Rule enforcement
I often encounter rules that aren't enforced and have no consequences if they're broken.  A rule without enforcement or consequence is a suggestion.  Just because you put it on a sign doesn't make it more serious.  Like, "Employees must properly mark all documents."  Who's checking, and what happens if we don't?  Or, "No bikes on walking path."  Is someone patrolling, and what's the punishment?  It's not that I'm a contrarian, I just don't recognize authority that's absent and impotent, especially when the rule seems trivial and annoying.  And here's the thing:  If the rule is easy, I'll follow it.  If it's convenient and simple, I won't even question it.  But if I have to go out of my way, or it's a hassle or difficult or time-consuming, I'll happily ignore your silly little suggestion and go about my business. #psychology

Public relations vs. propaganda
I work at a place with a pretty active public relations department.  There's a heavy social media presence and plenty of company-wide emails celebrating events in the industry.  Most of it is pretty benign, but I can't help but question the difference between public relations and propaganda.  They both seem to be about branding and messaging and creating a story aimed at getting people to believe something about your organization.  It's not reporting or journalism, because it's not free from bias.  It's specifically biased to convince people to believe what you're telling them, not what they think they already know. 

One source says, "Propaganda is a deliberate attempt to persuade people to think and then behave in a manner desired by the source; public relations ... is a related process intended to enhance the relationship between an organization and the public."  The ellipsis actually says public relations is "a branch of propaganda," which I think sums it up nicely.  Another source says, "In the 1920's, propaganda renamed itself 'public relations' and is now an important function of every large business."  So I guess there you have it.  They're essentially the same thing, but the propaganda about public relations made us think they were different. #psychology

Why keep blogging
Every few weeks or months, I think I've reached the end of "the things I want to write on the internet."  And then I come up with something else.  This part of me just doesn't seem to want to die. 

And I think I keep coming back to it -- and have kept at it for so long -- because it benefits me.  It helps me clear up mental clutter.  I like to think of it like this:  My brain is like a messy office; papers strewn about, post-it notes stuck on the walls, doodles on the whiteboard.  Blogging is like taking all that random, disordered stuff and putting it in nice neat stacks and filing it away.  Is it all gold?  No.  Does organizing actually accomplish anything?  Maybe, maybe not.  But going through the process feels like cleaning my brain.  I'm able to consolidate some disparate ideas, put together a coherent thing (sometimes), and free up space for more random brain activity.  I'm gonna keep doing it. #psychology

Active mind wandering
I've been doing a lot of hiking recently, and one thing I like to do is let my mind wander.  Usually when I'm walking or hiking or doing some activity that doesn't require brain power, I listen to music or podcasts, or I think about what I need to get done, or how to solve a problem I've been working on.  But lately I've been going out, leaving my electronics at home or in the car, and just letting my brain do what it wants.  It's kind of a cool sensation, almost like observing my brain in third person.  I can see an idea appear, and I just let my squishy computer go with it.  There's no objective or end state or anything I need to remember or write down.  It's just low-level mental processing, turning the gears and cranks, for no other reason than it's enjoyable. #psychology

Do not engage
My new favorite thing to do (or not do) is to not engage with people when they bring up something political.  I guess I sort of got to the point where I realized everyone is probably a little wrong about everything, and no amount of information, discussion, persuasion, or argument will change anything.  So instead of stating a counterfactual when somebody brings up an obvious non-fact, I just don't say anything.  I let the fart hang in the air, as it were. #psychology

Future feelings
Some people have a tendency to think about how people will feel in the future about current events, and I think it's a little far-reaching to believe that you can control how future people will think of anything.  Let future people decide for themselves.  Live now. #psychology

False inquisitiveness
I don't like when people give the appearance of open-mindedness while in fact having no intention of changing their mind.  A simple example is when people ask something like, "Who created the universe?"  Right from the get-go, that question is making at least two assumptions:  (1) The universe was created, and (2) someone created it.  When a conversation starts with a question like that, it has the appearance of inquisitiveness, but really the outcomes are decided already.  Confirmation bias essentially ensures that the questioner will find the answer they were looking for. 

I find that these types of questions show up on social media a lot, and I've learned from past experience to just not engage.  People aren't "just asking questions" (side note:  if you ask questions, be prepared to accept the answer).  They're looking for a fight, or an argument, or a chance to criticize the other side.  No good will come from engaging with these people, as much as they believe things like "we need to learn to come together and discuss things".  No we don't.  The compromise between a crazy idea and a sane one isn't somewhere in the middle. #psychology

Revenge bedtime procrastination
From 52 things I learned in 2020:
報復性熬夜 is a Chinese term that roughly means 'Revenge bedtime procrastination' -- when "people who don't have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours". [Lu-Hai Liang]
Oh, I do that. #psychology

Preparation vs. panic
I think there's a fine line between preparation and panic, and it's sort of hard to tell when the former becomes the latter.  Preparation is buying groceries before a snow storm, when you might not get a chance to go shopping for a few days.  Preparation is having some non-perishable foods, water, and batteries in case of a power outage.  Preparation is not leaving dirty dishes in your sink when there's a storm inbound (lesson learned the hard way). 

Preparation is planned.  Panic is reactionary.  Panic is buying a bunch of toilet paper.  Panic is buying all the meat at the supermarket.  Panic happens when you see other people buying something and think, "Wait, maybe they know something I don't.  I should buy that too before there's none left."  Panic is irrational, and in a sense, unstoppable. 

Side note:  Honestly, what's with the people buying all the toilet paper during the coronavirus quarantine?  It's not even the right thing to panic-buy.  The right thing would be fresh food, but not more than you can eat before it goes bad.  Or canned food, or beans or rice or something.  But toilet paper?  Do they plan to spend a lot of time on the toilet?  Do they realize that's not even one of the symptoms of this viral infection?  It's a perfect example of an irrational panic-buy. #psychology

My brain likes to do this annoying thing, usually when I'm trying to sleep, where it replays every social interaction I've had throughout the day, allowing me more time to think of something stupid I said. 

This process gets amplified when I drink, both because alcohol makes me more talkative, thereby increasing the likelihood I'll say something stupid, but also because it turns off my filter, thus all but ensuring I'll say something stupid. 

So nearly every time I drink alcohol with people in a social setting, I lay awake at night, not only because alcohol disrupts my sleep, but also so my brain can do its due diligence in criticizing me.  Thanks, brain. #psychology

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