Knob gags: mirror neurons and social learning #47 in the insights for managers series

An apology
This isn’t intended to be broad or authoritative. The writing is a bit rough and ready. There are holes in it. It’s a bit (first) drafty.
Why have i written this?
Study of social primates• can provide insights into human behaviour which may be of relevance to managers. (•aren’t all primates social? Must check)
What causes trolling! What maintains it?
Trolling and flaming is fascinating. It reminds me of a thing that has emerged in comedy clubs.
The science bit
There is a monkey see monkey do thing in primates. Humans are primates. Mirror neurons provide a social learning mechanism which has survival value for a species.
Applying it to a human phenomenon: heckling
In non survival situations, like a night out, it becomes toxic. Fairly stupid bloke observe heckling in comedy clubs. Fairly stupid bloke ‘learn’ that thing to do is heckle and that this ‘helps: the comic. Ugg shout heckle. Yet the comics hate it, and the vast majority of the audience, apart from his mates on the stag night, hate it.
The victim speaks
Stewart Lee has described in his book how he found it impossible to do material that had anything in it other than crude reinforcement of stereotypes and knob gags. (Knob gags* could be fitted to any knob who heckles). He now refuses to do those venues, which is why you wonder what happened to him or why you haven’t heard of him.
Applying this to the world of work
If I were writing a book which would, in part or in whole, be about ‘consensual communication’ (a term that I believe I have coined, so hands off), it would take the above exposition and apply it to a management context.
A book
I am writing such a book, a successor to my lost cult classic, Navigating Complexity.
An appeal
I appeal to you dear readers, for further examples, and please, examples of contexts at work, in which you have observed the toxic effects of mirror neurons and social learning.

Triggered in part by Tom Hitchman, aimed at an audience which contains Tom and Ben Taylor and Rory Heap amongst others.

                                                 *and there is my punning title


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