Tuesday, January 30, 2018

things i've learned

Things I've learned:

1. Sweeping characterizations of entire groups are usually inaccurate and always unhelpful. ("Those millennials!")

2. Speculating on someone's inner state or intelligence is unhelpful. (Bad: "You're a bigot." "She's jealous." "He's stupid." Better: "That's inaccurate." Bad: "People who think that are selfish/ignorant/_____." Better: "The result of that thinking is_____.")

3. Variety is key. (Bad: 50 posts in a row about veganism. Better: your kid's trophy, connecting with an old friend, funny observation, serious prayer request, political stuff, arts stuff, books, movies,....)

4. Rule Of Four: after four disagreeing exchanges, neither person will really get anywhere. Find something to harmonize on and leave it.

5. Starting and ending on common ground is often effective, and more often leads away from "me vs you" and toward "us".

6. Rule of Six: if you don't know the person personally (test: if you saw each other in the shop, could you call each other by name?), cut your response threshold by a factor of 6.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

secrets saveth

In Gmail, the sender line and the subject line are all on the same line in your inbox, with as many characters as can fit in the allotted space. This is fine most of the time. Sometimes, there are odd results.

For instance, every time I get an email from this friend, whose sender line includes his name and the tag "savethereds," from his campaign to pray for the souls of Russians during the Communist era, I see this oddly messianic proclamation:


Just today, I got an email from this friend, whose sender line includes her title as the parish secretary. I thought I had become privy to a very special report, or at least the report of a very special service:



Ooohhh!! This is all much less interesting than it seems.