Have you ever thought about framing in your daily communication?

I do, all the time. This article explains the concept, using FOX News and politics as strawmen.

It’s why I don’t participate in many online groups and lists anymore. The frame is already configured in such a way that my ideas are never objectively understood — and never will be within that context.

So I’ve got my own little soapbox here now, and if you care to listen to what I have to say, you can come and join in the fun. I like LJ because that friends page gives me precisely that — a huge set of disparate frames. LJ itself does impose a frame, but it seems less restrictive . . . nothing about the technology itself imposes a “drama queen” or “camwhore” environment on this blog.

On the plus side, this quote sums it up nicely:

In addition to that, community building is extremely important because Hillary is right: It does take a village. Children do react to how their peers live and what their peers’ values are, and you can’t do it alone. You have to be in a community where people take care of each other. Other values that follow are things like fairness and freedom. If you empathize with someone, you want to be fair to them. If you want them to have a fulfilled life, you want them to be free and have maximal freedom to carry out their dreams. So there are values like fairness, freedom, fulfillment, trust, cooperation, building communities. These are important progressive values that come out of nurturing families.

I’m proud to have changed from a “strict father” style family to my own, newly-created “nurturant parent” family.

23 thoughts on “Have you ever thought about framing in your daily communication?

  1. There are benefits and drawbacks, as there are with everything I suppose.

    The benefit is, as you’ve said, there is nothing about the technology itself that creates a place for drama queens to thrive. The other side of that coin is that good conversations invariably die out before their time. No one really gets back to a thread here unless someone resonds to them. They don’t come back to see what others had to say, and unlike a mailing list discussion group – they don’t receive it in their email boxes unless it was a reply to their own comment (or their journal). My thoughts since I’ve been here are that discussions often remain unfinished, or not discussed thoroughly enough because of the nature of the technology.

    Of course drama still abounds here, it’s just far easier to avoid.

    I also enjoy peeking in the windows of people’s lives and minds here. I think that’s probably the voyeur in me that loves LJ so much, and the exhibitionist too as they really are just different sides of the same coin. For discussion, I still fall back on the newsgroup type, and those particular ones where I’ve found objective discussion rather than subjective storytelling.

  2. If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that discussions die out before their time because they scroll off of the LJ “Friends Recent Entries” list, right?

    Since that is a problem (I agree), the solution I’ve taken to is reposting a story or concept when it’s fallen behind — not as a link to an older entry, but perhaps posting a new and refreshing viewpoint on the subject. That usually stimulates new debate and discussion.

    Any thoughts on the article? *waves hi, it’s been a while :) *

  3. Would you send me a set? ;) I’d put them next to my Native American Heroes deck, that’ll be sure to give them the right “energy!”

  4. I think about it all the time, mainly because I’m talking to various audiences, from groups of engineers to fortune 100 executives. Framing is an absolute key necessity for sales & marketing.

    The first 1/3 of the article was good at describing the techniques and offering examples, but then the final 2/3 went into conservative-bashing mode. It turned me off and I wrote the rest of the article off.

    With regard to the quote you pasted, at face value it’s very good. The author, however, had a clearly different interpretation of “fairness” and “building communities” than I may have. I grew up (and now live again) in an area which is community-oriented and conservative. The author tends to imply that conservatives aren’t protectors, when that is clearly untrue. The approach is different — liberals would like the government to establish safety nets, while the conservatives would rather see individuals be more responsible for their actions.

    On another note in the same vein, I found it ironic last night on PBS when Michael Moore began wondering out loud why we have so many illiterate people in this country and attempting to blame conservatives for it, yet it was the ‘safety net’ policies that caused a lot of our government forms to be written first for 8th grade reading level, then 6th, and now 3rd. Soon we’ll need pictures. When you lower basic requirements, the nature of the beast is that you’re going to lower the average intelligence… so many folks just learn what they need to get by.

  5. PS: I find LiveJournal woefully inadequate for having group conversations. Too many times the stuff disappears off the bottom. It’s mostly a one-shot thing; one user says something and you get a point-to-point dialogue between the user and the person wanting to comment.

    That’s not a bad thing, but some folks want to use it like a web discussion board, which it’s not intended to be.

  6. There is that, the scrolling off of recent entries. Also, what I find is that someone will post something worth discussing, and many people inevitably respond.

