I’m in Canada.
Edmonton > Calgary > Banff > Vancouver over the last 3 days.
Currently in -10 in shorts and crocs.
I’ve adopted James’ philosophy of “dress for the weather you want not the weather you’ve got”.
Chicago today, New York Friday then back to Austin on Monday.
Tour life is great, apart from me getting very fat very quickly.
In other good news, the new Tropical Ice Neutonic is absolutely blowing people’s minds, I’m so happy that everyone loves it as much as I do.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to name a concept for months and the meme-inspiration-gods finally blessed me.
Toxic Compassion is the prioritisation of short term emotional comfort over long-term outcomes.
Over truth, reality, flourishing, everything.
It optimises for appearing to do good, rather than actually doing good.
This is seen in much of popular culture as the desirable, fair, empathetic thing to do.
People would rather claim that body fat has no bearing on health and mortality outcomes to avoid making overweight individuals feel upset.
Even if this causes them to literally die sooner or have a worse quality of life over the long run.
Parents would sooner allow children to play computer games or watch screens and access social media every night instead of dealing with the discomfort of taking it away from them.
Even if it ruins their brain development, social skills and self esteem.
People would rather say that children growing up in single-parent households suffer no worse outcomes than those from two-parent homes.
Even if this misleads parents, children and teachers about why kids behave the way they do.
Campaigners would sooner shout Defund The Police as a response to what they perceive as the unfair treatment of criminals.
Even if this results in more crimes being committed against people from minority backgrounds due to the abandonment of police officers from those areas.
Elon Musk recently responded to criticism about his political alignment and contribution to climate change.
He identified how big of a shift Tesla had caused in the Electric Vehicle market, and the downstream impact of that on the environment, saying that he’s done more for the climate than any other human in history.
“What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it.
And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good, while doing evil.”
The important tradeoff with all of these examples is between appearing good and actually doing good.
Telling people what they want to hear, giving them immediate gratification and avoiding saying anything that could cause distress prioritises the former over the latter.
The net effect is often wildly negative.
It’s the toddler who wants to eat ice cream every night.
Sure that might be what they want in the moment, but it’ll be wildly unhealthy over the long term.
I asked Jordan Peterson about this on our most recent episode.
“That’s exactly what the Oedipal situation is.
It’s the prioritisation of short term emotional comfort over long term thriving.
It’s going to hurt now, but the long consequences are positive.
If you give up your children to the world, you will keep them.”
The prospect of appearing bad while doing good is obviously not very enticing.
The opposite is Performative Empathy.
Saying whatever is required to look good, even if you don’t actually care.
And on the internet, the gap between words and actions has never been bigger.
You can be the least virtuous, meanest, most dishonest human on earth, but if you say the right things on social media, you look like a saint.
No one stress tests the words coming out of people’s mouths.
Which means that appearing good becomes more important than doing good.
Performative empathy is more rewarded than genuine empathy.
Posting about mistreated groups is more incentivised than helping mistreated groups.
*puts flag in bio, has never actually donated to a charity*
This isn’t me saying that you can’t do good whilst talking about it.
But that many (maybe even most) of the people who proselytise about how virtuous and caring they are, and how it’s everyone else who is evil, uncaring and the enemy are allowing their morality to stand on the shoulders of limited scrutiny.
“It’s like ‘look at how good I am’
Well if the ‘look at’ comes before the ‘how good I am’, it really wreaks havoc on the claim.” — Jordan Peterson
Beware the people who prioritise saying good things, they might not be doing good things.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Louise Perry – one of my favourite authors returns to discuss the crisis of femininity, why birthrates are declining, why Gen Z wants less romance in their movies, the fallout of #MeToo and much more. Don’t miss this.
Scott Galloway – a great breakdown of how men can raise themselves up, have higher hopes and improve the world around them. Plus some great networking & investing advice.
Seerut Chawla – just how legit is Instagram Therapy? Actual therapist Seerut critiques the world of victim culture, trauma-identifying and mental health masturbation.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Americans have become fatter than pigs.
“The average pig has a lower body fat percentage than the average American.
The average American man has 28% body fat, the average woman has 40% body fat.
Pigs have 16% body fat, compared with 20% two decades ago (because people now favour leaner meat).” — Rob Henderson
Six fundamental beliefs that bias our view of the world.
Psychologists have posited hundreds of cognitive biases over the years, a fascinating new paper argues that they all boil down to one of a handful of fundamental beliefs coupled with confirmation bias.
1. My experience is a reasonable reference.
2. I make correct assessments of the world.
3. I am good.
4. My group is a reasonable reference.
5. My group is good.
6. People’s attributes (not context) shape outcomes.
— h/t Steve Stewart-Williams
The difference between trauma and victimhood.
“Being impacted by being what happened to you isn’t victimhood, it’s human.
Making an identity out of it is victimhood.” — Seerut Chawla
Listen to Sleep Token.
Dear god I’ve fallen in love with this band.
My top 5 songs from Spotify Wrapped were all by them.
Their new album Welcome To Eden is phenomenal and Are You Really Okay? is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Get stuck in.
Some of the names I rejected for Toxic Compassion: Shortsighted Caring, The Shallow Pond Of Empathy, The Devil’s Charity Effect.