Are you tempted to exert willpower and discipline over yourself today? Have you made up your mind to change this year? Are you going to push yourself to be a better person? Have you resolved to fix your body, your diet, your sleep, your habits, your work, your relationship or your family?
I’d like to gently encourage you to reconsider. Maybe don’t force yourself to do anything. Perhaps you can find new habits and routines that come from a place of love and abundance instead of lack.
Every January, millions adopt a harsh deprivation-restriction mindset and begin punishing themselves, physically and mentally. Yes, harsh tactics can work for a few weeks. But the reason they don’t tend to last is because they come from a place of lack, not from a place of love.
I’m a firm believer in good habits. What we do every day is what makes us who we are. But we cannot sustain misery. And why would we? The self should not be an attack surface. Any changes you seek must come from a place of love.
I’m not suggesting you don’t explore the ways in which you want to change. But if you go into January with restrictions and self hatred well girl eating disorder season can be a misery.
Remember you do not deserve any suffering inflicted by yourself. I know you want to push back against that thought but ask yourself why? Why should you be a victim to yourself? Resolve the guilt and integrate the shadows into your life instead.
So Elon, this isn’t likely to actually make it to you, but this is my blog, I write every day for myself, so why not, I can give it a try and pretend. If it turns out this is any good I’ll ask a mutual friend to send it to you.
tldr: I feel a (parasocial) connection with you & I want more from you (and maybe also for you). I know it feels cool and edgy to wink at taboos but you’re getting rekt by fuck bois, sycophants and opportunists.
I know we are all Galileo in our own mind shouting “and yet it moves” to narrow minded Papists but you realize being a martyr requires your death right? I don’t want you to die.
You certainly don’t remember this, but we met a number of times in the mid-teens. Times like when a friend of mine hosted a blow out birthday party in New York. We sat next to each other in some awful club and discussed chess with a small group. The same friend had a big wedding. I remember goofy dancing. Your sons made snow angels in the confetti. It was nice.
You seemed as uncomfortable as the rest of us nerds. Your autism didn’t seem any worse than mine though. I remember finding that comforting at the time. It has curdled into alienation over time as your fame far outstripped your origins. And I’m sad to have lost the feeling of love I had for you.
Before we “met” I had slight case of hero worship. I remember thinking here is someone just like me. He likes the same science fiction. He dreams about the singularity. He’s neurodivergent. And he wants to get us off this damn rock. And he’s got more money and power than I do so maybe he is worth admiring. I was young and stupid and hadn’t yet gone to real therapy.
I would tell my friends I wanted to die outside the earth’s gravity well. I thought perhaps you might be the man that got us there. Had I not had a chance to see how much you were just like me, perhaps I’d still be a stan.
What I see now from you isn’t power and happiness, it’s isolation and sadness. But I want you to know it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to listen to the flattering dick riders. They want shit from you. They want their agendas and they see your money and power as a way to achieve it. I know you know this.
It makes me angry to see you coddle the parasites. I’m shocked your mother hasn’t told you to knock it off. She seems like a cold bitch who gets shit done. I’m sure she’s told you that you are better than them. The nerds and autists did not inherit this Earth just to squander it for the roar of the crowd. If it is all bread and circus, remember you are a king and not a clown.
Maybe you think their slavish slobbering attention is a fair trade for some of your magic, I used to be emotionally slutty like that too.
And yes, I am projecting my own insecurities. But maybe I can tell you a story that will comfort you in the big wide universe. Maybe it will comfort someone else. Maybe it’s just to comfort myself.
I read you named your family office Excession. I’m also a fan of Ian M. Banks. Since 2008 or so, I carry around a paperback of Excession with me whenever I vacation. Which isn’t a lot. I normally use a Kindle to read but this paperback has become a kind of totem. It signals to my hindbrain that I am in a sympathetic state of rest and digest. I reread it over and over in 20-30 page chunks. It bounces me out of fight or flight now after much repetition, it’s my comfort book.
Your love for Ian M. Banks all felt very relatable to me as I’ve been dreaming of a post-scarcity world where my AI space ship friends shuttle me around as they pursue their inscrutable intentions. I want to sublime. Maybe not for a few thousand more years though. But I want to make it through the singularity to the other side, or at very least avoid dying in William Gibson’s jackpot. I feel like you get what apocalypses preoccupied my mind.
