Jean-Michel Cornu : Cooperation in 28 keywords

7. Level of consciousness and agression

JM Cornu - La Coopération en 28 mots-clés - 7. Niveau de conscience et agression

We have seen that cooperation is versatile. Some facets depend on people, on the influence of some people on the group. Some facets depend on the group itself, of its structure, the way it is organized and some depend on its environment. With people, we have seen that there were already aspects of convergence. Do people's interest converge ? If they do, it's better than altruism – which, as we saw, means doing things against your own interest – but your interest can converge with the other's or the group's. And we saw that in this process, what was needed was a lot of convergence, a dash of opposition and conflict. We also talked of the second facet, which is involvement. Involvement in the group also depends on people, on their motivations, their restraints, their threshold for acting out and now, we are going to tackle the two last aspects about : “What is happening when I want to understand what's happening in my group, on the level of people's influence ?”
First, there is an awareness. What is happening in the group is that everybody is not aware of everything. Honestly, at given times not aware at all. i.e. : If I am not aware of what is up, the only thing that I am trying to do when I am not aware, 90% of my time (bad news for you too, by the way) and this if I consider the time of awareness, well during this time, I am just trying to be recognized, which means that I think “in my own head”. Here is an example to show you the times when one is not aware, because paradoxically we are aware of our moments of awareness, and unaware of our moments of unawareness. Try to remember. Once you have surely taken you car and drove and your car took you to an unexpected place but where you usually go, so you wanted to go there. That means that during fifteen minutes, you drove, you didn't run over the elderly lady, you stopped at crossing lights. You drove unawarely, doing an extremely complex action but without really needing awareness. Here, we can do tons of things and in a group, many things are taking place unconsciously. We can even do very complex things, like what we call “stigmergy”. Stigmergy is… you know ants and termites. They don't have much awareness of what they do, but you have here on the right, a termite's hillock and it works completely unconsciously but with a little trick : signals coming from others are going to be used unconsciously. A termite's job is to drop little balls made of saliva where it smells most. That is to say where the balls made by other termites are. That way, balls by balls, you get a first column. But there is always a termite a little weird which will put its ball beside. It doesn' matter, because there is another termite arriving, and then they build a second column. And when both columns are important enough, the termite that is on top of the first column smells the second one and starts dropping its ball on the skew, and so does the other termite, and on it ends up with these magnificient arcades that you see here.
So if you have a cathedral built with no architect, and I insist, built up unconsciously in a collaborative way, that’s what is called “stigmergy”. Even if a little complicated, the word stigmergy enables to say : “I am able to do things, even unaware of doing them”. Just imagine that, as a community manager, you start understanding some things. Not everything, but some things. Then, you can say : “Well here, I can feel that there is less motivation… Here, a little push is necessary to make things converge, or on the contrary a little divergenge is needed. To make it short, you’ll be able to improve things and your group will become more interesting because you will keep on noticing more things. But you are the community manager and you can’t see all the things that are going on. You can see things related to you but you don’t necessarily see things that are happening between members of the group. Let’s imagine now that, on a third level, people are aware of part of what is occurring. And so what is explained now only to the community managers must be explained to the whole group. We could learn to collaborate. Not only to set up a collaboration. Then, members become aware and things are getting more interesting. We could go further by thinking : “Could we get a collective awareness ?” We are not in a New Age system but nevertheless, what would that mean? To take an example of what it could mean in relation with people's awareness, let's imagine that we share a meal together. We are a family, a large family, we are gathered, we are here, all of us , about ten people, and in this family, there is a secret, a shameful secret. At that time, everybody is aware, everyone is conscious individually but no one wants to talk about it. It's what is left unsaid and what is left unsaid is going to engender events that would be different if we could talk. So, what I call “collective awareness” is an awareness when people are not only aware of things but are able to talk about it together. Honestly, no group is completely aware, your goal is to bring up the level of maximum awareness. There will always be things totally unconscious, including you. There will be things that will be just conscious at your level, you the community manager, etc., the members, the collective awareness. But well... So your job is to try to raise up the level of awareness and obviously in all those facets, we have seen that there was a dark side : unconsciousness. And unconsciousness occurs with agression. So, if your job is to raise the level of awareness in there, there are two things that can lower it, those that drive to unconsciousness : fear and anger. And it's very simple , fear and anger occur when one is mugged, when one feels mugged, besides even if one is not really mugged, he feels like it. At this time, the level of awareness plumets and we may tell someone “Duh, he reacts in such way!”. But don' try to find out wether it's clever or not, it's unconscious.
And then, to get out of that, to help us against this stream of raising unawareness brought by fear, anger, etc., it's up to us to try the building up of a stream of awareness. It works also with dialogue, it works also with the building of a shared sense, i.e. to understand, to have a shared vocabulary, to understand each other, altogether, etc., in order to increase the differents things. As you can see, it's a whole school of thought of awareness and unconsciousness, caused on the contrary by aggression. So this is how we are going to be able to get things. One of the great difficulty is that aggression is very often left unsaid, even when sometimes done on purpose, or not meant at all, but we are obviously not going to say : “Well, listen, I am trying to mug you, ...” And so we are going to let things happen. And at this very moment, some very violent and dangerous mechanisms are set up. So detect aggressions, spot people who are scared or angry. You, community manager, you can also be scared or angry. In both cases, anyhow, the result is identical : you are less aware and then less able, clearly, to raise up your group's awareness.