Seeing everything as a project is extremely efficient. It’s a formula for success.
When everything is goal-centric, parameterised, and measured, it’s very easy to see which decision to take, which way to go in order to get the most out of each opportunity. Such a strategy bears fruit to anyone capable of running with it, but works perfectly in the hands of those who have rationality at the core of their being.
The danger is that it works too well. Everything turns into figures. We choose the movies we see based on ratings. The video games we play based on the estimated time to finish. We comb dating sites as marketeers comb lists of prospects, and try to find the perfect elevator pitch-message to send to the profiles that exactly match our requirements.
And this works. It works too well. Everything turns into figures. Leisure time is no longer leisure time; it becomes another project. The people we date stop being human beings, they become prospects to evaluate; a date becomes a job interview.
It is not clear to me that efficiency is compatible with humanity.
Painting: “Portrait of Fra Luca Pacioli and an Unknown Young Man” by Jacopo de’ Barbari
I’ve previously written about my complicated relationship with… stuff. Things. You think I’d be decrying Black Friday, that ritual shopping spree that the US has exported to the rest of the world.
I quite enjoy it.
Of course, it’s prone to abuse. It’s just another way of brainwashing you into buying stuff you don’t need to impress people who you don’t care about (and who aren’t even paying attention).
But there’s this little game I like to play. Whenever I see something expensive during the year, I tell myself: “I’d be a schmuck to get it now. It will be half-price or less during the November/December sales frenzy!”
This is especially true of my hobby, video games. The video game industry grossly over-inflates its prices, because the marketing machine is geared towards making people believe they need to enjoy a game as soon as it releases, or they won’t be part of “the conversation.”
Of course, there is very seldom a conversation about video games worth having. But that’s the idea that the industry wants people to get. They want to capitalize on their fear of missing out.
So I wait, instead of buying. And what happens is: when Black Friday comes along, not only do I get my stuff for half the price, but I end up getting LESS stuff – because my psychology is not affected by that need for immediate gratification, I only buy the things that I care about.
Marketing likes to play all kinds of cheap tricks with your psychology. (Ethical Marketing is a thing, but that’s a lot of words and an essay for another day.) Fear of missing out is the video game industry’s favorite trick. Crazy sales (like Black Friday) are more of general marketing practice. But if you’re smart, and in the know (as you are right now!) you can dodge them, or even better – turn them to your favor.
Writing isn’t just for writers. It isn’t just for school, either. Writing is a tool for thinking.
You don’t control your thoughts. They rise from a weird combination of past experiences and held knowledge interacting with the environment. You cannot think about what you’re going to think in advance of thinking about it. Yes, it gets confusing. Our brain is messy. And that’s even before some other idea comes crashing and displaces the previous thought.
Writing is the act of putting thoughts into paper. Once they are in paper, they can’t escape or be displaced, and what’s better, you can start shaping them and refining them.
You can sort out a surprisingly large amount of troubles by just writing them down and working at them on the paper (or screen, but I’m particular to paper), where they can’t escape (and so can’t you).