1. “. . . care more than everybody else . . .”
Ignorant, but curious – Austin Kleon – (Blog)
The full quote:
If you care more than everybody else, you pay better attention, and you see things that others don’t see. To ask the questions that need to be asked, you have to care more than others about what happens, but care less about what others might think of you in the moment.
I got here via a circle of curiosity: Rob Walker on curiosity (Kleon) -> The Art of Noticing (Rob Walker’s Newsletter) -> Curiouser? (Rob Walker) -> Ignorance and the Curious Idiot (Jason Kottke) -> Ignorant, but curious, the article I quote above. All were riffing on the concept of curiosity, and whether it was innate and fixed, or a skill that could be trained and grown. A fascinating set of articles and I can recommend them all.
My position: oh, my, yes . . . not only can curiosity be encouraged and grown, but it’s critical that we do so. And yes, caring more than everybody else is a start.
Do this: Stay curious. Become curiouser.
2. “. . . misinformation, like political polarization, tends to be very good for business.”
This is The Real Plague To Avoid – Ryan Holiday – (Blog)
Social media giants have technology in place to automatically prevent salacious photos and copyrighted music, and even to know whether you’re using your real name online. And yet they choose not to apply that same technology against the danger to human life that is anti-vax rhetoric and vaccine hesitancy. I’d claim that allowing anti-vax misinformation is demonstrably more damaging to individuals, the community, and the world than almost any post that happens to include nekkid body parts. Yet you can guess which one will get you punished.
I’m all for freedom of speech, but that comes with responsibility. None has the right to actively promote misinformation that kills. The facts are in. The vaccines work.
an infected mind is far more dangerous pestilence than any plague
– Marcus Aurelius
Doubly so when the infected mind also spreads a (literal) plague.
Do this: get vaccinated. Please.
3. “The Coffee Shop Effect.”
The Coffee Shop Effect Isn’t BS — It’s Real – Steve Fitz – (Medium)
One of the things that surprised me, as an introvert, is how much I miss sitting in my local Starbucks. I miss the noise, the people, the . . . whatever. Turns out I might not be alone. In fact, it turns out that coffee shops, in general, can be a place for increased productivity, particularly for writing.
My take is that it’s primarily the background noise, though the article mentions other potential reasons for the benefits as well, all research-backed. Fortunately, background noise can be replicated.
Do this: When things open up, consider the benefits of hanging out at your local coffee shop. Just be sure to buy enough to justify the space you’re taking.
4. “. . . every single one of us has demons . . .”
My Birthday Wish For You – Peter Shankman – (email newsletter)
In this annual message, Shankman shares a series of nine reminders. They’re all gold. This one spoke to me because I try to remind myself of it often, and have been known to post a variation on social media from time to time:
I want you to understand that every single one of us has demons lurking inside of us, and every single one of us fights a battle to maintain control over them, every single day. Every single one of us has self-doubt, every single one of us makes the occasional boneheaded mistake, and every single one of us is afraid that we’ll never truly succeed. Every. Single. One of us.
Do this: Remember. And be kind.
5. “. . . it is . . . a staggering privilege to die . . .”
Richard Dawkins on the Luckiness of Death – Maria Popova – (Brain Pickings newsletter)
Had any one variable been ever so subtly different — had your parents mated on a different day or at a different altitude, had the early universe cooled a fraction of a second faster after the Big Bang, you would not exist . . .
This counterintuitive look at the privilege of living spoke to me for some reason. That a nearly infinite series of chance, and yet fragile occurrences (or whatever you choose to believe) lead to my specific existence implies that living this life is the highest privilege. That we might have to die someday is possible only because we’ll have lived.
Do this: Be grateful.
6. “There’s a lot of knowledge being generated and by not sharing, we’re losing it.”
How are Rules Made? – Dan Lewis – (Now I Know, newsletter)
In a discussion of the fact that two different sporting organizations dealing with baseball came to two different, yet similar, solutions to a rules problem, Lewis leads us to this: there’s no documentation on how the rules were arrived at, nor why they’re different. Generalize that to the world at large, and:
. . . there’s a lot of non-trivial stuff being lost simply because it’s no one’s job to share it.
Lost. I have the same concern when I see people not taking steps to preserve their digital legacy — information that was, in fact, created, and perhaps even shared. Information that will eventually be lost because they’re convinced “no one will ever care”. Ask any historian or archivist: they care.
Do this: Share what you create. Take steps to ensure its preservation.
7. “A feeling of helplessness settles in. . .”
The Pandemic Has Devastated the Mental Health of Public Health Workers – Michael Ollove – (Stateline, PEW Research)
The full quote that got my attention:
A feeling of helplessness settles in when you promote all these practices, but part of the community feels antagonistic at your efforts or feels you have an ulterior motive . . .
Along with a description of how it’s all manifesting:
Those conditions are depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are segments of our workforce that are regularly being abused. There are also segments that are currently chronically under-staffed and in higher demand than ever. I’ve been watching several discussions about the devastating impact things are having on veterinarians and veterinary ER’s for example, though it’s far more widespread.
It feels like a simple platitude like “be kind” is missing the mark. We’re all stressed. We’re all afraid. We’re all frustrated. The best thing we can all do — for ourselves and each other — is to first acknowledge that. And then understand how best to cope — once again, for ourselves, and with each other.
Do this: Revisit takeaway 4. There are more demons than ever.
What I’m Reading
In progress (also on GoodReads):
- The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown – Catherine Burns (editor)
- Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World – Vaclav Smil
- Fugitive Telemetry: A Murderbot Novel – Martha Wells
- 90 Days of Creative Motivation -Todd Brison
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down – James Fell
2 thoughts on “Every Single One of us Has Demons – 7 Takeaways for August 8, 2021”
Leo, you say (in item 2) that “The facts are in. The vaccines work.” Are you totally sure that is true? Could it not be the case that the vaccines developed so quickly (in the UK with a government guarantee that if anything goes wrong those who created the vaccines would not be held legally responsible) might just not prove in future years to be as safe and reliable as we all hope they will be? Think of the dangerous results of Thalidomide which was initially considered safe for expectant mothers to take, and which resulted in severely deformed children being born.
IMO the data is in. Vaccines work. That 99% of all COVID hospitalizations and deaths are unvaccinated says it all. The vaccines are significantly less risky than contracting COVID itself. The vaccines significantly slow the spread of the disease. I trust the science (which, you might notice, has progressed significantly since the 1950’s).