The Diamond Hands Principle

I’ve followed Reddit investing drama and memes for a while now, and I think it’s time I articulate my understanding. This has the potential to change the course of the economy, and will continue to influence the rise and fall of stocks going forwards if more are adopting it. I will state the “not financial advice” legal disclaimer, but I’m not going to name you specific securities anyway. Let’s talk about what it means to have diamond hands.

Does Diamond beat Paper?

I’ve been through all kinds of investing educational materials, but every time it’s the same things. Set stop orders to lock in profits. Look for analysts you trust. Diversify using ETFs (stocks someone else picked). Invest on margin to get better returns. What if I think debt and loans are a bad idea? What if I think my money choices should be my conscious decision? What if I (someone paid to automate things) think we should be suspicious of automation as a substitute for moral action? What if I think the best choices in life are the ones that require personal sacrifice and only my own skin in the game?

The New Old-Fashioned Way

In the bedrock under the “diamond hands” meme are some pretty old views. What’s funny is the principles most “new” phenomena are based upon aren’t new ideas, they’re just the new way of expressing them. Value Investing is the idea that you should invest in what you deem is empirically worth investing in. In practice it’s the anti-establishment approach to the economy. Good value investors generally follow neither the conventional wisdom nor each other. In the words of early 2021 Redditors, they like the stock. They do their own “due diligence” (or DD) and report and debate each other’s findings. They are skeptical of analysts, who are other humans with their own biases.

Warren Buffet is the name everyone knows when it comes to value investing. But of course, the next thought people have is to grab everything he has said and try to emulate him. That’s the wrong approach. See, here’s the catch: when it comes to value investing – to do it properly philosophically, you can’t just rely on someone else. By the time you know what Buffet invested in you’ve missed the window. You need to think like he did 50 years ago. You have to do your own research, and put money on what you think merits it. You need to own the decision. It’s not a less risky gamble to expect other people to make money for you. It only eliminates effort on your part, oddly in an area of your life you value highly.

Paper Hands

When you trace economic decisions influencing markets, a large share of them are made on the basis of other people’s analysis. This extends to such a large degree that the market will go down merely because society thinks it will, and it will go up because society thinks it will go up. The opposite ordering should be true. People should be able to predict it well based on how companies are performing, not based on public perception of people who don’t even invest. Politicians and activists and other wealthy public figures appear to accrue wealth in conjunction with this influence. To the extent it’s true, it’s punishment of the masses for lack of faith in themselves and for giving their personal power away to people all-too-willing to take charge of it.

Similarly, the modern way of investing money on a day-trading or frequent basis is to sell stocks when they drop a certain percentage from all time highs, or to buy ones when they cross a certain percentage over certain lows. To sell going low, buy going high. It is not an insensible strategy to lock in profits and minimize loss. But it functions as if you are relying on letting the market to decide how you will buy and sell. You are being reactive on your investments, instead of proactive. I, along with some others, think there’s a better way.

The 💎👐 Principle

I equate the principle of diamond hands to what a well-versed religious person calls faith, what a philosopher may call integrity, or trust.

This is the Diamond Hands Principle:

If you like the stock, buy the stock. If the stock skyrockets, do not sell the stock. If the stock drops, do not sell the stock; consider buying more instead.

You have to decide why it is you want to make an investment. You have to decide if the future of a company is bright, if it is innovating, if it is making the right decisions internally. But if you decide it is undervalued and you like the stock, act like it. Have some faith and trust in yourself.

Is it risky or foolish? Those looking mainly to lock in profits the old ways will say yes. I’m not looking to lock in profits immediately. I like the stock. The things I invest in are things I think should succeed.

Buy low, sell high. Hold. HOLD. HODL. Maybe sell a little when it’s high to cut your losses. If you do this wisely, you can eventually remove the amount of money you have invested, and having broken even, hold a good amount with diamond hands until the end of time. But the general rule is to hold, and buy or sell only in rare circumstances. So much so that the typo “HODL” has become an in-joke; some go by the affectionate term “hodlers”.

How to Have Diamond Hands

You can’t simply adopt the principle out of mere wanting to. There’s a reason the Reddit and 4chan frequenters refer to themselves as autistic or as crazed animals. It’s about defying the odds. It’s about staring in the face of losing a lot of money and not blinking. It takes a large amount of courage and some would say a measure of stupidity.

