In this section, I share some of my favorite articles, blog posts, and other short essays I have read on the world wide web that have resonated with me profoundly, including a short excerpt.
- A man and his hobbies: If you want to be a better person, find something to do outside of work
“Our hobbies should be a form of dissent, a radical expression of our individuality, a celebration of doing things that we’re ‘not obliged to do.’ In a world in which our work lives and non-work lives are Venn diagrams with ever-growing areas of intersection–part of me dies every time I read a Twitter profile that states that the user’s views are not a reflection of those of his or her institution–hobbies should celebrate their independence from labor.”
- Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?
Perhaps we’ve all gotten a little hungry for meaning. Participation in organized religion is falling, especially among American millennials. In San Francisco, where I live, I’ve noticed that the concept of productivity has taken on an almost spiritual dimension. Techies here have internalized the idea — rooted in the Protestant work ethic — that work is not something you do to get what you want; the work itself is all.
- The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles
“Whenever I have some time to myself, I panic. Unstructured time — especially spent alone — is phenomenally rare in my life and I feel an overwhelming obligation to make good use of it. I should get some laundry done. Meal prep. Ask each item in my dresser if it brings me joy. Figure out how to fold a fitted sheet. Paint my nails. Work on the play I’m writing. Do a face mask… How did we get to the point where free time is so full of things we have to do that there’s no room for things we get to do?”
- IN PRAISE OF INDULGENCE – AN ESSAY
“In a world where the proper understanding of the word indulgence becomes self-evident, one can reap easier the benefits of a more effectual mode of being. A mode of being that is characterized by intent, awareness and a pragmatic strategy that will allow us to dissipate modern conundrums we all face.”
- What are the most valuable things everyone should know?
If you only read one list for the rest of your life, let this be it.”Tell the truth. Do not do things that you hate. Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act. Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient… Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
- The Man Who Knew Too Little
“Right after the election, Erik Hagerman decided he’d take a break from reading about the hoopla of politics. Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.”
- Against the Insufferable Cult of Productivity
“Even for those who are not constantly bombarded with work demands outside the office, the ubiquity of information processing presents a temptation to be on call at all times. Our world has become an ambient factory from which there is no visible exit and there exists an industry of self-help technologies devoted to teaching us how to be happy workers. “Is information overload killing your productivity?” asks a representative business story. The answer is to adopt yet more productivity strategies. The labour of work is thus extended to encompass the labour of learning how to keep up with your work (specialised techniques, such as “Inbox Zero”, to manage the email tsunami) as well as the labour of recovering from your work in approved ways.”
- 5 Practical Lessons from my 30-Day Digital Declutter Experiment
By intentionally being ignorant for a sustained period of time about all the interesting and exciting ideas being thrown around the internet each day, I’ve shown myself experientially that I don’t actually care about missing these ideas as much as it seems like it in the moment.
- Charisma, controversy & cocaine: a look at the strange world of gurus
“My question is, what is this doing to us? If everyone can find supporters, does that mean everyone can find verification that their ideas are true? Are we all moving towards a point where our beliefs become increasingly divorced from reality? What’s the price we pay for escaping uncertainty and doubt? What are we losing when we outsource our thinking to other people, purely because they sound convincing?”
- Why are modern men obsessed with self-improvement?
“Immortality is the latest obsession in Silicon Valley. The fashionable pastime for tech whizz kids is to attempt to ‘cure’ death — and conquer their own mortality. It is the ultimate narcissistic pursuit. Thiel and Elon Musk have embraced transhumanism, an intellectual movement which believes in the body’s ability to evolve beyond human limits. Some transhumanists fantasize about cutting out food and sex entirely. If man can overcome his desire for both, he will be one step closer to becoming a machine.”
- Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed
“The 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.”
- People aren’t disposable (or, why apps can’t cure loneliness)
“We live in a time where relationships — all types, not just romantic — are all too often seen as disposable. If it takes more than the bare minimum effort to stay in touch, we melt out of each other’s lives. If it’s not convenient, we give up on ever spending time together. If letting go is easier than holding on, we let go. And it usually is. Letting go has become so easy. We’re all drunk on options. People become static. They become the noise we try to drown out. We’re swamped with little rows of profile pictures, reducing people to still images.”
- Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It
“A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive… If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.”
- Identity Politics in Overdrive
“Identity-politics tribalism denies the role of reason and ideas in forming individuals’ worldviews; instead, gonads and melanin reign supreme.”
- How a Month without Computers Changed Me
“It doesn’t take us much time to get used to a way of living and start doing things on autopilot. Our brain likes to save energy, so it turns our extremely voracious conscience as soon as it understands that everyday life can be done without it. As a result, our perception gets dull and replaced by thoughtless habits. Not letting it happen requires leaving the comfort zone, requires entering a new world, where you don’t know anything and have to start from scratch. You could take up a new hobby each month. Or travel from one city to another. Or do without things you are so used to, like having conversations or using computers—just for a little while.”
- Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
- The Case for Working with Your Hands
“The escalating demand for academic credentials in the job market gives the impression of an ever-more-knowledgeable society, whose members perform cognitive feats their unschooled parents could scarcely conceive of. On paper, my abstracting job, multiplied a millionfold, is precisely what puts the futurologist in a rapture: we are getting to be so smart! Yet my M.A. obscures a more real stupidification of the work I secured with that credential, and a wage to match. When I first got the degree, I felt as if I had been inducted to a certain order of society. But despite the beautiful ties I wore, it turned out to be a more proletarian existence than I had known as an electrician. In that job I had made quite a bit more money. I also felt free and active, rather than confined and stultified.”
- Want to love your job? Read this article
“The answer isn’t escape from a “voluntary prison,” but a new way of thinking about how we spend our working days and breaks—making today matter, both on the job and during time off. The quality of our lives depends, in part, on our perception of existence. Or, as William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet when the Danish prince called his land a prison, ‘There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.’“
- The case for slowing everything down a bit
“Our digital lives dispense with friction. We get the answers we seek instantly, we keep up with friends without speaking to them, we get the news as it happens, we watch loops of videos an algorithm chose for us, we click once and get any product in the world delivered to our doorsteps in less than two days… But these technological wonders do not seem to have made our lives or societies more wonderful. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, drug overdoses, and suicide are rising. Productivity growth has slowed. Income inequality has skyrocketed. Politics is more bitter and more tribal. Donald Trump is president of the United States. Something is wrong.”
- Can You Make It As an Artist in 2018 Without Constantly Plugging Yourself on Instagram?
“Adams says his biggest misgiving with Instagram is that it seems to “represent a liquidation of marginal experience.” Waiting at a crosswalk suddenly becomes a moment to be transformed into content (or to check in on how your content is being evaluated). There’s less time to simply exist outside of production and consumption. Life becomes limned by phone-pickups and the buzz of notifications… It reprograms us to seek out content to be recorded all the time, turning our minds into their own kinds of cameras, knowing that we could always be posting, hoping for the most likes. It also demands a certain immediacy, not only reframing how we see, but how we allow ourselves to process what we’re taking in, possibly turning the artist into a half-baked influencer chasing abridged ideas and images.”
- On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant
“The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ’60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.”
- The American Way of Debt
“The equation of debt and decline assumes that once upon a time Americans lived within their means and saved for what they bought. This is fantasy: there never was a golden age of thrift. Debt has always played an important role in Americans’ lives — not merely as a means of instant gratification but also as a strategy for survival and a tool for economic advance. Yet our moral traditions have concealed this complexity.”