She’s just not that into you

The omen that is the algorithm that dictates the presence and absence of everything we see, surfaced for me the famous clip from Sex and the City. At a girl’s dinner, Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda discuss why Miranda’s date didn’t want to come up to her apartment the night before. Berger is there, the writer that leaves Carrie via a stickie note. It’s a moment of bonding for Carrie: she’s welcoming him into her inner circle. While the girls console Miranda praising her indubitable excellence, Berger provides his male heterosexual and, hence, simple and to-the-point judgement: He’s just not that into you.

The girls feel the awkwardness of the accusation. Better yet, feel an accusation and strive to avoid the awkwardness. But Miranda suddenly gets it, she’s always been portrayed as more manly, more rational (all of these are the show’s set of values and ethics, pas le mien); so much so that in the remake she starts dating a woman, not from a queer adventure point of view but from a she-was-always-kinda-male point of view.

In any case, Miranda gets it. Shouldn’t we all?

Reading Annie Duke’s book about thinking in bets to make better decisions she points something out that should be evident but is clearly not. She asks people to do a simple exercise: think of the best decision you made last year. Then think of the worst decision you made last year. Finally, observe if the best decision you made last year also brought you the best result in the year and, likewise, if the worst decision you made brought you the worst result.

The exercise shows clearly that when we judge our decision-making, we are actually judging our outcomes. And our outcomes have little to do with our decision making. They might have a little to do, but lest it remains unclear:

Our decisions and our outcomes are two completely separate and unrelated realms.

Great decisions can lead to terrible outcomes. And horrible decisions can lead to fantastic outcomes. The examples that really drive home these seemingly paradoxical statements are both related to driving. Stopping at a red light can mean someone completely rams into you from behind; running a red light can mean that you make it home in time before the love of your life leaves the city (and you don’t get killed nor crashed into when running a red light).

This learning was profound for me. I guess I already knew it but, as usual, the expression of a simple yet profound idea is what makes or breaks the idea, what pushes into the very center of your brain so as to make it unavoidable to accept and understand.

I say I ‘knew’ it already because I am fond of reminding myself that if things are going bad, they’re not all my fault. And if they’re going great, they’re not all my fault (or accomplishment). Scott Galloway says this a lot with respect to the market: be weary of thinking you’re a genius when you’re making money in the stock market. You’re not a stock-picking genius, you’ve very likely riding a bull-ride along with everybody else. (I’ve had this happen to me in crypto so much so that I learned the lesson the hard way.)

As one further step into this continual process of encountering the World, I’ve repeatedly come across the fact that people are Others. And in the same way that your good fortune (luck or money) is not caused by you, I’ve begun to see more and more clearly to what extent my desire and way of acting toward an Other isn’t related to what that Other does or decides.

Let me put aside this abstract profundity and dive into the real world: there is no perfect text that will guarantee a second date (or a first one for that matter).

There are of course very straightforward ways of ruining things from the start. If my opening move is to tell a woman I’m thinking of raping her the moment I see her, this will likely get me blocked and arrested.

The obviousness of this makes me believe that there is really no relationship between the negative and the positive. They’re not opposed, they’re just different in the same way colors are different, or objects are different. A coffee mug has no relation to a webcam. The coffee mug is the positive, the webcam the negative. They are ontologically separate. However, they seem to occur in many situations in an either/or way.

Either she likes you or she doesn’t, positive or negative.

Or perhaps I’m failing to see, once again, the non-relationship between decision and outcome, between action and outcome. A perfect date doesn’t guarantee a second date. A bad first date doesn’t obliterate the possibility of a second date.

This was all a long-winded way of saying: I went on a date last Saturday with a very pretty girl. I texted her a few days later suggesting we meet up again, and she never answered back.

God bless Philosophy and Critical Theory for allowing me to get so much out of a simple rejection.

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