0010 – Long Term Thinking Makes You Optimistic

Interintellect super salon with Kevin Kelly, November 2023

Last night Simon joined me to attend an Interintellect salon with Kevin Kelly. I had no idea it was him that wrote 1000 true fans (https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/) – the idea is that you don’t need to reach superstardom to make a living as a craftsperson or a creator, you just need 1000 true fans. If 1000 people are willing to give you a $100 a month you have $100,000 which should be more than enough money to make a living.

He accurately predicted that with the advent of the internet, we would be able to connect more directly with people. I think of Paul and how he self-published The Pathless Path (https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Paul-Millerd/dp/B09QFC5J9S) – he could capture almost all the profits and with a distribution channel like Amazon he was able to send books to people all over the world. He’s in charge of speaking to his fans and sharing his work.

It gives me great motivation to do the same. As of today, my numbers are pretty low. I’ve made exactly $0 from my art (or if you count busking in Tromsø and Oslo, maybe I’ve made $80). My numbers as they stand:

Twitter followers: 438

Youtube subscribers: 84

What do I want, what is my art? What is art but just curated taste? The first step of being a creator is to be a fan. The first part of being a fan is indulging in things and making the time to do so. I’ll be pasting quotes from the salon last night:

“The entire purpose is to have the idle diversions. “I arrange my life so I can follow the wikipedia trail somewhere – it’s not a waste. It’s not a waste, it’s actually THE THING TO BE DOING”

Right now I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with work. It’s a tidal wave without end and I’m drowning in my own incompetence. It makes it hard to make the time to relax and wind down. I need better control.

I think the most important thing is sharing ideas and reacting with the world. Put yourself out there and ask people what they think. Maybe I should do that more in my youtube videos. Ask open ended questions. Put up and idea and ask the void for a response. The great thing about asynchronous media is that although there isn’t a crowd present, once you record the video it plays continuously and someone may wander into the bar and you’ll just be there doing your routine and maybe they clap and maybe they tell you something you didn’t know, that’s the comment section.

One more idea that Kevin Kelly talked about was how to be an optimist. It wasn’t a personality trait as much a deliberate practice. Part of his optimism was grounded in long term thinking. That takes bravery, I think. Over the long term, we’re able to solve more problems. I think of the The National song Fake Empire with the verse:

Turn the light out, say goodnight
No thinking for a little while
Let’s not try to figure out everything at once
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky

In moments where I’ve been struggling a lot, my girlfriend has reminded me that the road is long and we will indeed figure everything out in due time. So much of my body rebelled against that because I’m impatient and perhaps insecure. I want to figure it out now, solve it now. Is there a future on unstable ground?

All I have to do is look around and see that everything is actually quite ok. That the world is not exactly falling apart (in the grand arc of history, either global or personal). In fact, it’s never been better.

I had to go to a Kevin Kelly super salon to understand what she was saying to me. Maybe we don’t have the tools to solve all these problems now. The optimistic part is to believe that we will. We take turns in that optimism because we’re different. I do believe it is possible to escape the capitalistic treadmill because I’ve been in contact with people who have done that and I feel somewhat on the way there. I can see why other people with far less privilege would feel differently.

Similarly, I need to be held and supported by people who have gone further than me in some mental development because I lack the experience in having gone there myself. Perhaps that’s the greatest vote of confidence that someone can give me. That they’re certain that I’ll be able to catch up and that’s what we do for each other, I think. As long as we don’t give up, as long as we keep trying the people around us (by sticking around) are the difference between us making it and not.

I think of Visa and how he went through a heavy depressive episode in his twenties. I’m not quite sure how his wife managed to handle him through that. Given that they have a baby now, I imagine that Sharan also wanted a baby back then but then you’re facing a guy who in the throes of depression and you don’t know if he’s going to make it out but then you have to believe.

I’m also confronted by the opposite example in “Insecure” where Lawrence was melting away on the couch and Issa had to decide to move on. How do we know when to stay or to go. How do we know how much of our lives need to be postponed by someone else’s development.

As with anything there’s probably no one answer. You just have to see. Maybe I should write Visa to ask him why Sharan didn’t dump his depressed ass in the worst times.

Maybe it’s about the long view as KK says. We can solve almost anything in the long term. Bad things come quick but good things take time. It’s always easier to destroy than to build. That’s why we should move with care and speak with intention.

“- The longer term view you have, the easier it is to be optimistic. Civilization is made up of accumulated tiny wins, if the horizon is not the next quarter or year but the next five years or ten years. It’s helped me be more optimistic. “

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