Blogging is a concernful activity

I made two posts in January about types of bloggers. The first listed four types of bloggers, and the second was my declaration that I was an observational blogger.

Renard’s post on The Case of Bloggers Wanting Different Things reminded me of my own, and also got me to thinking about concernful activity – the idea that we are always acting to take care of what is important to us.

Sometimes, we don’t know what is important, and blogging, journalling and writing in general are ways to discover that. To go meta, these are all forms of conversation and without conversation figuring out anything is impossible.

I too share Renard’s wish:

If by chance, you have not figured out what it is that you want from blogging, I do hope that you figure it out real soon.

Practice or Practice

During my mediation practice this morning, one of the distractions I had to deal with was considering what “meditation practice” actually means.

Is it practice to improve?

Or, practice as in something habitual or repeated?

I came to the conclusion it’s the latter simply because if the focus of your meditation practice is to get better at meditation, then I believe you’re missing the point of it all.

Using ASAP is a bad way to ask for help

People often use “ASAP” when making a request when they really mean “Now” or “I don’t know when”. However, ASAP is an imprecise term, open to differing interpretations by both parties. What one person assesses as possible is always going to be different for the other.

ASAP can be used in 2 ways.

  1. The requestor means “Now” – in this case the requestor is asking for help making an [[Assessment]] that the person they are asking will drop everything to help them. In many cases, they are declaring that will be so. And that gets us into the issue of authority to make declarations.
  2. The requestor doesn’t know when – this is a bad habit to get into when making requests. If you find your requests are not being responded to as you need, it’s almost certainly because you are not providing clear enough timelines. Poorly defined requests lead to Slippery Promises and “ASAP” is up there with the best. I can say, “Sure, I can do that as soon as possible,” while at the same time thinking “and that won’t be possible until late next year.”

The Basic Linguistic Act of a Celebrity Leaving the Jungle

The 2021 Australian series of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! has just concluded. In the show a dozen or so celebrities live in the jungle for a month and are required to take part in challenges in order to obtain food for the camp, or to avoid eviction. A major premise of the show is the ability for a celebrity to state, “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” if it all becomes too much and they want to leave.

It is informative, in our understanding of Basic Linguistic Acts, to examine what is happening here linguistically.

Early on in the series, comedian Mel Buttle uttered the show’s catchphrase due to her phobia of snakes and withdrew from the show.

On the face of it this sounds like a Request. Mel needed assistance to take care of her concerns (i.e., fear of being bitten by a snake and I assume dying from that), and one way we typically take care of our concerns through uttering a request. For a request to be successful it needs someone to first make the request (Mel) and someone to listen to it (the show’s production team). The problem with this as a request is that we know if a celebrity asks to leave their request will be listened to, and a request may not always have a listener. That is, simply making the request is not enough to guarantee a response.

Could Mel have been using a different type of basic linguistic act — a Declaration? A declaration is a statement that from this point forward the world will be different. In Mel’s case this meant she was no longer in the jungle. Importantly a declaration needs someone with authority to make it. “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” shows clearly Mel has the authority to make the declaration. It declares its own authority and she is, after all, a celebrity. Yet, that is where it ends. By itself, that’s not enough to guarantee her extraction from the jungle.

In my view, the basic linguistic act at play here is an Offer and the Declaration of Acceptance thereof. The show is built around the audience knowing that at any moment a celebrity can “break” and decide they need to leave. Mel is not the only celebrity to have ever done so. It’s part of the “will they/won’t they” Grant Denyer’s struggle buried with snakes in the “viper pit” was something truly amazing to behold, even if you don’t agree with the ethics of the show.

Why was this an offer and not a request or declaration? Simply because the production team have said in advance, “If you utter these words you can leave the show” and the celebrities trust that is the case (for this year and based on past examples). They have made an offer and it is up to the celebrity to accept it. They do so by declaring their acceptance in a prescribed form (note: while still a declaration, it’s not the same as the one above). The end result is they leave the jungle.

Basic Linguistic Acts are a core set of tools within the broader Conversational Technology we use daily to alter our world. Improving our understanding of what they are (including the many guises they come in) and how to use them can greatly increase our ability to take beneficial action when we want to.