LIFE OUTSIDE

 

MESSAGE TO PRISON

Excerpted...Hi babe. I been sitting here for a bit trying to figure out some things that you said to me and how I am so busy lately and not always available to you and haven't emailed as much as usual. I know that I am right here with you, 100 percent loyalty and love for you. 

 

Maybe getting into a new realm of advocacy & activism might be a problem Idk. Maybe my energy is high with disgust for society, the laws, crime and prisons...I mean that could make anyone nasty I guess when it boils down to it. Or maybe I am a bit more aggressive because there is alot going on and it's so unknown...I really don't know. I know I try to squeeze so much in 15 short minutes and cut you off and that's not nice of me. I have dwindled on my messages to you maybe because of phone calls...all of this doesn't mean I think any less of you during my days or nights. 

 

I am stressed alot more lately and it has nothing to do with you directly and maybe I take it out on you Idk. With this COVID stuff going on out here it's changed us in society a lot. I mean to be honest no one knows where money is gonna come from or how to pay bills and not suffer with inflation interest from charging credit cards...or how long to prepare ourselves for food supply or what to even do on a daily. 

 

I know things are affecting us both in different ways on so many levels but to be honest....your life inside isn't flipped upside down as much as it is out here. I agree you are more restricted in an already restricted and cruel atmosphere...like maybe you get more segregated time or zero in person visits and I know that is harsh of course...and I know the worry for us out here is high and for yourself in there. But out here in my own world I am feeling the brunt of it all also but maybe 10 times more. No visits make me sick too. But I worry about where I step...who has what...how am I gonna protect my daughter...where is my money gonna come from...if something breaks down am I gonna be able to afford to fix...will I run out of diapers and wipes...will I have enough food and water...I mean it is a lot on both sides...I can tell you all of a sudden we go from free movement to almost no movement and this is something a "free" person isn't mentally or emotionally prepared for. 

 

It isn't easy to explain without sounding rude perhaps but you don't know how it feels for my type of transition right now. You been in your situation for some time so you are used to what it is like in there...with addl issues added though...maybe less lib for you all too and no outside time and hot in there...maybe shittier guards and more man drama with dorm folks...but regardless you still have what you need and you know where it comes from and that it will be there. I am trying to adjust and still keep things up in all ways and do it by myself...it is hard and it does suck but I feel like a type of prison is upon me too and it is horrible. 

 

So if I am saying all the wrong things to you about anything I am sorry. I certainly don't mean to hurt you or offend you or upset you...I need you to stay strong and good for me and for you because if I see a door open and there is the slightest chance I can do something to get you out you better know I am gonna fight for it. I will not talk about it because I didn't know it stressed you so bad...so I will just keep keepin on in my own battle for you and just tell you when the time comes I guess. 

 

I know me and you are very different people and maybe we handle things in different ways. I am usually not expressive like I have been lately, working on changing the system...but regardless I know I'm not giving up on this...I am not leaving your side and I'm not stopping this battle. I love you and I will do nothing but fight tooth and nail for you no matter what it takes or how long it takes me. I am all about you and nothing or no one is gonna ever change that. Giving up on you will never be an option for me. I will fight it out...wait it out...whatever because that's how I am and I can't change that. 

 

So if anything babe I need you and your support and understanding right now. I am walking a new path towards our future. It is frustrating, scary, tiring and a job on all it's own. Now with COVID...No one out here expected this and the toll isn't easy either. I love you so much more than you even know. xoxo

THE LUCIFER EFFECT

Prepared by Philip Zimbardo and Cindy X. Wang of the Stanford Prison Experiment

Introduction

In The Lucifer Effect, we examined how social situations lead ordinary people to commit unimaginable acts of violence, discrimination, and indifference to the suffering of others. Many of us hope that if we were placed in such situations, we would be the courageous ones who resist unjust authority, who are immune to compliance tactics, and who never abandon our core beliefs and principles in the face of social pressures. However, the reality is we can never predict our actions without being placed in similar situations. This is one of the recurring themes of “The Lucifer Effect” and something that should not be lost on us as we make everyday decisions.

 

Indeed, even without being placed in the heat of war, the inhumanity of prisons, or the clutches of social psychologists, our daily lives are wrought with similarly compelling social tensions. This section of the website was created as a springboard for learning how unwanted and unjust influence can impact your daily life and to better equip you to resist these forces. By understanding the contexts of influence and social compliance, become familiar with significant experimental findings from social psychological research, along with some basic terminology, we hope you will become more proficient in identifying common social influence principles and the strategies that professional agents of influence may use to gain your compliance. Finally, we will take you through frameworks that prominent social psychologists have created to understand social influence and identify how you can apply these ideas to your own life. Furthermore, we will discuss ways to utilize your new understanding of the principles of social influence for positive social change, and finally close with some specific hints from Dr. Z on how to resist unwanted influences.