I’ll always laugh at this tragedy from Isaac Newton’s finances. You should read The Intelligent Investor yourself. Buffet did. It’s ancient, you can find a PDF.

Back in the spring of 1720, Sir Isaac Newton owned shares in
the South Sea Company, the hottest stock in England. Sensing that
the market was getting out of hand, the great physicist muttered that he “could calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of the people.” Newton dumped his South Sea shares, pocketing a 100% profit totaling £7,000. But just months later, swept up in the wild enthusiasm of the market, Newton jumped back in at a much higher price—and lost £20,000 (or more than $3 million in today’s money). For the rest of his life, he forbade anyone to speak the words “South Sea” in his presence.

Jason Zweig, commentary on the introduction to Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor

If you want to have 💎👐 and not 🧻👐, it will help to decide what it is you are willing to lose. Don’t invest money that you can’t throw away. I also refuse to trade on margin, which essentially means using your investment as backing to take out a loan to invest more. I believe debt is an evil seldom necessary, and loans to increase gains seems like a deal with the devil for greed’s sake. Personally, I also agree with Elon Musk that shorting (the process of borrowing stock you hate to sell, to own a “negative” amount), should be illegal. It offers infinite risk for rewards.

Those who hold out on an investment seemingly beyond its prime are referred to as the “bag holders”, a term as old as Thomas Jefferson’s usage in 1793. You don’t want to be the person left with the dregs of your collective effort while others run off with the valuables. So what do you do when someone challenges or mocks you? Return to the principle itself. Do you like the stock? Revisit or do more analysis. Go take another look at a company’s big three documents: Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow. If you’re confident in your decision, stick to it. Time will tell. The only true bag holder is the person who sells at a loss. I’ve seen many who sold a stock that collapsed and then rose again, to become bag holders of a stock that was doing well, holding a bag of their own making, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Don’t let other people tell you what you’ve seen and decided. Don’t let other people tell you what to buy or sell until you’ve gone and verified what they say yourself. Trust your own judgement work on improving your own judgement.

Concluding Personal Disclaimer

I recently turned more than a 1000% profit off of one investment in 3 months. That’s mainly what urged me to write this. I knew I would, few else who had the money did, and I couldn’t afford to put forward much at the time. Had I seized another earlier opportunity it would have been a 10,000% or even 100,000% profit. But hindsight is too late, so I look forward to the next good thing.

I am down a little from decline of one heavy speculative investment. The fact of the matter is, I don’t feel I’ve lost that one because I still think that investment is seriously undervalued. I’ve made substantial gains everywhere else so far, and the one “loss” I expect a massive return on soon. It’s not a loss until you sell. I’m willing to live and die by that sword.

My investments are new, and still modest in the 4 digits, but I’ve found they outperform the market whenever it turns down, and keep up when it does well. I am concerned about the value of the U.S. dollar like many other Americans, I suspect an economic downturn soon, and then possibly an upturn after that. Everything comes and goes, but one needn’t be blown about by the short term winds.

There’s nothing constant in life but change, and I plan to have diamond hands in the face of it.

Among Us: 2020 Sus

If you aren’t familiar with the trending game Among Us, I think it’s worth finding out more about, because I think its viral-ity comes at this particular time (summer 2020) for specific reasons in the collective unconscious. It is an indie game made by a small creator, not a big gaming company. It has been around for a few years, but only now went super viral. I wanna look at why it exploded so huge they cancelled a sequel.

In Among Us, you play in a self-explanatory group game of ten people. You are astronauts arriving at an abandoned space ship and fixing it back up. Each of you has a set of trivial tasks to do. They’re tiny minigames like connecting 4 pairs of dots or swiping a card through a reader. If you do, you win. But there’s a catch: one of you is an Imposter, an assassin bent on killing everyone. Each time a dead body is found or an emergency button is pressed, a meeting is called and somebody is voted off the ship and thrown into space.

Simple enough? It’s a digital variant of a game many of us played when we were young called something like “assassin”, where heads would go down, an assassin would pick somebody to die, and the group had to identify who it was.