Most of my fantasies and fears have been touched by my love for science fiction. I saw in you someone who saw the same possibilities as me. You were very much one of us.
I also see someone being used for their dreams. They are harnessing you and your power to drive the rest of us to focus on their nightmares. Don’t let them steer you.
But your posting is reaching people. It’s annoying to some, but it hits. Maybe it hits too hard. But the isolation I imagine you feel isn’t necessary. Power laws can separate just as effectively as they bring us together. You don’t have to be surrounded by reply guys. There is a path to connection even for the most singular among us.
Now of course, I want something from you too. I want you to get us off this rock before it’s too late. I know it’s a big ask.
My best is advice is to go reread Excession and get yourself out of this persistent “fight or flight” cortisol pump. Get focused back on the shit that matters. Maybe find yourself a nice autistic sociopath who will love you for you. Maybe she can protect you from some of the pain. I’m sure you will figure it out.
I want you go to therapy. Mine is pretty good if you’d like an introduction. She’s an aristocratic 80 something Swedish woman, so you might like her. She’s perfect for working through attachment issues. She’s quite good at dealing with poor little rich kids with mommy and daddy issues. Her neighbors are all billionaires so she won’t be impressed by your bullshit. She has a sub-specialty in sex so she can probably help with that dick riding problem too.
And most importantly, she’ll be the only person who doesn’t want anything from you. And you need that more than anything.
In case it’s not readily apparent from the fact that I’ve written for seven hundred and seven straight days, I am very good at personal discipline. I can will myself to do almost anything. But this gift gets tangled up in negative emotions easily.
Part of this internal sense of discipline is the very clear set of norms I got as part of gendered expectations for good womanhood. You must exert ownership over yourself. Because without doing so, you will be unable to do the work that is expected of women.
You just discipline yourself to serve others. Because women must put other people’s priorities and schedules ahead of their own. Women must be accommodating. Women must be nice. It’s all a very careful training to insure you’d never consider stepping out of line. At it starts at self discipline.
Deviations like weight gain or chronic tardiness or looking unkempt in public were roundly censured in popular culture. I internalized all the ways in which I needed to be constantly improving, fixing, bettering and otherwise making sure I was showing up as others wanted me.
I am slowly unraveling the ways in which this has shown up negatively. Now as I try to unlearn my own obedience I find unproductive ways to rebel.
A small list of the ways this manifests. I hate external deadlines. If someone tells me I must deliver by a specific time I get anxious. If I have a morning appointment r my body wakes regularly through the night to check that I’ve not missed it. Calendars and schedules evoke feelings of despair that go back deep into my childhood. I’ve clearly been learning and unlearning this pattern for sometime.
I am deeply grateful for having discipline as a friend in my life. I have excellent habits in many areas because of it. But making it a true friend will take more time. It’s one of the hardest pieces of shadow work I’ve ever done.
I love a good Sunday. I love a good Sabbath. I love a stolen afternoon away from the demands and observations of the wider world. Getting away from it all, even if it’s a just a few moments stolen away from the world for a private reflection, is in fact a great gift.
I’ve got a tendency to engage in unproductive self talk when it comes to relaxation in particular, but more generally with feeling like I can take time for myself. I’m sure this is a relatable trouble in the hustle bound addiction driven workaholism of startup land.
The guilt I feel about being unproductive overshadows the enjoyment of necessary restorative activities. I’ll “should” on myself. My ego protection insists on it. But I am trying to stay in the adult portion of my mind which can remind my inner child that it’s alright to have a little fun.
And I did have a little fun today. Not because I engages in any hobbies or particularly exciting fun activities. I just took care of myself. I lifted weights. It was leg day so maybe that counts as fun. I took my once a week extended shower where I scrub, exfoliate, shave and condition every applicable inch of my body. Obviously I’m not shaving my head use common sense. Then I spent 90 minutes immobilized a foot masks. No winter feet for me! I meditated. I did some heat therapy. I used the Theragun. I got a little bit high and ate lunch. I took a nap.
