Saturday, July 13, 2013

Will he use that weapon?

A doctor friend came up with the term 'Internet Intelligence' Short version, someone who doesn't have the scientific, technical or educational background reads something on the internet and says, "I understand this subject." No, you don't. Because if you did, you'd know why what you read on the internet is out to lunch.

In my line of work I have a similar problem in that people ask 'simple questions' without having the background understanding. Specifically of why, that's not a simple question. Nor is there a simple answer.

I was asked about a home invasion robbery and the guy asked how do you know if the guy is going to use his weapon -- even after you've complied. Simple question right? Should have some simple things to look for right?


Short answer, it depends.

And huge parts of what it depends on is what you do -- and more importantly -- DON'T do. Because your version of 'complying' may involve you pogo-sticking on your dick.

Here is the long answer

The answer to this is in a weird and different direction than you might imagine.

Ever seen a movie where you know what is going to happen before it does?  Hell just for laughs, I used to predict when the standard clich├ęs in action movies would happen. Usually within 15-30 seconds of them happening.

Some fast yada, yada, yada points. First, no reflection on your sex life, but every night you go to bed with a human, a monkey and a lizard. These are the three levels of your brain. The Monkey is your socio-emotional conscious brain. It tells us how to act, how to behave and what is expected of us given our social status. For the record most 'violence' comes from the Monkey
and this is very important for recognizing the presence of the Monkey

That's one set of background to help you understand this statement -- The Monkey LOVES stories.

In fact, scripted, roles, stories and predictable social rituals guide an overwhelming majority of our interactions with other people.

Another yada, yada. Fundamentally there are two different 'types' of violence. Social and asocial.

Different types, different goals, different reasons. Social violence can be broken into many different categories (rule enforcement, status displays, monkey dance, educational beat down, etc). A simple, but important concept is this kind of violence is over things you can't put into a wheelbarrow. You can't put your pride, feelings or social status into a wheelbarrow. But that's what a lot of social violence is about.

Asocial violence can be broken down into two main categories -- resource and process.  Resource violence is either over gaining or protecting tangibles. These are things that CAN be put into a wheelbarrow

Two critical points about both social and resource violence. One, they usually come with instructions how to avoid it. These instructions are simple and non-humiliating (although we often interpret them as such). Take for example 'shut up or I'll kick your ass.'  All you have to do to keep from getting your ass kicked is stop talking. However, people's Monkey often tell them that the best response to that is mention the guy's testicles on his mother's chin.  Notice this is NOT following the instructions on how to avoid violence.

Two is that these 'scripts' are incredibly predictable. The problem is most people don't know the script OR they try to apply another script to the situation (this includes what I call violating 'the five' )

Predictability in resource predation is easy. That's because the criminal is operating along certain guidelines. Take for example in the US, during the commission of a felony forcing a person to take even one step is kidnapping. Kidnapping is as seriously prosecuted as murder. So an experienced robber isn't going to tell you to go to a secondary location. The 'script' for a robbery is he approaches, threatens you, you give him the goods and he leaves.

Anything that goes 'off script' is where things can-and-do go bad. There are however, two main ways things go off script and violence happens.  

First is keep your fucking mouth shut. Your Monkey is going to want to talk shit to this asshole to show him who he's dealing with and to get your pride back. I know of no better way to get shot in the face than lipping off to a guy with a gun. And if you think about it, you know it's stupid. But, the Monkey will be screaming at you to do it.

(BTW, Rory Miller is correct in his assessment of the Five are critical elements in the de-escalation of social violence, but they don't work to deescalate asocial violence. He is correct with his observation that the five won't stop asocial.  #1 Asocial violence cannot be deescalated, it can only be deterred. #2 Violating the five WILL however, make asocial violence much, MUCH worse. Want to know the fastest way to provoke a robber to use his weapon? Insult him and show your contempt.)

The second way things go wrong is when the guy with the weapon starts going off script. One of the absolute worse 'this isn't going according to script' is telling someone to move to a secondary location.

