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How to Make Smart Decisions in Less than 60 Seconds
September 12, 2011 7:22 AM   Subscribe

How to Make Smart Decisions in Less than 60 Seconds: For each alternative, ask "Is this really me?"
posted by shivohum (168 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I couldn't decide whether to adopt this decision-making methodology, so I asked myself: Is "is this really me?" really me?
posted by aparrish at 7:27 AM on September 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


I think if I did this I would soon end up as a wandering mendicant with no name.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:28 AM on September 12, 2011 [44 favorites]


For each alternative, ask "Is this really me?"

I'm guessing the very first step is to have a solid handle on who the hell you are. Or, at least, who the hell you want to be. I find that the answer to that question tends to be highly elastic in this day-and-age.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on September 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


And thus was the economic need to constantly produce new and useless things saved...
posted by leibniz at 7:29 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that you John Wayne?

Is this me?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:33 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this what an axnious neurotic crippled by a severe lack of decisiveness would do?

OH GOD I DON'T KNOW
posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on September 12, 2011 [96 favorites]


Groceries??? I'm having a hard time with "is this radish really me?"
posted by tomswift at 7:34 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Is this really me?" would have led me to turn down a lot of really fantastic things that I'm glad I went for. My own criteria is something like "Could this be a More Awesome Me?"
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:35 AM on September 12, 2011 [85 favorites]


Metafilter: clean, efficient, organized, transparent, flowing, intelligent, creative, and well-constructed. Some people would love it, but others would find it rubs them the wrong way. I’m not sure if I like it, but it certainly grabs my attention. I could never be bored in a room with this thing
posted by Segundus at 7:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some people should be making decisions that are less really them.

Also, my favorite decision strategy for at least some things is: How dumb will I sound explaining this to the police/firefighters/doctor if anything goes wrong?
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [44 favorites]


Is this country really me?
posted by wittgenstein at 7:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


A local furniture store has trucks emblazoned with a photograph of a purple leather chair and the question, "Is this you?"

Every time I see one, I mentally respond, "No. That is a chair."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 AM on September 12, 2011 [73 favorites]


How to Make Smart Metafilter Posts in Less than 60 Seconds: For each alternative, ask "Is this really mefi?"
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:44 AM on September 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


This is exactly how marketers want you to think when purchasing a product. Hundreds of millions of people believe Coke or Pepsi is "really me." Anyone who reaches a more intelligent purchasing decision is doing so not because they are applying a criteria like this, but rather because they possess above-average self-awareness and skepticism when choosing products to consume.
posted by brain_drain at 7:48 AM on September 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


Oh! Oh! I know this one! The answer's always "no," right?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:48 AM on September 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


The problem I have is that clerical work isn't really "me." Writing is "me." However, poverty also is not "me."

Now what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [51 favorites]


I think if I did this I would soon end up as a wandering mendicant with no name.

I read "wandering mendicant with no arms" here -- I don't know why! -- and was very confused.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:50 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem I have is that clerical work isn't really "me." Writing is "me." However, poverty also is not "me."

Now what?


Looting?

But I suppose prison isn't "you" either.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:50 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes we face tough decisions that involve one or more unknowns.

You know, I've never heard this stated better...OH wait, I have:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.

posted by obscurator at 7:50 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Okay, that was a little mean. This isn't bad advice, as a "well, try doing it this way and see if it helps, and if it doesn't oh well" kind of suggestion. It's not really universally applicable, however; not sure from the article whether the writer intended it to be thus, or just as a "try this approach for the times when you're stuck" kind of thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:51 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was shopping for a mirror. I looked at a lot of mirrors, and each time I looked in one I asked the person I saw there "Am I really me?"
posted by adamrice at 7:51 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jesus christ that was depressing to read. New goal for the day: forget about this article.
posted by Evernix at 7:53 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the question is more like "Is this really the person I want to be" Otherwise, unless this is a decision you make over and over again -- how would you know? Isn't that why it's a decision in the first place?

I mean, if you make decisions that end up causing problems all the time, wouldn't the answer to the question actually be the worse decision?

For example, If you procrastinate all the time, and someone asks if you want to the go to the movies when you have a deadline coming up, isn't the true answer that you'd put off whatever you're supposed to be doing and go with them?
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I started asking "is this really me?" about the same time I started asking "what would Jesus do?" Now I'm convinced I'm Jesus.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


It wouldn't be me to RTFA.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This really just seems deeply silly to me. For example:

I’d look at a very ornate and classy desk, and I’d say, ”That’s not it. I’m not an ornate and frilly person.” I’d see a heavy, solid desk that only Superman could lift and say, “That one is too heavy. I’m lighter than that.” I’d see the cheap particle board furniture and think, “Nope. I’m more durable and tougher than that.”

I can't really imagine the kind of thought process where that would be a sane way to evaluate things. It seems like it would only work for someone who is so narcissistic that projecting their own personality traits onto objects and concepts in their everyday life would seem like the most reasonable and comforting way to evaluate choices.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


I think if I did this I would soon end up as a wandering mendicant with no name.

This is how Endermen are born.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've followed this from childhood, which is why I live in a treehouse and subsist on life cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and cartoons.

