The status of the buffer is that the buffer is full

This reward comes from our platinum tier

Instead of trying to find grand unifying explanations of behavior or social systems, I’ve been trying to err on the side of trying to identify the preferences people have and the roles they are inhabiting and then try to pull out some larger meaning by looking through those lenses in a generous good-faith way. This is pretty useful in areas like politics, where you have to explain the behavior and outcome of a really sprawling and diverse coalition of people whose choices are being narrowed into a few options which have a nearly endless number of reasons to support or not support any given option. It keeps you away from right-vs-wrong and good-vs-evil type thinking, and anchored in the area of preferences, which I think is useful.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about are scenarios where you could plausibly describe someone as inhabiting multiple roles, and then thinking through what each interpretation would suggest. For example — for a given person living in a given place, are they a customer of their local government and a consumer of it’s services … or are they a member of a community?

The lens you look through here leads to different conclusions about the same sorts of activities.

I suspect that a customer mindset leads to more transactional thinking about your interactions. If you get a speeding ticket you are more likely to think about your bad luck, the likely cost in time and money of dealing with the ticket, the impersonal way you’re being dealt with by the police, and so on. In the same interaction with a community member mindset, you may be more likely to reflect on the idea that your behavior was genuinely putting other people that you care about at risk; you might literally know the police officer and appreciate more that they are just doing their job and are providing a useful local service; you might accept the financial and time penalties as fair penalties for your behavior.

In a community mindset, if you see a person struggling on the street you may be more likely to go help them directly, or at least see that they get help. You almost definitely know someone who knows them. In a consumer mindset, you are more likely to assume that someone else will come along and help, or that it’s not your narrow responsibility to provide help, or that the cost to you in terms of time, attention, possible danger, etc - is just too high to get involved.

I suspect that on average people in large cities are more likely to have a transactional, anonymous consumer mindset; and people in smaller communities are more likely to have a community mindset. Part of this probably by necessity — you simply can’t know everyone or get involved in everything in a big city. The scale of it makes it impossible to even try. Part of it is probably a second-order effect of the scale … which is that in a large city the people who are “in” the institutions you interact with are also less likely to know you, and are thus more likely to see themselves as part of a large faceless bureaucracy, and so they may be more in the mindset of treating you like a customer service or support interaction, rather than a neighbors collaborating interaction.

To the extent that a “shareholder metaphor” is valuable to think about roles in these situations, I suspect that a consumer mindset is more likely to act like a shareholder who cares very very narrowly about financial results and growth; and less about ethical behavior and stewardship or long term sustainability. A community member mindset is more likely to ask how they can pitch in and help.

If there’s a problem — let’s say the school district is struggling to attract a new science teacher — the consumer mindset will bring an attitude of entitlement to the interaction. They may arrive with a sense of “well, we’re paying all these taxes and all these salaries, why is the school board failing to hire someone?” The community member may arrive with a fuller appreciation for what the challenges are and why it’s difficult. They may appreciate the history of whoever previously held the position, and maybe have some sense of why the struggles exist.

To be really clear - this is only useful for some situations, some of the time. There are many interactions totally out of scope of this analysis. Also, neither role is right or wrong in any of these situations. They are both right and both wrong in some way in every scenario. They are lenses to look through and mindsets to role-play with.

The set of LEGO blocks was nearly complete

At the beginning of some sporting events where someone has to get the ball first, there’s a tradition that the umpire or referee will flip a coin to decide who that is. Often times they will ask a captain from one of the teams to call “heads” or “tails” and then whoever wins the flip can decide if they want to be on offense or defense first.

Part of the tradition here is to let both teams inspect the coin. I think this is mostly to provide a sense of clarity — the ref wants to make sure that when the coin lands everyone has already seen both sides and knows exactly which one is heads and which one is tails. This is a problem only because they are not using a run of the mill US quarter or something, they are using a fancy commemorative coin which has some design on it unique to the game being played, so it’s actually a reasonable assumption to make that the players may have never seen the imagery on either side before and you’d want them to know what’s what when it lands.

That said, I really doubt that the captains of both teams bother to closely inspect the coin. The ref shows them and they’re like yeah ok cool then they call heads or tails and the ref flips it and announces who won. I think a fun prank to play as a ref would be to flip an actual coin before the game, by yourself, in private, and remember how that one came up. Then when you go out onto the field for the real game and real coin flip you could bring what is actually a double headed coin with you, and see how many games in a row you could pull off this prank before one of the players involved in coin calling actually bothered to inspect the coin and be like “yeah it’s the same on both sides”.