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Elo comments on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag - Less Wrong

35 Post author: Raemon 03 April 2017 06:37PM

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Comment author: Elo 02 April 2017 12:29:00AM 3 points [-]

My feedback on these points:

Many people in rationality communities feel lonely (even the geographically tight Berkeley cluster). People want more (and deeper) connections than they currently have.

"I am feeling lonely because I am needing connection."

In the NVC sense this is a very clear and valid statement. Except within NVC no one else is responsible for your feelings other than yourself. Other people cannot make you feel lonely. They can take actions that cause you to feel lonely but they cannot force or guarantee you will feel lonely following the actions they take. In this sense I can drop you in the desert where there is no one around but I cannot force the loneliness out from within you. You can be thousands of miles away from anyone and still not be made to feel alone. You can equally be in the same room as all your friends and they cannot force you to feel "not alone any more".

I found myself in some position of not being happy with my situation. I run my local lesswrong group. I started the slack and can now be found on the discord. I blame no one else for my feelings, nor do I expect anyone else to rectify the problems. If the problem is loneliness, then the solution is not to force people to feel un-lonely. It is to get people to work it out for themselves. (Which may be a valid but different project)

There are lots of small pain points in the community (in person and online) that could be addressed fairly easily, but which people don’t dedicate the time to fix.

This would be easier if there were concrete and clear examples of them. Particularly because with concrete and clear examples the solutions become more obvious. I don't see a systemic problem, other than perhaps with agency or communication. For example the recent arbital post. Many people would have contributed earlier if we had known it needed help. But the way Alexie talks; it was not in need of help.

People are rewarded for starting individual projects more than helping to make existing ones succeed, which results in projects typically depending on a small number of people working unsustainably. (i.e. a single person running a meetup who feels like if they left, the meetup would crumble apart)

I agree. Part of this is about being proactive about describing what you are doing and what you are working on. To this end - a weekly thread about "this week I am working on" seems like a good idea, one I am willing to implement inside the next open thread, and if it takes off - separate to a new thread.

Some newcomers often find the culture impenetrable and unwelcoming.

Each and every one of us was once a newcomer. Each and every one of us lurked for a time. Our surveys show that our ratios of lurkers to commenters to posters are like 100:10:1. Perhaps a strategy of

  1. telling people why they should step up, or
  2. asking why they don't, then removing all the barriers.

In addition - more responses on the welcome thread would be good. The current thread - http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/ogw/welcome_to_less_wrong_11th_thread_january_2017/ can be subscribed to so that you too can welcome people and engage with what they have to say.

Not enough “real-time operational competence” - the ability to notice problems in the physical world and solve them.

That's a thing. I and others (i.e. lifelonglearner) are working towards more instrumental writing about noticing personal problems and fixing them. It takes time to write. We welcome other interest in drafting ideas. \

Future post topics:

*evaluating interpersonal relationships - the good, the bad, the defaults, the ones you want to curate. *time management - 168hours and breaking down where it goes. *financial planning - runways, wealth and growth. *health/fitness management, and having good vices.

Even at events like EA Global where enormous effort is put into operations and logistics, we scramble to pull things together at the last minute in a way that is very draining.

I think this is inherent to planning major events. I imagine a friend of mine who is an engineer involved in big projects like switching on a power plant and such. With those projects, the "flipping the switch" moment is probably the most calm, boring, ordinary event in the scheme of the process of planning and organising things. That is - no one is running around, no sparks are flying. Someone might have a clipboard and tick a box as it happens. As ordinary as drinking a cup of tea. With experience comes the skill to plan a conference like one might go about drinking a cup of tea. But you start with people who have never done these things, and we have to learn somewhere.

Many people communicate in a way that feels disdainful and dismissive (to many people), which makes both social cohesion as well as intellectual understanding harder.

In recently investigating emotions and vulnerability I came across this talk:


In it she talks about how when we seek to numb the negative emotions we also numb all emotion and this gets in the way of connection. I currently stand on the fence of - numbing emotions is neccesary to a certain amount because for people in the category of having difficulty managing emotions (either having too many or not enough), having them not there (very cold communications) makes it very easy to see the communication. Yes, this means coming across cold and unwelcoming at first. But if you look very carefully at that "cold an unwelcoming" it's not unfriendly, it's also not friendly. It just is. I can't say what I will believe in the future (that talk is persuasive to the value of not numbing things). But right now I can explain the coldness for the safe feeling that it permits to communication. There is less misunderstanding emotions when there is no emotion. There is also less connection.

We have a strong culture of “make sure your own needs are met”, that specifically pushes back against broader societal norms that pressure people to conform. This is a good, but I think we’ve pushed too far in the opposite direction. People often make choices that are valuable to them in the immediate term, but which have negative externalities on the people around them.

I disagree. getting one's own needs met is crucial to being able to function in this world. In addition EA came about to do things that are helping others.

This was a lot of work to write out, but I want to say that I feel like you are off in many small and nuanced ways. Not sure if I got that across quite right.

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 02:25:18AM *  3 points [-]

If the problem is loneliness, then the solution is not to force people to feel un-lonely. It is to get people to work it out for themselves. (Which may be a valid but different project)

I'm not sure how much of a disagreement we have regarding the NVC paradigm. I very much didn't mean for the solution to be "force people to be un-lonely", so if that's how it came across, sorry for that miscommunication. (The OP was just a high level summary of what sort of problems I'm trying to address)

I very much agree with NVC that it's important to have an internal locus of control. But you can still look at an overall situation, notice that a lot of people are struggling to make things work, and notice things about a culture that are making it harder to solve a problem.

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 02:21:39AM *  0 points [-]

I don't see a systemic problem, other than perhaps with agency or communication.

Yeah, this particular problem I largely see as about agency and communication (and noticing).