Wait that was supposed to be facetious but actually it sounds pretty cool.
posted by condour75 at 8:04 AM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


I mean, if you make decisions that end up causing problems all the time, wouldn't the answer to the question actually be the worse decision?

It's not meant to be answered through a long analysis of past actions, but is more a way of accessing a simple, gut-level reaction. The assumption is that we all have an intuitive pulse over a "core self," a natural, healthy, comfortable self, and by going through these exercises (e.g. describing the course of action with a few adjectives out loud and comparing them to our self-description), we can feel that pulse.

Something like procrastination would presumably not feel as if it's part of that core self. It would feel like the reaction to a bad fit between the core self and the situation, not part of the core itself.
posted by shivohum at 8:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this narcissist really me?
posted by photoslob at 8:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


A friend of my wife worked for a style consultancy that charged hundreds of dollars an hour for a brief consultation that would run you through a questionnaire that determined your two word "style" (the friend's turned out to be "classic lustre"). This "style" was then supposed to guide you ("Is this really 'classic lustre'?").

Before the partnership dissolved in biting fury, they were up to $750/hour for this service. We get the gurus we deserve.
posted by fatbird at 8:09 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Should I capture the undefended pawn on a4? Well, let's see: Is this really me?
posted by Wolfdog at 8:09 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


the friend's turned out to be "classic lustre"

Is your friend a piece of antique furniture by any chance?
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:11 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


When he wrote "smart", perhaps he meant "shit".

If I only said yes to things that were 'me' my life would certainly not be better than it is now.
posted by dickasso at 8:12 AM on September 12, 2011


(I guess a lot of the decisions I have to make are fairly rigid ones, and I deal with the kind of squishy decisions that this is about by postponing them indefinitely, which is, for example, why I've lived in the same place for seven years and still don't have any curtains.)
posted by Wolfdog at 8:13 AM on September 12, 2011


> It's not meant to be answered through a long analysis of past actions, but is more a way of accessing a simple, gut-level reaction.

Yeah, I get that. But I think the framing of that inquiry as "Is this me?" is kind of problematic, if only for its self-help buzzwordiness. It also presumes that people are even capable of seeing their situation in a global way and actually able to integrate things accordingly. The terrible truth is that people tend to live in isolated fragments and each decision, no matter how conspicuously navel gazed, tends to reflect whatever fragment one is in a particular moment.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:16 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is your friend a piece of antique furniture by any chance?

When I heard about it, I posted on Facebook that I wanted to get mine done to discover if I'm really "sulfuric brimstone".

A classic lustre no longer talks to the wife of a sulfuric brimstone.
posted by fatbird at 8:19 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with this method is that it assumes
  • there is such a thing as a "true self"
  • you can readily identify its properties within you
  • you can identify analogous properties in the type of thing you're choosing from
  • the analogous properties are properties that you actually want in this type of thing
  • you will not fail to identify an important property, either within yourself, or within the things you're picking from
Applying the "Is this me?" method and then solving the problems with it, at least as well as you can within the context of the choice you're making, might in fact be a good decision-making process.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:19 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the question is more like "Is this really the person I want to be"

Sometimes, it's the "me" that needs to change. When I was young, I was an ignorant, self-absorbed jerk a lot of the time. I could have used this thinking to run roughshod over people for the rest of my life, but fortunately, as I matured, I was able to look back and ask "Was that really me?" and not be too happy with what I saw in the ol' rear-view. My conclusion is that I'm better off changing myself to fit life instead of constantly trying to adjust surroundings to fit the old me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:20 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Off the cuff, the idea of measuring every decision against one's perception of one's self is only as good as that perception. How many of us are that in touch with ourselves- or rather, aren't? Am I really me?
posted by Mr. Crowley at 8:21 AM on September 12, 2011


"Is this friend really me?"

I'm not sure how to answer that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:21 AM on September 12, 2011


I tend simply to ask, "What's in it for really-me?"
posted by bicyclefish at 8:23 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


How am I not myself? How am I not myself?
posted by Ansgar at 8:23 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


This sounds a lot like Virtue Ethics to me. Does this action promote, utilize and display the character traits I wish to embody? Does it steer me away from the vices and flaws I wish to overcome?

It's a lot to ask from a desk though.
posted by Garm at 8:24 AM on September 12, 2011 [24 favorites]


"Is this friend really me?"

If only Tyler Durden had asked that question.
posted by stebulus at 8:24 AM on September 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Is this post-industrial, plutocratic, protofascist, warmongering kleptocracy really me?
posted by Scientist at 8:25 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm very good at identifying which things are me, design-wise. The problem is that a lot of things are me, I can't afford most of them, and my tiny apartment can't house most of the "me-things" that I'd love to pick out.

So right now my core personality is apparently expressed through a mix of Ikea bookshelves, hand-me-down sofas, university surplus auction chairs, a big desk from 1905 that belongs in a large house and needs to be refinished, and a lot of cat hair. Oh, and great art that I can't afford to get framed so I can hang it on the walls.
posted by PussKillian at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2011


A friend of my wife worked for a style consultancy that charged hundreds of dollars an hour for a brief consultation that would run you through a questionnaire that determined your two word "style" (the friend's turned out to be "classic lustre"). This "style" was then supposed to guide you ("Is this really 'classic lustre'?").

