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Visakan Veerasamy

Visakan Veerasamy

Nov 23, 2020
103 tweets

Can’t sleep, time to do a fresh reboot of VV’s talking points

1. Do it 100 times. Write 100 songs, cook 100 omelettes, talk to 100 people. It never seems like a huge deal until you try it yourself. It’s manageable, and yet it stretches you, and you’ll be observably different at the end of it. Effective way to get a foothold on a new thing
2. Play long games. This is kind of a remix of 1. Thousands of people will want to start a substack or podcast. Something like 1% of them or less will stick with it consistently for 2 years. If you commit to things for 10+ years, you develop what appear to be superpowers
3. Practice good reply game. Life is multiplayer co-op. You can achieve much more with others than you can by yourself. You can build relationships simply by doing good replies over a sustained period of time. Do 100 good replies over 2 years 😜 Don’t be pushy or needy about it
4. Cultivate your taste. Everything beautiful in the world is made by people with discernment, who know what they like and why they like it, who are motivated by something deeper than just money or status. This takes a while. Evaluate 100 things you love, articulate why/how
5. Haters are fans too. Be mindful of how you spend your time and energy. 90% of the time spent complaining about what you don’t like is better spent focusing on what you do like. Don’t incentivize what you dislike. A common enemy doesn’t actually create lasting friendship
6. You cannot bully people into becoming better people, because what they learn from it is that bullying is how things get done.
7. The meaning of life is friends. We’re here to take care of each other. We’re all walking each other home. You can come up with more grandiose versions of this - justice, liberty, happiness... it all makes more sense through the frame of human kinship.
8. Narcissism is a bug of the mind. It’s an optical-temporal illusion, a fixation on the narrow image of a self that doesn’t actually exist. Call it ego if you like. It’s mistaking the menu for the meal, the map for the territory. There is no self, we are all waves in the ocean
9. Anti-narcissist shaming benefits narcissists (who have no shame, and as such are unaffected by you trying to shame them - they might even enjoy the attention) and hurts everybody else.
10. The public is insufficiently educated on how to be a good public. You could say that this is the central problem of our species. There are lots of parts to this wicked problem. There’s room for everyone to pitch in and contribute to this infinite endeavor.
11. The means by which the public educates itself (the media, primarily) have warped incentives. So we have a global public that *systematically* deludes and terrifies itself. Choosing to be a measured, thoughtful, truth-seeking person in this world is a radical & meaningful act
12. Solving big problems requires massive coordination. As a species we’re not very good at large-scale coordination. To be fair, we’re fairly new to it. We need master communicators and coordinators to demonstrate how we can do it better.
13. Embarking on any sufficiently substantial project - like cooking 100 omelettes - requires that you learn to coordinate and collaborate with your future selves. This is a worthy endeavor because you can subsequently use those skills to serve and help your friends.
14. The core thing about good reply game is attention. You have to be attentive to other people, discern what they’re trying to do, how they’d like to be interacted with. Attention is also how you cultivate taste. Attention then is the most precious, valuable resource there is
15. When we coerce people into “paying” attention, we set them up for dysfunctional relationships for the rest of their lives. We do this in families, we do this in schools, we do it because it’s convenient and we’re ignorant of the true costs. See point 6 about bullying
16. All advice is context-dependent to a degree we do not realize until we encounter a different context
17. Sufficiently caveated advice is indistinguishable from chaos
18. Nothing is edgier than being earnest
19. there is no advice that cannot be creatively weaponized in some way to justify getting back on your bullshit
20. people wanna be fuckable more than they wanna fuck
21. narcissist PR works because people can’t help taking the bait every time
22. joy is freedom from the shackles of narrow utilitarianism
23. self-loathing requires that you participate in the delusional conceit that you know who you are
24. fucking is labor, fuckability is capital
25. thinking is easy, information architecture is hard
26. you can’t think your way out of a courage deficit
27. people contain multitudes, coherence is fascism
29. imagination deficits rule everything around me
30. real ambition is something far beyond mere prestige and accolades. real ambition is about serving your deepest values at the highest level possible. it is certainly dangerous if it isn’t intertwined with a genuine love for humanity
31. curiosity is a tiny spark that can develop into a powerful flame. unfortunately it often gets stamped out of lots of kids. this is a crime against humanity
32. Never downplay your work. Never be the one to sabotage your success. There are more than enough obstacles in the world to challenge you without you creating your own
33. One must imagine Sisyphus LOL-ing
34. Boredom is a bug of the mind. Very specifically, a tired mind in a cluttered space with unclear purpose and unrealistic expectations. I’ve thought about this a *lot*, I choose all of those words very carefully
35. If you’re trying to get healthy, drinking a glass of water and going for a walk will serve you much better than spending time researching obscure details about nutrition and exercise. Figure out a good-enough next step and execute it. This applies to practically everything
36. Lots of problems boil down to fear. Articulate (write it down!) *precisely* what you’re afraid of, and then take steps to address them. If you’re scared of doing something big, start by doing something small and work your way up progressively
37. when life kicks your ass, try to accept it with as much grace as you can manage. life kicks everyone’s ass in the end
38. if circumstances require that you have to kick someone’s ass (eg firing someone), don’t beat around the bush. be clear, be firm, try to be kind, and absolutely do not gloat or be a dick about it
39. if someone kicks your ass with kindness, marry them. or otherwise cherish them. good friends are hard to come by.
