Episode 14Unhealthy Umbrellas & Social Deception Games
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Details and Transcript

References

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Transcript

To my stellar family and friends. Near and far. Old and new. This is Kevin Mercurio on the mic. And welcome to the fourteenth episode of the Metaphorigins Podcast.

 

Again, just a few new things to note this season. One thing is the Metaphorgins merch, if you would like your own shirt and/or mug as shown on the Metaphorigins instagram page, just shoot me a message on my website or instagram account. Any profits I make each month will go towards a local charity (ex. SPCA, Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, and other suggestions). Another “feature” I will have this season is requests. In the second half of this season, I will have episodes dedicated to any expressions listeners of this podcast would like me to cover. For a request, please shoot me a message on again, my website or instagram.

 

Now, to show support if you like this sort of content, please make sure to rate and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or whatever platform you are listening to this on, and follow @metaphorigins on Instagram, where I will be posting most of my updates, as well as on my personal website: kjbmercurio.com/metaphorigins. I will hold another draw on my next episode for a sweet Metaphorigins shirt, so look forward to that!

 

Okay. Today’s episode will investigate an expression that has an odd connection between our environment and health.

 

Let me build the setting. It’s vast… It’s dark… And certainly obscure. From galaxies, to superclusters, to infinite solar systems and their planets, you traverse. It’s the universe, the universe you created. As an immaculate entity of pure energy, you traverse through space and time to interact with the matter you synthesized.

 

Since the Big Bang, which happened to be the highest note of your favourite romance ballad, this existence of things came about. You worry, due to the fiery inferno to which the temperature was at that time. In a flash of brilliant ideas, you accelerate the speed to which space expands. In addition, there seemed to be particle qualms, specifically between those of the matter and anti-matter tribes. In a fit of desperation, you have the two play a game of pi^100 dimensional chess, the classic method of settling scores, to which the winner remained in existence. A careless error on the anti-matter side, in which the team started off with a Barnes Opening, leading to a hyper-vertical Fool’s Mate, caused the tribe to be wiped from existence, but was allowed to reappear when matter loses control of its transportation and collides at high speed with dense objects. The other tribes, significant and non-significant, were told to only exist whenever things needed measurements.

 

You are the ruler of this reality, the deity of deities, the omniscient and omnipotent. You possess all information simultaneously, and know the past and future. The present in itself is meaningless. As a joke, you say that it is “non-significant”, just to have one non-significant particle come out of the ether and complain. But in fact it is… Can present be fully realized if you are aware of the past and future?

 

It’s difficult too, traversing a three dimensional reality as a being of 26 dimensions. It really takes a toll on your perception due to how simplistic everything is here. Though, you worry about what your parents will see when they come home and hear that your cosmic radio formed yet another universe, this time spilling onto the hyperdimensional table.

 

Bored, you shrink yourself to the size of this simple galaxy you find yourself in front. To you, it looks like what happens when you flush your celestoilet. You shrink yourself even more to the size of the simple stars that make up this galaxy. Reaching out, you touch one of them. It freaks out and flares out at you, unsure of what it was that touched it.

 

You shrink yourself even more down to the size of simple planets. There, you traverse by a nice looking blue and green world with an atmosphere. Again, you reach out, this time feeling under the weather and interacting with the land and crust. This makes you start to feel unwell. What is unwell to a multidimensional being of pure energy? It sucks. Like literally sucks your energy state into the core. You groan, moving your spherical extensions through space time at such a fast speed that photons get out of sleep and into existence. You do this in order to transport this groan information to various regions across space. But you already know that certain three dimensional beings will see it 42 sextillion years from now. By then it will be too late, since all realities stop playing at the infinite-dimensional casino and head home.

 

The atmosphere begins to circle around your energy extensions, forming phenomena that must not be pleasant to the simple beings below. The beings below call this time Year 2012. The planet has such a weird sensation, running your extensions through wet oceans and dry ground. So weird, the sucky feeling doesn’t go away. Maybe it wasn't a good idea feeling under the weather. But you knew this was going to happen, of course, being omniscient and all. Which is exactly why you did it, something your kind calls the hyper-dimensional forced regurgitation. From your core, out flies a singularity, flying out in the opposite direction of the star’s velocity.

 

With an energetic smile, you thank the planet by fixing a hole in its atmosphere, something it was complaining about the whole time you were doing hyper-dimensional forced regurgitation. You traverse back home, only to find that your little sister already told your parents that you had formed yet another universe, and was forced to clean up the mess on the hyper dimensional table with the super-galactic black hole-uum.

 

Now I’m sorry to take you away from your dream of becoming a maker of universes. This was certainly a fun setup to imagine. In case it was lost in the imaginary jargon, today’s expression is quite a unique one, relating our well being to mother nature herself. So why are we unhealthy underneath mother nature’s meteorological umbrella?

 

What is the origin to the expression, “feeling under the weather”?

 

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Most of this information was obtained from different articles discussing the origin to this expression. All sources will be mentioned in the description.

