The continually green lawns of some California leaders and celebrities

The drought shaming continues in California. First, CBS highlights some of the biggest water wasters in the Bay Area:

The district released the names and consumption in response to a public records request by the San Jose Mercury News and other media outlets covering the drought.

Beane released a statement through the Oakland A’s.

“Three irrigation leaks were recently discovered and corrected. We were more than displeased and embarrassed by the usage,” Beane said.

Retired Chevron Oil executive George Kirkland tops the list by using more than 12,000 gallons of water a day – 48 times the district average. He also pointed to previously undetected seepage.

Here is an older gallery where CBS highlights the greenery outside the homes of numerous celebrities. This link includes a picture and this text:

Despite the sweeping water regulations imposed by California state officials this spring, Jenny’s “block” remains green.

And though the state has only issued eight $100 fines and two $200 fines to water wasters up until this point, Lopez may soon face a much heftier fine if she wants to keep her lawn this way.

Gov. Jerry Brown is calling for legislators to enforce fines of up to $10,000 for residents and businesses that waste the most water, as California cities struggle to meet mandatory conservation targets.

I imagine reporting to the public about leaders and celebrities can be quite effective in reducing the water usage. Few famous people want to be seen as wasters of natural resources when others are sacrificing. (I suspect this would be quite different if there wasn’t much of a drought or if the owners could claim commercial revenues or jobs on these properties – this is what the Las Vegas casinos do.) Even the higher proposed fines, $10,000, wouldn’t matter much to some people. While the shaming might be more effective (reducing water usage and helping politicians look like they are standing up for the interests of everyone), couldn’t the state also use the money? If celebrities wanted to pay big fines, wouldn’t this help balance some budgets?

Shame your neighbors with “Bad Neighbour Notes”

Neighbors don’t always get along but open confrontations may not work well. A passive-aggressive solution? Bad Neighbour Notes:

They’re called Bad Neighbour Notes and you can stick ‘em where the sun shines — right on your neighbors’ front doors for all to see. Then sneak away, quick like a bunny, before anyone sees you.

They’re your best, non-incriminating bet for keeping naughty neighbors in check, so says Sean Mayers, the evil genius behind the latest wacky entrant into the budding anonymous, nonviolent revenge market. (Yes, it’s a thing, not a load of cow crud.) The best part? You get to make Johnny Rotten Neighbor feel bad and he’ll never know it’s you. Hopefully…

“An anonymous note with a sarcastic message is the least mean way to vent your frustration with a neighbor,” Mayers told Entrepreneur, “without ending up in jail for assault.”…

Pick the one that fits the crime, circle the time and the day of the week your neighbor screwed with your zen, oh-so-gently slap it on their door and feel the passive aggression satisfyingly flood your yellow veins. Phew. “No more need for hand written [sic], anger-filled notes in illegible handwriting. Let’s see a police hand-writing [sic] expert prove it was you now ;)”

I’m not sure this will work so well outside of helping the note-giver feel a little better. But, if the majority of Americans don’t know their neighbors and perhaps, more importantly, don’t want to or don’t have any compelling reason to know their neighbors, perhaps this is a perfect solution. Still, the person giving the sign still has to get away with this without being seen.

If such signs caught on, would they ruin the reasons for PassiveAggressiveNotes.com…

Sociologist argues hidden shame destructive in modern society

Sociologist Thomas Scheff argues that hidden shame is a large problem in modern society:

According to Scheff a society that fosters individualism (ours, for example) provides a ripe breeding ground for the emotion of shame because people are encouraged to “go it alone, no matter the cost to relationships,” he said. “People learn to act as if they were complete in themselves and independent of others. This feature has constructive and creative sides, but it has at least two other implications: alienation and the hiding of shame.”

Scheff noted that while shame is no less prevalent now than in previous years or decades or generations, it is more hidden. “Shame is a biological entity like other emotions, but people are more ashamed of it than they are of the others,” he said. “The hiding of emotions is more widespread in modern societies than in traditional ones.”…

The problem with that kind of thinking, however, is that shame is, in reality, a very useful emotion. “Shame is the basis of morality,” Scheff said. “You can’t have a moral society without shame. It provides the weight for morality. There are a hundred things in your head about what you should or shouldn’t do, but the one that hits you is the one that has shame behind it.”

Scheff suggests that shame — or the reaction to it — can manifest itself in larger acts of aggression, such as wars and other military conflicts. “Especially for leaders, both shame and anger are carefully hidden behind a veil of rationality,” he writes in the article. “The Bush administration may have been deeply embarrassed by the 9/11 attack during their watch and their helplessness to punish the attackers. The invasion of Iraq on the basis of false premises might have served to hide their shame behind anger and aggression.”

I remember reading Scheff’s work in a microsociology course in grad school where he was cited as a key example of the growing body of research in the subfield of the sociology of emotions. While we tend to chalk up emotions to an individual’s psychological and physiological state, emotions that we feel and how we can express them are also dependent on social forces. Thus, if individualism is a key feature of early 21st century life, particularly for younger adults/millennials, displaying feelings of shame contradicts this individualistic approach. For example, one of the findings about younger adults in the National Study of Youth and Religion (with this particular finding discussed in Souls in Transition) is that they have very few regrets about their past actions. This is indicative of an individualistic approach to life: regrets may be based on the idea that the individual didn’t live up to some standard. But, to have shame or regrets, the individual has to be anchored to a particular moral system.

Scheff’s solution to hidden shame?

The answer, according to Scheff, is to have a good laugh. “That is, laugh at yourself or at the universe or at your circumstances, but not at other people. Most of the laughing we do in comedy is good. No matter the actors, we are really laughing at our own selves that we see in their foolishness.”

It would then be interesting to study who using humor laughs more than themselves than at others. Is most of our humor/comedy today compared to the past directed at others rather than exploring our own shame and embarrassing moments?