Croakers Square

Awhile back, I was reading an article on—of all things—fraud, and something that was said caught my attention: even within the context of retail markets, “fraud” isn’t a thing. Rather, the author (some financial tech genius) pointed out, fraud is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of different issues.

This is relevant in trying to combat fraud in retail environment: because the various types of fraud are related, fighting in one area can help in other areas. BUT … because they ARE different things, fighting in one area isn’t enough if you want to beat the overall problem as a whole.

The same idea applies to things like cancer: people talk about a “cure for cancer” like it is one thing, but in reality, we use the term “cancer” to describe any of dozens of related but different diseases. The details of what TYPE of cancer really gets down to one’s personal experience: a type you have, or a type your father died or, or what have you. Everyone knows that cancer is a bad thing that can kill you, and that’s enough for most conversations. But the picture in my head when someone says the word is likely to be quite different from the picture in your head.

I pondered this for a bit, as I am wont to do, and came to the conclusion that much of life could be described in this way, as well: we throw out an umbrella term, and everyone more or less knows what we mean … but the picture each person has varies on experience.

Take dance, for example. If I mention that I’m going dancing on Friday night, well, we all know what dancing is, right? We all know what I’m talking about—on a grand level. But the fact is, that could mean a lot of things.

Sure, anyone who knows me at all (or reads this blog at all) is going to assume it will involve partners, a caller, and the occasional do-si-dos. But if I were talking to a stranger, what picture would he or she conjure? If I were dressed in a tailored suit, they might assume I would be attending some elegant waltz. If I were wearing leather jeans and perhaps had a streak of green dye in my hair … well, they’d likely be thinking I was too old to be going clubbing (even if they were too polite to say so!).

Same words, same meaning from a “forest” perspective; from a “tree” view, however, quite different.

And we can break it down even further: Let’s look at that expression I used: do-si-dos. Even non-squares often associate the term with square dancing … and in fact it figures there quite prominently. One source even called it “the most well-known call in square dancing,” and it may be.

Believe it or not, however, the term isn’t inherently rooted in American square dance. The expression is a corruption of the original French term dos-à-dos which means “back to back’” as opposed to vis-à-vis, or “face to face.” The actual steps can vary depending on whether you’re talking about contra dancing or square dancing, a reel or a Highland Fling.

In fact, it’s a bit ironic that people see “do-si-dos” and think of square dance, when the more-or-less official spelling among the callers is Dosado (or sometimes DoSaDos).

My point is, we make some snap judgements based on our own interpretations of something we here. At the core, that’s almost always the basis of our arguments, whether they’re about politics, race, money … or a spat with the spouse. We all know exactly what we mean, but the words we use leave enough vague wiggle room that the other side can make it mean something completely different: the end result is ever only going to be based on YOUR experience.

Which is why it’s important to try things—like square dancing—for yourself. Don’t take society’s word for it, don’t take Hollywood’s word for it … don’t even take MY word for it. You’ll never know until you experience it for yourself.

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