Before the partnership dissolved in biting fury, they were up to $750/hour for this service. We get the gurus we deserve.


How do I get this job?

(But this job wouldn't be me. First, I have no style. Second, I am American and so I spell it "luster".)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:28 AM on September 12, 2011


I'm a Libra, we don't make decisions.
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is this post-industrial, plutocratic, protofascist, warmongering kleptocracy really me?

Well, you look dashing in the uniform, but it kinda makes you butt look big.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:28 AM on September 12, 2011


I usually just flip a coin. It's worked out okay so far.
posted by roue at 8:30 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice try Harvey
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't decide whether to adopt this decision-making methodology, so I asked myself: Is "is this really me?" really me?

I couldn't decide whether to adopt this decision-making methodology, so I asked myself: Is "Is 'is this really me?' really me?" really me?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:31 AM on September 12, 2011


It's okay. The quiz said "dashing fat-ass" was totally my look.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:31 AM on September 12, 2011


The worst decision maker I know always asks "Is this really me?" And it leads to bad decisions, because she is an asshole.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:34 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Groceries??? I'm having a hard time with "is this radish really me?"

You are what you eat, dude.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


How to Make Smart Decisions in Less than 60 Seconds: For each alternative, ask "Is this really me?"

There is no "me" to really be.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2011


I usually just flip a coin. It's worked out okay so far.
posted by roue at 4:30 PM on September 12 [+] [!]

roue, is this really you?
posted by rory at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2011


"Is this clone really me?"

At least my evil clone has a goatee, so I have a helpful identifier for when I have to figure out which one of us is the real me.

But then I remembered that I have a goatee too, so it's back to the existential drawing board for me, and probably the clone too.

Either that or I just move away from the mirror and go back to the position that perhaps psychedelics just "is not me."
posted by chambers at 8:36 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


IS REIFYING MY "SELF" REALLY ME?

[bugs bunny]mmmmmmmm COULD be chomp chomp chomp[/bugs]
posted by everichon at 8:36 AM on September 12, 2011


The first time I contributed to NPR, it was because of an Ira Glass pitch on This American Life where said something to the effect of, "Who do you want to be -- do you want to be the kind of person who supports public radio, or the kind of person who listens and never contributes?" For some reason, phrasing it that way was totally compelling to me in a way that "please donate" or "you should give" wasn't.

Maybe because, instead of pushing you in any particular direction, the question merely asks you to take stock of yourself and measure your actions against your character, or the character you aspire to. Would you pay $25 to keep an NPR show on the air? Maybe, maybe not. But $25 to become the person you'd like to be? A pittance!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:38 AM on September 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


If I used the same method to decide about relationships that I would to decide about a desk, for fuck's sake, I would feel like a horrifically shallow and unprincipled person.

Treating relationships like purchasing decisions is an awful thing to do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:42 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of my wife worked for a style consultancy that charged hundreds of dollars an hour for a brief consultation that would run you through a questionnaire that determined your two word "style" (the friend's turned out to be "classic lustre"). This "style" was then supposed to guide you ("Is this really 'classic lustre'?").

Before the partnership dissolved in biting fury, they were up to $750/hour for this service. We get the gurus we deserve.


I got the book, actually, and for awhile I was really excited about finding my style statement. Unfortunately, I was only able to narrow it down to three words, one of which I made up myself, as I recall.

In retrospect I think I was probably a Precious Difficult. This does not seem like a particularly expedient guiding principle, I don't think.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:45 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The irony, of course, is that this technique is most likely to feel effective if you're an arrogant, self-centered prick. Which is exactly the sort of person who the rest of us wishes wouldn't define everything in terms of themselves.
posted by belarius at 8:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The problem with this method is that it assumes
- there is such a thing as a "true self"...


I think it's safe to say this method wasn't intended for those of us who have gone to graduate school.
posted by aught at 8:48 AM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


The problem with this method is that it assumes there is such a thing as a "true self"...

I'm not convinced the technique is a good idea, but I don't think it relies on that. All it needs is a perceived true self. It's more like setting a goal than defining your current position.
posted by echo target at 8:53 AM on September 12, 2011


If I used the same method to decide about relationships that I would to decide about a desk, for fuck's sake, I would feel like a horrifically shallow and unprincipled person.

I would reverse that. "Is this really me?" seems like too profound of a question to apply to purchasing a desk.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shallow decision-making for shallow people making unimportant decisions.

"I can afford to either enroll my daughter in the 'gifted children' school, or get both my children braces. Which one is really me?"
posted by graftole at 8:55 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do I get this job?

Apparently just by having the moxie to look someone in the eye, tell them it's $750/hour for you to give them an adjective-noun combination, and then act like they should be thankful you've deigned to assist them this way.