40. how you conduct yourself in crises will define you much more than 95% of everything else you do, so it’s worth mentally rehearsing them. be the person that people can count on when shit hits the fan
41. people will do almost anything for a sense of purpose and belonging. fascists understand this. the rest of us ought to get better at understanding it too
42. Constructive disagreements require mutual trust, respect and goodwill.
43. It is absolutely possible to change people’s minds over the Internet. It just typically takes much longer than people would like. If you know you’re going to be around for decades anyway, why not play the long game?
44. The world is big. 0.1% of people is a lot of people. Find your weirdos.
45. Bureaucracy can be a kind of distributed brutishness. Nobody punches you in the face, but by the time you’re through with it, they might as well have 😂😅😩
46. If you have a choice between arguing with internet strangers (and even friends) about abstractions, or building your personal capacity, it’s almost always wiser to build your capacity. Some arguments become interestingly irrelevant past a certain threshold of personal growth
47. Children are alien immigrants from a foreign land. This makes them incredibly valuable for their fresh perspective on things. Every philosophy department should be 50% staffed by children. I’m absolutely serious
48. Communication is *fundamentally* lossy. Misunderstanding is the default condition. It’s crazy that we even kinda-sorta understand each other at all! If we appreciated this properly, we’d all give everybody lots of room to revise all their statements. But the public is insuf-
49. Courage is contagious. You can become more courageous by associating with courageous people. And living your life with courage will similarly have an effect on the people around you.
50. Real optimism is not just a posture but a way of being. Funnily, a lot of people pretend to be optimistic for social reasons, but aren’t fundamentally optimistic. You can tell by how they act. Optimists truly, casually believe that progress is possible, and act accordingly
51. Pedestalization is dehumanizing. We do our heroes a disservice when we pedestalize them. The kindest thing we can do for people we admire is to treat them as people. If you *have* to worship something, worship the game, not the individual players.
52. People who feel constrained by a culture will often contribute to enforcing it.
53. If you don’t respect yourself, almost all your pursuits will be marred by its absence. Where to begin? People contain multitudes- you can start by investigating your own history. What are your proudest moments? When were you at your best? How can you do more of that?
54. The most noble thing you can do with your strength is to use it to protect and nourish people - starting with yourself. Create spaces where people can grow strong in turn. Create contexts where trust can flourish, and people can count on each other.
55. Storytelling is a superpower. Storytelling can save your life. Stories are humanizing. Stories get people to care. We all tell stories all the time, it’s worth getting good at it. Like ambition, this can be a dangerous force if not intertwined with a genuine love for humanity
56. Talismans are simply objects that are meaningful to you. A wedding ring is a talisman everyone understands. You can imbue an object with narrative meaning via some kind of ritual or ceremony, and it can help you manage your psychology (which is The Hard Thing).
57. The Hard Thing is managing your psychology (h/t Ben Horowitz). Everything else is moving levers and cranking widgets. Running a marathon, building a company, playing long games. It’s all just logistics, one foot in front of another. The hard part is managing your psychology.
