Epistemic status: Many EAs have become so sick of each other that they're leaving. I wanted to write something to help them remember what I think we’ve all learnt here before venturing out into the big wide world. But my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience in EA. I will dispense this advice now.
EAs of the class of '23.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, “Don’t strawman” would be it.
And don’t enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.
You will not understand the power dynamics around beauty during your youth, so don’t risk it.
Trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at all those lost possibilities for love and friendship that lay before you
And still not understand.
Don’t worry about the long-term future.
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to put on a seatbelt.
The real troubles in the world concern the next 137 years, beyond which we are totally blind.
Actually I’m not even sure what I’m having for dinner on Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's money.
Don’t commit fraud.
No seriously, don't commit fraud.
Didn't think I had to write that one down for ya.
Brush your teeth with topical fluoride.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy.
Then some will think you’re enlightened,
Some will think you’re weird and irresponsible,
But love is love, and in the end, you only live once.
Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults.
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Fact-check everything. Trust scandalous statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your wealth.
The most interesting people I know
Are 22-year-olds who know exactly what you should do with your wealth.
Be kind to your seniors.
You'll miss them when they've burnt out.
Maybe you’ll marry to give, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll shut up and multiply, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll save the world, retire at 40, and adopt some chickens.
Whatever you do, don’t do anything wrong ex post.
Enjoy your voice.
Use it every way you can.
The long-term benefits of unfiltered streams of consciousness have been proved by rationalists.
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it.
It’s the greatest instrument for rumormongering you’ll ever own.
Even if you have nowhere to do it but the back of an envelope.
Read The Sequences, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read the EA Forum, it will only make you feel sad.
Understand that most people who feel like imposters
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you too woke.
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you too anti-woke.
Accept certain inalienable truths:
Critics will criticise,
Allies will falter,
You, too, will make mistakes.
Disrespect your elders.
Don’t expect the community to always support you.
Maybe today there’s funding, maybe today you have patience for the latest drama,
But you never know when either one might run out.
Work hard to bridge the gaps with your normie friends,
For as the older you get,
The more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Be careful who you defer to.
Preferably don’t defer to anyone on anything.
Especially if they just called you a “naive utilitarian.”
But trust me on the strawmanning.