life in general

Hengkang itu patriotis

Erie, kucing pemalu tapi patriotis, anggota Trias Politicats.

Artikel ini adalah hasil menulis ulang rangkaian twit saya tanggal 18-20 April 2019, dimulai satu hari setelah hari pemungutan suara dalam pemilihan umum. Ada dua alasan kenapa saya merasa tulis ulang ini perlu dilakukan: pertama banyak salah ketik yang mengganggu di twit saya; dan kedua, saya menggunakan kata “melipir” yang ternyata tidak ada dalam KBBI.

Apa yang terjadi di senja 17 April 2019 setia mengulang kejadian 1.835 hari sebelumnya, bagaikan versi remake lagu hampa kreativitas yang sering kita dengar di kafe. Kubu Prabowo Subianto menolak hasil quick count yang dilakukan beberapa lembaga survei yang meramalkan kekalahannya, dan mengumumkan kemenangan mereka berdasarkan data sendiri.

Saya tidak berminat melakukan spekulasi mengapa Prabowo melakukan hal ini (lagi). Saya tidak pernah bertemu dengannya. Saya percaya profiling jarak-jauh tidak layak dilakukan, termasuk oleh mereka yang psikolog, psikiater, atau ahli perilaku lain. 

Saya lebih berminat menawarkan penjelasan tentang mengapa pendukung kubu ini nampak secara berjamaah menolak kenyataan, meskipun beberapa orang sudah berpanjang lebar menjelaskan kepada mereka apa bedanya jajak pendapat, exit poll, quick count, dan penghitungan KPU; apa itu random sampling dan mengapa teknik ini bisa membuat angka survei bisa mewakili statistik di populasi.

Apa yang menyebabkan pengingkaran massal ini? Saya menawarkan konsep motivated reasoning untuk menjelaskannya, sekaligus menawarkan rekomendasi untuk menurunkan potensi konflik.

Motivated reasoning adalah kecenderungan yang tidak kita sadari untuk mencocok-cocokkan proses pengolahan informasi dalam rangka mencapai suatu tujuan (lihat tulisan dari salah satu peneliti pelopornya). Artinya, kita mengolah informasi untuk mencari pembenaran (rasionalisasi) dari pendapat yang sudah ia buat atau setujui sebelumnya.

Anda salah jika menduga kalau motivated reasoning berkaitan dengan kebodohan atau tingkat pendidikan. Motivated reasoning bisa terjadi pada siapa saja, termasuk di kalangan ilmuwan dan peneliti (misalnya di sini atau sini). 

Apa motif yang mendorong motivated reasoning? Riset tentang motivated reasoning biasanya mengaitkannya dengan konflik politik, dan cenderung fokus pada kebutuhan setiap orang untuk mempertahankan identitas positif, terutama sebagai anggota sebuah kelompok yang ia anggap penting dalam mendefinisikan dirinya.

Work on motivated cognition and political conflict tends to focus more on the need for maintaining a valued identity, particularly as a member of a group.

Dan Kahan.

Kubu Prabowo tentu menganggap menjadi “Barisan 02” adalah identitas yang penting dalam menjelaskan siapa mereka. Kekalahan yang diramalkan quick count pastinya bertentangan dengan kebutuhan setiap orang untuk mempertahankan identitas positif. Di tengah kenyataan yang tidak menyenangkan ini, menolak fakta dan logika dasar statistik menjadi cara untuk memperlihatkan kesetiaan pada kelompok. Semakin mereka didesak untuk menelan pil pahit (terutama oleh kubu pemenang), semakin besar desakan untuk terus melakukan, bahkan merayakan motivated reasoning. Semakin sia-sia usaha untuk membuat mereka berubah posisi dengan fakta, logika, apalagi cemooh dari kubu lawan.

Karena saya tidak ingin ada konflik berlanjut, saya ingin mengajukan beberapa ajakan pada kelompok pendukung Joko Widodo. Pertanyakan kembali apa tujuan Anda “menyadarkan” kelompok pendukung Prabowo: untuk menggarami luka mereka, atau untuk menurunkan potensi konflik, sehingga kandidat Anda bisa langsung bisa kerja membayar janji-janji kampanyenya —termasuk yang belum lunas sejak periode lalu?

Kalau Anda ingin menurunkan potensi konflik, saya menyarankan untuk mengikuti saran ini:

Supaya lebih jelas:

  1. Berhenti mencemooh bagaimana pendukung Prabowo berlarut-larut merayakan motivated reasoning. Tahan diri sekeras mungkin, sejengkel apapun diri Anda. Camkan dan turuti petuah Michele Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”
  2. Buat suasana yang mendorong pendukung Prabowo bisa hengkang tanpa rasa malu, baik dalam sunyi atau dengan keramaian (seperti yang dilakukan Partai Demokrat). Caranya adalah dengan melambungkan narasi bahwa “hengkang itu patriotis, karena mengedepankan kepentingan dan keutuhan bangsa“. Selain itu, mungkin sudah saatnya kita tidak “mendesak” Sandiaga Uno untuk terus muncul di sisi Prabowo.
  3. Puji secara terbuka tokoh-tokoh yang sudah hengkang, karena mereka sudah melakukan langkah yang patriotis.

Seorang warganet bertanya ke saya:

Memang ini bukan tugas pendukung Joko Widodo. Tapi bagi saya ini adalah sebuah pilihan untuk menurunkan potensi konflik (jangka pendek) dan membangun tradisi politik baru, yakni menerima kekalahan dengan kepala tegak, seperti yang telah dilakukan oleh Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (jangka panjang).

