dumbmatter.com
Online home of Jeremy Scheff

Why blog?

It's hard to deal with introversion. Even a scientific approach doesn't offer many solutions. Sure, you can observe extroverts in their native habitats, but it often seems as if much of their power derives from some combination of status and network effects. No status, no network, no effects.

So how do you crack that nut (or crack your shell, if we're using cracking analogies)? One seemingly universal constant is not giving a fuck. Not giving a fuck is a very difficult thing for many introverts to do, which is kind of strange if you think about it. From a scientific perspective, not giving a fuck makes a lot of sense. I'll probably be dead in about 50 years anyway, so why give too much of a fuck about what people think? I guess if you were religious you might view things differently... certainly I would give a fuck about the vengeful Biblical God if I thought he was real. But I don't really give a fuck about religion.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it's not always so easy to be logical. But I've been trying to internalize this not giving a fuck mindset. It helps when you have some rudimentary (or, better yet, more than rudimentary) financial, intellectual, and social capital built up, kind of as a buffer against giving a fuck. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, you most certainly must give a fuck about a lot of stuff that you'd ideally prefer not to give a fuck about. If you are not thoughtful enough to consider the implications of giving a fuck or not giving a fuck, then you won't even comprehend the concept of not giving a fuck. If you don't have some (not a lot... but some) friends who won't give a fuck about the implications of you not giving a fuck, then you might worry too much about losing whatever small bits of human contact you experience due to giving a fuck.

But I'm not worried about any of that. I'm set.

So how does not giving a fuck manifest itself in the daily life of a naive aspiring scientist?

I ask questions. Maybe not enough still, but more than the guy sitting in the back corner of the room. Actually... I think I'm much stronger than that guy. In fact, I probably ask more questions than the average person, not just the average recluse. See the problem with questions is that, in addition to the philosophy of not giving a fuck, I also a very strong aversion to like a moron. This is good in some cases. I like to be prepared, well read, all that good stuff. Fine. But if the aversion to looking like an imbecile dominates not giving a fuck, then you never put yourself out there. And putting yourself out there is the cornerstone of not giving a fuck. So not looking like an idiot is fine as long as it is a secondary life philosophy.

I don't worry about criticism. This ties in with the above concept of how not looking like a nincompoop must always defer to not giving a fuck. But furthermore, it's not getting worked up over critiques. It's existing at a higher mental level, above whatever trivial argument is being made in the short term, and understanding that you can use this information in a positive way. And not just that you can improve yourself or your work in response to the specific criticism you face; that is the naive way of looking at it. You can also think about what kind of things provoke criticism, how to steer criticism towards positive ends, how to deflect criticism, how to defuse criticism, and all that devious stuff.

I take care of myself. If I want to play basketball, work out, cook a nice dinner... that stuff is almost non-negotiable for me. And if it becomes negotiable due to some extreme circumstances, it is non-negotiable that those circumstances be transient. And if that becomes a problem... I don't really give a fuck. I will simply adjust my life so that there is no more problem.

So that brings me here, to my blog. Why blog? I already write a fair amount of academic junk, but that is an outlet only for science, not for any other drivel I want to effuse. But I don't need to blog as an outlet, really. I have made (and continue to operate) many websites in the past. I write what I think there. I write plenty of stuff on all kinds of topics on various other websites that eventually gets lost in some corner of the Internet. But much of that is anonymous (or at least not with my name advertised in the domain name and in big letters at the top of the screen). And what is the cornerstone of not giving a fuck? Putting yourself out there. So here I am, writing what otherwise would have been said in private to friends, posted in an uncoordinated fashion somewhere online, or stuck in my mind until the thought decayed. But here, my thoughts may be tempered with a bit of not wanting to look like an idiot.

Oh, and I also wouldn't mind if this helped me improve as a writer. As with most things in life, you get better at writing by writing a lot. So this can't hurt.