[extropy-chat] Signaling and Social Markers

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Dec 28 15:26:02 UTC 2006

Spike writes

>> I sense signaling in grunge, but don't really have any more than a
>> vague hunch...
> Yes, but Lee this is our endearing trait.  Perhaps our only endearing trait,
> tragically, but we are two guys for which grunge simply would not work.

Well, yes, it certainly wouldn't seem to *work* for me, at least
in the sense that it would take me quite some time to get used 
to wearing it!  The signals, again, that I'd be sending out are (to
me) the wrong kind of signals.

Now this may just be a matter of feeling, divorced from actual
effect on people.  As near as I can determine, my feeling is that
I would be sending out a signal such as "I'm (i) defying tradition
(ii) repudiating cooperation  (iii) trying to make a statement, and
(iv) don't care what you think".   Now this is not logical.  But
then, feelings often aren't logical.

Because many people will in fact see my wearing grunge as
signalling that I'm cool, that I'm non-judgmental, that I'm easy-
going.  It's just that this isn't what it feels like TO ME that
I'm signaling.

> We are two guys who are cool with acting our age and our
> intelligence.  We are comfortable in our own brains, even if
> we are not hip.  I like being me.

Yes, I rather enjoy being me too!   :-)   But middle-aged men
who wear pony-tails are no doubt comfortable being themselves,
also, no? Although wait---don't *they* keep changing what they're
signaling as times change, and we don't?  Isn't this a non-symmetry
out of which we can get some milage?   You and I dress just the
way we always have.  (It will wreck my image of Spike if I find
out that there was a pony-tail stage!  :-)

I've always wondered---since we have got into the psychological---
about people who constantly change their appearance (their
signaling to others) in response to fad and fashion.  Why aren't they
embarrassed to palpably and obviously admit that they merely
conform to what everyone else is doing?   Were I them, I'd *feel*
that I was of no substance, and had little in the way of independent

So I put it starkly:   if you are a man who keeps changing the
way he looks every five years, can you explain what is going
on in your presentation of self to others?   Exactly why don't
you feel silly?


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