Where to start

Before we start the game we have to find out where we stand. Why do I do this experiment?

I think people perceive me as tough and not needing anybody. This is, of course, a misperception. Everybody needs somebody sometimes. But I am not good in small talk and don’t open up too easily. I am very happy on my own and I don’t need someone to give my life a meaning. Nevertheless, I like being in good company and spending time with family and friends. Plus, I would appreciate an active love life and, ideally, sharing my life with someone.

Why, then, have I been single for quite a while now? I often struggle with feeling like I have nothing to add in social settings because I am very direct and I hate the games people play with each other. I find politics stressing and after several days with lots of contacts I need some time for myself to recharge my batteries. When it comes to social life, I’m a bit Sheldon-like. I couldn’t be bothered by most of the things people say or do. The other side of that is that I do not judge but respect everybody for being him / her.

People who know me better say I am a warm, funny person who just doesn’t show it. I want to show less disinterest and be more outgoing. I don’t want to spend Friday night on my sofa eating crisps. I want to meet new people and bring some adventure into my life. I became lazy, and that has to stop. This experiment is about meeting people and challenging me, not first and foremost about finding a new partner. Although I won’t complain, should that be a side effect.

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Does it work?

If you are like any woman looking for a relationship, you might have heard about ‘The rules’. The book was a great success with the bottom line: Do not allow anyone to treat you like crap, and your relationship will be alright. Sadly enough, many women have to be told about this. It’s shocking how many of them allow men to behave like real jerks, and I always wondered why that is.

I grew up being told that women want love and men want sex, so the best way to be loved is to wait with being intimate, only to find that THAT’S BULLSHIT!!! Women want to get laid so badly, the only problem we have is that we are considered sluts if we admit it – be it in a relationship or not. Contrary to men, who have to be always ready for an adventure, it seems. Maybe that explains why many men treat women badly, and why many women allow them to do so. Horny women are sluts, and both genders learn that early in their life. Unfortunately, both sides seem to be unhappy with the result, or why is it that nobody is as easily screwable as married men?

As a woman, you do not want to end up finding your man disinterested and with one foot constantly out of the door (As if! They are way too lazy to leave you.). Accordingly, literature for women builds on tips like ‘Do not call him, wait with being intimate and never say ‘I love you’ first’. Unfortunately, political correctness lead us into an age where men approaching women risk being accused of all kinds if misbehaviour only for asking you out. So, how do we meet when 50% are told to wait while the other half learns not to approach?

Is it us against them? And when did that happen?

It was eye-opening for me when I realised men have problems finding a woman just like women find it difficult to find the right match. I do not feel like online-dating makes it any easier. And I have to admit I have not reached the point of total desperation where I am ready to think about which hair colour or star sign I want in a man (although I am done with Sagittarius, so bugger off!). I still believe in the magic of seeing someone across the room and feeling attracted enough to move my ass over. Or, as a rules girl, wait until he makes his move.

And then, on a book-exchange party the other day, I came across ‘The Rules of the Game’ by Neil Strauss. You may have heard about ‘pick up artists’, a more or less secret circle for men learning how to pick up women. Yes, they are learning about talking us out of our clothes! And they write books about it. And then it hit me: What if a woman would behave like that? What if Charlotte is all wrong and Samantha got it all right?

So I decided to make this the 2016 social field study: I will work my way through the workbook, try the tips for men on them and see where it gets me. The book is designed as a 30 day challenge striving to get a date, but I will work through it slowly. After all, I am going to destroy everything I believed in when it comes to dating.

Research – from data to knowledge

As an Action Researcher I belong to a group of people who distinguish research on nature from research on social systems – while being aware that social systems are a part of nature’s incredible variety. Before I introduce you to Action Research as such, I’ d like to take a closer look to research. Especially on the process of generating knowledge from data, and what makes good research.

An example. My nick Nae73 is data. It includes the 73. When you see it you might – or might not – interpret it as information. E.g., one could assume that 73 is my year of birth. If you read elsewhere that I am 40 it is not too far fetched to say: I know that Nae was born in 1973. You can now even generate new knowledge, if you can calculate and know your year: that I am not born between January and July. Which is true; I am scorpio. TADA, good research! Right?

Wrong! Although in this case the conclusions you draw were right, they are based on the false assumption that I chose 73 to indicate my year of birth. The real reason why I chose the 73 is that 73 is the best number. That I happen to be born in the best of years is a coincidence.

But what is wrong with the initial interpretation, if the knowledge we generated was correct? 

Nothing, actually. You might even find that it meets crucial criteria for good research, which are objectivity, reliability and validity. To keep it short and simple:

  • If the majority of people you ask also concludes that I am born in 1973, you assume reliability.
  • As many people use a number in their nick which does indicate their age, it is appropriate to assume I did so, too. That’s (totally superficial) validity.
  • Ignoring your own fling for Sheldon Cooper when evaluating my nick would show you’re unbiased: objectivity.

In traditional research traditions, it goes like this:

If you want to evaluate me (research topic + questions), you look at the data (methodology): Nae73. You evaluate the reference frame: online nickname, often structured as ‘name+age’ or ‘name+year’ (in research papers: discussion). You check secondary literature, supporting your interpretation of ‘name+year’. You present the finding: Nae was born in 1973 (question answered), in the third trimester of the year (area for further research). Everyone is happy, you met all quality criteria and get your paper published. Whoohoo!

Some Action Researchers of course share this more tradional approach, but we will see later on that researching human beings challenges the quality criteria on all levels. For today, let me focus on objectivity. The thing is not that the unbised approach led you to wrong findings, but it led you to a limited view of your research object. 

In AR, we do not assume objectivity. Some interpret this approach as arbitrary, because a researcher might interpret what she wants, but that is not the case. Denying the possibility of an objective researcher does not mean I can do whatever I want; it means I am doomed to interpret data based on my existing knowledge. You cannot interpret 73 as the best number if you have never heard of the idea of a ‘best number’. But if you have, you are a nerd lover and it is likely that you try to ignore it to stay objective. But why? Maybe your particular frame of reference is exactly my frame of reference, and you are the only researcher who can interpret me correctly? Which would be pointless, if your fellow researchers would not believe you, but that is the fate of all brilliant minds, isn’t it?

And here we approach the ‘poodle’s core‘: knowledge is only knowledge if others share it. This is as true for the traditional research community as it is for the relationship between action researchers and their research object. As an Action Researcher you would aks me which of your potential interpretations is correct – something no traditional researcher would even consider because part of the scientific word view is that ‘we know, and they don’t’. But that makes for another post.

I love research. But I do not like the elitist approach many scientists show. I think that they should write in a language which allows non-scientists to question their work. Especially because some say that politics should consider scientifc findings to a greater degree. Poltics – in democratic societies at least – should not be based on concepts nobody understands. And, for heaven’s sake, it should not be based on concepts treating human beings as ‘objects’!

Cheers, Nae73