Listen now (13 mins) | Givers, Takers, And Brown-Wrapping-Paperers
This is so, so good Mike. I hadn’t heard the word ‘sonder’ before, love the meaning of it. I’m going to read this a second time, there’s so much here to think about. By the way, the nuns used to make use cover our hardcover books in brown paper because they got passed down to another class the following year. But never books that were softcover cardboard — that’s just wrong! 😉
Can’t wait for the new season.
As a recent recipient myself of your own generous spirit, Mike, I know you definitely practise what you preach! One thing I've learned recently is that the algorithmic 'filter bubble' can at least work in one's favour: on Twitter, for example, I made myself stop doomscrolling and reading negative stuff, and focus on the positive, and following people who are clearly - well, you know, nice, wholesome, charming, all that sort of fluffy stuff, as well as writing about things that I find uplifting. The feed definitely now brings me more and more such things. This has its drawbacks, no doubt, but at least it's a positive feedback loop.
There's an amazing hole in this, the exact shape of Robert Axelrod's Evolution of Co-operation. A round-robin tournament of prisoner's dilemma games, that showed always cooperate (Givers) and always defect (Takers) give the worst scores. The best strategy was the responsive tit-for-tat that repeated the last action of the other party. It started by assuming cooperation, punished a defection immediately and then forgave it. To encourage cooperation: favour repeated interactions, publicise/share interaction history (being a bad apple in a small community has a higher cost than in a city).
If the proportion in your population of people using the tit-for-tat strategy is large enough, the system is evolutionary stable, ie it is resistant to any other strategy coming in, and it cannot be out-performed by any other strategy. Being nice works (if you know why).
This post has reminded me that Richard Dawkins did a Horizon programme on this back in 1986, Nice Guys Finish First, which I have never seen. That's my next 48 minutes sorted!
"Sonder" and "empathic curiosity," two words I hadn't heard before. Funnily enough, regarding sonder, my husband and I often referred to the idea -- not of our own creation -- that everyone is the star of their own story and everyone else is just playing supporting roles.
And setting boundaries while giving and transactional only relationships and all the rest, all such fascinating important stuff that takes a lifetime to learn. Although I doubt the awful Mr. South ever learned much about any of that stuff.
Lovely post, Mike (I read it instead of listening but I'll probably do that too). These days so much collaboration between team members is necessary that interpersonal skills and a more sensitive, compassionate approach to dealing with everyone just makes the most sense.
I hope that your former teacher finally saw the error of his ways.
Damn. This might be my favorite issue among many of my favorites of yours! Knocked it out of the park, as we say. Strong compassion in every phrase. Stellar. 💫
I have actually never heard the word "sonder" before but love it! My version of that thought is aspen trees -- coming to terms with being part of the vast underground community rather than having every contribution you make visible to all.
(In every school I attended, which was many because we moved a lot, we had to wrap our hardcover textbooks in grocery bag paper. This was because most of the schools were poor and had to reuse the books for many years. It did allow us space to decorate our books because it was just blank, tough brown paper all around, which I imagine Mr South would not have approved of. But you've brought back many memories of bad teachers of various stripes ... along with the great ones.)
Ah rhe tyrannical teacher. Why do they think that invoking unnatural amounts of fear leads to a good learning experience?!
I love your narrations!
This is fantastic, Mike. Lots of insights to glean from here.
This was so beautiful. It's nice to have some hope that nice guys don't always finish last. Thank you!
“Great teachers, overflowing with enthusiasm and kindness, are a blessing in our lives.” Amen, sir. I had bad and good as well.
If kindness didn’t work, civilization would end. Wonderful read Mike, thank you.
I remember spending an entire class wrapping books in brown paper just so, too. I’ve met ever been great on crisp corners.