Thursday, 26 January 2012

Being ignored hurts

A new study from the Association For Psychological Science begins:-

Being Ignored Hurts, Even by a Stranger

Feeling like you’re part of the gang is crucial to the human experience. All people get stressed out when we’re left out. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a feeling of inclusion can come from something as simple as eye contact from a stranger.

As with many such studies, the first obvious question is how come they didn't know that? Actually I suspect they did, but I suppose all professions need their pot-boilers. 

Anyhow, it set me wondering if our political elite are in the same boat as these behind the curve psychologists. Maybe they have theoretical difficulties with the importance of human contact too?

Because surely the point of democracy is human contact writ large. Democracy is supposed to involve us with the ruling elite and involve the ruling elite with us. Instead of riding by in their carriages, eyes averted from the common throng, the elite are supposed to have learned the mutual benefits of social cohesion. We get a few more crusts and they don't get so many riots and rude words scrawled on their carriage paintwork. Democracy is supposed to promote exactly that kind of give and take across the divide.

It's a social thing we are supposed to have learned and tucked away forever in the treasure-chest of important  lessons we must never forget.

Except we've forgotten it.

The elite have reverted to being strangers - and as of old seem sublimely unaware of their own behaviour. They always tended that way of course, but democracy was supposed to maintain some kind of balance - at least as far as the ballot box and electoral law might contrive.

So that's another lesson we have to relearn, step by bloody painful step. 


Anonymous said...

Cicero explains it all, there are the politicians, the powerful and the plebians. the politicians obey the powerful and throw crusts and X Factor to the plebians. Now we have added the public administrators who, with some noble exceptions, suck up to the powerful and the politicians, the plebians being a tiresome nuisance.

We have had our vote and will be ignored for 3 years because we do not matter a damn. Eventually Cameron et al will collapse in a welter of either or all of corruption, incompetence or plain boredom - about 2025 given Labour's showing.

rogerh said...

Apologies, missed the ID.

A K Haart said...

rogerh - agreed - I'd have guessed the ID anyway!

James Higham said...

Actually, there shouldn't be elites at all, except on merit and that is subject to peer review. Those in office should be servants, not rulers. Best leadership is best serving of the people they're leading.

A K Haart said...

JH - yes and you'd think that would be reward in itself.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Given the post title, the funniest response would be to ignore the post and not leave a comment.

A K Haart said...

MW - yes, I was in two minds about the title in case nobody commented.

John Page said...

I take issue wirh your assertion that "the elite have reverted to being strangers".

The élite never bought into democracy.

A K Haart said...

JP - that's why they've reverted. I think democracy was merely a tactical retreat on their part.