Of course, you have to maintain a self-promoting blog as well.
posted by fatbird at 8:55 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems like it would work because of the essentialist and self-worth bias most people have. People like to think of stable traits (what kind of person you are) as governing behavior, and they like to think of themselves as having good traits. When required to come up with a personal characteristic of their which matches a decision, they'll aim high without the required aspirational nature and self-criticism of "person I'd like to be."
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:57 AM on September 12, 2011


But... the whole universe is really me.
posted by cmoj at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, no. The Buddha and sentient beings are all illusory.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:04 AM on September 12, 2011


Gut instinct and certainty in personal experience and insight is the source of a lot of ugliness and conflict. A sign post of maturity, in my opinion, is a healthy skepticism of one's own perceptions and intuitions.

People like to think of stable traits (what kind of person you are) as governing behavior, and they like to think of themselves as having good traits.

The fundamental attribution error is to see other people's behaviour governed by traits (while we generally favour situational explanations for ourselves).

If you want to harness psychology to the cause of good, have these people make public affirmations of those admirable traits. Then behaviour may follow as they self-identify (hey, I'm someone to whom the environment is important) and adopt behaviour to conform to that publicly-confirmed image (turn off unused lights; pick up litter; etc.).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2011


I'm unimpressed. I like to employ a few more steps:

Does this need to be decided now?
(Or is some external factor pushing for a decision that could happily wait for later, the eternal push of the salesman)

Is there a high level of risk/consequence if the decision goes wrong?
(If so, use the trusted aviation thinking: how will this look on the accident report?)

How important do I consider this decision and how hard would it be to change things if I change my mind later?
(Before I start thinking about the options, try to decide up front how long I'm willing to spend cogitating on it)

What does my gut say?
(Probably the closest analogue to "is this really me?", and it is a good way to check if you are on the right decision making path)


We live in a society that I believe is a bit too obsessed with getting things "right" through an intellectual decision making process. Sometimes your only option is to take a course of action, see how it is going, and adjust. Recognizing this makes all sorts of decisions a lot easier to take. (Use of make vs. take deliberate.)
posted by meinvt at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


With a lot of indecisive people, you find that once they do make the decision, the decision is made. The small details of implementation have already been thought through, negative consequences considered and prepared for, it's usually the right decision as well, but alternatives have also been deeply considered in case it turns out otherwise.

"Decisive" is another word for "gambling addict."
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on September 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


> I mentally respond, "No. That is a chair."

I threw it on the ground! My dad's not a phone!
posted by ostranenie at 9:20 AM on September 12, 2011


Shallow decision-making for shallow people making unimportant decisions.

"I can afford to either enroll my daughter in the 'gifted children' school, or get both my children braces. Which one is really me?"


Huh. I feel like this is one decision where it's actually appropriate. It makes sense to be like "What are my values here? Do I value education above everything else? Am I committed to treating both kids equally, no matter what?" Etc. etc.

The problem is that asking "Which desk is in keeping with my values?" is sort of ludicrous. Asking "Do I want to be the sort of person who buys a black desk?" encourages you to focus on silly pseudo-values like "I'm committed to looking hip and rebellious" or "I care deeply about color-coordination." There's just no morally significant difference between two desks in the same price range at the same store — so unless you've got an inner brand consultant occupying the part of your brain where your conscience should be, asking "Is this who I really am?" about a fucking desk purchase is bound to be pointless.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:22 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, is this cheezy, sunshiney, self-help-style "personal development" bullshit going to take over the entire internet? Basta! People that write this kind of utter crap should be consigned to spend an eternity in hell reading The Secret.
posted by koeselitz at 9:23 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like he spent about six months looking for a desk.

I would have handled this differently, by stopping at the most convenient option and asking myself "Is this a desk?"
posted by snofoam at 9:32 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, can you use this method to choose the perfect plate of beans?
posted by snofoam at 9:34 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know. I'm hiring right now, and thinking about taking the underqualified white guy. Is racism and sexism really me? ... Wait, it is! High five!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:36 AM on September 12, 2011


graftole: “Shallow decision-making for shallow people making unimportant decisions. ‘I can afford to either enroll my daughter in the 'gifted children' school, or get both my children braces. Which one is really me?’”

nebulawindphone: “Huh. I feel like this is one decision where it's actually appropriate. It makes sense to be like ‘What are my values here? Do I value education above everything else? Am I committed to treating both kids equally, no matter what?’ Etc. etc.”

The constant invocation of "values" – a bastardization of Nietzsche's doctrines – is in fact an illustration of the extreme self-involvement that amoralist individualism causes. In situations like that, it is disastrously wrong to think about one's personal "values" and try to come up with some little plan that "suits me."

What one should do in this situation is consider what is right for my kids and what is right for the family as a whole. I would have thought that was obvious – apparently so did graftole – but such is the extent of the late consumerist perversion of all that is good that we actually seem to think that the best way to raise kids is as accessories to our lifestyle.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


snofoam: answering the question "is this a desk" is hard. For example, is a table a desk? Depending on what you plan to use it for, it might be.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:39 AM on September 12, 2011


Someone took the time to air his dirty laundry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Pavlina
posted by davel at 9:43 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


madcaptenor, true, I suppose. In reality, my current apartment came with a countertop/bar-type area and some stools. I asked myself "Is this a desk?" and answered, "Close enough."
posted by snofoam at 9:45 AM on September 12, 2011


Forgot the 'firstworldproblems' tag.