    You can only read what is there when you get there though. For instance, I was the second poster in this discussion. You responded, causing me to come back. If you’d never replied, then I probably wouldn’t come back to see what others had to say, especially if it’s scrolled of my recent friends page.

    Often I do go back to a post that I thought would provoke some good repsonses and read what the posters after me had to say too, even if my response to it wasn’t responded to. I think it’s rare that people do that though, I think most people post their piece and go on to the next post on their list, forgetting all about the original.

    Your suggestion would certainly work even in that instance, with perhaps a link to the original post, and whatever new thoughts that happened to be derived from it.

    Anyway, on to the article itself. My personal reaction to it was that it rang out like a marketing lesson. Political marketing is no different than product marketing really. Think of business, catchphrases that have abounded in the last 10 years like ‘coopetition!’ which, strangely made me realize that coopetition is probably not a bad approach to govenrment.

    I’ll admit that I’m shaky on american politics and I actually have to stop and think a minute to remember who is the conservative and who is the liberal. I find in Canadian politics that it’s often the conservatives that go with a negative campaign, and take the “bash the liberals” approach to their marketing ie. don’t tell them what we’re going to do, just what the other guys will do that is bad.

    It brings to mind our recent municipal elections, and how one candidate had much more money to put into his campaign. It didn’t even matter *what* he marketed, it’s that the others couldn’t even raise up the bucks for a poster. It doesn’t mean they weren’t acceptable candidates, just not as wealthy. Marketing makes money, it also takes money, and often that is the crux in some levels of government.

    As for framing itself, it really strikes me as nothing more than marketing, and we all market ourselves every day to advance ourselves, and our causes, and our lives. I, who have fervently opposed the redefinition of words to suit one’s individuality because it costs in language, communication, and understanding, have realized I do it myself at times. I call it writing flair instead. It’s a frame inside a frame. *laughs*

    Anyhow, as an astrologer the “strict father” and the “nurturer” are words that particular community of mine use often to describe Saturnian and Lunar influences. Saturn gets the bad wrap there too, but let’s face it, sometimes when the child wants to eat all the candy in the candy store strict father says “NO!” and falls his iron fist. Nurturer sees no harm in it, and more harm in the screaming that results from the “NO!” and so allows the gorging of candy, while a nicely struck balance allows the child a piece or two. You can’t give all the candy away, nor can you deprive completely.

    Balance, in all things. Saturn and the moon are both in the sky, serving their archetypical purposes, and will for a very long time to come.

    *waves back* how’ve you been? Glad to see your voice again.

  7. …how do you feel about nurture vs. strict father, as described in the article? This was something I ran into a lot in the midwest — a feeling that “strict father” was the concept of being fair and building communities. It’s part of my great resistance to living in most of the central USA (plains, heartland, midwest).

    Much of the machismo associated with being a farmer, “a good honest day’s work”-type rhetoric, etc. always seems to stem from this core essence of “We’ll learn you how to be a responsible adult,” emphasis on the punishment.

    I’d actually really, really enjoy being a farmer, working with my hands on a regular basis, being a craftsperson or guild-type member, more than working on a computer all day long. I would espouse some of the same ideas as mentioned above, but not in the same terms. Frankly, if I hadn’t met some different farmers in Canada, I would probably still believe that they’re all the same sort of rude, gun-toting, narrow-minded assholes who liked to deny me my constitutional rights that I constantly ran into in central Illinois. I now know that I must have just hit a number of very insular pockets of individuals there.

    But it’s all in the framing. Don’t tell me that I can only know the value of work by doing it myself. Don’t presume that, just because I don’t get up at 4AM to go to work, or because I’ve moved often, or because I no longer associate with my biological parents that I don’t have family values. Show me in positive terms what’s good about the way you live life. I’ll never even approach adopting your point of view unless I come around to it on my own!

    So protection, as you put it, is certainly an element of both conservative and progressive communities. The question seems to me to be: on what syllable do you place the stress? In the US, there seem to only be two options these days:

    • Republican: Reinforce avoidance of negative behaviour patterns by increasing penalties for wrongdoing, leave local governments to fend for themselves
    • Democrat: Reinforce adherence to positive behavior patterns by requiring conformance to a centralized government standard (the Barney principle — what’s good for me is good for you)

    These are, of course, not the same thing. And, moreover, it’s increasingly becoming a one-party system in the US. There are elements of both types of behaviour on both sides much more consistently now . . . which is why I had said to put politics aside in the subject header. Go me for sticking to my own rules. :P

  8. Yeah, it’s difficult…I find when I really get into something with someone, I take it to IM, or IRC, or phone, or a nice quiet dinner for two (or three, or…)

  9. You can be strict and nurturing at the same time, something the author can’t seem to comprehend. And it *must* be balanced. You can’t instill a free-for-all mindset with no sense of consequences. You also cannot instill the fear and wrath of God into someone.

