[Northern] Some thoughts (was: hey everbody)

Marc Carlson marc-carlson at utulsa.edu
Tue May 15 09:53:04 PDT 2001

I have a couple of comments to interject here, if I may.  First, please let me restate my position on this whole topic so there’s no misinterpretation: I don't care about the topic of principality one way or another.  I am neither for it nor against it, it was here long before I started playing in this region over a decade and a half ago, it has remained a strong goal for some as long as I've been around.  My interest is in the Northern Region, and my hope is that as many people as possible come out of this unsinged, and still willing to play with each other.

First is that Burke is right about survey response rates, although to my understanding, even 40% is outstanding (something to remember -whenever- you see anyone dealing with polls).  This doesn't mean that the people who didn't respond aren't important.  There are any number of reasons that a person might not respond to a poll, up to -and including- being so against the idea that they don't want to support the process in any way.  In theory, a person who is against the idea, however, should reply to the poll, since it’s the only way their opinion can be documented. That’s why the ballot has “no” on it.  The numbers are generally then representative of the  total population (again, in theory).

On the other hand, since I believe this was just the poll to see if enough people are even interested in taking the official course, the findings are still telling, even if they didn't manage to get every person in the Northern Region to respond  getting a response from (say) the 40% of the population who could be bothered to reply, and that yielding a majority in favor suggests that, of the *active * members a bunch of them want to pursue the idea.

Ok, what about the rest  are their feelings, beliefs, perceptions, and opinions invalid? They shouldn't be.  I don't have any trouble believing the anecdotal evidence suggesting that there are people who are too (shy, self-conscious, afraid, tired of the political BS) to
bother to come forward.  I've seen it happen far too often in this organization. I don't think that I'm broaching any forbidden topics to say that if you hold an unpopular opinion in this organization (as with many other social groups), you learn to keep your mouth shut,
or get out [BTW, if you don't believe me, you just have to look back at who were the prominent people back when you joined and gosh, where did those people go anyway?].   If such-and-such a person expresses an unpleasant opinion (for example: “I'm not sure the survey was handled as effectively as it could have been”), and they are attacked for it, they may be less inclined to discuss issues publicly the next time (and there may be nothing you can do to ever get them back out in public again).  Unfortunately, this leaves us with the anecdotal evidence of a segment of the population who are unhappy, and unheard.  And because they are anecdotal, it’s easy to blow them off as non-existent.

Now, I know there is some concern by some who are willing to speak up that these people might remain unheard  and I agree they should be concerned.  If the Society is meant to be “fun”, people may want to think about why it’s not always “fun” for everyone.  Now, clearly, the purpose of the in-person discussions (which I wanted to attend, but never managed to get to) was to allow the electronically silent folks a chance to listen and be heard.  Maybe we should try to remember that there ARE those out there who may feel just as cut off as the email-less.

So, what can we do to draw these people out more?  Nothing.  What we CAN do is not make the situation any worse.  Debate is fine, discussion is better.  If you feel like you are being attacked, step back until you can ask the person by private mail is what you read is really what they meant.  If you read something you want to be supportive of  THINK before you reply and maybe just send your “attaboy” by private mail.  When two people are disagreeing, the more people who dive in to it  the more emotions get tied into it, and the greater the risk of people getting hurt.

In short  the SCA is supposed to be “fun” -- -WE- make it unfun for others.  People rarely make it unfun for themselves.


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