Why now? The game has been around but few played it. Suspend your disbelief and assume for a moment my frame of reference: I like to think there are almost no coincidences like this in the world, only complex patterns we fail to identify. I tend to think at least most viral things go viral for a reason, and that reason has to do with the online humanity at the time, even if we never do discover why a thing gets popular.

Right now Americans are roped in the drama of another political election, a massive high stakes game of deciding who to trust. We’ve had a terrible year, with members of society reporting each other and covering their faces with masks. We have had violent riots and a breakdown in many formerly-civil public discourses. After a rough summer, many people are looking for something to settle down and tune out even while paying attention to the news. Perhaps they’ve already decided who they’ll vote for and put it out of mind. 2020 has been a long year filled with looking for who to blame, and it has torn down our ability to trust each other and anything, and we have been desperate for a way to cope with it.

Enter Among Us. Twitch streamers started playing it in the early phase of 2020 but critical mass was hit right as the summer was ending and all of a sudden almost everybody I know online is playing this little 5 dollar game. It’s FUN, but so are a lot of games. Seriously go play it some. If you like, you can try playing with friends! It’s a barrel full of laughs. Go look up YouTubers playing it if you’re coming totally from the outside.

I think Among Us is what we needed. We needed a childhood game to serve as a simulator of being betrayed or literally back-stabbed. Those worth their salt in the psychological professions will tell you that exposure therapy is one of the most effective ways at helping people overcome their mental challenges – their fears and phobias. We’re SO TIRED of 2020 we don’t want to think about it anymore. And yet, we’re looking for a “new normal”, a new way to look at the world that isn’t discouraging and can help us move forward in spite of the fears. Having a videogame where you do it is a good way to practice.

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I like to think Among Us is going to have a massive positive dampening effect on the culture. I think in time there will be less incentive to protest in the streets. Maybe we can’t ignore the challenges of trusting other people in news and media any longer, and need an easy way to start doing it. Maybe we need to practice working together in spite of things we fear. Maybe we need to bond with friends or even total strangers as we take turns in a group being a devious monster and then laughing about it.

It’s Time for You to 3D Print

Everyone I talk to seems interested in 3D printing but hasn’t pulled the trigger on buying one yet. Why? They’re getting stupidly cheap.

Every decade or so a new technology comes along that changes the way society functions. This has been true for almost a century. One of the problems I’m noticing in recent years is that there’s a decline or split in this cycle. People seem to be declining opportunities to try something new. Maybe they look at the new thing as an oddity, or a fad. Maybe times are tough, maybe they’re skeptical that it’s for them. It’s new, it’s too complicated, or something like that. Then they go and get the next gaming console that’s not noticeably better than the last one, or sit in front of [latest B-quality show] on [streaming service].

We’ve had virtual reality and 3D printing for years now but they haven’t had the success that home paper printers or walkmans and iPods did long ago. I don’t see all the cool kids on the internet doing things like VR for more than a single video for clicks. It’s a lot of fun, and should be the wave of the future if more of the average people signed on to be a part of it. But it remains only a gimmick.

I feel like we’ve fallen into a cynical postmodern age, where we no longer believe in the new and the modern. I really think it’s going to hurt us if we don’t find a way to break free. You can’t have hope for the future if it’s not something you want to participate in! If I can’t get you to write software, at least maybe I can get you to learn to make things this way. More fun for less effort.

I guess what I want people to hear from me this fall season of a dismal 2020 is that the future is for you. What’s mainly stopping us from moving forward personally and as a civilization is ourselves, far as I can tell. We aren’t daring to dream of what could be anymore. Too many of us are so caught up in worries about what’s in the news that we don’t have a vision anymore.

Remember when the internet was new? Remember when the whole world opened up before us? That’s what 3D printing is. If you’re in technology, the combination it with Arduino and Raspberry Pi allow you to make virtually anything you can dream of. The world is opening up to those getting into this and I see too many standing on the sidelines still. Go make an army of robots! Nothing’s stopping you anymore.

It’s time to start dreaming again. I’m still a novice at 3D printing but I already have a lot to show for it, and I haven’t even started designing yet! I’m just pouring excellent creations out of Thingiverse. GO TAKE A LOOK please. (The search is a little clunky with how they use URLs so navigate back to the home before doing another search, but there’s cool stuff everywhere.)

