Monthly : December 2020

in News

Unlearning 2020: Part 6 – The Battle Plan to Future-Proof Your Sanity

(Continued from Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Read those first.)

Oscar Wilde is reported to have been the last man in history to have read “every book there is”.

After that, the information explosion went into full swing and reading “every” book became impossible.

Is it true?   Who knows … but one gets the point.  With the exponential increase in information, there was a point where “reading all of it” became humanly impossible.

Another similar milestone hit when I realized it wasn’t possible to “stay current” with the trends anymore.

When I was a kid, you had to know what was “in” in order to be “cool.”

The latest hit songs …

The movies everyone was quoting …

But now?  The world is so huge, the info-stream is so vast, and there are so many sub-cultures … is there even such a thing as “current” anymore?

It seems there are only “bubbles” and the illusion of remaining “current” within any of them.

So, if you’re looking for a magic pill to “remain current” in the face of what I outlined in the first five parts …

I’m sorry.

I’m not aware of one.

But what I do have is …

The Battle Plan to Future-Proof Your Sanity

OK, first … I’m assuming you’ve read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and have followed the instructions therein.

Still with me?

Onward …

Phase 1:  Let Go of “Knowing”.  Instead …

In one sense, the uncertainty of ultimate truth isn’t really anything new.  It’s just becoming more obvious in the Information Age.

Philosophically speaking, the question as to whether anything can really be known for certain has been hotly debated for millennia.

But walking around in a stupor saying “what does it matter, we can’t know anything anyway” doesn’t really make for a healthy life now, does it?

So … what do we do?

The best solution I’ve found is in what I call “Utilitarian Model Flexibility”.

In the simplest terms, what I mean is …

- while ultimate truth may be unknowable, what we can know is that certain models of reality are useful (utilitarian) in certain situations …

- we can flexibly interchange those models as the situation requires

- we don’t have to hold on to those models any longer than required

For example, there were times in my life when being understanding and soft with people was a winning strategy.  If I’d used that approach in another situations I would have been eaten alive.  So I had to be a bit of a tyrant.

It seems obvious, but … it’s not, though.

Most of us walk around with all sorts of invisible dogma in our heads like “it’s always good to be soft and kind.”

These invisible, and inflexible, dogmas permeate everything …

- our politics

- our interpersonal relationships

- our business strategy

- everything

And when we can’t let go of them situationally, they box us into our own little mental prisons that condemn us to an eternity of bad decisions.

A shorthand for this is “useful lens.” 

You can put on any lens you like that is useful for you in the moment.  And the beauty of lenses is that you can interchange them at will.

Sometimes you need sunglasses.  Sometimes you need reading glasses.  You don’t have to be a “reading glasses at all times” zealot.

Phase 2:  Let Go of “Staying Current”.  Instead …

Stay current on what is relevant to you.

I have to apologize again.  This is also easier said than done.

Perhaps the most difficult of all is politics.

We can’t really know what the hell these politicians are actually up to.   And the journalists who report on them are almost universally dreadful.

Now, the tendency would be to say “I don’t have any control over it, so I may as well focus on what matters to my life … politics is just a waste of time.”

Really now?

I mean … how bad could it get?

It’s not like they would ever enslave or mass murder entire populations, right?

Because that’s never happened in history.

// end sarcasm

“But we’re more enlightened now!”

Hmmm … I dunno.  Are we?  Whatever one thinks of Covid, our governments did just make decisions that destroyed millions of businesses.  And no, not all epidemiologists agree with the wisdom of those decisions.

And the greatest mass murders in history all occurred in just the last century.

Holy crap, I wish I had an easy answer here … I don’t.

As for politics, I think the best we can do is:

- stop pretending we know the truth (we don’t)

- let go of our zealous attachments

- get the best information we can with the limited time we have

- make our best informed decisions (without allowing the propagandists to whip us up into a frenzy and cause us to do something stupid … that’s how mass murder happens … And it begins with the simple dehumanization found in the use of terms like “MAGAT” and “LIBTARD.”)

But politics isn’t the only sphere in which we must remain “informed.”

We also have our professions and passions.

Do we need to “stay current” with what’s happening there, too?

No …

We only need to remain informed about what’s useful.

Let me give you a rather interesting example.

There is a musician in Jamaica known as “Brushy One String”.  He plays a single-string guitar and rose to fame after being featured in a film.

Brushy doesn’t sound like anyone else.  He doesn’t appear to give two craps about what is “popular” in music these days.  But he is far more popular than most “trendy” amateur musicians with dreams of fame.

All he cares about is what he has to know to make his own music.

And that’s all you have to do, too.

Put simply:  don’t follow the news … make it.

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