58. Cruelty leaks. When you mock and insult others- even if they seem to deserve it- you become, to yourself, a person who mocks and insults others. This happens a lot with smart people who shame others for “being dumb”. They then live in chronic fear of being dumb themselves
59. Don’t summon demons. You can’t unsummon them. being metaphorical here: a demon is an all-consuming malevolent entity with no regard for human life. Outrage, vengeance, contempt. You might think you can “control” a demon to use as a weapon for righteous causes. You can’t.
60. Read history! It’s like binge-watching past seasons of current affairs. Everything makes a lot more sense once you know the backstory
61. The Big Bang makes *much* more sense as The Great Cosmic Fart but unfortunately the scientific establishment is run by cowards
62. Laughter and anxiety are two sides of the same coin. (h/t Alan Watts). It’s okay to be anxious about stuff. Saying “don’t be anxious!!” typically has the opposite effect. But if you can find a way to laugh, the anxiety usually dissipates. One must imagine Sisyphus LOL-ing
63. Decision-making is a skill like any other, and you can get better with practice and evaluation. Make 100 decisions! Even little silly-seeming ones like “I’m going to try a new ice cream flavor today” can be part of a journey that leads to something far more consequential
64. Everything is a remix. (h/t @Kirby Ferguson) So there’s not much point trying to “be original”. Accept this, and then try to make the most interesting remixes you can. Make 100 remixes. “Originality” is just creative subconscious remixing. Cite your sources and inspiration
65. The fortress you build to protect yourself can become a prison if you’re not careful
66. Study successful people. Success however *you* define it. It’s always worth getting as close to the source material as possible. What decisions did people make? What constraints and contexts did they operate in? You can reverse-engineer this and apply it to your own life
67. If you make a habit of writing things down, over time you develop a body of work that will give you insights into yourself and the world that you cannot get any other way. You can’t use your mind for this, because the mind is tricky and will modify your memories.
68. Navigate by excitement. Not *entirely*, obviously - you do want to also have some self-preservation instincts, think about your future-self a little, etc. But life can be exciting, and you can live an exciting life. This isn’t frivolous, this is joyous - and joy is important
69. nice
70. It’s okay to ask for help. You can actually get good at it, and then you’re almost doing a favor *to* the people who want to help. Lots of people are sitting around bored and overwhelmed and enjoy the opportunity to perform a small, simple task that makes someone else’s day
71. there are lots of good reasons to work out, but here’s my favorite: the moment you break a new Personal Best (fastest mile, heaviest lift), you can feel your limiting beliefs melt away. You just did something today that you couldn’t do yesterday. What will you do tomorrow?
72. Sex is neither corrosive nor inert. Personally, I recommend only fucking people that you respect (who respect you). I’m old-fashioned that way. I think of it like having conversations: the people you do it with “rub off on you”. Whose energy do u want in your life? It adds up
73. I think a good goal to have is to inhabit a social reality filled with people you deeply respect. You can still be kind to old ties, and be good to strangers... but a having home base with friends you trust, respect, admire? There are billionaires who don’t have this
74. [tweet about the joy of travel redacted due to global pandemic]
75. You can increase your exposure to luck. You can improve your odds by taking random walks (literally and figuratively), and by paying attention to the peripheries. Have a public body of work, which is like a spiderweb that catches the attention of people looking for you
76. Being kind makes you smarter. People trust you more when you’re genuinely kind. They’re likelier to share their more tentative thoughts and privileged knowledge of contentious things. Being unkind traps you in arrested development, and you’ll always be lagging behind
77. Sensitivity is a source of power. It might SEEM like a weakness, especially in young people who haven’t yet learned to harness it. (❤️ the scene in Man of Steel [2013] where Clark Kent is overwhelmed by his senses.) Smarts & strength are dangerously blind w/o sensitivity
78. Just as plant roots prevent soil erosion, I believe that robust communities - meaning actual networks of real human relationships - prevent social erosion. Building bottom-up human networks then is an existential concern for humanity
79. musicians have the answers to a lot of our problems. how to play together, how to harmonize, how to teach, how to tell stories, how to do community. I learned much of what I know from them. there’s a lot of ancient embodied wisdom that’s still practiced in live music
80. enjoying yourself is a skill that you can develop. once again it’s a lot about directing your attention in playful and interesting ways. being able to entertain yourself means you’ll never be bored. what has enjoyment looked like for you in your life so far?
