Let’s assume two margins of behavior in the animal kingdom: 1) the behaviors that lead to satisfying hunger, and, 2) the behaviors that come after hunger is satisfied.
Let’s connect hunger, and its associated behaviors, with the concept of ‘seriousness.’
Let’s connect satiety and digestion, with the concept of ‘play and rest,’ which I’ll refer to merely as ‘play’ herein.
Consider in childhood, that playfulness, on one hand, and seriousness, on the other, form the margins of the purposes behind behavior and communication.
Playfulness falls under the realm of art and is a directionless, wide-netted endeavor of discovery through simulation and A/B testing.
On the other hand, seriousness strives to protect and acquire established values by applying directional effort using information whose relevance is only historically determined.
The environmental responses elicited by our feelings of seriousness and playfulness form the margins of how we communicate and, ultimately, are understood.
Imagine the negating effects of feeling serious around someone who is feeling playful, and feeling playful in the presence of a serious person. Consider, too, the amplified effects if attitudes of levity or heaviness were to resonate synchronously in a group. These interactions form the rudimentary components of animal communication and have to do with how a group might prepare for impending disaster.
But the criteria for what should be prepared for are subjective, especially those in the first world, and often mirror parents’ worried desires for certainty. To tunnel-visioned parents, a child’s desire to play minimizes a serious situation. When a parent is overwhelmed with urgency, they unwittingly react with disdain to their child’s play behaviors. This disdain is an asynchronous feedback response, registered by the child, adding a halting element to the child’s next decision to initiate play or any action for that matter. Next time, a child may think twice before acting.
In another case, a child’s desire for serious attunement to a problem may be met with a parent’s mocking play.
A child’s decision-making abilities may become disordered if these contradictory scenarios play out frequently enough. Over time, a child may grow to feel exceedingly inhibited, often sensitively assessing the emotional climate before initiating any sort of action. This can manifest in trouble following directions, paying attention, or answering simple questions.
These scenarios all require the capacity to understand how others think. This capacity becomes increasingly, and often irreparably, impaired as child registers their environment’s frequent erratic responses.
Digging into the past, a parent’s attitude of fixed seriousness originates in the persistent invalidation by their own perpetually-preparing parents, who may have had their hands forced by unavoidable famine or war. In this way, the needs of generations can trickle down, and be communicated to future generations that are orders removed.
Similarly, a parent’s desperate desire to remain playful and fear in the face of seriousness may contribute to that parent’s minimizing or mocking reaction to a child’s serious situation.
If these scenarios happen consistently enough, the child will grow to feel an assumed negation of experience. That they will not be understood ‘by the world.’ If the assumption is strong enough, it becomes self-fulfilling, as there would be no benefit to airing grievances, thus perpetuating misunderstanding.