Chosen Tidbits 7

Part of the Chosen Tidbits series.

You Can't Tell People Anything

What’s going on is that without some kind of direct experience to use as a touchstone, people don’t have the context that gives them a place in their minds to put the things you are telling them.

The things you say often don't stick, and the few things that do stick are often distorted.

Also, most people aren't very good at visualizaing hypothetitcals, at imagining what something they haven't experienced might be like if it were somewhat different.

Drawing might help.

If you create things that you can keep on the market at a very low cost (including your time), you almost cannot fail. Worst case scenario is a slow success.

When your running costs are high, time becomes your enemy. Your profits must beat the clock, or you go bust.

When your running costs are negligible, time becomes your friend. You cannot go bust, and the passage of time exposes you to luck 24/7.

Daniel Vassallo

The Asshole Filter

If you find yourself wondering, or just feeling, "Why is everyone I wind up dealing with an asshole?" you might want to consider the possibility that you have set up an asshole filter. Asshole filters are an extremely common phenomenon, and an extremely common problem.

An asshole filter happens when you publicly promulgate a straitened contact boundary and then don't enforce it; or worse, reward the people who transgress it.

Example: promulgate that mails mails must go through team mail, but still answer your private emails or even expedite the requests your receive there, thereby rewarding transgressors.

Kelly Bet on Everything

I wrote this post because of my endless frustration with my friends who have the most slack in life also being the most risk averse. They have plenty of savings but stay in soul-sucking jobs for years. They complain about the monotony of social life but refuse to instigate a change. They don’t travel, don’t do drugs, don’t pick fights, don’t flirt, don’t express themselves. They don’t want to think about kids because their lives are just so comfortable and why would you mess with that?

The Silence is Deafening

When Angry Alice tweets something obnoxious or unproductive, reasonable people just scroll past it. If Alice develops a pattern of bad behavior, reasonable people will just unfollow, mute, or block her. The result is that it's hard for Alice to notice the silent majority of people who saw the trash fire and walked away when they recognized that engaging would only fuel its flames.

It gets worse—Angry Alice only sees feedback from extremists, so she doesn't receive more nuanced signals that might actually cause her to reflect on her behavior. If no reasonable people give feedback, only the unreasonable people are left. From Alice's perspective, the only people who disagree with her are jerks.

This is a coordination problem. Reasonable people understand that if they join the fray alone, they'll most likely be drowned out by the yelling, or worse they'll get dragged deeper into it. As a result, they choose stay out of it.

A huge part of the problem is that digital spaces generally have no equivalent of a disapproving glare. You're stuck choosing between staying silent and entering the fray, with few options in between. If you have little reason to believe that other reasonable people will back you up, you're going to stick with the default: silence.

Tolerance is Not A Moral Precept

lisatomic5 on Children's Rights

This thread illustrates that telling your children the functional lie that they have bodily autonomy is exhausting to stick to.

Fuck Victimhood Identity

The reality is that long ago I noticed that the less I saw and presented myself as a victim, the less I was victimized. This kicked off a virtuous cycle that I’m not going to jeopardize. Now my life is much improved, and I’ve developed a very strong allergy to victim identity.

The spiral of victim identity is incredibly seductive. Once you step in it your identity will be reinforced by everyone around you and your own confirmation bias. I’ve seen this spiral claim people, groups, nations. It didn’t make them better off, and it didn’t make them better.

Victimhood blinds you to the suffering of others. My dating life improved when I stopped thinking about how women malign me and became able to understand their own fears and frustrations with guys. Before, I literally couldn’t fathom that dating can be hard for hot young women

Victimhood blinds you to your own mistakes, the only part you can change.

Everyone wants their suffering validated, but you will never get this validation from those who hurt you if that’s what you seek. If you let go of this doomed desire, you may eventually find the validation you crave among friends.

You shouldn’t have to argue about how you’re fighting, while you’re fighting.

Trying to do both at once is a quick way to compound your frustration with each other and make things worse for everybody.

The smart thing to do is to schedule relationship maintenance in advance.


How to Understand Things

My father has zero intellectual insecurities... It has never crossed his mind to be concerned that the world thinks he’s an idiot. He’s not in that game. So if he doesn’t understand something, he just asks you. He doesn’t care if he sounds foolish. He will ask the most obvious question without any sort of concern about it...

Most people are not willing to do this — looking stupid takes courage, and sometimes it’s easier to just let things slide.

It is striking how many situations I am in where I start asking basic questions, feel guilty for slowing the group down, and it turns out that nobody understood what was going on to begin with (often people message me privately saying that they’re relieved I asked), but I was the only one who actually spoke up and asked about it.

One Week Project Management

Starting a big project is tricky. I usually have some sense of what needs to be done, but my time estimates tend to be… a little off. There’s one thing worse than underestimating the time it’ll take: doing unnecessary work. I hate getting traction on a project only to realize that a bunch of work was wasted.

There’s a trick that often works for me: Rescope the project to complete it within the next week. Even when unrealistic, trying to apply that tight constraint can get you to notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. It forces me to consider what is absolutely necessary and what can be skipped. It forces me to spend one of my days planning so I know exactly what I need to execute.

[Parkinson’s Law] states that a project takes as much time as you allow it. Once in a while, try allowing much less time than you think is necessary.

My cynical view of humanity at large informs my sympathetic view of actual humans. By the standards of horny status-obsessed murder monkeys, even my outgroup enemies are often doing the best they can consider the fears and insecurities that plague them.

On the other hand, if you believe that humans are by nature benign and kind and are only "corrupted" by culture, you will have a very negative view of the prevailing culture and most people. This will tempt you to dream of revolutions or a return to some golden age.