Andrew (perspectivism) wrote,

Stimulus: This week, I chanced to overhear three separate dinosaurishly clueless conversations amongst middle-aged and old strangers out in public. Response: I took notes on ways to avoid their fate.

In China, old women are almost universally venerated as wise. In any culture where change is slow--any culture more like the ancestral hunter/gatherer environment than present-day Silicon Valley--this can make sense.

Americans do not naturally expect a lot of change each decade, even though we've been living it for at least a century. If you wish to firsthandedly evaluate our extreme modern cultural change, then carefully review a sample of conversation-heavy movies filmed a decade apart starting in 1930. Cultures, realities, and possibilities used to change m-u-c-h slower than they do now. Our collective expectations are not catching up terribly well. Futurists can be freaky and overoptimistic, yes, but look at the alternative: Non-futurists are emotionally very from the cluetrain. Futurism and even self-conscious hipsterism are our best available defenses against emotionally assuming that tomorrow will be just like today. "Common sense" folk epistemology radically favors old people, suggesting that they possess special deep wisdom. In ways, old people might. Nonetheless, Timothy Leary and my own cult-leading grandmother (both now deceased) were the only individuals over 70 whom I usually took seriously on a broad range of topics.

Beyond young adulthood, most extra wrinkles in most brains just don't matter. Worse than that, most of those extra wrinkles support false certainties and disusefully extend now-bad ideas and methods into the present. Bad filters for the present world should not be built on in crufty rickety towers; they should be incrementally replaced. The mental inertia of inflexible models traps individuals into robotically swinging their arms along yesteryear's dirt roads.

Even sophisticating specialization of tastes is dangerous, possibly deepening inflexible grooves to make one grow old gracelessly. Confirmation bias is not forced on you; it is not an inescapable prison of nature. Once you know enough to start catching it in the act, some bias becomes a choice. With time and effort, more and more bias becomes a matter of choice.

Let your constellations of values and understandings periodically recenter themselves. Let their own inner gravity define your highest-level importances at each particular time. Let your self be an all-on-the-same-level Linux kernel rather than a sharply-delineated {out-of-the-box OS and application suites and program data}. By releasing the moorings, by making no hierarchical absolute commitments, you enable the reevaluations of all values so appropriate to our very modern times. With the right nonfoundations in place, unbounded growth flows straight from the continuous organic restructuring in the back of your mind and even under your desk.

Less abstractional techniques to reach and maintain eternal "in the moment" youth:

1) Watch the youngsters, the late teens of each passing year. Get close enough to them to tease out what is essential to the modern age, the time they're growing up in. Recognize the components that create their cultural context, and tease out the parts that are new to you. Stay tapped in! Be hip! "Hip" is a perfectly valid self-defense mechanism against losing touch with reality through confirmation bias and the sticky wrinkles in your brain!

2) Cognitive engineering and verbal communication with the youthful or hip are our existing technologies most antithetical to ossification. These are the fields that most demand/inspire continuous growth from you as a practitioner, so consider directing your vocational energies there if you're feeling that flexible :).
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