In the same way that locations and days can have a UV Index, I reckon I have a Judgemental Index. Recently it’s been very high.
People who I like and respect even are falling prey to that sharp wicked crow on my shoulder judging their dress, career choices, mode of moving through the world. I don’t like it.
I mean, I guess some part of me must like something about it or I wouldn’t be doing it, and much and all as I like to blame it on Judgemental Crow, it is me who’s doing the judging.
All I can think of is that I must be feeling pretty insecure, but it’s wrapped up and shrouded in so many layers of obfuscation that I’m not noticing it through the normal channels. But Judgemental Crow has popped in in order to prop up my relative standing; by tearing down others, he can make me feel a little better. Well, a little smugger anyway.
Measuring relative standing is an interestingly human concept. It’s the idea that your A-grade whatever means less when you’re in a group where everyone is achieving similarly high results.
Think percentiles. We tend to imagine that if you receive a result of 75% in a test that means you are better than 75% of people – I mean, we often internalise it that way. I think most people thinking about it would realise that it means you know at most 75% of the material, and probably less at that, which is kind of not a great result when put in those terms. But I digress (see! Judgemental Crow is here!).
Suppose there was a class of 40 people and only 10 of those scored less than 75% in the test, then suddenly your 75% result is “worth” a hell of a lot less. You’re in the 25th Percentile. Suppose in a different class, 36 out of the 40 received a result that was less than 75% – well now you’re in the 90th percentile.
And that’s relative standing – it’s less about how you’re doing, and more about how everyone else is doing.
When it comes to economics, for example, humans are big big fans of relative standing. I guess it’s often referred to as “Keeping up with the Joneses”. It’s one of the reasons people aren’t too happy about those on the dole getting too many handouts. There can be a bit of a feeling around the place that they should be given “just enough” so that they’re not starving or freezing to death, but certainly they shouldn’t be having a pleasant lifestyle. And certainly they shouldn’t be getting houses for good and things that we Morally Upright Working Folk have to spend years scrimping and saving for. Because it devalues what we have to have others get it for less effort.
So it feels anyway. I have complicated thoughts around situations regarding the chronically unemployed and the ghettos of council housing and all of that. It can often seem like what’s done for many of those folk is unappreciated and then I start wanting to spout out garbage about the whole thing. It seems like there could be a better way, and I don’t think humiliating the poor is the answer. If there was a standard living wage and a house for everyone, then the meritocracy could exist on top of what we now consider the basics of life.
Like children’s allowance – everyone receives it, regardless of income. Why means test any of it, any of the social help. Make it all available to everyone, and that would increase the relative standing of the “squeezed middle” without having to denigrate the poor. As for paying for it, oh hell, tax the ultra rich! Because we are either a society that has socialist leanings and purports to take care of all its citizens or we’re not. If we believe that we take care of the poorer, then a rebalance is needed by taking more from those who actually won’t miss it.
But yeah, I know, I know. It’s complicated, it’s not that simple.
And I digress in order to distract myself from my own judgementalism. Do you think it will get a little better just by virtue of having some awareness of it? Do you think I just have to wait it out and after some time I’ll return to being a more decent human being? It’s an insidious little voice in my ear and it’s making me disinclined to spend time with other humans. I guess it’s a good thing this house is filled with strange little robot-aliens then.