(Am I a bad person for taking an almost instant dislike to this guy?)
posted by benito.strauss at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2011


This is not a great way to make smart decisions. This is a great way to force yourself to continue to fit the stereotype you stereovision set has... allowed you to adopt via consumer choices.

If you want to be you, try not being The Situation. You could however be Lewis Black, we need more of him and your sacrifice will be greatly appreciated.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd hate to take things like relative probabilities into account in making decisions. /snark
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2011


None of the things in my life are really me. Unfortunately I haven't figured out how to have immense wealth while watching TV all day. That's the real me.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not meant to be answered through a long analysis of past actions, but is more a way of accessing a simple, gut-level reaction. The assumption is that we all have an intuitive pulse over a "core self," a natural, healthy, comfortable self, and by going through these exercises (e.g. describing the course of action with a few adjectives out loud and comparing them to our self-description), we can feel that pulse.

Something like procrastination would presumably not feel as if it's part of that core self. It would feel like the reaction to a bad fit between the core self and the situation, not part of the core itself.
Well, why make that assumption? (I'm especially amused by the idea that our 'core' person is natural, healthy and comfortable) Anyway the point I was making that you're really talking about what kind of person you'd like to be in this case.

Think about the way we form models of other people in our minds. It's not something we do deliberately, rather our minds build a model that forms in our minds subconsciously -- we probably start with a 'default human' and modify it as we see them deviate.

In psychology Self-perception theory is the theory that our own sense of self only comes from observation in the same way. We observe ourselves in much more detail then anyone else, and we know our emotional responses. But what if what we think of as "ourselves" is really just our impressions of a person after observing them for a long time.

In that case answering the question of "What would I do" is really no different then answering the question "What would Jane do?" if you're being honest with yourself. If you're not being honest, then you'll probably just answer with whatever you wish you would do.

I'm a bit confused about this would apply to buying desks, though. Sometimes I've though about the desk I would get if I was a billionaire. I would go to northwest territories in Canada and mine a huge block from the Acasta Gneiss, and shape it into solid block like this: ▀█▀▀▀█▀.

For practical purposes though I couldn't really care at all. As long as it holds all my stuff who cares?
The first time I contributed to NPR, it was because of an Ira Glass pitch on This American Life where said something to the effect of, "Who do you want to be -- do you want to be the kind of person who supports public radio, or the kind of person who listens and never contributes?" For some reason, phrasing it that way was totally compelling to me in a way that "please donate" or "you should give" wasn't.
I dunno man, the answer to the question of what "the kind of person who supports public radio" is involves a lot of, like, sweaters.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Is this burrito really me?"

Guess I'm not having lunch today.
posted by melissam at 9:54 AM on September 12, 2011


Deskology, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think this is a valid way to make every decision. But I think it's a useful tool to put in your decision-making arsenal, next to ones like "flip a coin". (the key to flipping a coin is not to necessarily follow it's dictates, but to observe how you feel about the choice it makes - does some part of you instantly rebel agaist it? does some part fistpump and say "yessssss!"? Or do you just shrug and really not care about the outcome?)

Also I am looking through the "style statement" website mentioned in the comments, and all I can think of is that my style statement would be "fucking awesome". Which is not to say I think I always *am* fucking awesome.
posted by egypturnash at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2011


What an inflammatory and uncharitable response. I represent "the late consumerist perversion of all that is good?" I'm advocating we "raise kids as accessories to our lifestyle?" Yeesh.

If you're looking for a conversation, I'm no longer interested. If you want someone to fight with, I was never interested.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:00 AM on September 12, 2011


The constant invocation of "values" – a bastardization of Nietzsche's doctrines – is in fact an illustration of the extreme self-involvement that amoralist individualism causes.

Wait, what??? Your values guide all your decisions. There's nothing else that can. The real question is where do your values come from?

What one should do in this situation is consider what is right for my kids and what is right for the family as a whole.

Well, OK, then, those are your values. The word "should" gives it away.

Don't diss Nietzsche. He had the framework all figured out.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:04 AM on September 12, 2011


(Am I a bad person for taking an almost instant dislike to this guy?)

I did not instantly think he was a terrible person from that post but holy crap, the April Fools Day post mentioned in the Wikipedia article davel posted is pretty over the top:

Female slaves can be very sexy too. I’d especially love to have one as my secretary. Why on earth would I want to fill such a position with an employee — and be subjected to all the burdensome rules and regulations and potential liabilities that come with it — when I can fill this role with a willing slave instead? It’s a no-brainer — and it’s certainly a lot more fun — to recruit slaves instead of employees.

Also, since I’d prefer female slaves for certain positions (such as missionary), I don’t want to have to deal with laws regarding discrimination based on sex (slave sex is awesome), religion (you can’t have two Masters), height (shorter slaves are easier to dominate), etc. Involuntary slavery may be illegal, but voluntary slavery is perfectly legal, and it isn’t regulated by the same burdensome package of crazy laws that I’d have to deal with if I hired employees.