Right now you can get a popular (well supported by the community!) 3D printer called the Ender 3 Pro for a little over $200. Rolls of filament are all over Amazon for $20-$30 for a massive 1kg wheel. I don’t think i’ve used half my first wheel and now I’m stockpiling a bunch of new types. Look at some of this stuff! Color changing, glow in the dark, clear, metallic, even red ones with glitter inside you could make ornaments with! For those getting better at it, some printers and filament allow you to print wood. They have sawdust as the main component. Sounds like work to deal with its issues, but the products are gorgeous, just l0ok up some YouTube videos.

I think we’re long overdue for everyone, and I do mean everyone, to own a 3D printer. Long, long overdue. This is bigger than AOL or iPods. I don’t know why it took me so long. It’s time for you to dive in when you have a weekend to toy with it. There’s a lot of things you can make with 3D printing that are hard to make with traditional plastic molding used for the stuff you see in toy aisles. I’ll be making one of those zip cord helicopter disk launchers in the next week or so. I’ve just been printing whatever looks good, and soon i’ll be coming up with my own things.

We’re living in an era of game-changers that many of us are letting blow right by us as we work our day jobs and then waste time talking about events on social media. The darkness of winter is coming and it’s time for you to add something to your spirit and mental health if you haven’t, and it’s never been easier to learn to do something more exciting. Do yourself a favor and make a flexi rex, and giggle as it wiggles. Be able to say I made this.

Post Better Memes

Let’s talk about making better memes, shall we?
Let this be the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Memes for Dummies.

One of the biggest problems people who mature past age 12 have with the world is other people with a cringy sense of humor. Quite often it begins with dad jokes of a relative, or an annoying kid at school.
Were you that kid? Are you that cringy annoying family member to people on the internet today? Is your family on Facebook secretly wishing you’d leave the internet in peace? Now that I’ve made you paranoid, let’s talk about what makes for good memes.

Humor for many is difficult to define. The categories are a bit easier. Generally, good memes are referential humor, as opposed to taboo or slapstick humor, where the former is often frowned on and the latter relegated to AFV and terribly unfunny laugh tracks. I won’t claim to be an expert or define humor for you, but there’s a certain easier aspect of humor with memes I want to highlight: context. One of the factors that makes a joke or a meme successful is it’s ability to resonate. This means that it has to: 1) Connect with your target audience and 2) Not have to explain itself.

Most people aren’t that witty and are very bad at context, so their “memes” will be too explanatory in a way that isn’t funny. In fact, many of them will lead with the punchline as title, to the tune of crickets. I’m here to address that and other pitfalls by example.

The key challenge is that you want the joke to be reasonably obscure so it dawns on the audience, but not esoteric as possible. You’re going to have to learn to walk the line; it’s a spectrum where you’re going to have to make a choice. An introverted joke for a few friends is most likely to get the best laughs, but only from these few. An extroverted joke for the whole world can get the most small laughs, but in the larger pool you have terrible odds that anybody cares at all. Personally, my recommendation is to avoid attention-seeking memes altogether. They are a time waste, just as casinos are a money waste. If you do get your 5 seconds of fame you’ll be forgotten. Be the kind of person who makes a meme intended to make just 1 or 2 buddies laugh, without being terribly obscure.

Show, don’t tell.
I had a friend, famous for a particular post, pass on a “see what people say you’re known for” conversation starter. Rather than referencing the obvious post, I think I got a few smiles by referencing another one. My response? SCHLORP

SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP

As a timeless example of subtlety in a joke, the better you understand Shakespeare, the more you may appreciate his cleverness. He embeds ironic or subtle jokes! They too frequently go over people’s heads, like this one:

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.

Polonius, Hamlet

The following are some rules to get you thinking about how you can improve your social media meme posts.

Rule 1:
DON’T crop off comic artist handles; try hard to credit them
DO avoid illegitimate watermarking sites or even crop them off
Stay away from iFunny, 9GAG, r/funny, and other mills that spew mindless content for half-laughs, with watermarks. They’re soul rot.
See this artist’s frustration. He is articulate and demonstrates the problem.
Trust me when I say anything of value you find there, the same can be found closer to its source in the telephone chain; you aren’t missing anything. They post many very old memes mixed with the new, which some of your peers saw many years ago. I’ve even seen them post ones from 90s chain emails your grandma may have seen. Look up your favorite comics’ artists and follow THEM on social media instead.