    So it’s all about balance, and not about extremes. In my book there are real consequences for actions, but ‘nurturing’ for honest mistakes and exploration, ultimately tools of learning. The one thing I can not and will not accept is malicious intent — if you *know* the fair ground rules and willingly violate them, there will be a consequence for those actions.

    Finally, I think you know I would disagree with your characterizations of republicans and democrats, and I think that they’re unfairly slanted toward your particular political bias. :)

    I think the real difference is in the core beliefs of entitlement. In general:

    Republicans tend to believe that individuals should earn their way; to receive a service or help from the government, the person should be contributing as much as he or she possibly can.
    Democrats tend to believe the government should give a fairly extensive set of services to everyone, regardless of contribution.

    What has really turned me off is the “me me me me me” generation. The members of this generation have no accountability — they blame anything they can other than their own actions. The members of this generation expect the government to give them, a gratis, health services, free spending money, a home, a job, a car, etc. Many of these individuals do not believe they should have to work for it. How do they wish to finance it? They propose very high taxes on the rich. Nevermind that governments have no sense of fiscal or social governance. Rarely do you see programs measured for effectiveness, whether social effectiveness or fiscal effectiveness. Even more rarely than that do you see the programs cut or adjusted to reach goals.

    My ancestors came over from Germany in the late 1800’s. They started with nothing, and the government gave them nothing but a chunk of land in a settlement. My ancestors worked very hard, long days to earn what they got, from my great-great-grandfather to my father. They saved, and sacrificed. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.

    Ultimately, I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I am strongly opposed to those socialist views which would take my earnings and give them to an individual who has jumped the border and entered a hospital demanding free health care.

    Sorry, I just don’t agree with it.

  10. Missed one final point: something that the socialists and communists don’t get is that when you take too much from those who work hard for success, you remove the incentive.

  11. It’s amazing how strong these ‘frames’ become… they can tend to use another language, and operate on such a different level that someone coming into one for the first time is immediately a) labeled as new and b) has a hard time understanding any of what is going on.

    Kind of like an inside joke to an extreme.

  12. Whoa! George Lakoff! I knew there was a reason I liked his books on metaphors back in school! I never would have guessed he was so into politics, but there you have it; at least his linguistics and his politics go hand in hand, not like Chomsky, who’s a very “strict father” as far as generative grammar research goes. :)

    I even remember the book of his we concentrated on a decade back, not the least because of the great title: “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things”. Heh. :)

  13. If you took care to read the background instead of “writing the article off”, you’d see that Lakoff is not at all interested in marketing. He blames the Democratic crisis on an over-reliance on marketing approaches.

    As for “conservative-bashing” — nice dishonest framing there, fella! You’re reading an interview with a bearded professor from Berkeley who’s the founder of a progressive think-tank, and who despite all this makes no gratuitous attacks on the American conservative movement, in fact praising them effusively for having the long-range foresight and discipline to coordinate and plan their communicative strategies in a way that appeals to the US public, and you call it BASHING? And you conveniently get “turned off” from reading in depth? So, how exactly would you like a progressive writer to present his ideas in way that would be acceptable to you? Or is it your policy to turn off your brain whenever presented with the ideas of a writer who happens to not share your world view? That’s the only reason I can think of for your implication of Lakoff as being a demagogue on par with Michael Moore. Who, by the way, may be inane much of the time, but surely never more than you are. Making government forms easier to read lowers intelligence? Can you back that up? Let me ask you, when you were growing up, did you eat lead paint chips or something? Because your intelligence certainly seems to have been affected.

    Hey, Wohali, what’s the policy on your friends being pissed off at your other friends? ’cause, like, grrrr!

  14. People want to be comfortable. Those that choose to deny themselves things for “the greater good” are always welcome to do so. But the rest of the world can’t necessarily be forced into doing these things.