Then the follow-up post basically says "Ha ha, just kidding about the slavery stuff but seriously I want people to come live in my house and work for free." Also:

I’d rather work in a place where people jokingly call me Master or Captain or Your Highness instead of Boss or Sir. In my games business one guy used to refer to me as the Evil Overlord. And if you can’t handle being addressed as Slave, Minion, Number One, Third of Five, etc. then you probably wouldn’t enjoy working with me because I honestly love that kind of stuff.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm imagining a military general pushing little ships and airplanes and tanks around a giant glass table with a map of the world on it, trying to devise the best strategy to win a war, knowing that whatever he does is going to cost thousands of lives.

And then he looks up turns to his lieutenant next to him and asks, "But is this really me?"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]



I'm reminded of a scene with Marisa Tomei in some early 90s movie about a newspaper. At some point, she points out to her husband that his a not the devoted husband and father he thinks he is. "What do you mean?" He replies, "I work my ass off at this newspaper" and she goes on to point out that you don't just make one decision and there you have it.

Who you are is the sum of all the thousands of little decisions you make throughout each and every day.

It was a dumb forgettable movie, but that notion was sort of life changing for me. I forced me to look at all the little ways that I sabotage myself every day.

I think a lot of people hang themselves up on this particular rock - mistaking a grand New Years Resoulution type decision to lose weight for the smaller and entirely less satisfying of deciding to eat less at every opportunity.

Even at that - I learned in my Network Flows class that individually optimal decisions can have sum total suboptimal results.

It's a lot to keep in mind. I usually just get drunk. Then if it works out, I'm so awesome I can do it drunk. And if it doesn't work out, well, I was drunk.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:08 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


nebulawindphone: “What an inflammatory and uncharitable response. I represent "the late consumerist perversion of all that is good?" I'm advocating we "raise kids as accessories to our lifestyle?" Yeesh.”

Nope. I wasn't really talking about you, to be honest, and I'm sorry if my comment had the sound of a personal insult; it wasn't intended as such. That's why I used the word "we."
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2011


Are you tired of wasting time and energy making decisions? Do you find yourself stuck making choices rather than just living your life? Then stop! My technique cuts through decision making processes instantly and effortlessly.

We all know the situation, you're in an unfamiliar bar ordering a drink, but there are so many choices. You wonder, would the wine here be decent? What goes into a manhattan? Is Tanqueray the gin I like, or was it Bombay Sapphire?

Will you order the wrong drink and look like a fool? Or will you stop like a deer in the headlights, making the bartender and everyone else who wants a drink mad at you for holding up the show?

With five simple words, you can avoid this anguish and embarrassment: "I'll have what he's having." No more awkward decisions, no more hours spent keeping up with trends to know if apple martinis are hip or passé, just straight-up drinking with no more thinking.

Buy my book, Becoming the Follower: The Secret to Never Having to Make a Decision Ever Again, to see how my miraculous technique can change every facet of your life.
posted by snofoam at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


"It is today."
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2011


In the end we're all just monkeys.
posted by storybored at 10:12 AM on September 12, 2011


When monkeys start posting on MetaFilter, I'll agree with you.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:13 AM on September 12, 2011


In the end, I'm going to be a supernova, motherfucker.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:14 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, this guy is a scammer. He may believe the nonsense that he peddles, but that doesn't make him any less a scammer.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:18 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the end, I'm going to be a supernova, motherfucker.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:14 PM on September 12 [+] [!]


Nitro-burnin' and fuel injection?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:22 AM on September 12, 2011


but holy crap, the April Fools Day post mentioned in the Wikipedia article ...

"solopreneur"

When the revolution comes, the portmanteau-ists will be the first up against the wall.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:23 AM on September 12, 2011


Anyway, this guy is a scammer.

Wow, only five hundred dollars for a workshop held by that kid in the back of your Intro to Philosophy class who wore sunglasses indoors and wouldn't shut the fuck up? I'm sold!
posted by griphus at 10:35 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I outsource my decision-making to Twitter.
posted by desjardins at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, this guy is a scammer.

Wow. Yeah, maybe he believes it. But it's just more proof that there is nothing more dangerous than highly motivated, very stupid people.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the revolution comes, the portmanteau-ists will be the first up against the wall.

That will be the first sign that it is a portmantevolution.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2011


Is this comment really me?

posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on September 12 [31 favorites +] [!]
posted by davejay at 10:46 AM on September 12, 2011


Are you sure? Once you start putting people up against the wall, you risk devolving into simple portmanarchy.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


blah blah Portmerion HGGNH! HGGNH! HGGNH! HGGNH!
posted by Not Supplied at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad he mentioned which desk he ended up buying, and that I don't have one. I'd hate to discover that the piece of furniture I've been sitting at and spilling coffee on was really Steve Pavlina.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use this method, and it works great. Apparently, the rest of you aren't as awesome as I am. Good to know. Guess I won't be buying any of you, then.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2011


posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on September 12 [31 favorites +] [!]

ha ha ha up at 7:30 in the morning my ass ha ha ha
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2011


It turns out literally every alternative pales in comparison to chronic masturbation and throwing empty whiskey bottles at traffic.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


That will be the first sign that it is a portmantevolution.

