from Patrick McKenzie | by Patrick McKenzie

Patrick McKenzie


about 1 year ago

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The first sentence is God's honest truth, and to be honest, it snuck up on me. I am not making a claim to knowledge and/or power because I am acutely aware that consensus does not allow people with knowledge and/or power to claim that...

There are a lot of different mechanisms for this, incidentally, and... they're not necessarily bad mechanisms or ones you will disagree with in the moment or even after considered reflection?

You get exposed to secrets and of course can't share the secrets, because you want to be polite, and ethical, and professional, and not stab friends in the back. And you get good at what secrets are Secret secrets and which are gossip world runs on, and about how fluid that is.

And you become aware of norms of professionalism and your social class, and they are norms you know you have to be good at mimicking, but you feel like you're definitely just putting on a performance.

And then one day someone suggests to you explicitly that not them, not the person you trust or have to listen to, but some third party, and maybe not even a third party that they *have* to listen to, would be extremely annoyed if you were to do a normal, regular thing for you.

And it's not even an ask for a favor. It's just blowing of steam. Crazy irrational people in the world, right. Eventually it's an explicit ask. Eventually it's not from a third party, but it's not a directive, it's just a statement. Eventually it's a directive. You can say no.

Eventually its a directive, and you can say no, but all the smart people in your life will inform you that the consequences to saying no would be ruinous. Eventually you find yourself talking to a friend, blowing off steam. And mentoring younger people about how the world works.

Eventually, you find yourself giving people directives. They can, of course, say no.

And this is not a conspiracy. This is not you being inducted into a secret elite. You have your own hands on the keyboard and on the wheel of life at all times. But if you want to go in this direction, or that direction, or etc etc, you will ~inevitably have incentive gradient.

"This all sounds painfully abstract." I grew up wondering about humorless lawyers and have needed to tell people "Hey, you made a joke earlier. *I* am not offended by the joke, but let me tell you about U.S. employment law, after which you will make better choices."

And that is, of course, the kind of anodyne, non-specific, and socially-approved-upon version of this general phenomenon that I feel comfortable sharing on Twitter. Phenomenon is much, much, much broader than that.

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