FACEBOOK AND FRIENDSHIP


Thoughts of some of my Facebook friendships came to mind recently as I read an essay by William Hazlitt. In “The Pleasures of Hating,” Hazlitt talks about the many things we come to hate, especially as we age. “We hate old friends: we hate old books: we hate old opinions; and at last we come to hate ourselves.” He continues:

Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly, cold, comfortless, and distasteful. The stomach turns against them. Either constant intercourse and familiarity breed weariness and contempt; or, if we meet again after an interval of absence, we appear no longer the same. One is too wise, another too foolish for us; and we wonder we did not find this out before. We are disconcerted and kept in a state of continual alarm by the wit of one, or tired to death of the dullness of another.

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K. E. Colombini — First Things

 

SELF-OPTIMIZATION


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We humans have a tendency to measure everything. For example, what matters for Business is profits and humans are worth only how productive they are, whatever that means.

The ad’s gimmick plays not only to the fantasy that our life force can be captured in some simple unidimensional measure and actively managed but also to the broader, more insidious notion that people should function like phones. The expectations we have for our devices saturate our expectations of others (whether they are friends, family, service workers, or robots) and ultimately ourselves. We should be capable of handling any task we’re hired for, moving seamlessly from one interface to the next, from one application to another, for as long as required. If we can’t, we need to “recharge” ourselves: to find the right drug combination or exercise regimen, or else to sit ourselves out for precisely as long as we need to get back to 100 percent. The idea that we are anything other than self-sufficient and energy independent is suspended for a fantasy of instrumental control.

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Real Life

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What is Stoicism and How Can it Turn your Life to Solid Gold?


The core of the philosophy seems to be this: To have a good and meaningful life, you need to overcome your insatiability. Most people, at best, spend their lives in a long pursuit of happiness. So today’s successful person writes out a list of desires, then starts chasing them down and satisfying the desires. The problem is that each desire, when satisfied, tends to be replaced by a new desire. So the person continues to chase. Yet after a lifetime of pursuit, the person ends up no more satisfied than he was at the beginning. Thus, he may end up wasting his life.

The solution, the Stoics realized, is to learn to want the things you already have, rather than wanting other things. The most interesting technique that will help you achieve this is Negative Visualization.

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Mr. Money Mustache

A Syrian refugee family’s search for home


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The struggle to find a home.

For a while, Poole made an effort to engage with her critics. She spoke at social clubs and Lutheran churches and eventually alongside a man from an anti-refugee group called Sons of Odin. She reached out online, offering to meet her critics for beers. (A local historian said approvingly of Soft Landing, “They don’t scare.”) One man, a Navy veteran and former private investigator, met Poole for coffee and continued a dialogue online. “One wolf isn’t bad,” he said, referring to Muslims coming to Montana. Ten wolves, though, was a different matter. But he liked Poole, because she seemed genuinely interested in hearing him out, and began to feel differently about refugees after one of the Congolese families moved in next door to him. “The truth is not what you think,” he liked to say. “It’s what you discover.” What he discovered was that the family next door made great neighbors.

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Abe Streep — Harper’s Magazine

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The Future of Leisure


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Leisure is a serious business.

The failure to educate for leisure is not just a lost opportunity; it also poses dangers, especially if large-scale job losses really are in the offing. The suggestion that “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” is a moralism long uttered by the idle wealthy to impose work requirements on the poor. Still, it is not always false. As the sociologist Norbert Elias once noted, soccer hooliganism and similar forms of mob violence may stem from a “deprivation of meaning” in the lives of the under- or unemployed. The same could be said for those now succumbing to “deaths of despair” from alcoholism, drug overdoses, or suicide.

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Stuart Whatley — Democracy

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Deep Laziness


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Deep thoughts on laziness.

Imagine a person who is very lazy at work, yet whose customers are (along with everyone else concerned) quite satisfied. It could be a slow-talking rural shop proprietor from an old movie, or some kind of Taoist fisherman – perhaps a bit of a buffoon, but definitely deeply content. In order to be this way, he must be reasonably organized: stock must be ordered, and tackle squared away, in order to afford worry-free, deep-breathing laziness.

Consider this imaginary person as a kind of ideal or archetype. Now consider that the universe might have this personality.

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Sarah Perry — Ribbonfarm

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How Hunter-Gatherers May Hold the Key to our Economic Future


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Do we have more leisure compared to our ancestors? Are we happier at our workplaces compared to hunter-gatherers?

The most compelling thing about this research was that it suggested that “economic problem” was not, as Keyne’s believed “the primary problem of the human race from the beginnings of time”. For where the economic problem holds that we have unlimited wants and limited means, Ju/’hoansi hunter-gatherers had few wants that were easily satisfied. It was for this reason that Marshall Sahlins, arguably the most influential American social anthropologist of the 20th century, redubbed hunter-gatherers “the original affluent society”.

Unsurprisingly, this simple idea briefly captured the popular imagination: “Imagine a society in which the work week seldom exceeds 19 hours, material wealth is considered a burden, and no one is much richer than anyone else”, gushed Time Magazine in an editorial about the Bushmen in November 1969, “The people are comfortable, peaceable, happy and secure…This Elysian community actually exists.”

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James Suzman — Evonomics

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