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Posts Tagged ‘values’

I’ve avoided posting much about Tiger Woods.  It’s just too easy.  However, today ESPN had a piece from Rick Reilly that is just too crazy to not poke at a bit.  The piece isn’t badly written or “wrong”… it’s  crazy in its assumptions and bombastic its claims and it might just be an accurate reflection of golf’s, ESPNs, sports’, and Tiger’s audience values.

Here’s the zinger of it all:

We don’t usually build statues of nice, helpful, well-balanced men.

This sentiment seems to call out a justification of Tiger Woods’ behavior – in the pursuit of greatness you should do anything… in fact, greatness is a result of Tiger Woods’ “self-obsession, a limitless appetite for domination, me-first-ism to the extreme.”

That’s the same logic used by people to suggest that great comedy comes only from troubled souls, good writing from lonely people, successful business from obsessed workaholics, etc. etc.  These are catchy statements that help people wrap up complex situations but they really aren’t justified.  For one, you can’t at all determine causation from correlation in any of these examples.   It might be that great sports stars learn those behaviors while playing their sport, or they self select into the sport, etc. etc.

He vows no more “entitlement.” But Tiger Woods always played as though the trophy had his name engraved on it when he showed up Tuesday.

He vows to “tone down my negative outbursts and … my positive outbursts.” But can he win without the fist pump? Can he win without passion?

So… if Tiger Woods doesn’t win the Masters will Reilly and the audience blame rehab? Tiger’s wife? Buddha?  The Weaker Fist Pump?   There’s a subtle suggestion in this article that suggests that Tiger sorting out his personal life might not be worth possibly losing some golfing success.

I suspect there’s a good chunk of the audience that share these value statements – winning golfing tournaments might be more important than the other stuff……….

If Tiger Woods wins his last 4 months of behavior will fade quickly from the public discussion.   (Remember what Kobe Bryant did a couple of years ago? No, not that winning MVP and championships….)

I’m not saying it’s good or bad values that we’re seeing on display or I share any of these.. just calling out that there are value systems at work here and they often aren’t very politically correct.

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Read a great piece today (which I found on Slashdot…) on the state of violence in video games.  It’s remarkable in that it’s author is a life long gamer (like myself) and he starts to drop some value anchors.

If we come to that, should it be illegal to simulate player imposed suffering of photorealistic humans in video games? If so, where do we draw the line with regards to realism? For example, BioShock is “OK” now, but how much more realistic will the virtual human’s appearance and behavior have to get before virtual murder is considered genuinely and irreversibly harmful for the player?

Will it matter if it’s done “by hand and knife” in a holodeck-style brain-machine interface, or if it’s executed through a 10-button game controller? Will it matter if it’s a quick death or a slow, drawn-out one? Will it matter if the human-killing enacted by the player fits the legal definition of murder or if it is done in self-defense?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that they won’t come easy, especially if the game industry fights back against government regulation. As we grow ever closer to 100% graphical and situational realism in games, hopefully game publishers will decline to encourage the stunningly accurate simulation of gratuitous human suffering.

My concern is not that these violent simulations described will happen; they probably will at some point. I’m concerned that we as an audience will continue to consider gratuitous virtual murder a form of mainstream entertainment. The kind of violence I’m describing should be relegated to the bottom, back-corner shelf of any game store — not by law or punishment, but by consumer demand.

This is a great debate to engage in now!  We can define the values and shape our behavior.  If we don’t actively define them, it will still passively happen and we may end up having to unlearn a bunch of values.  And, as Mr. Edwards points out, we just don’t know how that will turn out.  At some point the realism of the games and the idea that you are controlling something virtual will erode and we’ll have real trouble telling the difference between what is real world behavior and what is virtual.  When and what that looks like we just can’t say.  We already have real legal and social issues regarding what happens on social networks – and those are not realistic and/or even close to as full person engaging as modern games.

I’ll give you one my own experiences… and for those that have played a first person shooter on the PC or X Box live know just how insanely over the top scary the live voice chatter between people can get.  When I was actively playing Halo 3 you would hear multiple times a session about how other players want to ass-rape, gang bang, whack and kill those fags/mutherfuckers and their mothers.   This language and threats would be made whether there was a 10 year old on the other end or a bunch of adults. I’m not using made up language here.  One time I let the audio escape out of speakers instead of my headset and it kinda freaked my wife out. “People really talk like that on there?” Yes. Yes they do.

