Sumanth’s Theories from 2018

Twitter has a specific structure, and nudges you into a certain way of thinking. Using it more all this while meant that I began to engage in fragmented thoughts more than something coherent and conceptual.

Long twitter threads are a healthy departure from this syndrome and I’m glad it’s happening. I also discovered that theorizing and climbing up a couple of semantic levels helps a great deal in assimilating and coping with the chaotic reality of events around me. I spent a lot of this year doing this on twitter, also to make a note of my own understanding and observations as I grew up and saw more patterns unfold over time. It also helped that I began following more theorists and writers and authors

Here are a few moved to blog form for posterity. Think of it as a best-of list. But really, there aren’t that many. About 5, maybe. I checked.

For 2019, I’d like to resolve that if I consistently made long and coherent tweet threads, I will begin blogging again.

14 October 2018

  1. I hope humans evolve to produce dopamine like endorphins, but to deal with mental agony.
  2. This would be a great feature because you can then strength train your brain for things like emotional intelligence and attention span by subjecting yourself to distress.
  3. We’re already building an environment where our necessities for dopamine cannot be entirely supported by the global social network.
  4. That said, we do need external reward mechanism if we want to ‘learn’ in the most conventional sense of that word. So in order to liberate from reward mechanisms, we would need to liberate from the need to acquire…any knowledge?

22 October 2018

  1. You could theoretically shame everyone, create an artificial scarcity of virtue, and then sell that as a commodity.
  2. Or you could be clever and get people to shame each other by emphasizing on differences at various granular levels of society.
  3. This will only result in the Wholefoodization™ of the economy — where not only do you have to do your job well, but also put in extra effort to earn virtue to protect the fruits of your labor from being devalued.
  4. The value acquired via a given virtue point must be directly proportional to the suffering of victims resulting from the lack of that virtue. The more per capita suffering-inverse you acquire via virtues, the more valuable your other (real) labor becomes.
  5. You could temporarily inflate the value of your work by faking virtues. But if/when the truth gets out, your labor value will hopelessly dwindle unless and until there exists a counterculture that is ambivalent enough for you to thrive in.
  6. If you allow this for long enough, it will create an ecosystem of Virtue Capitalists™ who aggregate and sell the ability to come up with abstract virtues that can be faked while still holding some amount of plausible deniability to prevent society from turning on them.

3 December 2018

  1. Been thinking of this scenario where we have invisible bad actors leveraging network effect to nudge our decisions into resulting in what resembles Fascism.
  2. I’m tempted to call it Supply Chain Fascism™ because it frequently evokes similar responses from people as other violent supply chains (meat industry, sweatshops, fossil fuel etc). We blame the consumers of a flawed system for perpetuating its hazardous consequences.
  3. In a scenario like that, complicity becomes such an easy argument. It’s a win-win narrative because it allows the few bad actors to exploit a flawed system while the guilty conscience stemming from it gets distributed across a large no. of consumers.

3 December 2018

  1. With the punch-up-dont-punch-down ideology, you could basically demean anyone and hide behind the pretext that you’re less powerful and somehow the victim.
  2. AKA, punch down but act like you punched up
  3. This is weird primarily because it approaches prejudice like it’s simply a pecking order that can be rearranged.
  4. The truth is one can never punch up. If you’re punching, you’re punching down. The act dragging someone through dirt via humor automatically tips the scales w.r.t social standing for both parties, even if only temporarily.
  5. Allowing punch-up acts is a great way to simulate equality, where you’re really just democratizing prejudice.

21 December 2018

  1. A side effect of the information revolution is that we unconsciously penalize people for their ignorance
  2. It’s more common in the free-market where you’re expected to do as much research as possible to avoid being tricked into paying for mediocre products
  3. But I also see ignorance-punishment in the way identity politic works. People in isolated communities are suddenly expected to be as culture-savvy and empathetic as contemporary urban dwellers with tumblr and instagram memberships
  4. So much of the liberal camp has bought into the idea that lack of sensitivity and cultural ignorance is a sign of privilege. But often it can be the exact opposite — where you’re too cutoff from basic informational necessities that you don’t even know what to be sensitive about