“Being a good person” is an ongoing process

In this 12-minute talk, Jay Smooth makes some excellent suggestions for switching important aspects of one’s self-concept from digital (“I am X” vs. “I am not X”) to analog (“How am I doing on X?” using some very useful frames:

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“Being a good person” is an ongoing process — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks, Duff!

    I particularly like that Smooth discusses several types of digital-vs.-analog distinctions:

    1. Focus on person vs. behavior: “Martin said something racist” (limited to one incident at a particular time and place) vs. “Martin is a racist” (globalized in time and space).
    2. Digital vs. analog categorization of the person as either “racist” or “not racist.” What if Martin’s behavior is non-racist 90% of the time, actively anti-racist 7% of the time, and (unintentionally) slightly racist 3% of the time?
    3. Permanent category vs. ongoing process: Martin is considerate of race issues today, but that doesn’t mean he won’t ever slip in the future. And when he does slip, that doesn’t mean he is a (globally, permanently) “bad” or “racist” person.

    To which I would also add:

    1. Universal vs. personal categorization: “Marin said something racist” (implying that anyone would think it racist) vs. “I think what Martin said was racist (but you might disagree).”

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