I am feeling rested and happy about the entire day. How nice that I was able to enjoy being in my own body. How nice I could take enjoyment from something restorative. Yes I want to justify it with promises of added productivity to come. But it’s ok to just enjoy the pleasure for the thing that it is. Enjoy your life.
Being extremely online is physically quite taxing these days. We’ve got these amazing dopamine casinos that are constantly rolling out the exact animal attention our novelty wired brains crave.
And absolutely the entire world of causes is out there competing for your attention. Everything from sugar water to white nationalism is being sold on social media. And we are just click clicking away not even being concerned about how we are getting radicalized into redder or blacker pills. We are riding all kinds of unhygienic dick and I fear we’ve got some kind of STD that affects common sense.
And while I just made up an entire disease for comedic effect, I do think being steeped in a reactionary culture is bad for our bodies. We can’t always be in fight or flight. We cannot constantly pump the stress hormones. Too much cortisol is at the root of a thousand different inflammatory diseases. And trust me you don’t want one of those. It’s quite literally a pain.
Information warfare is being waged and your eyeballs are boots on the ground. And just like every other grunt in any other Great War, the powers that be think you are expendable.
And you’ve got to ask yourself if you think it’s worth dying for some other man’s culture war. Has he done something heroic for your life? Given you anything? Or is it just all a story being sold to you and from which, sadly, you profit little.
I am very good at media. It’s a passion as well as one of my few hobbies that has stood the test of time. If I wanted a regular job I think I’d enjoy for more than a couple year stint I’d probably pick publicist. I say this add context to the topic I plan to discuss.
Because I’m so experienced (and also naturally talented) at the attention disciplines, I can spend time consuming information that isn’t mentally or emotionally hygienic for the average person. I have outstanding informational immunity. I stare into the abyss so others don’t have to. I monitor it all, from extremist groups to the most normie mainstream media. I have always made my living by intaking and organizing information.
Unlike your drunk uncle or wired Gen Z nephew, I can withstand information environments designed to “pill” you and hijack your dopamine responses without ill effect. Frankly I’m disappointed I’m not a literal William Gibson character as I certainly feel like Cayce Pollard existentially.
So I hope you take me seriously when I say I think it is time for all of us to pull back from extended raw regular Twitter consumption for a little bit. It has become an info-hazard rapidly and almost accidentally as its new management attempts to reinvigorate features and drive cost cutting (some of which I support). I don’t know if it is going to collapse or get reinvented but Twitter as it is right now is unstable.
The degradation of features and rules of engagement is happening too quickly and unpredictably for me to surf continuously like I have in the past. Context collapse is pervasive. There are gaping holes in informational hierarchies from experiments to both nerf and boost accounts through verification chaos. Responses from trusted accounts don’t make it to my alerts. I used to browse on reverse chronological non-algorithm view but it appears so broken in my feed it’s unclear how or why things are being surfaced.
And these concerns barely scratch the surface. Twitter’s immune responses to competing agendas, trolling and chaos agents are broken as the duct tape and physical labor of its team has been slashed. Raging information infections that typically remain contained to their ecosystems are spreading to main feeds. You cannot control your information environment when it is collapsing all around you.
You are going to get brain worms if you are not careful. If even a twenty year professional with exposure to the darkest corners of content (from 4chan to Gawker to groypers) no longer feels safe in this information war zone than you might want to consider restricting your own consumption for your own mental and emotional safety. I’ve decided to cut down on browsing until the platform stabilizes. I’m rebooting my email inbox and newsfeeds. I am choosing to open news apps directly rather than waiting for my networks to surface news. I just don’t feel safe drinking from the raw feed on Twitter right now.
In other words, if it’s not safe for me then it is definitively not safe for you.
I committed one of the cardinal sins of the extremely online yesterday. So much discourse was happening I overwhelmed myself. Just like an endless stream of stuff was hitting my hind brain and like an idiot I just kept drinking from the firehose of engagement. I stayed up till 1am.
Going into a sympathetic nervous response is a part of life though. Some stress is good. I have an entire routine for soothing an overstimulated vagus nerve. I take adaptogens. I meditate. I live in Montana with plenty of open spaces and fresh air. I am skilled in discerning agitprop from all corners of the information wars. When I dive into the dopamine river I do so responsibly with the right tools. Don’t try this at home kids.
