Random thoughts from the internet, entry #435

My numbering might be off a little.

This comment is presented without context, because it could apply to a lot of people. If you absolutely must know who it references, click the spoiler below.

The quote:

When are we going to stop making stupid people famous for being both stupid and loud?

It’s not a great quote, by any means–some will bristle at using the word “stupid” to describe a person, for example, but I think what it conveys is an essential (and unfortunate) part of internet and social media culture, which is:

  • If you act stupid (substitute word of your choice here), you will generally be ignored
  • But if you act stupid and loud, people will pay attention to you, earning you “fame” of a variety
  • The internet allows anyone to be both stupid and loud
  • ???
  • Profit! The world becomes worse, by increments (at least to start)

In the end, this is basically about trolls knowing how to be effective, and the age-old advice for handling the trolls remains the same: Ignore them. When they are loud, it makes it harder to do so (think of a dog barking outside your window) but it can be done, and when the trolls don’t get any response, they eventually move on. Probably to a new troll, but eventually they may fall into the obscurity they deserve. Giving them attention, even when it’s calling them out for being “stupid” gives them the oxygen they need to continue.

None of this is new or revelatory. But just today I wanted to put it down in writing again. Life is about the choices you make, even when the choices are thrust upon you. We can all choose not to engage with the stupid and loud. And we should!

And now, a cat:

Identity of the stupid and loud person
Marjorie Taylor Greene

Top experts!

I used to subscribe to a newsletter from James Clear1This is an admittedly great name for a self-help guru to have. I obliquely made fun of him here. I dropped the newsletter because he sent a lot of mail, the advice got very samey, and ultimately it gets fatiguing to constantly read platitudes about how to be a better person, blah blah blah.

He’s back!

I received an unsolicited email from him today2CleanShot X makes this look far classier than it did in reality:

I like the unspecified use of “top experts” in the above. What are they experts in? It doesn’t matter, they’re top experts! Trust me. Actually, let’s have a look:

  • Serena Williams: Top expert at tennising
  • Neil Gaiman: Top expert at writing
  • Gordon Ramsay: Top expert at yelling

What “small behaviors3I’m using the American spelling here and my spell checker is getting mad at me” made these experts so expertful? Let’s see:

  • Serena Williams: Has probably played five thousand million hours of tennis
  • Neil Gamin: Has probably written five thousand million words
  • Gordon Ramsay: Has probably yelled at five thousand million people

The key to become a class master (surely the goal of a MasterClass), then, is to spend an extraordinary amount of time doing the one thing you want to be an expert at. This is prime TED Talk stuff right here. Further, the small behaviors would seem to be:

  • Find something you want to do (“I want to be an expert yak herder”)
  • Spend an inordinate time doing that thing
  • Top Expert!

Anyway, spoiler: I did not sign up to MasterClass™.

I already did, jerk!

Creativity, taste and practice: Blend together and enjoy

I came across this quote from Steve Jobs (by way of Ira Glass), and it speaks to me in a way that rings so true I can still hear the bells clanging in my head. Stupid bells. It also echoes what I read in Talented Is Overrated1I was originally going to link to my reivew, but it turns out I never reviewed this book. It’s short, so I’ll just re-read it and do a proper review. Short version: The first half is compelling, the second is mostly “be a better businessperson blah blah blah”., which posits the idea that we all have ability, we just need to nurture it and practice…a lot.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

Steve Jobs

Shhh, let people enjoy things

I saw this posted in the comments of this Ars Technica article on mechanical keyboards (I am typing this on my Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard and the CLACKS are so very satisfying). It was in response to someone writing that “Mechanicl (sic) keyboards are the nerds’noisy crotch rocket.”

It is my favorite thing on the internet today, and something I will try to remember when someone likes something I don’t like.

Credit to Adam Ellis

Know Your Meme explainer: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/let-people-enjoy-things

Big enough to be big, small enough to be small

There, I just gave you the secret advice recipe of probably a billion people on the internet, which is:

  • Be [this kind of thing]
  • But also be [the opposite of the above]

So you get things like:

  • Learn to be patient/Never wait too long
  • Take action without deliberation/Think carefully before acting
  • Go for red!/Go for blue!
  • Up is down/Down is up

Thank you and subscribe to my newsletter.

–James, Clear