Laurie Voss Profile picture
9 Oct, 10 tweets, 2 min read
There is a cognitive bias called the Focusing Illusion made famous by Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman, it can be summarized as: "Nothing in life is as important as it seems to be at the time when you're focused on it."…
The Focusing Illusion is super common, and it creates a trap that people who are passionate and dedicated fall into, to their detriment. It creates a profound and problematic cognitive dissonance where the thing they are *sure* is the most important thing is simply not.
For five years at npm I spent so much time thinking about JavaScript that I began to believe – genuinely, deeply believe – that JavaScript is the most important language in the world. I got up in front of thousands of people at conferences and said this with total conviction.
It feels like some kind of fever dream now. JavaScript? Super popular language. Very important if you are a web developer. Web development? *Extremely* important to the modern economy. The most important programming language in the *world*? Nonsense. There's no such thing. Wild.
Now I see the focusing illusion everywhere. A big, entrenched company will believe that its competitors are insignificant, not worth learning about, because they spend so much time thinking about themselves and their own technology and customers.
Likewise, startups and new technology enthusiasts spend a lot of time thinking about their brand new thing and get completely carried away by how big it is, how great it is, and how much it can realistically accomplish. The same effect affects both sides.
And tonight I saw a DevRel yelling at the Internet about how the thing that is their job to evangelize is SO IMPORTANT and devs don't care and they're SO STUPID for not caring and this too is the focusing illusion.
If you find yourself in a situation where there's a thing you find important, but despite all your best efforts nobody seems to care, it's probably not because you are much smarter than everybody else. It's probably because that thing is just not as important as you believe.
If you find yourself in that situation, try your best to step back, pull yourself out of your shoes, look at the world from a wider perspective. Is there some way you can accomplish your goals without having to get the whole world to realign around your core belief?
If you can, excellent. If you can't... maybe it's time to pick some other focus. Otherwise the stress of passionately, honestly, earnestly believing a thing that the universe keeps telling you isn't true will slowly grind your brain down to a nub.

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More from @seldo

8 Oct
Earlier this week I was feeling really anxious, in a sort of non-specific way. It was upsetting and made it hard to do anything. So I tried a strategy that I've used in the past that has been very effective for me. It worked again, so I figured I'd share it.
What I do is: I write down the first thing I can think of that comes to my head that's bothering me. Doesn't matter whether it's tiny or huge. This time it was "the bathtub is making a weird noise". Then I waited 10 seconds, and wrote down the next thing I could think of.
I kept going until I couldn't think of a single thing, big or small, that was bothering me but wasn't already on the list. I ended up with 16 things including "there's a fucking pandemic". And there they were, captured on a page, no longer buzzing around in my brain.
Read 4 tweets
8 Oct
Okay, #VPDebate live tweeting starts now. I apologize in advance.
I would like to make clear in advance that Kamala is like everyone's favorite aunt and Mike Pence is basically Satan. If you are looking for impartial coverage good luck, there's no such thing, but it definitely won't come from me.
Question for Kamala: what would a Biden administration do in 2021 that a Trump administration would not do?
Read 131 tweets
7 Oct
My first vote for a president! Image
So do I wear the sticker today or wait until Election Day?
There are a lot of goddamn propositions but my favorite one was the special tax on businesses where the ratio of the CEO's salary to the median employee's salary exceeds 100:1. I'm sure they'll find loopholes but fuck them anyway.
Read 4 tweets
18 Sep
When you buy an apartment in San Francisco sometimes it's a normal condo and sometimes it's something called a "tenancy in common" or TIC. TICs are always cheaper and I have spent the last 5 years discovering why. The answer is: extreme levels of inconvenience.
There are lots and LOTS of TICs in San Francisco but because they are kind of a weird financial instrument there are apparently only 2 banks in the whole country who will give you a mortgage for one, and since there's only 2 of them the rates are not competitive.
One of the BIG disadvantages of a TIC is that technically everybody in the building owns the building together, each with a percentage share. This hardly ever comes up EXCEPT in two cases:
Read 16 tweets
11 Sep
I will be using Comedy Wildlife Photography exclusively for reaction images from now on.
TFW when you roll eyes and realize you're on Zoom and everyone can see.
"Shut the fuck up, Bob."
Read 10 tweets
16 Aug
Entry #28 in Project #EuropeanBios is Genghis Khan and my friends, you are in for a treat. I knew almost nothing about him and he turns out to have been a fascinating man of staggering ambition, power and ability, a world conqueror outdoing even my fave Alexander the Great.
Part of what makes him a fun subject relative to other notables from the years 400-1200 is that we know an enormous amount about him, because the Mongols under him became literate and wrote everything down in a meticulous, secret, internal-only history.…
But first, let's get this out of the way: he was not a nice guy. He was a military leader who conquered the whole world; nobody who does that is a nice person, and he was no exception. He personally killed probably hundreds of people and his armies left millions dead.
Read 41 tweets

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