Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Follow-up to previous subject of discussion

Here is an article about the Yale educator who emailed about the college's request that students be cognizant of others' feelings when they planned their Halloween costume, and who subsequently left her job.

I was thinking just today that there are people, like me, for whom thinking a lot about feelings doesn't come naturally. We can do it. We should do it. But it's not second nature.

The fact is, I thought today, people who lack insight into feelings nevertheless have feelings of their own; and if they lack insight, either because feelings aren't important to them all the time or because they don't make the effort to give them any thought, then they can be oblivious to their own feelings and how they are affected by them. I've known people who thought themselves very no-nonsense and straightforward, and who nevertheless sulked or carried grudges because someone hurt their feelings, and they lacked the self-insight to see that. If you're in tune with your feelings, and someone hurts them, you can take a step back and ask: what is really going on here? Maybe I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Would what she said have bothered me on a different day? And let me take into account what I know about this person. Is she the type of person who would say ugly things for effect, or maybe she's just abrupt with everyone b/c that's her way and I shouldn't take it personally? But if you aren't in touch with your own feelings, you will now be angry and in a bad mood and you won't know why. I've known people, grown men usually, that you had to tip toe around in order not to set them off. Yet they sneered if anyone else tried to talk about how something made them feel.

Christakis left her job due to the blowback her email got. No administrator at Yale asked her to leave. She had support from a lot of students. Still, the bad feelings she had from the offended students's criticism was more than she could stand, and according to this article, she still has very painful memories about that time. Ironic, isn't it, that the negative feedback loomed so large for her. She lacked the perspective of thinking about how there were different views about what she had said, her bosses weren't troubled by it, with the passage of time it would be something else getting all the attention and outrage. She lacked, in other words, the perspective that she insisted the students who were offended by Halloween costumes surely ought to have. The irony is this: people who take into account feelings are not as likely to have their own illogically and disproportionately hurt. Because they take feelings into account, giving them neither more nor less the attention they ought to get.

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