On Weird Things I Do For Reasons

(Epistemic Status: Anecdote and storytelling – this is more or less a list of stuff and the closest thing I have to an explanation of the benefits)

I’ve been noticing lately that I do some nonstandard things even in relation to my reference class. I feel like it might be interesting to list a few and explain why I do them – individually they wouldn’t really make much of a post, but together they might form a bigger picture of how I think. Generally, I’m at some level optimizing for my brain to work in a socially present way; I’m also trying to

  • Recording Ideas – If I’m in a conversation and something important comes up, I will stop, ask the person for a moment, and record the thing I think is important. If I have an idea while I’m on my own, I make sure I get my phone out to record it. I find this helps me keep things together – I don’t actually listen to the recordings frequently. The act of recording in the first place increases the salience of the idea.
  • Random Parkour – This is essentially the “interacting with the environment in an unusual manner” thing, but I find it’s really helpful for breaking negative feedback loops and diffusing my focus. This is less great if I need to talk or think about a specific thing, but if I’m just being anxious, it’s a good reset and lets me move on productively. Also useful for changing the topic if I don’t like what’s going on.
  • No Phone Zone – I don’t keep my phone near me at parties. I will sometimes grab it if I find someone who’s saying a lot of things that inspire me for recording reasons, but otherwise I keep that thing as far away from me as possible. Usually it makes for better conversations.
  • Holding Ground – I think about space a lot – I will 95% of the time not defer to someone walking the other way down a sidewalk, especially if they’re “in my lane”. This is part confidence building but also a situational awareness thing. It forces me to engage my environment such that I can project the level of “don’t fuck with me” necessary to cause someone to get out of my way.
  • Look at the Eyes – I try to pay attention to where people’s eyes are going. If there’s a singular focus and it’s unclear why, that’s interesting data about the environment. If someone else is scanning eyes the same way I am, that tells me they’re interesting. There are a few other things but eyes are interesting overall.
  • Do It Right Away – I’ve accepted that when people ask me to do things, I either need to do it right then, or ask them to tell me to do it at a time that I can do it right then. I mean, I can also set my own reminder but usually, by asking them to remind me I get some data on whether they really need me to do the thing (if it’s not clear from the nature of the thing).

I’m sure I do other weird stuff but this was what mostly came to mind at first.

Discussion Questions: What sorts of weird things do you do for optimization reasons? Do you think you can afford to do more weird things in your life? What do you stop yourself from doing because it’s kind of weird and you think it will go socially poorly, but might be really beneficial?

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