You mean portmatocalypse!
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2011


Should I mix this picric acid with lead? Or is nitric acid + phenol really me?
posted by benzenedream at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2011


I hate stuff like this because it preys on people's external self-perception, which is often dictated by market forces. If you, say, read The Sartorialist on a daily basis, I think you'd be more likely to say "This $500 coat is me" than someone who stumbles across the blog for the first time. Then, it doesn't matter if the coat is uncomfortable, not that warm, or fits weird, because Mr. Sartorialist's perception is that he is a Sartorial gentleman, and that's what people like him do.

Basically, I think it's a great way to get stuck in a trap of buying stuff because you want to look like an image you've seen elsewhere.
posted by Turkey Glue at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's just like you to say that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:15 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


insert previous comment after any comment in thread
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:16 AM on September 12, 2011


If you can't decide: get more information. F.i. by taking some action in either direction. See if that makes feel more clearly either way.
posted by joost de vries at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2011


"is this really me?" Say it a few times. That's how a deja vu becomes a cliche.
posted by eggtooth at 11:40 AM on September 12, 2011




Hey, he just wants to put a little of his "me" in more places.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Snark aside, this does work really well for buying clothes. Wear things that complement each other, know what works and doesn't work for "you" or the image you want to project, and buy accordingly. Unless you live in jeans and T-shirts you'll probably spend less overall (even with the occasional $500 coat) as you will regularly wear anything you buy. When shopping you can be in and out of most stores in a minute or two - "no, not me" and will actually enjoy the places that do have things that fit you.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Snark aside, this does work really well for buying clothes.

It would work, but my workplace generally frowns on me wearing my penis gourd in the office.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:53 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


This seems like a good place for a pun, but I can't decide between "gourdjeous" and "engourdged". Hmm. How to decide, how to decide. Oh, I know: "Which one is me?"

My workplace generally frowns on me being gourdjeous and engourdged in the office.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your jokes seem misgourded, IRFH.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:12 PM on September 12, 2011


madcaptenor: "I think if I did this I would soon end up as a wandering mendicant with no name.

I read "wandering mendicant with no arms" here -- I don't know why! -- and was very confused.
"

Are these arms really me?

Nope.
posted by Splunge at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2011


Frankly, after starting to read The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, I'm not fully convinced that I'm me.

I can see that this approach would have some utility. Our clothes, cars, homes etc are all, to some extent, presentations of the person that we'd like the world (or subsets of the world) to think that we are. Whether that's mainstream and serious, colourful and wacky, punk, outdoorsy, sexy, scruffy geek, etc. it does make sense to consider whether the stuff we're displaying around us fits that image. So I wear different things to work, a juggling show and a date, for example, as each context demands a slightly different version (or maybe "aspect"?) of me to be presented.

I'd be willing to buy into this idea of extending this to things that are really only for our own eyes, like a desk at home. Maybe having a desk that fits with your mental image of what your "work" persona should be -- e.g. modern and ordered vs. bohemian and cluttered -- will help you get into that frame of mind, or maybe when you're in that "I'm working" frame of mind, it'll seem more appealing/less jarring? Your props and set will help you get into the character that you're playing, even if you're only playing that character for your own benefit.

So asking "is this me?" seems a bit too absolutist, and doesn't make sense unless you have a solid, consistent idea of who you are or want to be across all contexts. Which I certainly don't have, and I doubt that many people do. But for an item that will be used in any given context, I think it makes a certain amount of sense to identify what image of yourself you want yourself and others to have, and then considering whether that new item will jar or jibe with it.
posted by metaBugs at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My subway reading this past week has been A Scanner Darkly - I don't think Bob Arctor would aprove of this decision-making strategy.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:21 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think if I did this I would soon end up as a wandering mendicant with no name.

i pretty much did - after which i concluded that being "me" wasn't so hot
posted by pyramid termite at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2011


I was a wandering mordicant for awhile, but it didn't set right.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:01 PM on September 12, 2011


Segundus: Metafilter: clean, efficient, organized, transparent, flowing, intelligent, creative, and well-constructed.
...
more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much, regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week), getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries, at ease, eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats), a patient better driver, a safer car (baby smiling in back seat), sleeping well (no bad dreams), no paranoia

fitter, healthier and more productive
a pig
in a cage
on antibiotics

posted by filthy light thief at 1:06 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


fondue but not in loaves
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:13 PM on September 12, 2011


I was trying to decide if I should poop earlier, but I decided against it because I am not a shitty person.
posted by Eideteker at 1:23 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Déjà poo
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:23 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This could really help with that awkward situation in which the Nintendo is sitting there for an hour waiting for me to press Start after it has asked me, "Are you a bad enough dude to save the president?"
posted by ignignokt at 1:45 PM on September 12, 2011


How to Make Smart Decisions in Less than 60 Seconds

Easy answer: Don't. A smart decision is one you've mulled over for longer than a minute.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:07 PM on September 12, 2011


But I want that dinette set now!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:09 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope. I wasn't really talking about you, to be honest, and I'm sorry if my comment had the sound of a personal insult; it wasn't intended as such. That's why I used the word "we."

I don't know, man, insulting a particular person isn't much different from insulting a group to which the person belongs. If you also belong to that group... well, maybe that means you're being ironically self-deprecating? But it would be a stretch to read your previous comment that way.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:24 PM on September 12, 2011


A FPP consisting of a single link to a Steve Pavlina self-help essay? Is this really Metafilter?
posted by Coventry at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2011


I'm not a witch. I'm you!
posted by wowbobwow at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2011


Knock knock.
Who's there?
Is it really you?
Yes, it is really me.

