Dave Eggers: Social media is like snack food

71XgEQwvBjL“It’s not that I’m not social. I’m social enough. But the tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. It improves nothing. It’s not nourishing. It’s like snack food. You know how they engineer this food? They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You’re not hungry, you don’t need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you’re pushing. Same thing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent. And you calibrate it so it’s equally addictive.”

— The Circle by Dave Eggers (2013)

Social media is free fast food that can make your brain fat. As former president of Facebook Sean Parker said about the platform last year: it exploits a “vulnerability in human psychology.”


‘To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed…’


“You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue

Are you an egg person or an onion person?

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via giphy

Introverts are egg people. They’re not hiding anything (per say), they are mostly reserved. And once they start to get comfortable, they are as open and talkative as anybody else. “Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured,” writes Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are onion people. They contain so many layers of bombast that it’s hard to know when they are being authentic, showy, or just spewing flotsam. Yet, extroverts are most likely to be leaders because they talk loud and carry a big stick.

George Mason economics professor and Oxford humanities associates Robin Hanson sums up the egg and onion divergence:

I’ve sometimes been tempted to classify people as egg people and onion people. Onion people have layer after layer after layer. You peel it back, and there’s still more layers. You don’t really know what’s underneath. Whereas egg people, there’s a shell, and you get through it, and you see what’s on the inside.

Are ambiverts egg or onion people?

Ambiverts are more like salad people, easy to digest and mix in with all types of other folks and scenarios. They’re adaptable like a chameleon depending on whatever social situation they’re in.

We all contain multitudes. But it is the mouth that separates us apart, with different levels of signaling.

Words are the original memes, for which some things are still best unshared and unsaid. Sometimes silence does all the messy talking, reveals all that needs to be conveyed. As Susan Cain puts it: “We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.”

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We are ‘brilliant only in tiny bursts’

linchpin“The law of linchpin leverage: The more value you create in your job, the fewer clock minutes of labor you actually spend creating that value. In other words, most of the time, you’re not being brilliant. Most of the time, you do stuff that ordinary people could do.

A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do.

It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in a moment, not in tiny increments.”

— Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

It often appears that discoveries come out of the blue when in fact, they are the result of consistently doing the work. In other words, big results are the upshot of small things with focus and with care. There is no such thing as overnight success.

Keep dripping.

Einstein: The World As I See It

c8nIHtU00MvV35U2Q“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

— Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1934)

Have you forgotten how to read?


Online reading is different than experience than reading a book.

For one, the digital experience is stickier because of its dopamine-hitting bells and whistles. We are constantly shifting between articles, apps, and text messages, hijacked by the latest gaze of entertainment. It’s the equivalent of flipping TV channels.

Writes Canadian author and journalist Michael Harris:

“Online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.”

Since physical books lack the immediate stimuli, reading requires an entirely different mindset. It enforces focus and patience. Said Harris: “I do think old, book-oriented styles of reading opened the world to me – by closing it. And new, screen-oriented styles of reading seem to have the opposite effect: They close the world to me, by opening it.”

Screens are for short-term readers; book heads play the long-game. The latter know that great moments in novels are as scarce a goal in a soccer game, but they can also be more exciting.

Books test our attentiveness while creating anticipation. Perhaps they are the only escape we have left from our distracted world. Constricted to one tangible novel of a screen, a paperback can help recalibrate the imagination and slow down time.

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The link between praying and writing

When acclaimed South African novelist and Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee was asked about the writing process, he compared it to the effort of praying.

“In both cases it’s hard to say to whom one’s discourse is directed. You have to subject yourself to the blankness of the page and you wait patiently to hear whether the blankness answers you. Sometimes it does not and then you despair.”

JM Coetzee

Of course, some writers believe the blank page is non-existent. They suggest that one should write poorly until they produce something of substance. Better yet, consider the work philosophy of Vincent Van Vough: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”

‘No, it burns, it shines’ 🌞


“Does the sun ask itself, ‘Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?’ No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, ‘What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?’ No it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, ‘Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?’ No, it burns, it shines.”

Ice and Fire by Andrea Dworkin

Don’t compete. Make things.

When we compare ourselves to other, we get detached from ourselves.

‘Democracy is an experiment…’

515WNWqnweL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg“Holmes would never have called himself a pragmatist; he associated the term with a desire to smuggle religion back into modern thought under a pseudo-scientific cover. But his belief that life is an experiment, and that since we can never be certain we must tolerate dissent, is consistent with everything James, Peirce, and Dewey wrote. What Holmes did not share with those thinkers was their optimism. He did not believe that the experimental spirit will necessarily lead us, ultimately, down the right path. Democracy is an experiment, and it is in the nature of experiments sometimes to fail. He had seen it fail once.”

— Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club

Never has democracy and pluralism been so fragile. As Hannah Arendt reminds us: in order to stem the tide of evil, we should be thankful for the peaceful consciousness we already have.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘To be great is to be misunderstood’


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

To echo Jeff Bezos, be prepared to be misunderstood for a long period of time.

A Life Full of Holes


Why we prefer Friday to Sunday

eg9bib1xZkMorXFQBIt‘s a curious fact, because Friday is a day of work and Sunday is a day for pleasure, so you would expect people to enjoy Sunday more, right? But we don’t. It’s not because we really like being in the office and can’t stand strolling in the park and having a lazy brunch. We prefer Friday to Sunday because Friday brings with it the thrill of anticipating the weekend ahead. In contrast, on Sunday the only thing to look forward to is work on Monday.”

The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain by Tali Sharot

Ironically, the day of rest also comes with the “Sunday Blues” while Friday, a day we should feel work-averse, fires up the brain in anticipation of the school bell.