2008-10-29

The Fedora Culture Wars...

One of the things happening on a lot of lists lately has been a lot of heavy reactions to changes. Most of the changes usually start off with someone who is trying to fix something, changes it and then finding that he is getting an email box filled with angry emotional letters that they respond to because they feel they have been attacked. Why all the anger?

I believe that its caused by many factors. The first one that comes to mind is the age-old anonymous nature of the Internet. The inhibitions that many people's brains have aren't triggered that there might be a backlash for emotionally attacking someone. In fact, the brain seems to trigger the sadist's joy of knowing that the other one is powerless to do anything about what you do.

A second feature is email/forums/etc do not have the keys that our brains are wired to understand. We do not see the others face, we don't hear their voice, we can't smell the pheremones they emit.. and so our brain makes up a lot of stuff to fill in the gaps. And because the brain is wired for survival (thats why its there), we usually assume the worst so that we can survive later. So while someone was trying to help in pointing out a problem, our brain says they are going to kill us, and we respond accordingly. If this were 10th century Iceland.. there would be a lot of people with atgeirs embedded in them.

Another big issue is that our communities have grown 'old', and we have developed cultures. Cultures are what we humans build to make sure that we 'collectively' survive out. Not just our genes, but our ideas, our memories, and whatever else we have picked up as something a culture agrees with. Cultures are ways that we know that ALT-F1 is the place to fix your computer, that right click is where you get menus, and that people with Red Hat's are different from people who with Green Lizards. They tell us who we are most likely to agree with, get protection, and just feel safe.

When something changes a 'tenet' that people have relied on for years, it causes a dis appropriate reaction as people work out who is on what side. Our emotional centers that reward loyalty and attack dissension get highly activated, and we war until either one side wins, we meet a consensus, a new side enters and defeats the separate groups, or we completely split into new cultural tribes.

So in the end, we should not be suprised by the fear, anger, and virtual hatred. We just need to make sure we have ways to work through it peacefully versus erupting into a new 100 Year War because someone changed a color from A0E143 to A0E043.
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