(this is my joke.)
posted by iamkimiam at 3:12 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a witch. I'm you!

What if I'm a witch?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on September 12, 2011


Witch reference.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:14 PM on September 12, 2011


I'm new here and this is the 1st thread I've read. I like it.
posted by Paul Klein at 3:23 PM on September 12, 2011


Is this thread really me?
posted by empatterson at 4:00 PM on September 12, 2011


Pull this thread. If you unravel, it's you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2011


Unravel? Yeah, right. Pull the other one.

NO, DON'T! AAAAAAaaaaaa >bip<
posted by stebulus at 4:17 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


but voluntary slavery is perfectly legal, and it isn’t regulated by the same burdensome package of crazy laws that I’d have to deal with if I hired employees.

And with this I learned waaaay more about Mr. Pavlina's sexual practices than I think he intended to share with the internet. Mind you poly/swinger tends to overlap with kink n' fetish (so it's not a hard thing to guess), but he must have the most motivated local scene ever. :P
posted by Phalene at 4:34 PM on September 12, 2011


All this ME reminds me of this old cartoon.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:38 PM on September 12, 2011


Yeah, his whole bit about polyamory seemed really skeevy to me. It was all about him trying to figure out how to stay with his then wife while going out and finding other women to bring home and 'love'.

Not one word in there about her needs. It sounded more like he was trying to get her to agree to polygamy than anything else.

posted by empatterson at 5:01 PM on September 12, 2011


For each alternative, ask "Is this really me?"

Sometimes I do things because it seems like the sort of thing I'd do. Unfortunately as my self-image gets more constrained it leads to NOT doing things I used to like, because I don't see myself as being the sort of person to, say, go to the beach.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:22 PM on September 12, 2011


I can't really imagine the kind of thought process where that would be a sane way to evaluate things. It seems like it would only work for someone who is so narcissistic that projecting their own personality traits onto objects and concepts in their everyday life would seem like the most reasonable and comforting way to evaluate choices.

Why would you want to be surrounded by things that don't have symbolic meaning?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:24 PM on September 12, 2011


I'm imagining a military general pushing little ships and airplanes and tanks around a giant glass table with a map of the world on it, trying to devise the best strategy to win a war, knowing that whatever he does is going to cost thousands of lives.

And then he looks up turns to his lieutenant next to him and asks, "But is this really me?"


Hipster Hitler
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:32 PM on September 12, 2011


I outsource my decision-making to Twitter.

sorry for the quad-post, but I tried using Facebook's Questions option to crowd-source my decisions. it doesn't work that often
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:36 PM on September 12, 2011


I would have kept the old desk because my style is to patch things until they are so obsolete they are about to come back in style again.

When I do consider new purchases... I ask myself, will I actually be using this in 6 months, or will it end up on a shelf after a few days? There are lots of free things to play with, instead of paying real money (well... FRNs, not real money)... for something.

I've got a Nikon D40 that I know I'll eventually have to replace, as the thing is at or past 250% of its shutter design life, I'll get its replacement the same way I got it... listening to the advice of Ken Rockwell, and getting a D3100.

Now if I could only decide which programming language replaces Delphi for me, I'd be a much happier camper.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:33 PM on September 12, 2011


Am I honest with myself?

Really?

Really?

I prefer to dance while asking the big questions.
posted by droplet at 8:50 PM on September 12, 2011


Why would you want to be surrounded by things that don't have symbolic meaning?

Because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?
posted by Phalene at 9:02 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would you want to be surrounded by things that don't have symbolic meaning?

As long as it symbolizes something I can sit on, it is in my opinion thoroughly filling its symbolic obligations qua chair.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:53 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

Some times a pipe c'est ne pas un pipe
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:19 AM on September 13, 2011


Yeah. This reminds me of this passage from the New Yorker's review of George Bush's "Decision Points":
Bush once told an elementary-school class in Crawford, Texas, “Is it hard to make decisions as president? Not really. If you know what you believe, decisions come pretty easy. If you’re one of these types of people that are always trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing, decision making can be difficult. But I find that I know who I am. I know what I believe in.” For Bush, making decisions is an identity question: Who am I? The answer turns Presidential decisions into foregone conclusions: I am someone who believes in the dignity of life, I am the protector of the American people, I am a loyal boss, I am a good man who cares about other people, I am the calcium in the backbone. This sense of conviction made Bush a better candidate than the two Democrats he was fortunate to have as opponents in his Presidential campaigns. But real decisions, which demand the weighing of compelling contrary arguments and often present a choice between bad options, were psychologically intolerable to the Decider. They confused the identity question.
posted by Sutekh at 8:22 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would you want to be surrounded by things that don't have symbolic meaning?

You know how quickly every discussion derails into beanplating around here?

Do you really want that to happen when you sit at your desk?
posted by LogicalDash at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2011


Sometimes a toilet paper roll pipe is just a toilet paper roll, occifer.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:22 AM on September 13, 2011


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