Birth of a Person
This should have been the very first entry in this blog.
Developing a personality
Growing up in a teensy-weensy town where everyone knew each other through a friend of a friend lead me to become shy and restrained.
Even though I developed a courage to start a blog back then, that blog was mostly humorous. Many serious entries were ambiguous and I had reservations about writing them.
I thought London would be different. It wasn’t. Being surrounded by the same people daily lead me to have same worries.
But slowly I have emerged as a person. I now stand for something and this blog is now part of… well that something. I am no longer that guy who’s always been around but never said a word.
There have been many events and materials that helped me to develop confidence. One particularly influential essay is “Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think”.
And here I am and the people who snigger or judge behind my back, if they exist, they suddenly don’t matter. And that’s a huge burden off my shoulders.
These days when I see a person who speaks out more often than he/she used to I cheer for him/her: look a homo sapient is evolving into a person!
This isn’t a call for taking a stance on a lot of controversial issues and arguing. This is a call for saying what you think and doing what you want.
Rationality and less self-doubt
Back in the dark days when I wasn’t familiar with methods of rationality I didn’t have the confidence to believe my own thoughts. There was always that niggling, annoying sensation: well how am I supposed to know what I say is actually true. Whenever there was a conflict I needed supportive opinions of friends to convince myself that I was right. Nowadays the reasoning behind my statements is the confidence. I put the statements and the reasoning out there in the open and I don’t mind if the reasoning is challenged. I don’t find this happening often much though. Unfortunately, partially because some don’t feel like speaking out.
I found my ultimate refuge I always saw in maths: knowing what is right and what is wrong. The reasoning behind is the foundation of why I choose to believe anything, just like maths. But the real world has more uncertainty behind facts which are axioms in maths. But that’s all right, probability in the form of Bayesian epistemology is to the rescue.
Does this make me a bad friend?
Depends on what you expect from friendship. Do you want a mutually-unconditional-support agreement applicable to both of us? Or do you want support because you are right? I prefer the latter. I want my friends to criticise my reasoning if it’s faulty and tell me if I am being an asshole.
The conflicts are no-longer contests in summoning most friends for support. What is acceptable or not acceptable is no longer up to vote. And it shouldn’t be. How one ought to act is not a democracy.
Authentic but empathic
Being meek has an obvious advantage of also appearing to be nice. Given that empathetic people tend to be more happy, am I choosing the wrong path? Our society has been fed noble lies and speaking out against the lies for the reason because they are, well, lies upsets people who would rather believe the noble lies. So have I decided to become unhappy?
My solution is to spend more time with people who do not find what I stand for offensive. LessWrong isn’t LessEmpathy. Unfortunately it’s impossible to find these kind of people without actually speaking out first.