I hear that it's a tradition on the EA Forum to start new posts by announcing the existence of a new EA cause area, rather than just saying "X seems like a good idea to me".

So, new EA cause area: combat EA burnout, work/life imbalance, deference/conformity culture, guilt-steering, over-optimizing for defensibility, etc. by adopting a healthier attitude to fun, and to your own weird self.

A specific mental motion that I've found useful is to lean into and delight in the following feeling:

Oh shit, I found a weird way to give myself hedons! Time to hella exploit this and drive up my Hedon Score!

Pride yourself in harmless evil fun, like a speedrunner discovering new exploits.

Like, imagine an EA who finds out for the first time that they really enjoy some activity that's silly and random and not-respected-by-their-peers, like watching Youtube videos of people reacting to horror games. (To choose a random example of something I enjoy.)

One mindset / default emotional response an EA might have to this discovery is: 'Bleh, I've found an embarrassing / un-intellectual way to waste time I could be spending on EA things. I guess I'll do this, since it's fun, but I'll keep vaguely glowering at myself as I do.'

A different response: 'OMG, I found a new vaguely-socially-disapproved-of way to extract enormous numbers of Hedons!! Muhahaha!! Time to pull off the greatest hedon heist in history! 😈'

Maybe later you'll decide that you don't want to spend your time extracting Hedons that way. But whether you stick with your new exploit or not, I suspect the latter immediate-emotional-reaction will conduce more to a sane, healthy, and mentally "alive" mindset. (And to making a more clear-headed decision about whether this fun thing is a good addition to your life.)

The main part I care about here is the "😈 muhaha I'm getting away with something" energy, rather than the focus on fun per se. You can also 😈 at, e.g., scientific research, or virtue cultivation. Though I think there's something very important about it being allowed to just do this for fun.

(Possibly I should call it "😈evil😈 virtue cultivation", to guard against the interpretation that "virtue" here only refers to safe, socially-approved-of, meek-and-mild virtues. Think less Christian virtue, more Aristotelian virtue — the ethos that embraces things like "the virtue of knowing how badass I am".)


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This is an attitude I hold strongly, though my internal spin on it is something like:

When you're trying to help others, ruthlessly pursue that goal

When you're not trying to help others, ruthlessly do whatever you want all the time.

This really works for me as a framing, personally. Someone pointed out to me today it's very MTG red, if that means anything to you.

(Obviously, this only works well if 'whatever you want' is ~always harmless)

This is of course, pretty much the conclusion of Yudkowsky's classic Purchase fuzzies and utilons separately.

But the main lesson is that all three of these things—warm fuzzies, status, and expected utilons—can be bought far more efficiently when you buy separately, optimizing for only one thing at a time

Yep. As the author of https://nothingismere.com/2014/12/03/chaos-altruism/ , I think of myself as an MtG red person who cosplays as esper because I happen to have found myself in a world that has a lot of urgent WUB-shaped problems.

(The world has plenty of fiery outrage and impulsive action and going-with-the-flow, but not a lot of cold utilitarian calculus, principled integrity, rationalism, utopian humanism, and technical alignment research. If I don't want humanity's potential to be snuffed out, I need to prioritize filling those gaps over pure self-expression.)

The specific phrasing "ruthlessly do whatever you want all the time" sounds more MtG-black to me than MtG-red, but if I interpret it as MtG-red, I think I understand what it's trying to convey. :)

This was a great short post and I enjoyed it a lot, thanks!

I shall become the holder of the most historic hedon heist in history! 😈

The most devious, dastardly, diabolical hedon lick

like a speedrunner discovering new exploits

Sounds like a good idea, EA affiliated people should strive to be the type of person who is at the table instead of on the menu.

I think you are talking about guilty pleasures, yes?

From Wikipedia:  A guilty pleasure is something, such as a film, a television program, or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite understanding that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilty_pleasure

Personally, I like the more common phrase,"guilty pleasure"  better, because I wouldn't want to label anything I do as evil.  How can secretly listening to Barry Manilow be considered evil? lol

Whatever works for you!

For me, "guilty pleasure" is a worse tag because it encourages me to feel guilty, which is exactly what I don't want to encourage myself to do.

"I'm being so evil by listening to Barry Manilow" works well for me exactly because it's too ridiculous to take seriously, so it diffuses guilt. I'm making light of the feel-guilty impulse, not just acknowledging it.

This is meant in a lighthearted fashion - but you would feel guilty listening to Barry Manilow? These days, the colloquialism, "guilty pleasure," is meant to be funny, not to invoke actual guilt. 

That being said, the concept of feeling guilty when appropriate, actually serves a useful purpose. Those on the anti-social personality disorder spectrum lack a sense of guilt, which is why they so often purposely hurt others. To me, that is evil personified.

In psychology, it is said that all of the disorders in the DSM usually only hurt the person who has the disorder. The exception is  the anti-social spectrum disorders - those are the disorders that hurt everyone else. It is said jokingly, however it is truer than not.

Anyway, linguistics is an interesting topic because language literally shapes our perceptions, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. 

Add to that the concept of cognitive dissonance, and how our behavior changes in accordance with our words, and you soon realize how powerful language is. 

Words have the power to shape what we see, quite literally, and words can determine how we act. This isn't new, it is why we pledge allegiance to our respective flags, or take oaths, or swear on a bible in court to tell the truth.

I'm currently working on a post about the subject, so please stay tuned...