Rule 2:
DON’T attach text or title to a picture needlessly
DO come up with your own caption or crop off whatever text you can
Stop putting the punchline in the title. Most importantly STOP putting laugh tracks on your pictures. Nothing kills a joke more than “HAHA THIS IS SO FUNNY 🤣🤣🤣” or “THIS IS SO ME” or “I CAN HEAR” or “RELATABLE” doesn’t matter the format, stop introducing your “meme” to death. An article title is (only?) ok if it is the meme.

Rule 3:
DO use text that is easy to read
DON’T use IMPACT FONT.
For the love of Kilroy make it stop. Have some basic typographic sense. People are getting really tired of random pictures with nonsense in big letters.

Rule 4:
DO find the most original sources and templates you can
DON’T use terribly jpeg-artifacted images

1683: Digital Data, from Randall Munroe’s XKCD

Rule 5:
DON’T try to make a point
DO aim to make people laugh
Ideologues can’t meme. I want that to stick in your brain.
So we’re clear, ideologues are people who belong to cults of an idea (activists). Politics is always a mixed bag when it comes to humor, but it’s always ruined by “comedians” attempting to persuade people to their side or disparaging their perceived enemy. Ironically, politicos who put the most effort into memes have the least success. I’m writing this in an election year and we will continue to see a lot of very not funny “memes” with entire manifestos injected into a picture. There will be exceptions that are funny, but they are most likely to be by people making jokes at the expense of their own “side”. This is often somewhat rare in that environment.

Takeaway

As long as your goal is to do anything other than to evoke a recognition and smile or laugh out of an audience you genuinely care about, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success.
If your goal is to get the most friends and approval and lots of little hearts, you’re not only going to fail but you’re wasting your time. The few people who don’t fail at that tend to sell their moral character and principles to maintain the attention, too. There are plenty of ways to make content your peers will enjoy, and maybe even grow your own brand, without removing credits or adding/keeping laugh text. Have faith in your own memes enough to not give or keep their explanation. Learn to crop, do so respectfully, and maybe learn some basic image editing apps. A little less laziness goes a long way.

Since you made it to the bottom, here’s my current most viral tweet of all time.

Don’t be a POTP

Part of the problem with being part of the problem is that you cause part of the problem and that’s problematic.

Ears bleeding yet? Good. (unless you still like the words, in which case I’ll spam it some more until you don’t. Surely this is a good way to acquire a readership!)

Politics ruins everything, and it’s all the other side’s fault. We hate them, and we’re justified in it because everything that’s going wrong is their fault. Believe us, we’re on your side so obviously we’re credible. If only us reasonable people had more power surely we’d finally be able to deal with POTP (P*rt of the Pr*bl*m). So buy our product, support our creators, subscribe to our news, boycott all of theirs, and vote for our guy (again?), and you can have hope that there will finally be a change for the better.
Hey now, don’t be cynical! If you’re not with us you’re against us.
Don’t be a POTP.


Right now there’s a lot of quiet consensus that something in the United States of America has gone wrong. There’s a lot of debate and disagreement as to what it might be, but everybody is looking for a pattern. You’ll find there are a couple themes among the different theories, just waiting to seduce you. You’ll also find the pattern isn’t new, and that instances of the pattern crop up in every industry, niche, and subculture. Almost independent of which theme seduces you, you’ll have PROOF* your theory is correct.
*which many people will totally reject

I have a theory that everything will be okay. Eventually.
If you’re capable of suspending disbelief, you might agree with me, and you might understand people a little bit better. You might find there are a few things you didn’t yet know about what you knew. But you’re gonna have to trust me, and we’ll get to why.

Let’s start from the beginning.
Things in life are complicated, man. I mean really, really, no-word-suffices complicated. Like there are so many things you and I don’t know, and don’t know we don’t know about, that it’s existentially frightening. That’s like the whole premise of Lovecraftian horror. Dungeons and Dragons finally went mainstream the year after that genre was injected into it, so there’s undeniably gotta be something to it. I’m sorry to say it, but many of those who aren’t bothered by it probably naively haven’t thought about it enough. But it can be OK once you’ve been spooked, we just have to learn how to process that reality day to day.