    Some government subsidies go too far, of course. If we all actually paid what the cost of electricity really was, we’d not be able to do half of the electrical things we’d like to do. Or, we’d all have our own wind turbines. Either way, it’d work out…

    Like I keep saying, C., we actually agree on quite a lot. I’m not all that different to you, politically or fiscally. I just use a lot of different words to talk about it.

  15. No no no. You frame this chunk as “Politics aside”, but again it’s completely deceptive.

    My ancestors came over from Germany in the late 1800’s. They started with nothing, and the government gave them nothing but a chunk of land in a settlement.

    Uh-huh. A chunk of land which was stolen from the Indians. Nice nothing! It’s amazing how many overpopulated, oppressed-by-conservative-regimes lower-class Europeans were willing to take a perilious journey to the New World for mere nothing!

    My ancestors worked very hard, long days to earn what they got, from my great-great-grandfather to my father. They saved, and sacrificed. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.

    Yes, I am sure you’re quite the pioneer yourself, like your forebears. I am sure you grew up with no government assistance, and I am sure your family made you start from scratch with nothing but the clothes on your back. I am also sure that your noble ancestors would have rejected any undeserved hand-out or support (well, other than free land!), had any been available from some big, bad safety net, just because they were so gosh darn noble and they LIKED working themselves to death for your sake.

    Ultimately, I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I am strongly opposed to those socialist views which would take my earnings and give them to an individual who has jumped the border and entered a hospital demanding free health care

    Yes, we must keep that lower-class riffraff from over-populated, oppressed-by-conservative-regimes countries OUT! They have the gall to want to get help when they’re sick, what next? Free land?? No sirree, we’re all out of Indians! Send them back, there’s plenty of Caucasians, not to mention blacks, willing to scrub American toilets, pick American vegetables, sew American pants and mop American floors for less than minimum wage with no access to human services, right?


  16. I wrote the “rest of the article off”. George Lakoff was objective in the first few paragraphs in describing the techniques used in framing. It was after that where he began implying that conservatives had no nurturative tendencies. And yes, I believe by his claiming the Iraq war was done in self-interest, and declaring nurturing and empathy to be a binary state which only liberals posess, it’s conservative-bashing. If he had remained objective by pointing out one frame versus another without

    Granted, I understand it’s from a far-left professor from a far-left university in a far-left town in a far-left state publishing in a far-left newsletter.

    Making government forms easier to read is only a part of the equation, I thought that was fairly obvious from the way I have written it. The point is that over the last few decades we have not challenged our citizens. There is a significant segment of our population who will do only what is necessary to get by, and some not even that much. The consistent “dumbing down” that we see throughout everyday material — whether it be forms, or ‘shock jock’ programming, or ‘reality shows’ or whatever — is harming the population’s brains.

    Finally, you may want to pull the reins on the personal attacks. I didn’t do anything to harm you. My house was lead-paint-free. You’re welcome to your opinions. I have mine. I was asked to present them.

  17. I find it interesting how Lakoff opposes the two styles of parenting (or guidance) — “strict father” vs. “nurturant parent”, and how he associates them with conservative and liberal (or, rather more precisely, Republican and Democrat) political views, respectively.

    It’s odd though, that no one seems to question the underlying metaphor of “goverment as parent”. How did this idea get so entrenched in the first place, that government should provide some sort of guidance/parenting to its subjects/citizens? I’d much prefer, for example, the metaphor of “government as servant”.

  18. Read this great article about how the US Supreme Court views the role of the public school system. Of particular note are the discussions on in loco parentis and New Jersey v TLO.

  19. A very informative article indeed. Thanks. In particular, I find the following sentence rather curious:
    “A four-year-old, or even a ten-year-old, cannot make, nor be expected to make, the same sorts of decisions that an adult can make.”
    To me, it indicates something I wasn’t consciously aware of until now — that rights/responsibilities are closely linked to the (expected) ability to make decisions (in a responsible manner).

    Going back to Lakoff’s metaphors, if I may —
    it’s interesting how metaphors (i.e. “frames”) can affect even court decisions (you’d think they, unlike election-year rhetoric, are somehow supposed to be “objective” in some sense): the metaphor “fetus is a human being in its own right” and the metaphor “fetus is a part of its mother’s body” are likely to lead to rather different conclusions/decisions.

Comments are closed.