Short version... no frickin' way do you let that happen. That's kidnapping. And if he's going to get charged for that, why not...?

Which brings us to process predation. The 'other' asocial violence. Unlike other types of violence, with process, violence IS the goal. With the others, the threat of violence usually is way more effective. Follow those instructions and no violence. With asocial, those instructions are a lie. Asocial is the big bad monster everyone fears. But in it's own way it's just as predictable and easy to spot when that's what you're dealing with.

Final dada, dada. There can be overlap with these. A process predator can be hiding his shit under the guise of social violence. Or he can be hiding it in resource. It's how much of a 'mix' that is the important thing to spot. Venn Diagrams can give you the idea of how they can overlap.

Home invasion 'robberies' are bad news. First, they're breaking the script of how robberies normally happen. Second, they're already in a secondary location -- a particularly isolated one. So you're a whole lot closer to bad shit happening, not because you do  anything wrong, but other way.

Thing is home invasion robberies are the new and big boogie man -- especially among the shooting world.  Many are pressing the idea 'you need to have guns every where in the house.' One tacit-cool cowboy really stepped on his dick by suggesting having a gun safe in the kids room -- with reporters in the room. (I have a totally different set of problems with this idea because, I don't believe in drawing fire towards the people I'm trying to protect ... DUH!)

Copula's points about home invasions, yes they are really bad news. Yes they do happen. And yes, they are a primed for shit to go really bad.

Oddly enough people who are most likely to have them happen are drug dealers -- and this includes your kids doing shit they shouldn't be doing. Then people from cultures/ ethnic enclaves that don't trust banks or the cops (e.g. merchants who keep large amounts of money in their homes). Then you get follow homes from the stores and nighttime invasions. But for the average person in a nice neighborhood? Not that likely.

And BTW, if you're really concerned, it's really easy and cheap to get a camera/intercom/doorbell unit. Gee there's three dudes standing on my porch... probably shouldn't open the door.

So how do you know if the guy is going to pull the trigger? Well the short answer is it's going off script.

The problem is that most people don't have any other resources except to follow the script. Or they fuck up and try to use social scripts -- including 'fighting'. Those are really fast ways to get the guy to use his weapon on you.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dealing with the "I'm offended" attacker

Yes, I very specifically used the word 'attacker'  in the title. That's because when you strip away all the ideology, humanism and pseudo-sensitivity, certain people use being offended as a flat out act of aggression.

First a list of foundational yada, yadas. Humans are social primates. We're designed to function in groups. A big part of this is empathy for and cooperation with those 'inside' our group. Since our 'survival' is based on the support and cooperation of our group, pretty smart design that.  But, those same considerations to those outside our group? Not so much. In fact this can go so far as to 'othering' people, but mostly we just don't give a shit. This:
1-- is an important element of functioning in a city environment
2 -- if you can get past humanistic 'egalitarianism' caring for our own first makes sense in a Darwinian, 'survival of the fittest' kind of way.

Another set of yada yadas. Dunbar's number suggests we can only really handle between 100 and 250 stable relationships (our circle or group).  Past that, we get into shades of 'you're not really someone I care about' and superficial social scripts or interactions. Again, really important in a city environment. While 'roles' and scripted behaviors appropriate to that role change, a big part of 'what's involved' is the nature of the relationship. You don't treat a stranger like a family member, e.g., you don't kiss a cashier like you do with your spouse upon arriving or leaving. (Here's a fun look at this and some other issues: )

Final set of yada, yada, yadas. Think of relationships as 'economies.' Specifically an exchange of goods and services. In a healthy, long-term relationship, things balance out. In closer relationships the 'coin' means very much more than just money. Here is where we loop back to being social primates, empathetic and caring about others -- especially in our own tribe.(Again, a fun look into these ideas: )

All of that is foundation to point out that there are people, who have learned to gain power over others by exploiting empathy, unconscious social scripts, and relationship 'economies.'

People who pride themselves on being 'nice' are especially vulnerable to this from of manipulation.

