(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email, visit 7takeaways.com/latest in your browser. If a link to a source below leads to you a paywall or is otherwise inaccessible, please read my note on the topic: Paywalls.)
1. “All this, over a simple piece of punctuation”
A Theory of the Modern Exclamation Point! – Anne Helen Petersen – (Culture Study newsletter)
Peterson focuses on the exclamation point, specifically, and how, apparently, “Exclamation and enthusiasm are feminized”, particularly in a business setting, resulting in an assortment of “you shouldn’t” kind of advice from others.
I’ll admit similar confusion when I learned that, apparently, using a period in text messages was a sign of passive-aggressiveness. Again, I say … whut?
Can we maybe stop looking for reasons to be offended?
If you think someone’s written communication style is off, or wrong, or bitchy: see if it’s possible to clarify their intention without asking them to change their tone. And if you think someone uses too many exclamation points: maybe the person with an exclamation problem isn’t them, but you!
Do this: Quit looking for ways to be offended.
2. “It’s funny how consistently stupid we can be about ourselves.”
Why don’t you try typing? – Austin Kleon – (blog)
Kleon describes how he, trying to create his next book in a particular and novel way, essentially sabotages the attempt. His wife, noticing the frustration, points out that perhaps rather than new and novel, he should return to tried and true.
“Why do you insist on trying to write books differently than everything else you write? For everything else you write, you go into the studio, and you sit down in front of the computer, and you start typing. Eventually you get something.”
It applies to writers everywhere — just start typing. But the concept is a much larger one. We’re all often seduced by new and novel approaches to accomplishing whatever it is we’re trying to do. I’m not saying we should avoid them … it’s one way we grow. In my case, trying new things is how I have fun. But when it comes down to it, we often hold on to those new things longer than we should. Sometimes they’re great, but when they’re not, we need to recognize that and move on or step back.
Do this: Know when to fold ‘em.
3. “What we actually need most — is each other”
The friendship problem – Rosie Spinks – (What Do We Do Now That We’re Here? newsletter)
This is an excellent essay on friendship, connections, and how our world has slowly but surely reconfigured itself to make traditional in-person friendship so difficult.
Modern loneliness masks itself as hyper connectivity. And so people have easily 1000 virtual friends, but no one they can ask to feed their cat.
This isn’t a critique of the technological advances of the last few years as much as it is an observation on how they’ve changed us.
The oft-cited Dunbar’s number — that our brains have a cognitive upper limit of about 150 relationships we can actively maintain — can easily be maxed out by a morning Instagram scroll and answering your email and WhatsApps.
Like I said, it’s an excellent essay and well worth your time.
Do this: Accept the hassle of in-person friendships.
4. “Hey, this is 2024. Everything is cool.”
Make 2024 The Year Of Maximum Enthusiasm – Brendan Leonard – (Semi-Rad blog)
We take for granted, or miss completely, so much about our lives that is absolutely amazing and awesome (in the literal inspiring awe sense). This essay, apparently re-published yearly because of its popularity, asks us to pay more attention to those things, and spread a little enthusiasm along the way.
I urge you to notice when something is awesome.
Your life, even the bad parts, is f’ing amazing.
It really is. It’s very easy to focus only on the negative, since so much of it is being thrown at us from all directions, but by-and-large we’ve got it pretty good. That’s worth paying more attention to.
Do this: Be enthusiastic
5. “Watch your thoughts, they become your words”
The Laundry Cycle Theory, Illusory Truth Effect, & More – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle)
A section of this edition discusses the Illusory Truth Effect:
What lie have I repeated to myself so many times that it feels like the truth?
My take is that this is a question we cannot easily answer, since we can’t recognize the lies we believe are truth as lies to begin with.
My larger take on this, however, is that our political system is currently based almost entirely on this concept. It’s not the lies we repeat to ourselves that are the source of the problem, it’s the lies and misinformation repeated, often intentionally, by others that we choose to believe without question.
Do this: Question.
6.”Facing reality is hard.”
Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results – Shane Parrish – (ebook)
The chapter I’m currently reading is entitled “Self-Accountability”, or taking responsibility for your choices and actions.
Too often we fight against the feedback the world gives us, to protect our beliefs. Rather than changing ourselves, we want the world to change. And if we don’t have the power to change it, we do the only thing we feel we can do: complain.
This ties in closely with Buddhist and Stoic philosophy: there are things in our control and out of our control. We often confuse the two, making ineffective and even damaging choices along the way.
The truth is that we make repeated choices in life that become habits, those habits determine our paths, and those paths determine our outcomes. When we explain away those unwanted outcomes, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility for producing them.
Do this: Take responsibility for yourself.
7. “Cancellation and piled-on abuse have been completely normalised”
Mutually Assured Cancellation – Helen Dale – (Not On Your Team, But Always Fair newsletter)
Both sides. All sides. Our ability to tolerate disagreement seems to be vanishing, often to be replaced with ostracism and even violence.
we’ve lost our way when it comes to managing public disagreement. The sort of world I prefer—where people speak their minds and are responded to by other people also speaking their minds and everyone just deals with any hurty words—is receding from view at speed.
In a sense, “cancelling” is just people making choices on their beliefs. The danger is when those making those choices insist the same choice be made for everyone. The complication is that sometimes broad cancelation is exactly the right thing (Nazi’s anyone?), but the line has slowly been moving. Many disagreements rarely warrant cancellation. Individual choices, within reason and the law, sure. But insisting an opposing position be completely shut down for all? No.
And yet, here we are.
Do this: Disagree better.
More random links & thoughts
- The Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle Is Priceless
- In pictures: Volcano spews lava after erupting in Iceland – Some amazing photos.
- What Was ISDN? – It was how I connected to the internet for a while. Before I got my T-1 lines, and then DSL, and then….
Full list on the sources page.
What I’m Reading
- What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter – John P. Weiss
- Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results – Shane Parrish
- Blitz: A Novel (The Rook Files) – Daniel O’Malley
- Inferno – Dante (Audio)
- A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts – Leo Tolstoy
Support 7 Takeaways
As Austin Kleon says about his own newsletter: it’s free, but not cheap. Your support helps keep 7 Takeaways viable. I appreciate your consideration VERY much.
The best approach is to become a paid subscriber on Substack. This has ripple effects that go beyond your subscription, which is why I list it first.