The Prison of Others’ Approval – 7 Takeaways for November 14, 2021


1. “Write 5x more but write 5x less”

Write 5x more but write 5x less – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)

His point is very simple:

  1. The average person should write 5x more things than they do.
  2. The average written thing should be 5x shorter than it is.

I’m a strong believer in number one. I strive to learn the lesson of number two.

Do this: write.

2. “60% believe the 2020 election was stolen”

Top 4 Evangelical findings from 2021 PRRI American Values Survey – David Gamble – (Skeptical Science blog)

What we learn about White Evangelicals from this latest poll is this …

  • 75% believe that God has specially chosen the US
  • 57% would very much like the US to be an exclusively Christian nation
  • 60% believe the 2020 election was stolen
  • 26% believe that political violence is wholly appropriate to “save the nation”

Honestly, I find this sobering. And frightening. I no longer identify as Christian, and honestly — this kind of thinking and tolerance of it all from the rest of the Christian community is one reason why.

Do this: evaluate your beliefs.

3. “Don’t make it harder than it has to be.”

How to Wake Up Smiling: The 9 Decisions That Led To A Life I Love – Michael Thompson – (Medium)

Some cool insights, some of which I’ve already adopted (“decided to ask my wife to marry me”, “make curious my baseline”), some I aspire to improve (“listen to understand people”), and some I’m not sure of. Nonetheless, good things to reflect on.

Do this: think about the decisions that most impacted your life, and realize it’s never too late to make more.

4. “There’s a person behind that username.”

Jason Santa Maria: Take a Breath – (YouTube)

This is something I also struggle with: the race to react, often publicly. And yet, rarely does the timing of my response improve it or its acceptance in any way. If anything in the rush to get the words out, I end up choosing the wrong words. Or at least words I would not choose had I take a little extra time and care.

Take a breath, and just consider the things that you say, because you could be on the other side of that someday, too.

Do this: it’s a two-and-a-half-minute video. Watch. Then take a breath.

5. “Bitching fixes nothing.”

If You’re Sick of the Nonsense, This Is For You – Linda Caroll – (Medium)

You probably already know I’m not a big fan of complaining.

This essay is aimed at other writers on Medium — at least that’s where all the examples come from. And, indeed, Medium can be a mixed bag of both positivity and doom.

But isn’t that true of life as well?

The author ultimately offers two ideas: stop being part of the problem, and curate the content you read to dial back on the negativity you’re consuming. These, also, apply to life in general.

Do this: Avoid complaint-porn. (And avoid making your own.)

6. “. . . monitoring billions of interactions in real time will require significant effort and may not even be possible.”

How will Facebook keep its metaverse safe for users? – Hannah Murphy – (Financial Times)

(Paywalled after three views, so only click if really interested.)

Obviously there’s a lot of buzz about Facebook/Meta, the “metaverse”, what it means, where it’s going, and as this article dives into: how Facebook will keep it a safe & sane place to interact with others. If it takes off (and there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical), their position would seem to be that it may not be possible. Certainly based on their track record of being unable to properly police Facebook proper, which is an order of magnitude simpler than various visions of “the metaverse”, it’s hard not to agree.

What I rarely see discussed, in any of the coverage of the metaverse, Facebook, or any of the other social media platforms, is transparency. I’d claim that “false positives”, especially by AI and other automated techniques, are already, and will be, as big or bigger problems than general enforcement. In addition to needing resources to monitor content, they need resources to manually arbitrate. Without that I’d give them an even smaller chance of success.

Do this: If the metaverse interests you, realize it’s nothing really new. Go play a massively multiplayer game like Fortnight or World of Warcraft to get a taste. It’s basically that model, with in-person audio and VR googles.

7. “the prison of others’ approval”

No One Cares! – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

Turns out there are evolutionary reasons that we might feel the need to care about the opinions of others. It also turns out that doing so doesn’t really serve us as well in the modern day. I know that one of the things I’ve had to develop over time is a resilience to my perceptions of the opinions of others, especially after becoming an online publisher. But the reality is my perception, such as it is, doesn’t match the reality of how few people really give a damn about me or my opinions.

If we were perfectly logical beings, we would understand that our fears about what other people think are overblown and rarely worth fretting over.

Do this: be logical.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


Support 7Takeaways

As Austin Kleon says about his own newsletter: it’s free, but not cheap. Your support helps keep 7Takeaways viable. I appreciate your consideration VERY much.

Pick your own level of support!

3 thoughts on “The Prison of Others’ Approval – 7 Takeaways for November 14, 2021”

  1. Leo, I enjoy your posts and I *really* appreciate your computer advice.

    I have some questions about your statement “I no longer identify as Christian, and honestly — this kind of thinking and tolerance of it all from the rest of the Christian community is one reason why.”
    I understand, but–
    1) –Do any other groups, such as BLM and Antifa, also exhibit the intolerance you see in Christians? Or even worse?
    2) –This is only one survey–could it be biased or even wrong?
    3) –The implication of “60% think the 2020 election was stolen” is that they are stupid and wrong for believing such nonsense. But–what if they’re right? (And they might be right, you know.)
    4) –How do you know “the rest of the Christian community” tolerates the views expressed by this survey? Isn’t that an unproven, and probably unprovable, assumption?
    TY for your good work.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I’ve taken the liberty of numbering them so I could reply to each.

      1. Of course they do. But that doesn’t make it right, ok, tolerable, or understandable.
      2. Of course. The full survey, including its demographics and approach, is available at the cited link. My sense from reading the source article is that it’s a relatively accurate representation of the demographics.
      3. The chances of their being right are, in my opinion, infinitesimal. So small as to be laughable. Review after review keeps coming to the conclusion that this was simply not the case.
      4. By their inaction. (I’d love to be wrong on this.)

      Most important from this is that we think and not blindly assume either position.

    • I agree with your comments about Leo’s posts and advice – both interesting and informative. I came here to comment on the very statement you quoted. Although most people (and hence groups) have biases and intolerances, I think religious groups can be particularly susceptible; they have been taught to believe something unquestioningly and without evidence. If their whole life (and afterlife!) depends on that belief, it’s not surprising that they are easily swayed and fearful of ‘others’.


Leave a Comment