A fire alarm warning signal is when someone-- who is either a complete stranger or someone you only vaguely know (e.g., on FB) -- tries to start an economy by demanding the same considerations, reactions, and behavior you offer to a person you have a deep and ongoing 'economy' with.

The alarm gets louder if said person does *not* do so with the strict etiquette protocols that we usually use to deal with strangers -- especially if asking for something. While we all have to ask things from strangers, etiquette is a big thing.

A sub-point of this is watch for faux-etiquette. For example, there's a big difference between a sincere, "Excuse me. I don't mean to bother you, but the ketchup bottle is empty on my table, may I use yours?" at a restaurant and a sneered "*Excuse me, your cigarette smoke is bothering me. Please move" while outside waiting for your tables. (Hint, politeness is not just in the words, pitch, tone, and non-verbals are important.

Where you not only get klaxons, but flashing lights and sirens is when the economy is started out with your 'ledger' already in the red. Not only are they demanding that you exhibit the same empathy, consideration, but a change your behavior that only a person you're intimate (or have an established economy) with warrants.

But take a look at this from a different direction. Do you really want to start such a relationship? This new economy already has you at a disadvantage. You are wrong, bad, mean, and hurtful. Whereas, these people are being so benign to offer you a chance to be a better person by apologizing and changing your behavior to suit them.

And if you don't take that opportunity that is the green light for them to attack. I mean full on 'social harpy' mode. To vent their spleen about what a horrible, awful, petty, and mean person, who is representative of everything that is wrong with this world. You 'orrible, 'orrible, little man you ...

So here we have a 'wait a minute' question. If you don't have a relationship with this person why should you give a damn if they are offended? Or, do you really want to start a relationship with someone who the first requirement of that economy is you are wrong?

The answer is most people don't. And while they subconsciously know this, they don't want to be as rude and obnoxious as the 'offended person' is being. This is why it's important to consciously recognize that -- while it is couched in 'I'm the victim here' -- often, an offended person is the on the offensive. It's not that a situation can turn extremely hostile if you don't give the proper grovels and apologies to the offended party. It's already aggressive, your not groveling is just the excuse to turn up the volume.

I personally have fun pointing out the social standards and scripts such people are trying to exploit. Something as simple as, "I'm sorry. You don't know me well enough to talk to me that way -- much less ask for me to change my behavior/way of thinking to suit your agenda.'

Why is this both fun and effective?

First because most of the scripts they are exploiting are subconscious.

While we don't know exactly what is wrong with the situation, we know something isn't right. "You don't know me well enough ..." points out that they are trying to overdraw on the empathy and consideration economy. As in 'we ain't got one yet, so why the fuck should I care about your feelings -- especially when you:
1- don't care about mine
2 -- care about your own not only enough for the both of us, but throw in everyone else in the room too.

Second, pointing out they are the ones violating this behavior is like walking over and picking up the dead fish when everyone has been trying to figure out where the stink is coming from and saying, "This is what is stinking, and nimrod there is the one who brought it into the room."

Now, all eyes are on him or her in a 'you're the one who should be embarrassed about your behavior' kind of way. (Damn, they're the ones who get to be judgmental about others, not the other way around.)

Third, while acknowledging all kinds of monkey issues and agendas, by remaining polite you're not allowing your monkey free rein. In other words, your monkey can get it's licks in, but it's not turning you into a raging asshole. So everyone else doesn't see two asshole monkeys.

Fourth, it does a fine job of setting boundaries. At the same time, it shows, "I know what you're doing. Now everyone else does, too. So knock it off." And it does so without you coming across like an asshole.

Play this one right, and you'll not only scare them away (although it will often manifest in their storming off in a huff) but they will steer clear of you.

Often such behavior results in absolutely nothing else happening. But even -- let's say in a work environment -- if the person runs off to tattle, you have a defensible (and articulatible) position.

Now granted this advice is predicated on the assumption that you weren't actually breaking policies, laws, or seriously screwing the pooch.