Battle-test your friends – in under four hours a week!
November 15, 2007 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Battle-test your friends – in under four hours a week! Tim Ferriss, creator of the cold-fusion perpetual-motion machine that is the four-hour workweek (MetaFilter passim), gives you a list of stress tests you can apply to supplicants and other would-be “friends” – show up half an hour late or early, “forget” your wallet, induce them to “jostle” the lower classes. My kinda guy. (Gawker takedown.)
posted by joeclark (36 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The comments on the gawker link taste so sweet and fine, like an ice cold beer in a frosted glass on a hot summer day.
posted by willmize at 11:35 AM on November 15, 2007

Life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic relationships.

Yeah. Which is why I'll never be friends with anyone who pulls this shit on me deliberately.
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on November 15, 2007

Christ what an asshole. This reads like the How to Make Friends for Sociopaths.
posted by tula at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2007

Purpose: To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all

So this scenario: I just met the guy and we go out for lunch. He "forgets" his wallet so I have to pay.

Is supposed to predict how I reaction in this scenario: I've known this guy for 10 years and we go out for lunch. He forgets his wallet so I have to pay.

I don't think so.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2007

How *not* to make friends and influence people.

Very post-modern.
posted by mullingitover at 11:39 AM on November 15, 2007

What a tool. His idea that you can somehow engineer the development of a relationship by stress-testing it is naive at best and downright sub-human at worst.

Other people are scary and complicated, and people have been coming up with all sorts of ways to manage that for years. From Machiaveli to Dale Carnegie and on and on ... but I just go back to what we all (I hope) heard in kindergarten, "if you want a friend, be a friend." It's pretty simple, actually.

Also, if I found out that a new friend of battle-testing me? Well, it'd be a short friendship.
posted by minervous at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2007

7. If you catch him “testing” you you should not be friends with this douchebag.
posted by bondcliff at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2007

As much as I love chess, perhaps a dedicated chess player isn't the right individual to give advice on dealing with people.

Just a hunch.
posted by SaintCynr at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2007

Smarmy flippant asshole, he doesn't want well rounded reasonable people for friends, he wants people he can mooch off of and boss around.

Anyone who tries to convince me to "“jostle” the lower classes" can find their own ride home and won't get a second chance.

talk about toxic
posted by edgeways at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Having said all of that I really don't mind if my friends show up early or late, and covering lunch is no big deal for someone you know.
Friends are friends because you know them and like them, not because they are manipulative sons-of-bitches
posted by edgeways at 11:55 AM on November 15, 2007

You know, I thought the 4-hour work week was kind of a neat piece of conceptual humor. I didn't realize the guy was pathological.
posted by lodurr at 12:04 PM on November 15, 2007

Jostle this, snotrag.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:15 PM on November 15, 2007

How to Test-Drive a Blog and Irritate People:

Sometimes you need to participate in blogs for entertainment or information. Other times, you should just troll them and push their buttons.

Here are a few options for doing your own behavioral cross-referencing with a new potential blog or website. Before you label me a bastard, read the whole post:

1. Spend four hours composing an article sure to be met w/ tens of thousands of hours in return snark. Be sure to claim great insight into the nature of other people's minds; This can be especially effective in focusing their outrage. Bonus points if you have some sort of product, perhaps a book, that might benefit from added promotion.
2. Send a tip to Gawker.
3. Same as 2, but use a sock puppet and post to MetaFilter.
4. And so on...

Flame on.
posted by Bugg at 12:19 PM on November 15, 2007

I've known a couple of people who enjoy "testing" friends like this. Their constant game-playing is always completely transparent, no matter how smooth they think they are. Thus, the relationship breaks down into an elaborate but-do-they-know-that-you-know-that-they-know mutual-hatred spy game, assuming that the "friends" they're trying to test don't just cut them off entirely (in which case, of course, they FAIL TEH TEST OMG U CAN'T BE MY FREIND LOOKIT MY DRAMA NOW!!1!)

Ugh. This meta-meta-post-post-modern crap must end someone please make it stop. Friends don't need to be vetted.
posted by vorfeed at 12:21 PM on November 15, 2007

From Machiaveli to Dale Carnegie and on and on ... but I just go back to what we all (I hope) heard in kindergarten, "if you want a friend, be a friend." It's pretty simple, actually.

That's exactly what Dale Carnegie said.
posted by atrazine at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2007

On preview: yes, Bugg, you figured it out. MeFi user #250 (joined "sometime in 1999") is totally somebody's sockpuppet, created specifically to spread this link.

Unfortunately, that somebody would probably have to be Sam Beckett. If you see him, please tell him that Al wants his keys to the apartment back.
posted by vorfeed at 12:29 PM on November 15, 2007

I do something similar when testing new friends. But mine involves a rope suspended above a tank of hungry barracuda.