81. you can reframe everything you know into a set of questions. the point isn’t really to arrive at definitive answers, but to get comfortable with inquiry as a tool - which you can use for literally everything
82. reframing too is an infinitely useful and delightful skill you can develop. what if you looked at things from another perspective? what if you zoomed in? zoomed out? shook it all about? infinite possibilities! a new way of seeing is a new way of being
83. making precise predictions, and following up on them, is a great (and humbling!) way to test your understanding of things. As with all the other skills, you get better with practice. Make 100 predictions
84. you are more interesting and multi-faceted than even you yourself typically realize. consciousness has a way of functioning as a sort of centralised propaganda department. you don’t actually have to be constrained by your narrow assumptions & expectations of yourself
85. Read biographies. Anybody’s. It’s the opposite of being swept up in a daily news cycle. Get a sense of the longer rhythms, cycles, ebbs and flows of a human life.
86. If it’s been a few years, reread your old favorite books, rewatch your old favorite movies. It’ll hit different, because you’re a different person now. The ways in which your reactions have changed will reveal things to you
87. It’s good to have some friends that you only catch up with once a year or less. They’ll notice things that people you talk to regularly won’t
88. Practice giving sincere compliments to your friends. If they’ve done something uncommonly well, tell them! They’ll appreciate that you noticed, and it can be useful feedback for them. People are less certain of themselves than they might seem. You cultivate taste doing this
89. It’s okay to no longer be interested in things that you were interested in before. You’re a different person now. Forgive old obligations that are no longer relevant. Forgive your future self for doing the same. Cultivate trust and good faith across your past & future selves
90. Never be so monomaniacally fixated on trying to force a specific outcome that you fail to notice the evolving reality of the situation. Check in on yourself and your context periodically. Bonus points: write down your thoughts & observations for future-self to learn from
91. When internally conflicted about something, it can be fun and illuminating to write it out as a dialogue between two or more fictional versions of yourself. It’s easier to grapple with inner demons when you make them a little cute. (from:visakanv my brain)
92. It’s conflict all the way up and it’s conflict all the way down. It can be helpful to list out all of the conflicts you’re currently entangled in. Once you’ve got it on paper, you start seeing all sorts of alt solutions you might not have considered when in the thick of it
93. This doesn’t generalize universally but: be careful about punishing failure, both in yourself and in others. It can incentivize not-even-trying. Where possible, try rewarding attempts to learn from failure. Gentle curiosity can pull you out of a slump where anger fails
94. If you’ve had to declare trust bankruptcy in yourself (I’ve been there), the way out is to start with really small wins. “I’m going to drink a glass of water now” → do it. Trust is built like courage: lots of little baby steps. Eventually you can do cartwheels & backflips
95. Cerebral types (that’s most of us on twitter, isn’t it?) tend to underestimate the effects of physical reality. Going to a new place (a different café, for eg) can be helpful in breaking out of recursive thought patterns. Novel environment, novel stimuli, novel response!
96. There’s always a move.
97. the big lesson of survivor bias is that one should optimize for being a survivor
98. Fiddle with it! Tinkering and screwing around is a leading source of creativity and invention. And it’s just plain fun! Mess with stuff! You don’t have to be all solemn and austere about it. “Quick and dirty” sketches tend to have a liveliness to them. In celeritas, veritas
99. Beware Fuckarounditis. Yes I’m directly contradicting the previous tweet. Life is full of meaningful contradictions like this. While it’s good to mess around creatively, do it with zest. Don’t linger vaguely in a grumpy low-energy state. Stop before you start hating it
100. It’s very satisfying to do 100 of a thing. It’s challenging. You’ll surprise yourself along the way. If you had a plan, there’s a good chance you’ll change it midway. It’s a little adventure in of itself. You come away from it a different person. I highly recommend it.
Wew, I did it! 🎉 6 hours of non-stop tweeting 😂💪🏾🔥 If you enjoyed this thread, I’d love it if you checked out + subscribed to my youtube channel:
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Visakan Veerasamy
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