 

Expressions are an awesome source of imaginative language. Often this language can be placed into similar categories regarding the visuals they describe. For example, there are many expressions that conjure the forces of nature. There’s “to steal someone’s thunder”, to “get wind of something”, to be “on cloud nine”, and even one talked about on this podcast, the dramatic “it’s raining cats and dogs”. Often times these expressions are in regards to stormy weather. So what’s the deal with today’s expression, “feeling under the weather”?

 

I take that you’ve used or heard this expression before: used if you wanted to head to a friend’s party and wanted to skip on a part-time work shift (or even full-time); heard if you were the host of said party and realized only the irresponsible people were coming and wanted to cancel (as your real friends were busy trying to make a buck).

 

The Cambridge Dictionary lists the expression “feeling under the weather” as simply meaning "to feel ill”. Interestingly, the Meriam-Webster Dictionary takes this a step further and describes the expression in alien terms: “temporarily suffering from a disorder of the body”. I truly like this definition as it includes so many instances in which “feeling under the weather” would certainly not be the idiom of choice. Oh, you broke your arm? Damn, you must really be feeling under the weather. You were burned from head-to-toe after going to the beach yesterday? No kidding, that some under the weather feeling you got going on, joke intended!

 

But I digress. I do like this expression as it is the archetype of the idiom. “Feeling under the weather” really cannot be connected with illness unless you are initially told this, and now it is just a sweet, automatic thought. Just uttering the phrase makes me sort of empathize with the victim immediately, reminiscing on old memories of when I felt equally ill. The idiom instills this level of connection between two individuals that many expressions never seem to reach.

 

I say cannot because “feeling under the weather” shouldn’t bring about pictures of rain and thunderstorms, even though it does. There’s obviously positive moments regarding weather, during clear skies, sunny days, cool breezes. If you’re like me, you might even like the occasional rain storm, helping you drift off into one of the best sleeps you ever had.

 

So where does this expression originate from? Gee, I’m glad you asked. The origin for this one is quite unanimous among the etymology world. Sources like Writing Explained, Phrase Finder, Know Your Phrase, and the Farmer’s Almanac say the expression originates sometime in the early 1800s, with Know Your Phrase finding it’s earliest usage in print from the Jefferson Daily Evening Newspaper in 1835:

 

“‘I own Jessica is somewhat under the weather today, figuratively and literally,’ said the gentleman, amusedly, giving a glance the lady over the counter.”

 

Expanding further, these same sources cite this 2007 book called Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of everyday Expressions by Bill Beavis and Michael Howorth. The phrase actually intended to only mean sea sickness and mentions:

 

“The term is correctly “under the weather bow” which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.”

 

Therefore, when a sailor was feeling seasick, he (or she) was sent below the deck in order to ride out the uneven rocking of the seas and shield themself from the “hard weather”.

 

And that seems to the most credible origin story to the expression “feeling under the weather”. An idiom derived from sailing culture to describe a sort of sickness specifically, which has now branched out to mean, as the Meriam-Webster Dictionary points out, literally anyone “temporarily suffering from a disorder of the body”.

 

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Now, for the science segment, I would like to talk about an SAGE article published in 2019 titled: Winning Through Deception: A Pedagogical Case Study on Using Social Deception Games to Teach Small Group Communication Theory. The link to the article will be in the description.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking: what the heck did I just say? Let me start with some exposition. Anyone who knows me can attest to this: I have a huge admiration for board games. Well designed board games, might I add. Yes, I do like a good ol’ round of monopoly or scrabble every now and then, and I surely would love to play a quick game of chess (a game that has been around since the 6th century, which, now that I think about it, does have some communicative elements to it. Maybe I’ll do a segment on it someday). But I’m talking about the innovative ones, worker-placement games like Catan or Viticulture, engine-building games like Wingspan or Deus. But my all time favourite genre of games are the social deception games mentioned in the title of the article. These social deception games, or social deduction games, come in a variety of forms like One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Secret Hitler, Betrayal at House on the Hill, the Resistance, Coup, and my favourite, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.

 

Let me describe one for you. In Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, you and your friends play the role of investigators in a Hong Kong precinct (why Hong Kong? Who knows), trying to solve the case of a recent murder. Evidence up to the start of the game has determined that the murderer works at the precinct, and is in fact one of the players in the group. Roles of investigators, murderer, accomplice to murderer and witness of the crime are secretly assigned before the game starts. The goal of the investigators is not to solve who the murderer is, exactly, which makes the game quite interesting. The goal for investigators is to solve how the murderer committed the crime: what weapon they used and what unique piece of evidence could be used to sentence the murderer (and accomplice) to prison. The goal of the murderer and accomplice is to determine who the witness is and kill this person (within the universe of the game of course). And finally, the role of the witness, who knows who the murder is, has to subtly point out to the other investigators the identity of the murderer to make it easier for the group to pin point the murder weapon and key piece of evidence. Fun right?

