Dumb and Nice

Posted in Psychology on July 26, 2023 by foreverliketh.is ‐ 3 min read

Dumb and Nice
Image Details & Source brown dog on grass֎ by Kyle Glenn֎ on Unsplash֎

Last tended: July 26th, 2023


Did You Know?

“Everything is a scam.”

I read that somewhere, not so long ago, but it’s stuck with me. It was probably written with sarcasm or paranoia (or both) in mind, but I’ve come to consider it a useful lens to look at transactions through. That, though you can affect where you land on it, you cannot escape being on the “Scam Spectrum”.

Around the time crypto fever was hitting its latest peak, I watched this video about Monero֎ and, once again, I heard something that’s stuck with me (paraphrasing):

“Real people are dumber and nicer than what would be economically optimal / in their best financial interest.” β€” Daniel Kim֎ on behavioral economics֎; approximately 22 minutes, 22 seconds into the video.

I am indeed those 2 things, dear reader. And, allow me to assure you: more of 1 than the other.

Blurred Lines

My whole life, free and open-source software (FOSS)֎ has just been there, undemanding of attention, unquestioningly fulfilling my every whim. Majority never even asked for anything in return. They were gifts, honest and true.

I like to picture a middle-man dropping by, “Scam-O-Meter” in-hand, to gauge and comment on my “transaction” as the download completes: “Well done! YA WON! Quite the suckers those developers, huh?”

Man, I must be some pure-blooded, inbred kind-of sucker then, reader, because that sort-of generosity? It makes me WANT to pay them.

Say, are you familiar with tithing֎? There’s a lotta history to it, but imagine this: “donate 10% of your worth, and the church ensures your soul ain’t forfeit”. Nobody I know does it, but I’ve been with a number of people as they stare into the eyes of poverty incarnate and act as if it don’t exist. I always recall one of the few times one of ’em spoke up, they said: “Pick a number, give it away and NEVER think about it again.” Post-modern֎ tithing? πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Guilty As Charged

Of course, there’s straight up industry around donor psychology֎. Guilt, peer pressure, reciprocity, anger, whatever can be exploited to “Make the sale!”֎, right? I’ve personally had the experience of working for multiple non-profits֎ and it’s, unfortunately, left me more skeptical about ’em than less (ymmv֎).

Look, stranger, I ain’t here to justify why I’m not “giving Wikipedia 3 dollars”֎ nor supporting my Mastodon instance֎. It’s just, where does it end? Y’know? How much is enough? Wikipedia seems to have enough֎, but surely that up-and-coming, full-time struggling artist whose content I “Just. Love.” could use a spare buck or two. But where in the process did they become MY responsibility? I am most certainly not theirs.

That kindness I’d be showing them, I’ve only ever gotten it from family, friends; me and mine. Shouldn’t I be prepared to do the same for them?

A World Worth Saving

I frequently think about the Financial Independence / Retire Early (FIRE) movement֎ and the “Die with Zero”֎ philosophy. How perhaps they see society itself as a scam, meant for them to overcome; a barrier keeping them from maximizing their “life / experiences”. And while I don’t agree with that sorta mentality֎, I don’t think it’s crazy to be concerned about a rigged system.֎

I ain’t knockin’ nobody for having a big-heart or a smooth brain, just:

  • “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

  • Keep a mindful, vigilant eye out for anybody trying to treat you like kindling.

And, as a friend I’ve made֎ (exhaustingly) repeats:


Contributors: William H. McRaven֎, Bill Perkins֎, Matthew Graybosch֎ (Elizabeth Haydon֎), Larry Sanger + Jimmy Wales֎, John Oliver֎ & Richard Stallman֎


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