Kalau Anda memang memilih kandidat 01 karena peduli dengan mana yang lebih baik buat bangsa dan bukan karena pemujaan buta, saya kira ini pilihan yang sejalan, bukan?

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life in general

2016: changes, hypotheses, and challenges.

Worry not, I am not starting the year by asking you to read my pledge to self-improve. Not only it is cliché, it is also likely to end up being a public lie.

Sometimes I view living should be about forming and verifying one’s own hypotheses. As one’s life changes, one will form a new set of hypotheses. I am sharing with you how my life has been changing since the last quarter of 2015. After the changes, new hypotheses emerge in my mind, and I know the only way for me to test them is by facing new challenges. I am writing this perhaps also to prepare myself to break old habits and learn new lessons.

Changes

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My temporary home-office, intruded my Mayo.

I’m writing this piece from my (temporary) home-office. I have left my last job —fortunately with my head held high as I stayed true to what I wrote three years ago. I want to solve a different kind of problems, to keep my intellect challenged, and to make a difference to other people. In doing so I hope I can feel ennobled in at least some small way.

Thankfully I have found the right partner to do this: Misty Diansharira, one of the very few “agency suits” whom I deeply respect. We have been partnering since we founded Lembaga Bantuan Kreatif, a tiny-cell within my previous agency that handled social marketing campaign for non-profit sectors since 2014.

We are setting up our new small consultancy called Communication for Change. We have been observing there are many people, including those from unexpected places, who have good initiatives to ensure “reformasi” will never be an unfinished business. In today’s more democratic and decentralised time, they need their initiatives to get supports from even more varied stakeholders. Once their initiatives turn into programs, they need to draw participations from those stakeholders.

Hypotheses

Our first hypothesis is that there’s a sizeable opportunity in assisting these reform-minded organisations. The purpose of our enterprise is to help them get buy-in, change behaviour, and deliver impacts via communication that moves people.

We provide trainings and clinics so they can construct and deliver a compelling pitch for their initiatives in any form. We also advise them strategies to change their stakeholders’ behaviour based on design-thinking principles. And if they want to implement our recommendations, we will help them manage the process.

Our second hypothesis is that we will end-up better financially by not adopting the conventional agency business model. Firstly, we are consultants who get paid by giving clients advice (irrespective whether it will be implemented or not), not an agency that gets paid by doing things on clients’ behalf. Secondly, we just don’t think the agency business model is sustainable for our kind of client. A huge overhead from permanent staff or a hip office is beneficial neither to us nor our clients.

Instead, we adopt the what we call “Ocean 11” or movie production business model. Executive producers, from those who produce Hollywood blockbusters to forgettable TV commercials, don’t employ permanent staff or crew. Once they have scripts they want to produce, they assemble crew that are right for the creative visions and the budget.

In Communication for Change, we make up a small and nimble core that initiates the problem definition stage. Afterwards, we quickly assemble an ad-hoc team of creative partners and solution builders relevant to the task at hand. We want to be the antithesis of the aphorism “If your only tool is a hammer, you will find that everything you encounter needs pounding”. It’s not fair to our clients if we can only propose solutions that are biased by our legacy expertise.

Our third hypothesis is that this endeavour is neither a get-rich-quick  nor get-filthy-rich scheme.We cater to a small niche of potential clients who themselves are not bathed in profits. Although we are not doing this to finance a lifestyle that invites Instagram notoriety, we and our partners want to be compensated fairly and decently.

Challenges

We have never met anybody who tells us starting up a new business is going to be a walk in a park. Indeed: we managed to finalise all the legal paperworks less than a week before the local government banned the use of virtual offices as correspondence addresses for new companies on January 1, 2016. But this is only the beginning.

Right now we are operating in the boot-strap mode. This is by design, not by default. We are not saying no to potential investors. But even if there were some people who wanted to invest on this kind of business (what kind of people they are, I wonder), they would have to accept we would not want to walk away from our purpose and values.

When my former colleague who now has his own ad agency heard the rumour of me quitting, he wanted to confirm straight from the horse’s mouth. We ended up having a short but (at least for me) enlightening talk.

My friend had already recruited a quite aggressive number of staff for a small business in an industry where newcomers survive by undercutting the competitors. He told me he still had to do shitty jobs he used to do when he had been an employer, but at least “They are the shits I choose to take”.

And for him this was acceptable, because, “What matters most to me now is that I can pay salaries to my employees. These people, they chose to join me, and I feel obliged to take care of them.” 

I find my friend’s attitude commendable. But I am not like him. I don’t get off on playing Santa Claus or Don Corleone. We left our jobs because want to work on stuff that matters. We want to do meaningful work. Consequently we should maintain our freedom to say no to causes we do not believe in. One of my favourite quotes is “Principles mean nothing until they cost you money” (from the ad legend Bill Bernbach). And we can only afford that cost by staying small.

We are only a couple of weeks young. It’s too early to predict anything. We need to get clients, continue building our network of independent creative workers and solution builders, demonstrate our worth, and manage the business itself. They are going to be challenging.

Not to leave out my personal challenges. Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” I am glad I never try the first, unsure if it is humanly possible to quit the second, and have just started kicking out the third one. Monthly salaries are an important pillar of our comfort zone. But comfort zone can also stunt us. How many times have we chickened out of the opportunities to grow because we are afraid to lose our security blanket?

This new chapter in my life is exciting but also formidable. I am neither fearless nor ever aspire to be so. I second Nelson Mandela that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. I do feel afraid, but I want to conquer it. I have to.

So let me try, let us try. And kindly wish that the force be with us.

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