It’s just an example, you don’t have to read At the Mountains of Madness to appreciate horror movies or the dread of something equivalent to having left the stove on. Humorously, if you actually did leave the stove on, it might actually be ok and not cost you the house. That’s actually pretty close to what I’m getting at here. It’s a bit like we’re living in a time where everyone is so obsessed with whether the stove is on that they are neglecting the other crucial things in life and becoming mentally unstable and scaring people away by screaming at their friends, and making the few not scared away just as crazed. Some threats are real, but the personal threat is likely not, and inability to distinguish between your life and another place results in a distorted worldview that blindsides us constantly.

This wouldn’t be a huge pr*bl*m but for so many bad actors legitimizing scary worldviews for their own benefit at the expense of listeners. It’s an easier path to notoriety to scare other people than actually providing something positive, and too many of us exploit fear, unconsciously or otherwise. (it’s not simply “media”!) It’s all of us, making us spiral downward if we don’t resist it. Try going viral on social media by being optimistic. It’s harder.

Our bodies are divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems; I’ve touched on this before. We’re driven by forces of fear away from things and pleasure towards things. If you’re not posting outrage or porn your luck going viral will be harder. One of things everyone needs to remain mentally healthy, which nobody seems to be getting, is a workout and balance of these systems. In some sense, courage tends to be an outgrowth of mental health, and cowardice the opposite. We need restraint on our concerns much like restraint on our desires. We need to have a fear to face – were it not so we’d avoid all discomfort and wouldn’t consume horror as an entertainment genre. Yet we’re living lives too comfortable at home and letting world news be our horror, which is unwise because it’s not a book you can close. Somebody in another state tragically died of [terrible avoidable thing]! You know people in other states, what if it happened to them!?

So what is to be done? If we’re going to move to a better place, we have to stop spreading fear in each other and start spreading faith in each other. This takes courage to make more courage. One of the ways to establish trust is to risk being the first to lower your weapons. It’s that risk taking in order to “prove oneself” that defines the brave and heroes. We have to start giving people who hate us (read: are afraid) reasons to trust us.

Too often we are afraid to lower our weapons because we feel that’s surrender or that opens ourselves to being shot. What i’m trying to convey is it does. It wouldn’t be brave if there wasn’t a real risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So try sending friendly private messages to your enemies seeking common ground. I’ve done so and often they return their own compliment and suddenly we can talk. This is the way forward and I strongly advise you to try it. Whenever you are in a conflict and people are putting up walls or talking past each other, don’t block or mute. DM or follow. Lean in, step forward into no-man’s-land, and see what happens. Maybe you’ll step on a figurative landmine. But there’s a much higher chance you’ll cause a ceasefire. In time you might even dispel the riots and mobs.

Takeaway

We need more heroes. It starts with me and it starts with you. It isn’t simply naive to try, it’s focusing on the light on the other side of darkness. We must first recognize that people begin in naive ignorance, and understand the evils of the world, and then make a gamble and act with a positive outlook anyway. The cynical and “blackpilled” don’t see a difference, but it’s not naive to be optimistic when you know the world is burning. That takes paying attention first, then inner strength to gamble yourself second.

We need to increase trust. We need to be as honest as we can be, give our adversaries credit for what they get right, and talk to them one-on-one. We must discourage inflammatory behavior in our peers and risk losing them.
If we can do this, we’ll find others like us or braver, who we can trust. We’ll find more opportunities to build something, we’ll decrease hate and anger, and we’ll be able to root out rot in our systems. We’ll win friends and begin to form growing, merging, and solidifying bubbles of peace.

Also, if you don’t share this article, you’re part of the problem. *wink*

TO THE LIBRARY

So my twins ran around Barnes&Noble today. That was “fun”.

One of the interesting things about having 1-year-olds in a bookstore for the first time was discovering, that despite what you’d think, they did actually know what they liked and wanted. They showed us they wanted an ocean flip-up board book made clearly in the same series as a farm one they had previously (RIP). There’s a dinosaur book and there was a Sesame Street one they liked. They recognized the Dr. Seuss art style and sought more of those of their own accord.

One of the serious modern-era problems: we’re having a decline in reading.
I don’t think most people realize this. We are exposed to information on the internet constantly and too many of us are letting staring at our devices become a substitute. We listen to what people are saying online all the time but none of us ever really take the time to engage with material that’s been carefully built. The roots of this decline manifest in two (sorta three) different places.