 

Now let’s get back to the article at hand. I found this article as I was curious as to whether there was any notable science behind the framework of these sorts of games. Communication of all forms is inherently crucial to the success of these franchises. Side note: I actually read this article for fun, can you imagine that? Anyway, the article is written by Dr. Shane Tilton, who is (I hope I got this correctly) an associate professor of multimedia journalism at Ohio Northern University. The focus of the article comes from a pedagogical perspective, as in whether using social deduction games can be a good form of teaching communication theory, which is interesting in its own right (turns out that students were able to accomplish the learning objectives of these gaming exercises for a communications course, but whether they were well established learning objectives are a topic for another day). I want to focus on the science behind small group communication theory to better understand the social dynamics occurring throughout the gameplay. And perhaps it can help in tactics for being successful in your own particular goal of these games, whether you are a hero or a villain.

 

Now, social deduction games, as stated, “involve hidden roles and perhaps even hidden team or traitor mechanisms, but usually they all require some amount of bluffing”. Thinking back to Deception (the game I described previously), hidden roles are the investigators, murderer, accomplice and witness, which by definition players do not know who is playing which role. Most people might often think about poker in connection with bluffing, but it can be defined generally as “the use of deception to influence players and interaction within the structure of the game”.

 

Within these games, the social dynamics fall under what is called small group communication theory, or “any form of interaction that takes place between 3 and 20 people who are working together to achieve an independent goal”. Surprised myself to hear that 20 people is a small group. Anyway, the article goes on to describe four primary small group styles: 1) task-oriented groups are focused on completing tasks first and socializing-relationship building second; 2) relationship-oriented groups are focused on inclusion/affection issues first and task implementation second; 3) assigned groups are created by outside organizations with each member given an assigned role; and 4) emergent groups created by outside circumstances (perhaps due to certain qualities the group or members of the group possess). While I don’t really understand why one group cannot be both assigned and task-oriented, the point is that these types can all surface depending on the personalities within group members. Perhaps in some groups, you choose to focus on the task at hand, while in other groups its important to build a sort of trust first, through dialogue and nonverbal communication, then achieve your shared goal, more on that later.

 

Despite which category your group falls under, the article continues with stating that “there are five phases that groups go through”. The first is forming, where members of the group are identified and described. The second is storming, where conflicts arise that challenge the group’s trust in one another. The third is norming, where groups transition away from conflicts towards group goals. The fourth is performing, actually doing the things that address group goals. And finally the last is the dissolution of the group, in this case meaning the game has ended. Altogether, this is the forming-storming-norming-performing model of group development, one of the most unique names in communication theory.

 

Now there’s more to it than that. Small groups will always tend towards assigning a leader. The author here cites how this is the case by stating the following from a separate paper:

 

“People occupying [leadership] positions may acquire the power to influence in at least two ways: (a) They are socially attractive and because they are liked (as group members), fellow members are likely to comply with their suggestions, requests, and orders . . . or (b) they are seen to have charismatic–leadership personalities because of [certain] processes that cause members to attribute the leader’s apparent influence to the person and to personality”

 

Power in some form will emerge within small groups, whether distributive (as in one member has some form of power over others), integrative (as in a subset of the group has great power  over the others) or designated (as in control is given via a source outside of the group). And “these sources of power can be displayed in the form of rewards, punishment, coercion, loyalty, knowledge, or a combination of the five”. Think about, in your group, how you negotiate rewards, thwart punishment, assume loyalty, within social deception games, key functions of the interesting gameplay. 

 

Power can also lead to a phenomenon know as groupthink. Now this subject is something I will probably go more into in a future episode. But in regards to games, power can influence the opinions of others to think a certain way. Let’s say in Deception, you’ve been really open sharing your thoughts about how other potential investigators have been behaving, and articulate these thoughts with charisma, and you know, oomph. This can often lead to emergent leadership that, essentially, can lead to your opinions being agreed upon by the group. Trust, charisma, qualities that arise in real life leadership positions, find themselves apparently important within a game setting.

 

And lastly, as I can talk about this all day, non-verbal cues. Body language, eye movements, even silence, are all part of the game. In a match of social deception, everything is on the table. Anything deemed atypical about your behaviour is up for suspicion and can lead the group to trust or distrust you. Best summarized in the article, “[villains] needed to learn how to mimic “normal” nonverbal cues in the task-oriented small group to survive and win their given games”. Taking this a step further, heroes are also required to learn what were “abnormal” nonverbal cues, in order to not be put under suspicion.

 

And I think that’s the main reason why I truly believe, if you haven’t already, to give these social deception games a try. Not as a way to learn how to deceive, but as an exercise of communicative awareness. Similar to the purpose of the article from a pedagogical perspective, these games provide players the opportunity to learn about their own communicative cues, those of others, and perhaps be more perceptive about others in the real world. The structure defined in small group communication theory could ultimately enhance our awareness of others and better coordinate group members in achieving their goals, whether that be by completing a mission, or sabotaging one.

 

All in do fun of course!

 

Thanks for listening to this episode of… Metaphorigins. Remember to rate and subscribe for more episodes and to follow the podcast on Instagram for updates on the next draw, which will be on the NEXT EPISODE. Remember, you gotta follow the podcast instagram account to be placed into the draw! But until then, stay skeptical but curious.

 

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