I just got coffee at the Wegman’s, a sprawling complex of diverse groceries and distractions. The place is like Casa bonita for household staples. The man in front of me in line left a penny in the cup after he got his change. I never noticed that cup before. I put two pennies in the cup when I got my change. Seeing others behave sets a norm for what is acceptable or conceivable. I had not even noticed that cup before he used it. I would not have put anything in it if he had not before me.
Staying with Coffee, I note that people in line will often synchronize their orders with the person before them If they are listening to the exchange in front of them, and they are too tired to have an idea of what they want at that time in the morning, they will likely order the exact same thing that their predecessor did. I’m sure a Seinfeld episode would have them improvise a little touch with each new order, until the coffee became baroque and undrinkable, but this is not improv. This is Monday morning.
It works both ways, however. I have a friend who listens to energetic talk radio on his commute. Little wonder that during the election all his opinions were from that same talk radio. Even though he disagreed with most of it, all of his points were theirs. He expended a great deal of energy on irony to keep his moral center.
A lot of gun control advocates like to see the bad guy get wasted in movies, indicative of the situational plasticity of ethical positions.
I went to a conference a while back. I came in a little late on the first day and sat in the back like a good student. After listening attentively for a half hour, I noticed that the ladies to my left and tight were both working on their laptop while “listening” to the speakers. Within an hour I was doing work on my laptop, a flagrant violation of my own “internal ethics” on how I should have behaved at a lecture.
Etiquette and right action are taken as seriously or as leniently as they need to be. My grandmother had a lifelong habit of reusing towels and darning socks, because she lived through the Great Depression. I have a lifelong habit of choosing secure passwords and being skeptical of email senders because I lived through the start of the internet era. We all have central codes of ethics, and we all have things that we think are merely nice to have. The line between these categories blurs over time. Perhaps your sports fandom changes after we move. Perhaps fights that seemed vital in middle school become childish in middle age. Or perhaps we are surrounded by people who disagree with our most cherished beliefs. This “Stockholm Syndrome” happens all the time, not just in hostage situations
I’m brewing up better things, just have to get the data and the GIS fired up for it. I found out last week that R is free. So I have to cram that into my face now too. The main obstacles are of course, school, the job and the book. One of those will be finished in a matter of weeks, not months. One of those is on hiatus, but I have a conference coming up that is eating all the rest of my cycles. Please indulge me while I tread water.