Relationship

A person is not created either to subdue others, or to follow the orders of others. People are corrupted by both ways of behavior. In the first they assume too much importance, in the second, too little respect. In both ways there is very little dignity.

~ Victor Considérant

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Dynamic societies

What’s often left out of those criticisms of dynamism is what a dynamic society actually means that’s truly positive, and that is when you have a society where people are thinking up new things and starting them, you get the benefits of those ideas all the way downstream: better jobs, more better jobs, jobs that people are happier with, and the like.

~ Ryan Streeter from, https://www.aei.org/economics/embracing-dynamism-my-long-read-qa-with-ryan-streeter/

This long-read goes deep into society, economics, and even politics. It’s a little different than things I generally post. The particular point quoted above feels like a non-zero-sum-game feature of trade among individuals. In a good trade, everyone separately agrees that they are better off after the trade. There’s net increase in “better off”—however we manage to measure that, be it in dollars, or smiles. (Aside: Coercion of any sort disqualifies a trade from being “good” in my estimation.)

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Stingy with positive reinforcement

Here’s something I’ve noticed about myself: If I read something great, I’ll sometimes write a short comment like “This was amazing, you’re the best!” Then I’ll stare at it for 10 seconds and decide that posting it would be lame and humiliating, so I delete it go about my day. But on the rare occasions that I read something that triggers me, I get a strong feeling that I have important insights. Assuming that I’m not uniquely broken in this way, it explains a lot.

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/internet-writing/

I too have this tendency. In recent years I’ve been actively working on my own version of “See something. Say something.” as part of my changes to achieve results. My version is that nice things must be said out loud. No more sitting on the positive thoughts; Yes, I need to squish my incessant critical commentary. Dial that down, please. But I also need to practice letting out the good stuff too. Nice shirt. Smooth movement. This food is delicious. It’s so insanely comfortable here. Thank you for making this come together. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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Together

It’s an endless list of little things that you think you’ve forgotten, but you haven’t. You are quite literally built to sense an infinite amount of subtle bits of signal from your fellow humans. We were not built to live alone in caves; we were built to live together in them.

~ “Rands” from, https://randsinrepose.com/archives/what-we-lost/

As the “online interaction” soared in recent years, I’ve gradually moved away from feeling grumpy about the quality of (for example), video calls online. Through that time I continued to enjoy in-person interaction as much as I ever did, and I had already spent years massively reducing the frequency of those. My feeling is that all the online interaction has expanded—not replaced, nor “attempted to replace” nor anything negative like that—my human interaction. I’ve had multiple conversations with people from other continents I’d never had been able to meet in person.

I’m not suggesting “Rands” has it wrong. No, he has it quite right. I’m simply pointing out that these sense-limited interactions can be an enormous positive addition when we don’t think of them as replacing normal human interactions.

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Perspective and awareness

The thing about status dynamics, though, is that they aren’t in one spot. There isn’t a whole world that is being fully and accurately perceived, except for one blank space that’s being glossed over.

~ Duncan Sabien from, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/7Pq9KwZhG6vejmYpo/the-metaphor-you-want-is-color-blindness-not-blind-spot

This is an interesting unpacking of some metaphors. If one has a blind spot in vision, simply shifting your gaze or moving slightly, will reveal what one is not seeing. This is a key way in which the “blind spot” metaphor is inaccurate and insufficient for systemic differences (in people, culture, society, etc.). The metaphor of red-green color blindness carries more utility because it points out that the things, or the distinctions, which one can’t see are everywhere; they are not literally in one stationary location (the problem is not simply under this X on this map), and no matter what one does—gaze shifting, moving around, thinking a great deal—those invisible thing are not going to appear.

The only way I’ve found to get through such problem is to engage with others whose literal and conceptual perspectives differ from my own. I’ll sum that up as: Discovery.

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The Internet

Ultimately, the goal is not to stop using the internet, or even minimize its use, but to put it back into a box in the basement where it belongs. The first step is to discover what I’m up against. If I find a way to make the internet small again, I’ll write a book about it so others can do it too.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2022/02/how-to-make-the-internet-small-again/

I’ve been beating this drum for years, (eg, here’s a search for “use you”.) I don’t want to put the Internet literally into a box and then stuff it in the basement. (Even setting aside that I don’t have a basement.) The Internet is nothing more than a tool. The Internet, but also TV, food, politics, religion, music, your car(s?), books, or even hoarding [sometimes misspelled “collecting”] things… one can have a dysfunctional relationship with anything. (Truth in blogging: My addiction is TV and snacking.)

Don’t think my little paragraphs here are meant to diminish what Cain wrote. Go read that, it’s better than what I’ve written here. Rather, my point is simply that we each need to figure out—for each of those things I listed above, and every other thing—are we using it, or are we letting it use us.

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Three dots

Let me be clear that no part of me idealizes the bygone agony of waiting three weeks for a letter from your lover to cross the Atlantic—a letter that might never arrive from a lover who might be dead by the time it does arrive. But let me also be clear that, in another century or two, if humanity is wise enough to survive and reconsider its compulsions, posterity will look back on us gobsmacked that we put ourselves through the agony of the three pulsating dots.

~ Maria Popova

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