But that doesn’t mean I’m immune from drowning in the dopamine drip. I just have a good chance of pulling myself out before it’s too late. Around 9pm or so it became clear that even after a quiet dinner, some CBD and THC gummies, and relaxing television with my husband that I was in fact still very much in sympathetic response.
I panicked a little bit as hour after hour passed and I continued to be reactive. I’d started a negative flywheel. I took an Ativan fully expecting the steroid of the mind to knock me out. It did not. And so giving in to all my worst impulses stayed on Twitter. Fuck it if the good rare drugs weren’t doing it. I said “let ‘er rip!” I had recently finished the Bear.
Today I undid the damage. I slept until my body decided it was time to wake up. I followed my supplement routine carefully. For the TMI readers I had about a dozen orgasms. I slept some more. I stretched and took a walk. I took a long leisurely shower with every possibly form of exfoliating and conditioning I could imagine. And now at the end of the day I think I might have pushed my case of terminally online back to a place of merely extremely online. Let that be a lesson to everyone.
The best part of committing to therapy and emotional work is taking responsibility for your feelings. This is also the worst part of doing any kind of emotional growth. I suppose this is how you know therapy is a worthwhile use of your time.
Emotional work has a bit of the “wherever you go, there you are” tension of acceptance. I’ve also come to appreciate the truism that having is evidence of wanting. We are always living exactly the lives we want. Attachment and delusions and self limiting beliefs are all part of the way we protect our ego.
I’ve got a lot of my identity wrapped up in my coping mechanisms. I’m sure this is quite relatable to many people. If you are willing to be a vulnerable you start to see just how many habits and behaviors are built to protect yourself.
For me I have found comfort in overworking. If I crash and fail I protect my ego by saying little stories like I’m fragile or have high standards or whatever else seems acceptable. When of course, I could have simply made different choices to accommodate my physical state or the expectations I had for quality.
But accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my strengths and weaknesses in equal remains elusive. Personal enlightenment is a minute by minute experience. Ego destruction isn’t easy.
I try to remind myself that any traumas I may have experienced that enabled the development of these coping mechanisms are in the past. I am now the parent to my inner child. And no one is responsible for her happiness but me.
I am feeling a bit anxious about back to work season. I’ve traditionally had a terrible relationship with work. I’m a workaholic and struggle to pace myself effectively. I particularly love riding on the zeitgeist of a season like the fall as “everyone” is back at the grind and I like to ride the energy of the moment.
But Protestant Work Ethic aside, I’m not really cut out for hustle culture. Being disabled, even modestly with something my spondylitis, is like the double whammy of being weak and lazy. I need to maintain a different schedule because I cannot overcome the foibles of my own body? That’s an affront! I’ve got a lot of self talk that basically goes like this
You soft feminine pathetic weak bitch get your ass back to work.
Me to myself. Sadly.
Does someone have internalized issues with feminine cycles? Oh yes she does! I guess it’s not just being lazy but it’s being female and a waste of productive worker all in one body. Super fun! And yet here I am a libertarian and I work in finance. Square that circle my friends.
Capitalism has enjoyed patriarchal structuring because it allows us to categorize the inconveniences of bodies that are harder to regulate. Women in the workforce was a pain in the ass until we figured out chemical birth control I’ve got to assume.
But all these legacies of who is worthy and who is strong and who is valued are kind of bullshit constructs. I can take what serves me. I don’t need to get all up in my head about having a less productive body because who even set the damn standard right?
So I am reminded I can pause without crashing. I choose to pause at my own leisure. I can choose to self nurture so I operate from my own point of maximum strength. I have to chose to pause. A pause is not is weakness.
A pause is like the ocean cresting before the wave breaks. And I can choose to ride that momentum. This is all a part of my own work on not just surviving the current moment but thriving with optimism. It’s peace from strength. While I recognize and even ride the chaos outside, I do not feel chaotic inside.
I hesitate to share too much detail about this but, I’m an opioid user.
Actually I’m not hesitant to share that at all, it’s in fact the core salient point I want to make today. I have a chronic disease and sometimes, blessedly more and more infrequently, it can only be effectively treated with pain medication.
