parts of the brain, and therefore less liable to be overridden.

Virtual is fine within your already-established trust circles.  It doesn't work with strangers.

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You Can’t Be Virtual Always « Right As Usual