Effects of Collective Nouns.

My thesis is that the use of collective nouns, such as men, women, aboriginal, migrant, refugee, (the more specific the more influential) in mass media affects identity and dynamics about the given identity. As contrast, individuals in the media will not produce the same effects. This, if true, has a critical role to play in feelings of anonymity, a modern health issue caused by massive populations. As suicide becomes an increasingly severe problem in the developed world, and the recognising the role of anonymity in suicide, this may produce changes which can mitigate this horror (which is by no means isolated to developed nations).

This is not a thorough sociological, statistical investigation to validate my opinion. It is my opinion and it just makes sense to me. So I shall lay out my case in hopes of persuading you, the reader. I make my case with the intent to demonstrate some evidence and reasoning that lack of men as a collective noun in Australian mass media, is an actionable factor in the horrible male suicide statistics. Often issues disproportionately affecting men (such as being overworked) are not discussed as such, and are instead reported or discussed as Australian problems. This re-labelling of men’s problems as Australian problems diverts public discourse, which is a form of community care & attention and an aspect of a better tomorrow.

Inner stories supply people with a framework to manage living, and individual narratives are are created from national, or other community, materials.
[How many Asiatic people have mentioned their lack of mathematical skills to me? Some, way more than any other ethincity, so this is personal evidence of individuals feeling an urge to relate themselves to the stereotype.]
Modern, larger-than-life (which I believe are effective at reducing suicide) narratives are found in many communities but major sources are simple to identify, such as cinema, literature and mass media. I reckon presence of a specific collective noun in the mass media would increase subjective relation to the identity born from the noun and also boost social effects (such as attending specific cultural events) of that collective. Lack of collective nouns will increase feelings of anonymity and associated problems, extending beyond suicide / mental health to things such as diminished political participation.

Individual men are more common figures in the mass media than individual women. However, I believe that there will be less subjective identification with a public figure as opposed to a collective category. Beneficial effects of collective nouns will either exist in significantly reduced quality & quantity or will not at all be caused by media conversation about individuals.

Feminism, which has had many significant successes and still has many significant objectives, has grown conversation about women’s problems to a towering juggernaut. Feminism casts a shadow which I believe to be a factor in the existence of problematic mental health in men. This effect would be restricted to men (and not extend to say, LGBT), as the binary male / female would indicate the domain in which the identity is to be relatively judged. To develop this concept, a relative judgement will contrast what is relevant, men / women collective noun usage being the obvious measuring posts. Scrolling down a news group’s Facebook page in search of collective nouns (& not individuals) shows more media focus on, & therefore national community identity / narrative material for, women.

A simple demonstration is to read an article focused on a community, identify the collective noun, such as men, and replace that term with a broader collective noun, such as Spaniards. Such a shift reduces informative ability of the article, and so reduces political effects of the community & / article (less information, leads less informed decisions, leads less effective action, leads less action). Further it reduces immediate identification with the facets of the article in question. So to say it differently, individual men in media are weaker at causing the male community to relate to the discourse and is one of the array of factors which inhibit drawing their own inner narrative from the readily accessible mass media.

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Self-Recognition.

The ability to recognise oneself is held as a sign of a higher mental ability. It is not strictly limited to humans, elephants & dolphins show this ability for self recognition to some degree. Associated with social complexity, self recognition, as shown above, emerges from distinct species.

You know you are your reflection whilst simultaneously knowing it is only a reflection. Seeing one in what one is not, is a powerful dynamic of the individual and community. It enables vicarious existence; a thrill from victory an Olympic spectator feels, empathic pain brought about by a photograph of suffering, endurance welling up from unreal stoicism. Perhaps this is an essence of altruism.

Identity is created from cogs like these, and maintenance, by scrutinising culture for role models to inspire effort, is a function of a healthy mind. It should be known that positive and negative role models are important. People reach for a perfection beyond humanity, and people fear a cruelty beyond what is possible. Is it easier, when in a foul mood, for effort to come from seeking to avert fulfilment of nightmares?

As one person recognise them self in something they are fundamentally not, so to does a community. Modern Germany has a great many taboos formed around Nazi Germany. The community knows it was them, and knows it was not them. The imperfection inherent to us all prevents this from being perfectly perceived or completely ignored. As in the time of cavemen it was better to know where the lion prowled than where the flowers bloomed, humanity has a natural pessimism which fills our culture with memes of curses more than blessings. Hopefully it helps those escaped from a real hell that the flames were never as high as the righteous dread.

A Global Order.

Movement to & fro unity is a constant in this world of flux. Perhaps it is all heading for a final unity in the heat death of the universe. Or maybe not. Regardless, I believe there is an inexorable trend towards greater global unity is and that’s a bloody good thing. With modern travel, trade and the internet, it is global exposure at the individual level as never before.

Global moral code has not developed an individually significant hierarchy. UN action & discussion is very distant from individuals. Unity & disunity between moral codes has lessened because of the UN, and conversation between nations has increased. Continuing conflict between moral codes is inevitable, acceptable and a place where the competition will never end.

At the individual level, the effects of the internet must surely be considered the most global of the facets of the immediate environment. This facet is a shared experience of the general chaos that is the internet today. This will lead to a set of consistent experiences which will have a systemic structure, and will develop a global moral code relevant at the individual level. Potential competing codes may arise about divisions of language, technical capacity (IRC, darknet), Google result hierarchy and others.