Monday, September 15, 2014

Selective Humanization

Humanization and Dehumanization is something we exercise a lot in RPGs. We humanize our characters, our NPCs, and Allies, and we dehumanize enemies and other characters in order to simplify the problem solving and the context of the situation. (Humanism is a philosophical stance that can be religious or secular)

Story Tellers, players or GMs, play around with this Humanizing and Dehumanizing their surrounding NPCs. Gms and story tellers like to challenge the players or audience by Humanizing Villains, and Dehumanizing allies and the victims of the characters actions (to see if they will continue to abuse these victims).

The strange narrative that is found online in recent events talks about dehumanization, particular of women (see Objectification). Although I don't like to limit it just to gender, but like to observe its selectivity in poverty, nationality, ethnicity, and even online.

The funny thing about dehumanization is that "good" people do it to "sociopaths" dehumanizing sociopaths/psychopaths. Treating someone as disposable because they do not fit our own standard of morality. Then there is Animal Rights and applying Humanization or Humanism to being we cannot fully understand but we discover little by little can feel as much as us.

Its a really complex topic, and RPGs are a great vehicle by which we can explore the issues... especially when there is good faith among those participating.

One thing you have to note about Dehumanization is that it happens internally, and it can become a common practice among a group of individuals. You cannot really measure it, or say one thing dehumanizes X or Y. Which leads me to an annoying point is that - you cannot have an Authority call for what dehumanizes in such a simple call - especially when there is colorful rhetoric instead of bland and neutral analysis.

I love flowery words as much as an audience, but to maintain good faith I need to describe things in sanitary and measurable terms. Especially in a matter as tricky and confusing as Dehumanization. My fear, which was realized, is that it can be used as a form of "Heresy" - an arbitrary excuse that can be called upon to incite fears to set on another person the Burden of Proving Good Faith - instead of just by the merit of the argument.

What is a bad sign for me is that I can only talk to my friends about these maters, because they can vet me and know I mean well when I ask. Although that should not be the primary measure of discussion - instead  what should be focused on the argument. Many Fallacies are based on Poisoning the Well or Attacking the Credibility of the person who asks, Guessing their intent instead of looking at the Question/Argument/Thesis.

Dehumanization and Humanization is a great metric to measure our own biases. it can be simplified as a basic system of ratings. How people dehumanize minorities, slaves, poverty, cultural enemies, etc... How they humanize their peers, ideological compatriots, countrymen, etc... its a simple tier system and grouping. I like exploring it in game, and testing the selectivity of characters (as the Players internalize them).

As we humanize interesting connections arise, we connect to something we may know little about - the way propaganda tries to make people connect with its leaders despite how disconnected they really are from each other - or how people that are suffering the same tragedies are all connected but may be in opposite ends of the conflict.

We humanize people with the mental disability in empathy, but we dehumanize sociopaths/psychopaths. Can you humanize your predator or abuser? lolz anyway I wanted to pointed that this is fun aspect of RPing. happy gaming.

Open Humanization System

Break down society in Gender, Wealth, Ethnicity, Race, Religion, Profession, Nation, etc... Along these groups there is a hierarchy, one is "subjectively" better than the other. For every step or category someone is different, that counts as a modifier to how the PC humanizes or dehumanizes another person.

So a PC has a Social Position - where he is in society, if society was a map and the differences were locals. The farther the another person is in the Society map, the less they can care about this person. Empathy is the Highways or Worm Holes or Warp Gates of Humanization lolz.

Then we set what is Neutral and what is Positive, then negative. Neutral is 0, what counts as 0 is almost arbitrary. Typically the minimalist relation - their culturally related individual. Then we proceed to be negative as we go farther, and positive as we go closer. Examples found on the character sheet in the form of their "relations".

Notice how this Falls in the Hyperbolic Discounting but in Relationships instead of Utility.

A diety is the highest possible Humanization rating. Since it is a projection of one's self, the humanization of an Ideal or Diety grants great influence over the character. This can be used as an external influence - for devotion or even Fanaticism, or rallying for a Cause.

This also aids in dehumanizing as well, which history is rife with examples.
You can always use a Diety as an excuse or a cause to rally behind because it appeals to the most humanized being the person knows.  This can be used in many ways, often exploitative (abuse is a dominant strategy of utility maximization).

Lolz. basically people who don't trust them selves are those with the least influenced by this Mnemonic, while those very sure of them selves are the most influenced by this form of leverage.
This mnemonic can exceed the natural instinct of self preservation by making the self an external element - seeing ones self of very low value and the claim of a greater value outside ones' self.

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