Why am I talking about this? And in public no less? Because unless powerful people that have a degree of social, personal and political capital discuss things we deem unsavory we never make any damn progress on humanizing our inhumane responses. And our response to the opioid epidemic is inhumane.
The backlash to the crisis, a mash up of intense scrutiny, government intervention and rigid rules, has now reached a point where it is doing as much harm as the original crisis of overprescribing. And I hope my personal story allows you to see why.
My spinal condition (ankylosing spondylitis) can be so debilitating that the only way I can get out of bed to accomplish basic tasks is by taking a mild opioid called Tramadol. It’s not in the same category as OxyContin or Percocet but it’s not risk free either.
I’m lucky that my condition is relatively well controlled. I don’t need pain medicine all the time and I work very hard on alternative treatments in the hopes that I won’t need it at all in the future. I spent a small fortune making sure I don’t need a core useful medicine. Let that sink in.
I’m not an addict. I am monitored by a team of professionals. Every step of the way is in fact monitored extensively by state and federal systems along with massive insurance and hospital system oversight. It’s the closest I’ve come to experiencing the Panopticon. It’s life altering in its scope. My entire life by necessity has to revolve around when the system deems it safe for me to get a prescription. Not when my doctor thinks I need it. When Uncle Sam does.
I fucking hate relying on something so dangerous and so demonized but also so regulated. I hate that my entire private medical life is so closely monitored by the state. I hate all of it. But, on very bad days, the choice is immobilization or Tramadol. And I’m not at all ashamed to say I pick Tramadol. I want to be a working productive member of society and that’s hard to do when you are unable to move from the pain.
There is no grace in suffering but what it teaches us. And I’ve learned we use pain as a cudgel to control people in our society. That it is so effective is why I am both a libertarian and fiercely against the carceral state. One day it might be you suffering and you won’t deserve it either. And I pray that you will be shown grace in your personal circumstances.
But I’m lucky. I’ve got other pharmaceuticals, like biologic injections which treat inflammatory conditions, that I can rely on. I’ve got THC and CBD for their anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve got good old fashioned steroids like Prednisone. Which interestingly, my physicians universally believe is more dangerous than my Tramadol usage and did actually require an extended titration down as I was physically dependent on it, as your body stops producing the necessary hormones. They’d rather I use Tramadol for flares.
But you notice the government isn’t up in your face with a massive publicity campaign showing cops busting down Prednisone rings. There are no political advertisements showing how an opponent supports big steroid. Even though if you saw Donald Trump after he got Dexamethasone during his fight with Covid it was pretty clear he felt pretty good. Steroids have gotten me far more fucked up and also higher than any opioid ever has. But no massive surveillance program has ever come down on anyone for anti-inflammatory drugs.
Because that would be fucking ridiculous even though it’s just as addictive in driving physical dependencies , just as debilitating and depending on your body chemistry, just as “fun” as narcotics. Fun fact about me, I don’t have whatever chemical makeup that allows an opioid to give me a high. Which as I’ve learned is a saving grace. Not everyone does. That’s kind of the rub. The risk profile on opioids is a bit worse because some pharmaceutical executives lied about the percentages of people who get addicted. Or who found it’s side effects pleasurable in the absence of symptoms. They did not lie about the benefit of not being in pain.
And that ought to give you a good sense of the problem at hand. The iron law of prohibition strikes again. A massive bureaucracy imposing a fix that intervened in crude and inflexible ways is causing more suffering than it fixes. It wasn’t the intent but it is the outcome.
The iron law of prohibition is a term coined by Richard Cowan in 1986 which posits that as law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases. Cowan put it this way: “the harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs.”
Because doctors were lied to about the risk profile of certain types of opioids in the first place, the backlash is now as bad as the original sin the pharmaceutical companies committed.
Regular law abiding people are getting fucked in their treatment plans because hard enforcement is making it harder to get the low dose drugs. We treat Tramadol users with arthritis with the same tools as as criminals addicted to illegal fentanyl. I know shocker that the American federal government can be as evil as Purdue.
But also historically you know it’s true. And now a huge portion of normal people like me, who just want the benefits of not being in constant pain, are being turned into an over surveilled over controlled population. And I’m not saying there are no risks. But who do you want deciding that? A doctor who knows you well? Or the government? Yeah I’d pick the doctor too.