Discover more from Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins
#138: Mind Playing Tricks on Me
I sit alone in my four-cornered room/Starin' at candles...
“There is another reason bad ideas continue to live on, which is that people continue to talk about them.
Silence is death for any idea. An idea that is never spoken or written down dies with the person who conceived it. Ideas can only be remembered when they are repeated. They can only be believed when they are repeated.
I have already pointed out that people repeat ideas to signal they are part of the same social group. But here's a crucial point most people miss: People also repeat bad ideas when they complain about them. Before you can criticize an idea, you have to reference that idea. You end up repeating the ideas you’re hoping people will forget—but, of course, people can’t forget them because you keep talking about them.
Let's call this phenomenon Clear's Law of Recurrence: The number of people who believe an idea is directly proportional to the number of times it has been repeated during the last year—even if the idea is false. The more you repeat a bad idea, the more likely people are to believe it. “
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds (James Clear)
Bullshit jobs are jobs which even the person doing the job can’t really justify the existence of, but they have to pretend that there’s some reason for it to exist. That’s the bullshit element. A lot of people confuse bullshit jobs and shit jobs, but they’re not the same thing. Bad jobs are bad because they’re hard or they have terrible conditions or the pay sucks, but often these jobs are very useful. In fact, in our society, often the more useful the work is, the less they pay you. Whereas bullshit jobs are often highly respected and pay well but are completely pointless, and the people doing them know this.
A lot of bullshit jobs are just manufactured middle-management positions with no real utility in the world, but they exist anyway in order to justify the careers of the people performing them. But if they went away tomorrow, it would make no difference at all.
And that’s how you know a job is bullshit: If we suddenly eliminated teachers or garbage collectors or construction workers or law enforcement or whatever, it would really matter. We’d notice the absence. But if bullshit jobs go away, we’re no worse off.
RIP David Graeber! The anthropologist, who is excerpted here, died last week. His books Bullshit Jobs and The Utopia of Rules are worth your time.
Your perspective on yourself is distorted.
We too often think we are better at something than we are.
You deceive yourself without realizing it.
People who tear themselves down experience setbacks more frequently.
Insecure people tend to behave more morally.
10 Things You Don't Know about Yourself (Scientific American)
For September, the Marketing section will be dedicated to helping you beat imposter syndrome and get better at self-promotion.
Last week, we took a test to see where we stand with imposter syndrome. This week, I want to spotlight an article that outlines tactics about how to overcome imposter syndrome as well as an interesting counter-point to the entire idea.
No matter how hard you work, no matter how much you achieve, you still feel like a fraud. You still question your ability and you’re waiting to be exposed. More formally, it’s often referred to as “a failure to internalize success.” You attribute your accomplishments to luck or insane amounts of effort, but never talent or skill. Much of the advice we get isn’t helpful either. Merely “telling yourself you’re good enough” has all the scientific rigor of a Hallmark Card. Self-affirmations are as likely to cure this as they’d cure baldness. We need real answers, not platitudes.
Funny thing is there’s a whole pile of scientific research that addresses this issue. It’s called “self-efficacy.”
For Advanced Readers: Take this free course on getting over Imposter Syndrome, it should take you about 90 minutes to complete overall, breaking it into 30-minute chunks might be easier.
On the other hand…maybe we’re all dealing with something bigger than ourselves?
The seemingly medical nature of the term “impostor syndrome” is also problematic, suggesting a psychological shortcoming on the part of those who suffer from it. But far from being the product of a pathology, what seems more likely is that impostor syndrome is a rather natural reaction of anyone from a working-class, disadvantaged or minority background to the various biases they face on a daily basis.
Consider the fact that while those who have been privately educated account for only 7% of the UK population, 65% of senior judges and a similar proportion of the current cabinet nevertheless went to private schools. The media and creative industries are even worse: according to a study published in 2018 and undertaken by Create London, in conjunction with sociologists from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sheffield, only 18% of people working in music and the performing and visual arts grew up in a working-class household. In publishing ,it’s a pitiful 13%; in film, TV and radio, it’s only 12%. With this in mind, if you’re a state school graduate from a working-class background working in the media, then it’s understandable if you feel you are an impostor.
Fun fact: This year, Halloween falls on a weekend…
NEW PLAYLISTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2020
SAFE FOR BABIES - A lot of my readers have little ones. Life is hard enough for y’all, so I want to show my support by taking one thing off your hands.
I created a playlist of cool/new tunes that are 100% clean across pop/rap/r&b/indie rock.
Cool but Overpriced Workout Studio
The newest installment in my “Cool” series, this was made with people who want the feeling of working out at a Cool but Overpriced Workout Studio. Whether you ride a Peloton, do pilates, push-ups, or planks, I’ve created your new favorite workout playlist. Put it on shuffle the next time you work out, and I promise it will make your house feel like one of those bougie gyms with the water cooler that got like three different kinds of fruit in it.
HOW TO HELP BLACK LIVES IN 30 MINS OR LESS:
When it comes to taking the steps needed to create a racially equal America, I’ve heard from many well-intentioned non-Black people over the last two months that one of the most daunting things for them is trying to figure out what they can personally do make things better.
Some folks see these massive issues as a significant problem that cannot be defeated, so they struggle to figure out what one person can do, which leads to them not doing much other than posting to IG. Some of that is not wanting to seem like you’re doing too much, some of that is fear your intentions will be misunderstood.
What if I told you that for only 30 minutes a week, you can help black lives no matter where you are or how much money you make? Here’s how:
Carve out 30 minutes in your calendar this week. Call it “Being A Better Person Time” or “Set a Good Example for my Kid” Time, whatever works.
Click a link and make a call or donate or sign a petition. Just do one thing in that 30 min window.
This weekend, share the above link with your three closest friends and say, “Hey, I’m (calling/donating/signing a petition). I’m worried about how things will be for future generations, so I’m doing something about it. If you’re interested, here’s the link!” If you have a group chat, drop it into your group chat!
Repeat the following week for as long as you can. Do it while you online shop, do it while you’re on an annoying call, hell, you can do it while you poop, I genuinely don’t care! Whatever it takes! It is the absolute least that you can do, but you’ll get a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that you at least did SOMETHING to help. You have a vision of who you want to be, right? That ideal version of yourself that does the right thing when given a chance and leads by example? This is that chance. You can do it!
BONUS: You won’t have to lie to your kids or grandkids about being on the right side of history! You can be all like, “Children/Grandchildren, we don’t tolerate that racist shit in this house. If anyone says otherwise, send them to me.” and you’ll sound all tough and cool, and your kids or grandkids will respect and love you and not want to be racists…guess what? That means less racist people in the future!!!
Look at that! It turns out you had a bigger impact than you thought the whole time!
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Office Hours is written and curated by Ernest Wilkins.
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