For actor-networks to grow, constituent elements cannot be entirely self absorbed. Their attentions need to be, at least partially, amassed at the border. Outlooks need to be concerned with others' outlooks. Interests need to be shown in others' interests. Concerns with whatever is concerning others need to be considered. Or as I explored yesterday, they need to be feeling some compatibility pressures.
This outreach to grow a network is easy with actants that put their interests on display for all to see. The plants I care for are quick to show me whether I'm too generous or stingy with water. My cutting tools will let it be known whether I've been neglectful about sharpening them. Engines will announce their "dissatisfaction" with their levels or oil or fuel. Perishables will give me a strong indication about the efficacy of my food storage tactics.
Actors present a different story. They can make it very difficult for us to take an interest in their interests. They may put up barriers to finding out what interests them. They can react to our show of interest as a threat to their composure; as if they have a hot button that gets pushed by anyone's attentiveness. They may even launch an attack on those who want to understand them better in order to punish others for being nosy. In short, our attempts to make a deal may prove to be a "deal breaker" in itself.
As I pondered the underlying psychology to these ways that actors stifle the growth of networks, I came up with the following possibilities:
- Some us of us assume our own interests cannot be interesting to others. We've learned from convincing experiences that our interests will never find common ground with others and will always experience distance in relationships.
- Some of us experience envy when exposed to others who can show an interest in others. We've learned that we cannot stop being self absorbed due to crippling insecurities, neediness or inhibitions.
- Some of us have developed very high control needs to handle our inner turmoil. We experience the situation as getting very out of control when others take an interest in our interests.
- Some of us have experienced nightmarish situations by letting others in. We've become sensitized to the dangers of getting manipulated, betrayed or put-down when we've put ourselves in the vulnerable position of trusting others.
- Some of us take pride in being productive, focused and wary of distractions. We're feeling confident when keep to ourselves and reveal nothing of our interests in order to accomplish more in the available time.
- Some of us have a history of others being extremely clinging, possessive and annoying. We now withdraw the instant it appears others' attention is not really in us, but rather in using us as a listener or antidote to their loneliness.
- Some of us relentlessly compare the latest inquiries to previous ones in search of unattainable perfection. We find that any show of interest in us is never good enough because we've never been satisfied with others' interests in our interests.
These insights into underlying "deal breakers" ought to inform our "rhetorical practice in network formation". Persuading others to link up will succeed more often when consider how they may be opposed to our show of interest in their interests.