Do I think that language itself means someone will go out and do those things? no.  Do I think repeated exposure and reinforcement that associates that langauge and winning and “earning buddies or friends” starts to seep into non-gaming behavior?  Absolutely.

I now report all language like that.  I don’t know if XBox or Microsoft aggressively pursues it.  I hope so.  One time I even tried to track down someone I thought crossed the line with another player.  This is an impossible task.

My thinking on this is related to other conversations about the impact of news media on events and the slippery evading authorities behavior encouraged during the #iranelection stuff on Twitter.

The last 12 months have been a whirl wind of big things… presidential shifts, big world events, wars, economic troubles, unemployment, technology advances, health care… just huge value disruptors.  There’s an obsession with Real Time right now.  More Data Faster!  The challenge is you can’t reflect on values in real time.  you can’t set anchors and see where you stand against them.  No, we don’t have to stop and reflect – we can keep charging ahead.  That approach will have different consequences than if we stop and reflect.  I can admit I’m a bit frightened by the consequences of this relentless acceleration towards more data faster – technical progress at all costs – we’ll sort it out later.  (And those that know me understand I’m not exactly a patient person and love change)…

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In yet another confounding of the same sitatuion we see played out over and over in thousands of published studies, Seed gives us a report on how moral decisions are contextual.

“No, the results did not surprise us,” says Lindenberg. “What surprised us was the size of the effect.”

This is not unlike the findings from last week’s feature on social conformity we found on CNN.  What’s different is the more sound conclusions from these researchers.

It’s not that good people turned bad, either. One goal simply surpassed another in importance. In the case of the mailbox, the desire for cash superceded the desire to behave appropriately, because others already hadn’t. “People are not bad. People are just subject to social influence,” Lindenberg says. An effective tip for crime prevention is to be aware of norm violations on all fronts. After all, says Lindenberg, “Even old grandmothers would do this.”

Values are contingent and contextual.  Ain’t no good and evil, bad and good.  Only situations and consequences.

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So, in a moment only Tony Robbins could love, I was doing my early morning stretches when my wife read the following:

Few things could be more dangerous than letting your children fall into the trap of believing what they do doesn’t matter. Teach them that there are consequences of their actions. Teach them that even small decisions and actions consistently made, have far-reaching effects.

But wait; didn’t we just go over a news article on Google that reported that a teacher was axed because she told the 7 year olds that Santa doesn’t exist? Teaching that in a school, no less. What is the world coming to? Oh-no, Batman, another liberal chop at family traditions and faith-based holidays. It wasn’t on CNN.com or Time.com, Reuters, the washingtonpost.com or wsj.com. Should I believe it? What should I do?

What are the consequences of the Santa thing? I certainly enjoyed it growing up. And we all have heard, “What was good enough for me is damn good enough for…” Oh, wait a minute. That was called upon by my parents concerning values that they wanted me to have….that weren’t true, good, or right. You know, buying GM cars that started on fire, racism, bigotry, sexism in business, education and even dictums on whom to marry.

Hummm… seems there is just one more set of conflict of beliefs. What we do is a testament of our values. We thus value the stuff of our traditions more than we value the truth or all that other stuff we teach in school. …We could use this relational logic to teach intelligent design in schools, maybe a course in Wicca and another in Karma for Tots at the YMCA or JCC.

Should we really be surprised that people go postal or freak out in less dramatic fashion when these ‘absolute’ rules from our parents, teachers, and representatives change?

My sister’s response: “Well as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone (another stellar admonishment that the end justifies the means…) why not have Santa, the Easter Bunny and a Virgin Mary?”

Besides that, consequences are complicated even if they are universal. Myths are fun and simple and that is what we need today so we don’t have to deal with the antecedents that result in foreclosure, bankruptcy, layoffs, SEC fraud and bailouts.

Considering the need for fun and distractions, you might consider a small but compact 22 cal pistol as a gift for your child or perhaps some Mary Jane that isn’t a shoe.

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