Friday, October 29, 2010

The Principles of “Chatter”

Are people primarily influenced through personal conversation or through media?

Is chatter the primary mode of human communication?

By “chatter” it is meant ordinary talk, gossip, rumor, free flowing discussion and so on. Is this the primary mode of human discourse?

More, is this mode of communication, with all of its various forms, the fundamental means of human expression and learning and influence?

This may sound silly, but the prevalence of chatter in our world, both electronic and tactile, raises the issue.

We live in a modern world of news and magazine publishers, book publishers, experts, pundits, encyclopedias electronic and not, TV shows and so on.

These are institutions of “Authority” they are vested with powers and prestige in our world. But what are they really? They have authority because they provide authoritative “chatter”.

This chatter seems to include: Facts, primary information, ideas and theories. This authoritative chatter is provided by personalities that are experts or respected figures. Their chatter is supposedly elevated beyond ordinary chatter.

Modern media and the internet allow a zone of non-authoritative chatter to arise. This is more like basic chatter, everyday chatter.

We have the electronic creating its parallel to the chatter of the pre-electronic whose methods and mindset are frankly ancient.

The question for those who want to influence ordinary people is “What is the relationship of these authority forms with chatter forms?” Or more precisely, which is primary? Which is more effective in the influence and transformation of a mind?

Activists like establishment personnel tend to think in old terms that arose long ago with the newspaper and magazine. This bias continues until this day. The first authority forms were pronouncements by kings and priests in stele and scrolls. Today we are far more sophisticated but perhaps the attitude is basically the same.

Authority communicators are hostile to the world of chatter, of course. They find that chatter forms are obstacles to the logical-argumentative-educational methods of their world. They feel that chatter is full of fallacy, that it is non-intellectual, non-conceptual. Chatter is non-focused and overly mobile and refuses to be pinned down.

And while aspects of this are all true, this does not deny the importance of chatter. It only suggests that chatter needs an “upgrade”.

Let’s look at the nature of chatter. Chatter as we have said has many forms, some themes of the behavior might include.

-A fused and confused quality to a conversation. The talk represents a kind of whole but it is more a “subsume” than a coherent and architecturally self aware whole. It’s a tangle as anyone with a highly logical and frustrated mind will tell you. At the same time this state has interesting advantages where one can strike out an intuitive path suggested by a vague or confused notion.

-There is indeed a lack of focus and constant movement that creates a random and shallow quality to conversing. On the other hand, a good chat can cover a huge range of topics that gives an opportunity for making connections and offering a connective framework.

-Further, chatter has the ability to self transform from topic to topic in surprising ways, as one thing leads to another. We can call this “Liquidity” -- conversations are highly liquid in that they flow here and there, one topic or concept will become liquid and become another. It’s all one big river.

-In chatter, objective and subjective are all mixed up -- your personal opinion, another person’s opinion that you are relaying, and a so called objective opinion, these are all mixed up, as we test positions. It all makes for an interesting experiment.

-Also, chatter can be relaxing, as we introduce the non-serious modes of humor, stories and poetic speech.

-Disagreements and agreements occur in sequence in extended chatter, not as in a formal debate, we thus explore unity and difference on a range of issues.

-Chatter is, of course, at a minimum two way. This brings everyone into the discourse, and all points of view.

-In addition, in chatter, we get more intimacy. We have longer, more sustained interaction. If chatter is direct and tactile, face to face, we then have much more communication via body language, tone, inflection, the eyes, laughter, smiles, pensive expressions, looks of seriousness and earnest, and so on. In this tactile chatter all the senses are being used, all forms of communication are being used, thus, we get a greater range of information. And we get to know the real person we are talking to. Rather than an authority we are dealing now with a human being.

-As noted before, chatter can be creative and improvisational, and this can also be very satisfying.

-Further, in chatter, we may use of all of your sub-minds – that is, emotions, intuition, memory, creativity etc. The more far ranging the discourse, the more likely all of your minds will come into play, and this is very different from the workings of authority talk

-Also, the difference between the authority chatter mode and mass chatter is that the individual gets to participate in the conversation, in news or pundit shows we are merely spectators. And by being part of the conversation, we get more energy and more identification and individuality, and thus more possibilities in a conversation.

-Related to this is that current communication creates a non-reflective sort of robot mentality where the spectator merely adopts and imitates the views of a pundit or newscaster. In a real conversation a person has to become an individual and think for herself or himself. Chatter initiates this, authority talk shuts it down.

It is true that everyday chatter lacks the attention to facts, information, concepts, theories, rigid logical analysis, does not conduct scholarly presentations or debate, but it has a value and power of its own that authoritative conversation does not have.

Many of us can look back over the years and identify a conversation that was very important in transforming our lives. The discourse may have been only few minutes but the quality and impact of it was powerful, and led to making an important life decision.

While classes, books, debates, talking heads, news and so on make their impact, the question being raised is: Is this the fundamental way to influence people, to change their minds? In a sense it is more efficient to stand outside of the cultural mainstream and deliver information in the authority mode, but is that the primary way that people make up their minds? It is certainly a way to manipulate people, we know that, but is this way to truly convince someone of an idea?

Further, if you stand outside the mainstream and broadcast authority chatter, you then do not know what is actually going on in people’s heads. People may need new ideas and new values and higher standards -- but the best way to help them may be to engage in “chatter” with them. Then unclear ideas can be parsed, fallacies can be pointed out, good ideas of the talker can be supported, original ideas can be pursued, a great range of issues can be covered and more. And very importantly real human relationships can be created.

All of this may require an entirely different kind of strategy, that is, if you think chatter is a fundamental way of influencing another human being. Should we embrace the world of chatter or should be step away from it?


Cage Innoye
Axxiad News

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