The BuzzFeedification of Mental Health

Two parts of this article really spoke to me:

The more capitalism wants us to feel scrambled so that we are isolated, automatonized, and susceptible to replacing our own needs with the needs of capital, the more quickly capitalism needs to sell us an ever-wider array of identities to feel secure and logical within.

It does feel tough, as a millennial with a school-aged child, to navigate all of the various identities that “youths” cling onto these days.

“A successful contemporary politics has stakes in defining the rhythmic flow between schizophrenic and identificatory impulses,” he writes. “Hopefully, alternative rhythms can challenge, or at least syncopate, the accelerating rhythm of late capitalism.”

What he’s saying is that we need to stop taking the stripping of our identities and the selling of new ones to us as a given, and start to create our own, at our own pace, in our own way.

I went for a walk around Lough Eske this afternoon, and I was thinking about the identity I want to create for myself.

Identity has been something that is of keen interest to me lately, especially after leaving JMG.

I feel like since taking a step back from the persona of “app developer / entrepreneur”, I’ve been able to be more curious and exploratory.

It’s why my headline on LinkedIn is “anecdotalist.” It’s a touch douchey, for sure, but it feels like the closest I can get to how I feel.

Anyway, read this article and think about how it applies to the beliefs that you hold most closely. Whether that’s Christian, an intellectual, a parent, or whatever. Take some time to reflect on why you feel like you have to be ”something”.

What Even Counts as Science Writing Anymore?

The best science writers learn that science is not a procession of facts and breakthroughs, but an erratic stumble toward gradually diminished uncertainty; that peer-reviewed publications are not gospel and even prestigious journals are polluted by nonsense; and that the scientific endeavor is plagued by all-too-human failings such as hubris.

All of these qualities should have been invaluable in the midst of a global calamity, where clear explanations were needed, misinformation was rife, and answers were in high demand but short supply.

Much of what this article discusses is how I’ve felt over the last couple of years.

If you like living at the intersection of reality, people, and discovery, then you’ll also like this piece.

Being Glue

Managers: If your job ladder doesn’t require that your senior people have glue work skills, think about how you were expecting that work to get done.

Glue people: Push back on requests to do more than your fair share of non-promotable work, and put your effort into something you want to get good at.

Our skills aren’t fixed in place. You can be good and lots of things. You can do anything.

The Work Required to Have an Opinion

Doing the work required to hold an opinion means you can argue against yourself better than others can. Only then can you say, “I can hold this view because I can’t find anyone else who can argue better against my view.”


Politics isn’t a per se bad. It’s a process. Making politics more productive and substantial make society better. Having people “nope” out of society whenever they get uncomfortable doesn’t help with any of the hard work politics does for things like allocating scarce resources, justice, or equity.

Poignant. I love this web comic.

Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life

According to the website 80,000 Hours, the typical career is just that: 80,000 hours long. That’s an almost unfathomable amount of time. But life is long too. The typical person is alive for slightly more than 4,000 weeks, and awake and conscious for the equivalent of 3,000 weeks. When you do the basic math on 80,000 hours, you discover that the average career is roughly the equivalent of 480 sleepless weeks of labor. A little bit more math, and you realize that the typical person has five waking hours of not working for every one hour of their career.

Work is too big a thing to not take seriously. But it is too small a thing to take too seriously. Your work is one-sixth of your waking existence. Your career is not your life. Behave accordingly.

I also liked Derek Thompson's advice about chasing the job you want, not the title you want to tell people you have.

Fixed-Schedule Productivity: How I Accomplish a Large Amount of Work in a Small Number of Work Hours

The system work as follows:

  1. Choose a schedule of work hours that you think provides the ideal balance of effort and relaxation.
  2. Do whatever it takes to avoid violating this schedule.

This sounds simple. But think about it for a moment. Satisfying rule 2 is not easy. If you took your current projects, obligations, and work habits, you’d probably fall well short of satisfying your ideal work schedule. Here’s a simple truth: to stick to your ideal schedule will require some drastic actions.

I often turn to Cal Newport for glimpses of maintaining sanity while being bombarded with responsibilities.

I revisited this blog post recently and it is fascinating to see how his theory from 2008 about staying productive evolved into full books like Deep Work.

I’ve really gotta start saying “no” to more things.

As You Know, Jeff, Every Time I Stare Into The Abyss It Stares Back At Me

This is not meant to be a happy story about the need to get out of the bubble of like-minded coastal elites; I think it’s totally OK, recommended even, to stay far far away from people who think you are going to hell. But I guess I think it’s also OK to touch the hot stove occasionally if you want to, to pretend that this time you won’t let it hurt you.

Rewilding your attention

Instead of crowding your attention with what’s already going viral on the intertubes, focus on the weird stuff. Hunt down the idiosyncratic posts and videos that people are publishing, oftentimes to tiny and niche audiences. It’s decidedly unviral culture — but it’s more likely to plant in your mind the seed of a rare, new idea.

Examples of idiosyncratic communities in which I’ve been trying to increase my participation:

  • an offshoot of a online community I was very into back in the early 2000s
  • a YouTube series where a guy rewatches old episodes of Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro and compares them head-to-head, deciding who won each week of the Monday night wars
  • a Reddit community who cares deeply about dates being expressed in the ISO-8601 date format
  • another Reddit community that posts highlights from a mobile app football game that I am really into