Joining the chorus of apprecation—it sounds like writing this would have been both intellectually and emotionally exhausting (or, at least, it would have been if I had written it)
My question for you is, of course, which features from Arbital seem relatively easy and worthwhile to port over to LW2.0? I’m still not sure I grok the entirety of the vision and how everything fit together, but it seemed like at least some of the features would be fairly easy to implement without relying on the entire vision to be useful.
I guess also curious, for curiosity’s sake, in “what features wouldn’t work, because they required too much on the tangled web of interconnected pieces?”
I’ve only circled twice, not sure how relevant this is. (FWIW, my takeaway so far is “eh, pretty okay, depends a lot on facilitator and situation”). But, some perspective I think is important to the debates going on here.
5 years ago, I was very pro “giving people an excuse to be more vulnerable than they’d normally feel comfortable being.”
I’m still pretty pro this. But… in a less naive way than I was 5 years ago.
It seemed like being vulnerable was basically how you got anything worthwhile. I saw people curled up in their shells, desperately lacking in intimacy in ways that was having a crippling effect on them. They lived in fear of expressing themselves, of taking risks. And having an environment conducive to exploring intimacy and vulnerability was profoundly valuable. (I was at least somewhat this type of person, although I don’t think it was as big a deal for me as for other people I knew)
And the thing that I intellectually understood, but took several years to grok, was that being vulnerable is in fact vulnerable, and you can get hurt doing it.
[my impression is that circling, at least as described by Unreal, is not primarily about vulnerability, but that willingness to try it is a necessary ingredient]
Some situations I’ve run into while doing things-in-a-similar-genre-to-Circling:
No such thing as a “safe space”
A friend of mine facilitated a discussion of friendship/relationships, which he established as a “safe space”. People were encouraged to share anxieties that plagued them. Several people did. At the time, it seemed pretty positive. But, several months later, when Friend A was a combination of sick/exhausted/literally-dying and was frustrated with Friend B who had attended the friendship discussion, Friend A used anxieties that Friend B had opened up about in the circle as a weapon to criticize them, in a public setting. This had permanent harm on Friend B’s ability to trust.
Friend B’s takeaway was that Friend A was a sociopath who gathered anxieties on purpose. I think it’s actually worse than that – I think Friend A is in fact one of the most trustworthy people I knew, was earnestly trying to help people at the time. But “earnestly trying to create a safe, helpful space” is not a good enough indicator to tell you how a person will handle being stressed out and angry several months later. I think there is no such thing as a person you can thoroughly trust enough to create a safe space.
I’ve personally been involved with running “explore vulnerability”-esque spaces where I was encouraging people to open up, and then I found myself realizing too late that I didn’t have the skills to handle the issues that came up as a result of that.
Now, I still think that vulnerability and intimacy and emotional risk taking are basically necessary for most people to achieve their social/emotional needs. (Both for literal intimacy/connection, and for self-awareness as a skill that helps them achieve connection elsewhere – idealized Circling-as-Unreal-Describes-It seems to be more for the latter)
Ideally, everyone would have the opportunity to explore vulnerability carefully, step by step, with a skilled therapist or something to turn to if things ever got dicey. In practice, this is really hard. Not everyone has friends whose combination of skills, needs and connection are the right combination to do optimal-stepping-stone-vulnerability-training. Not everyone has access to a good facilitator or therapistor mediator.
Meanwhile, most of the time, nothing bad happens.
So I think it is net-good for small groups of friends to try this sort of thing on their own, even if they’re not sure what they’re doing. I think there’s something intrinsic to doing risky things together (of any sort) that creates bonds and friendship you can’t get elsewhere. (Unfortunately I can’t explain this very well beyond “if this doesn’t make sense you probably have a Concept Shaped Hole).
I think a lot of the disconnect in this thread (and some similar threads in the past) has to do with some people being noticing how crucially important it is to take the kinds of leaps that involve real emotional risk are, and other people noticing how badly hurt you can get if you aren’t careful.