The laws of so­cial dy­nam­ics — such as Al­co­hol = Bad Danc­ing

Whanganui Chronicle - - Opinion - Terry Sarten Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a so­cial worker, mu­si­cian, writer and ded­i­cated peo­ple watcher — feed­back: tgs@in­spire.net.nz

When you are on a plane fly­ing over the coun­try, there is al­ways that mo­ment when you nod to your­self as you ap­pre­ci­ate the laws of aero­dy­nam­ics and the way they keep a large heavy metal thing up.

It works be­cause they are laws, and aero­planes have to re­spect them. There is no ask­ing please or wish­ful think­ing in­volved. If it works for flight, then sim­i­lar laws should be in place to guide so­cial in­ter­ac­tions.

To as­sist with this, I have de­vel­oped the fol­low­ing Laws of So­cial Dy­nam­ics.

Let’s be­gin with what is called the Bernoulli’s prin­ci­ple.

“The cam­bered (curved) sur­face of an aero­foil (wing) af­fects the air­flow. As the air flows over the up­per sur­face of an aero­foil, its ve­loc­ity in­creases and its pres­sure de­creases; an area of low pres­sure is formed.

“There is an area of greater pres­sure on the lower sur­face of the aero­foil, and this greater pres­sure tends to move the wing up­ward. The dif­fer­ence in pres­sure be­tween the up­per and lower sur­faces of the wing is called lift.”

In so­cial in­ter­ac­tions, the flow of small talk and rumour runs over the sur­face of the con­ver­sa­tion cre­at­ing pres­sure on the lis­tener.

This greater pres­sure then cre­ates lift, mov­ing the lis­tener away from the sub­ject. The per­son talk­ing feels the re­sult­ing drag and is forced to find some­one else to talk to.

Now we can shift to con­sid­er­ing New­ton’s Law of Mo­tion.

“Air has mass, it is a body. When an air­craft is on the ground with its en­gines off, in­er­tia keeps the air­craft at rest.

“An air­craft is moved from its state of rest by the thrust force cre­ated by a pro­pel­ler, or by the ex­pand­ing ex­haust, or both.”

Now we have all en­coun­tered in­er­tia in so­cial set­tings. Peo­ple who have very clearly de­fined ideas about nearly ev­ery­thing are like an air­craft with its en­gines off, in­er­tia keeps the per­son un­moved by any form of ar­gu­ment.

For ex­am­ple, some­one with fixed ideas about how peo­ple’s skin colour af­fects their abil­i­ties.

Th­ese ideas will never take off un­less they are ex­posed to the very sit­u­a­tion they dis­trust and rise above their prej­u­dice.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is de­fined as the rate of change of ve­loc­ity.

“An air­craft in­creas­ing in ve­loc­ity is an ex­am­ple of pos­i­tive ac­cel­er­a­tion, while an­other air­craft re­duc­ing its ve­loc­ity is an ex­am­ple of neg­a­tive ac­cel­er­a­tion, or de­cel­er­a­tion.”

Like­wise, so­cial in­ter­ac­tions can sud­denly ac­cel­er­ate mov­ing peo­ple into a con­fused state. Al­ter­na­tively, there can be de­cel­er­a­tion where a per­son goes out­side to get some peace and quiet.

New­ton’s sec­ond law is that a body mov­ing with uni­form speed is acted upon by an ex­ter­nal force, the change of mo­tion is pro­por­tional to the amount of the force, and mo­tion takes place in the di­rec­tion in which the force acts.

Force = mass × ac­cel­er­a­tion (F = ma).

In so­cial dy­nam­ics the ex­ter­nal force may be al­co­hol.

When ap­plied to a con­text in which the so­cial dy­namic re­quires danc­ing, then the drink­ing is of­ten pro­por­tional to the mo­tion ex­erted on the dance floor with the for­mula be­ing: Al­co­hol = Bad Danc­ing mul­ti­plied by the num­ber of peo­ple watch­ing who will re­mind you of what hap­pened the fol­low­ing day.

New­ton’s third law is the law of ac­tion and re­ac­tion. This law states that for ev­ery ac­tion (force) there is an equal and op­po­site re­ac­tion (force).

The Laws of So­cial Dy­nam­ics also shows how for ev­ery ac­tion — such as be­ing rude and in­sult­ing peo­ple — there will be an equal and op­po­site re­ac­tion where oth­ers will move away and go talk to some­one who treats them with re­spect.

The laws of aero­dy­nam­ics — thrust, pres­sure and air­flow, with no bad danc­ing.

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