Chocolate, now!

Eyes focused on the Kindle’s binary light. May foreign words soothe the ones unceasingly sprouting from my within. The coffee smell strolls around the room and maybe it will take me a little bit away from me. Whatever I can do to leave the brain function in the background. Happy is the unconscious, for it works without noticing.

Happy is the unconscious, for it works without noticing.

However, the excitement from the idea that finally comes does not last any longer than the gap in between rain showers in Amsterdam. The overriding feeling is already the compulsion to know what other people will think about it. I’d better be quiet… Isn’t it better to wait and think it through?

I start asking around. They’re my friends; I just want to share with them! I want to amass positive comments. After all, I already know this is an awesome plan! Except for that one point, which someone would inevitably mention…

I want to be confident that the plot is going to work out right. Do I? So why can’t I be satisfied with all those persistently supportive comments? Why do I let one dubious comment cancel out ten positive ones? I wonder if what I really want to confirm is that my efforts tend to be fruitless. Tempting. Because then I wouldn’t have to even try. What if it doesn’t go as planned? I’d rather not even think about it.

So much comings and goings that it gets kind of difficult to remember what was fun about that initial thought. And I end up inert. Stuck. I really hoped to get away from that life style where everything looks like obligation. But to join another one in which things made sense. It’s tough with so much self-criticism.

But then comes the wonderful Facebook world. Instant and measurable validation!

The impact of seasons’ alternation on the success of economies has already been well detailed elsewhere (“The Dao of Capital”, Mark Spitznagel). Along the lines of the ant and the grasshopper fable, winters’ infertility would force people to save during summer. Similar also to Yuval Harari’s idea in Sapiens, that wheat has taught mankind the concept of time. With savings, investments become feasible. People start believing that the current effort is worthy even if its proceeds take a while to turn up. Investments increase productivity. It is the idea of consuming less now to consume more in the future.

For a number of reasons that certainly deserve a deeper investigation than what I attempt here, this sort of long-term view has become quite old fashioned. The reaction to the 2008 global financial crisis illustrates this idea. Interest rates in the major economies were cut down to zero, or almost. Time has lost its value. Whoever decides to economize gets naught in return. “Do not save, it is not worth it. Spend” has been the message from Central Banks. However, they are political institutions and as such they probably just mirror individuals’ anxieties. It is as though all of us had become those children in behavioral finance experiments. They always chose one chocolate now over ten a week later simply because the concept of “a week later” is too abstract for their comprehension. No one can stand to wait any longer.

It is as though all of us had become those children in behavioral finance experiments. They always chose one chocolate now over ten a week later simply because the concept of “a week later” is too abstract for their comprehension. No one can stand to wait any longer.

Facebook. If I get my post image right, I’ll have more followers. It makes sense, because more followers will make the buzz I need to get more followers. Why should I spend hours reading books and picking out the best words for an article when choosing the best target groups for my ad ought to result in more reactions? (Inclusive from people who have no clue that the article itself exists). The “like” comes now.

I think of an orchestra. There is a soloist or a pianist that everyone wants to see. The conductor. However, there is also this bassoon player sitting at the fourth row. This guy that I, lay ears, sometimes barely distinguish from the other musicians. However, that artist has probably worked thousands of hours to be there. Not to mention the years of life experience he needs to imprint in his art in order to stand out. Still, hardly anyone will know his name. And there is a chance that he won’t live off his music. There is a lot of talk about the scarcity of geniuses in classical music nowadays. Is it due to the lack of financial return of the genre or because of the long term that such effort takes to be acknowledged? In fact, both are kind of the same. Would Mozart have composed so many symphonies had he spent time boosting his songs on Facebook and monitoring the results?

“Human, all too human”. It is likely that you’ve reached this line (thanks!) because you’ve seen a link on Facebook. Without this website, my life would be certainly harder. I disagree with those who blame it for the various trammels of contemporary life. Mr. Zuckerberg has done nothing but realizing this need for recognition in shorter and shorter horizons, creating a way of making it quantifiable and finding a way of selling it (the infamous “post boost”). The “like” is a sort of money reinvented, which remunerates even what people are not willing to pay for. One needs sanity to resist the short-termism waving at you from a few clicks’ distance. Chocolate only tastes good when inside the mouth.

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