What's the right amount of social friction?

James Robertson argues in response to my recent thoughts about dress code:
In social settings, politeness exists to reduce friction. People who don't get that are - whether they realize it or not - increasing the social friction between people.
There is of course truth in this, but there are two sides to this medal, and as far as dress code is concerned, I responded in a comment under James' post.

As far as social friction in general is concerned though, I find it worthwhile to express these thoughts:

It could be argued that, in a situation where you're a lemming in a group of lemmings heading over a cliff, it will "reduce social friction" if you just go along and don't resist the flow of your peers. Likewise, it could be argued that if you were living in Nazi Germany, it would "reduce social friction" if you just didn't complain about the treatment of the Jews. (*) In fact, you are quite correct that "reducing social friction" is just the kind of thing you need to do in order to avoid trouble and to progress in the world. The problem is that, if you excel at "reducing social friction", you become, well, "slippery".

Always aiming to "reduce social friction" is not something that counts as admirable behavior in my world. Standing up for the right thing is what counts. As far as I'm concerned, everyone who aims to "reduce social friction" is just helping the world become a worse place, because it accomodates everyone who's making it worse.

But, sure, it helps one's interests in the process.

(*) I know, I know, Godwin's law, reductio ad Hitlerum. But the analogy is worth stating because that's where society can go if everyone ignores a problem and just aims to "reduce friction". Are the United States not becoming a fascist nation because everyone is playing along with the stupid measures invented by the federal government, "reducing the social friction"?


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