One is failure to read. There’s a lot of people who just don’t read books anymore. Audiobooks don’t suddenly stop when something strikes you and give you time to ponder. It’s okay if you listen to podcasts and audiobooks but there’s something crucial about participating in the process of exposing yourself to other people’s stories, other people’s fiction, other people’s ideas. We are no longer being forced to use our reading and listening comprehension anymore. You can’t just catch the gist of something in the background on YouTube. Actually, reading keeps you from being locked into a certain mindset; it stops you from becoming an ideologue. If you begin to read more good books seriously, you begin to choose what it is you want to think because there’s too many opinions and ideas. You can’t be controlled by all of them, and what ends up happening is you start to have more thoughts to draw upon.
The wells of your mind will begin to run deeper and you will begin to think in new and different ways. We’re not seeing that anymore; we’re becoming stale, and culturally, we’re each becoming one of the same few things. That’s not a good development, to put it mildly.

The second problem source is the mass printing of “sludgy books”, that’s what I’m going to call them. Books are easier than ever to make. What happens is people read books that are being pushed by celebrities. If they’re writing these books at all (many are ghostwritten), they’re writing in the same way someone posts on social media – that is, they write in a way that is an outburst and not a carefully crafted expression of thought like the books of old. Often even their fiction is a projection of their personal opinions and agendas they hope to push on their audience.
Most of the books you see lining the front of bookstores are crap that nobody should waste their time reading. There’s often only 1 or 2 good books out of the couple dozen trending on Amazon or the NYT Bestseller list at any given time.
The rest are printed to make the person money or to try to manipulate other people’s worldview.

Now we live in a world where not only do people spend time on social media when they could be reading, but worse they spend what little time they have reading books that waste their minds, as if spending a dozen hours reading one person’s social media posts like a psychopath.

The third (sorta) problem exists inside the first, and I’ll call it the CliffsNotes effect. Modern institutions place such undue burdens on students, that over the past few decades students from middle school onward have collectively found a way to sum up books so they don’t have to actually take time to engage with the material. Why try to understand Shakespeare when you can just get the plot points elsewhere and pass the tests?
This crops up a lot in political activism, where people are actually quite fond of quoting books they may only know the title of, or may own but only skimmed. And they most certainly haven’t read their perceived enemies’ favorite books.
We’re not all idiots, we’re just training each other to believe it’s acceptable to cut corners because “life is busy” (A problem less than a century old!) and collectively pay invisible costs that continue to haunt us forever after.
And worse, the institutions have adapted to this and expect even more to be skimmed, crippling the ability of good students to face literature the best way.

I know how hard it is to find time to read a book. Twins running around making messes and I have plenty of hobbies consuming my time when I’m not at work. But I still recommend reading, it’s definitely something that makes a difference in the long run if you are choosing your books wisely. There are so many books we need to spend more time reading. We know the names of so many classics but haven’t read them. How many people know of Sherlock but haven’t actually read any of it? How many know about Van Helsing or Dracula but haven’t read Bram Stoker? (October’s coming up you could take the opportunity for that one.) We live in an era where it’s become easier than ever to make ourselves better and self-improve, but we are putting less time into it than ever before. These days compete for our attention more, but I still don’t think we’re doing a very good job all things considered.

What books did I get myself? Not much, I have enough I’m busy reading, but I picked up a big collection of H.P. Lovecraft that was on sale. My wife asked if she should get herself a mystery collection, when I saw it had names like G.K. Chesterton I was sold.

Takeaway

We should each be setting a goal to read at least one book a month. One book. That little could change your life over time. Most of the people who are successful are readers and do read books at that rate. Those who struggle won’t be reading this, but they need to find a speed reading or comprehension course and clear their admittedly difficult hurdles.

I can’t make you do it but you’ll certainly be better for it if you do. Better in ways you’ll want – more interesting, more hireable, more likable, maybe even more popular. Reading can be like a magic stat modifier.
If you haven’t read any of The Five Love Languages, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Art of War, or How To Win Friends and Influence People, what are you doing with your life? These are all old and famous. Pick one, get on it and stop living beneath the privileges we’re all afforded, or life will leave you behind.