 

Varieties of Influence

We listen to a debate with each side presenting seemingly compelling reasons to endorse one or another point of view. We get messages from advertisers, from the government, from assorted authorities to take particular actions, like buy a product, vote for a candidate, give blood, avoid impending disasters, and more. Such attempts to influence our attitudes, values or actions are considered forms of persuasive communication. ”Do as I say,” is its motto. When they are politically motivated with a bias toward a politically relevant action such messages are considered propaganda.

 

Other times the influence comes not dressed up in words in persuasive messages or visually appealing ads, but simply when the members of a group you are in, or want to belong to, act in a particular way. They don’t have to tell you what to do; they simply exhibit the behavior or the style of action that is expected of “good team members.” That form of social influence is known as conformity. “Do as we do,” is the conformity motto.

 

Go along with the majority, the consensus and be accepted. Refuse to dress as they do, talk like they do, value what they value, or act in ways that are clearly the accepted social norm for this group, and you are rejected, isolated, expelled, ridiculed. The power of many groups in our lives to influence our thoughts and actions can be enormous, especially when we desperately want to be accepted by any given “in group.”

 

You don’t need a group to put pressure on you to act as they expect you to do; in fact, much social influence comes from a singular source—another person. Compliance is a form of influence in which direct pressure is put on individuals to take some specific action, such as doing a favor, buying a product. The influence agent doesn’t want to change your mind, only to get you to act on his or her request. Sometimes the request is pro-social, like donating blood in a blood drive, but more often than not, the request is to get people to purchase a variety of products that they might not need or even want initially.

 

In some special cases, an organization wants to go beyond inducing such specific changes, and actually to get individuals to change in more fundamental ways, to become “true believers” in some ideology or belief system. They want individual members to internalize a set of beliefs and values, even to change their personalities, so that they totally identify with the group’s mission. One common form of this intense personal change is seen in cult recruiting and indoctrination.

 

Finally, all these sources of social influence are imposed from the outside in, from assorted influence agents on individuals or groups. One of the most powerful forms of influence is self-persuasion, where conditions are set up that encourage individuals to engage in personal thought and decision processes. Obviously, we tend to know our strengths and weaknesses better than do others, so we can tailor self-generated persuasive messages likely to be effective. One tactic for inducing self-persuasion comes from role-playing positions that are contrary to one’s beliefs and values. Also, when we are resolving a commitment we have made to engage in public behavior that does not follow from our personal beliefs, cognitive dissonance is created. To the extent that we come to believe we made that commitment freely, without (awareness of) external situational pressures, we start to rationalize it and come to convince ourselves that it was the right action and the right position to hold.

 

There are many books on the science of influence, some of which we will note for your later in-depth review. For now, however, we will outline some suggestions about what you can do to weaken or counter each of these varieties of social influence. Some of our advice is specific to a given influence type, other advice is more general in that it focuses on how to develop effective mind sets which will serve you well across many different influence settings. Knowledge of how these influence settings work and what you can do to resist them is the first step in becoming a wiser consumer of social influence. However, you have to be continually vigilant and continually put into operation these resistance tactics for you to inoculate yourself against their insidious power.

 

Tips for Transition


Reentry can be both exciting and frustrating! Our attitude toward release from prison is that it should be a simple matter of getting resettled, resuming routines, and reestablishing your relationships; but reality proves there is much more to it than that. Here is a list of tips to consider that can help you go through the transition process:


  • Mentally prepare for the adjustment process. Be prepared for anything!

  • Give yourself permission to ease into the transition. Allow yourself time to acclimate to the new environment.

  • Give yourself time. You’ll need time to relax and reflect upon what is going on around you, how you are reacting to it, and what you might like to change.

  • Understand that the familiar will seem different. You have changed; home has changed. You will see familiar people, places, and behaviors from new perspectives.

  • Expect to do some ‘cultural catching up’. Clothes, trends, language, and more have changed, too!

  • Reserve judgments. Reserve all judgments of others, but especially negative judgments; just as you would like to have others reserve judgments of you. Resist the impulse to make snap decisions.

  • Expect mood swings. It is entirely possible for you to feel ecstatic one moment and completely defeated a short time later. It’s okay; it is a part of the process.

  • Allow sufficient time for reflection and self-analysis. Your most valid and valuable analysis of an event is likely to take place after allowing time for reflection.

  • Respond to inquiries thoughtfully and carefully. Prepare to greet surprise questions with a calm, thoughtful approach. If you find yourself being overly defensive or aggressive, take a deep breath and relax.

  • Seek support networks. Don’t isolate yourself!


To prepare yourself for upcoming challenges, it is safe to expect the following:

  • You will have to prove yourself (over and over and over).

  • People will make many assumptions about who you are now.

  • You will be different than when you left; your family and friends will be different, too!

  • People will expect things from you, especially a plan for your life.

  • The way you’d hoped things would be will be different from the way they are.

  • You will feel ‘down’ or depressed after the initial return ‘honeymoon’ period.

 

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