I don't have many friends, but the ones I do are very loyal.
posted by quin at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2007

quin, have you looked into joining these guys? I think you could go far!
posted by lodurr at 12:53 PM on November 15, 2007

That was hilarious, but keep me away from this guy - I don't have time to be sitting in jail.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:57 PM on November 15, 2007

When I was 17 I fancied myself a guitar player because I could play the beginning of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Smoke on the Water, and Panama. I put a notice on the bulletin board at the local music shop looking for a drummer and a bass player to start a band. We were gonna be bigger than Journey.

Eventually a drummer responded and I invited him over to my mom’s basement to “jam.” He taught me to play Helter Skelter and we had a decent time of it. He was in his thirties and had been in many bands. By my clueless teenager standards he was really good.

We agreed to jam again the next week so he left his drums over my house so he wouldn’t have to lug them around all the time. He came over again and we rocked out.

Two days later, after we had only jammed twice, this guy called me out of the blue one night. He said his car had broken down and he needed a ride. We were preparing for my brother’s birthday dinner and there was no way I could leave the house. I explained this to him and he said “ok, I’ll think of something else.” I figured everything was fine.

About one minute before we were to sit down to eat Drummer Boy shows up at my door and calmly tells me he needs his drums. I think nothing of it and help him get the drums in his car while my family patiently waits for me to join them at dinner.

As he’s closing the tailgate of his truck I ask him if he wants to jam again.

“No”, he tells me, very calmly.

“Really? Why?”

“I needed you, man, you didn’t come through.”

“Um…. Ok!”

Now, at long last, it’s pretty clear he was testing our relationship. I’m glad I failed.
posted by bondcliff at 12:59 PM on November 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

It must be easy to get all your work done in four hours, when you're full of passionate intensity like this guy is.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2007

Yes, yes. It was a jokey comment, not intended to call out djoeclark for a deep cover sockpuppet.
posted by Bugg at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2007

I’m nobody’s sockpuppet. It’s my contribution for today to “the best of the Web.”
posted by joeclark at 1:15 PM on November 15, 2007

This man needs to read Kant.

I had the misfortune of reading the 4 hour workweek and I realized that it could be summarized in one sentence: obtain scam products and let other people do the work while you get paid.

I thought it was going to be about improving productivity-- it was about getting over on people and creating a system which would be unsustainable if everyone tried it because there would be no one to do the actual work.

Similarly, he would rapidly realize that if everyone behaved like he did in "friend testing" friendship itself wouldn't exist.

And btw, not liking being jostled in crowds has zilch to do with racism-- i don't care if i'm in a crowd of white rich people, poor black people, rich black people or orange middle class people, i hate crowds proportionate to their density.
posted by Maias at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2007

A Gawker comment:

25. Stick a fork in them.
(Testing: if they are done.)

Made my day.
posted by davejay at 1:37 PM on November 15, 2007

not liking being jostled in crowds has zilch to do with racism

Agreed. I thought the same thing as I was reading this - I don't like loud noises much. Dance clubs drive me up the wall no matter what the demographic is.

Interesting that this guy associates people of other races with loud, crowded environments though....
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:45 PM on November 15, 2007

His idea that you can somehow engineer the development of a relationship by stress-testing it is naive at best and downright sub-human at worst.

Stress-testing it I don't know. It's possible. Though it's psych 101 fare that "asking people to do small favours for you" leads to a bigger boost in their opinion of you, somehow (cog diss?), than doing small favours for them (which results in a smaller boost).

I do not have a link. This is circa 1989 knowledge rattling around in my head.

But, like most manipulations, they have to be seen as non-deliberate to work, if not to have you punched in the nose. No revelation there for those commenting on that aspect.
posted by dreamsign at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2007

Also, isn't this what teenage girls do to their male counterparts from ages 13-19?

Prove your love to me, baby.
posted by dreamsign at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2007

Funny. I have friends who are literally battle tested. This, not so much the same thing.

“Explore the most controversial topics until you find something the two of you disagree on”
Yeah, that’s all me and my friends get into, religion, politics, abortion, I keep asking if they were molested by their parents, uh huh. Doesn’t matter that you fronted me $1,500 and drove across 5 states to get me out of jail, you believe in school prayer you theo-fascist prick.

Light a match in front of their face (to test if they are a Frankenstein)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:39 PM on November 15, 2007

Tim Ferriss comes across like a fuckhead in this post; that is unil I read the about section:

* Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship and Electrical Engineering
* Cage fighter in Japan, vanquisher of four world champions (MMA)
* First American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango (video)
* Advisor to more than 30 world record holders in professional and Olympic sports
* National Chinese kickboxing champion (video)
* Glycemic Index (GI) researcher Political asylum researcher and activist
* MTV breakdancer in Taiwan
* Hurling competitor in Ireland
* Actor on hit TV series in mainland China and Hong Kong

Tim Ferriss is Aleksey Vayner - impossible is nothing baby.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:10 PM on November 15, 2007

Rule 1: Imagine everyone did this all the time to everyone else. Ask yourself if this would make the world a nicer place. If the answer is no, then it's a bad idea.

Also, you're pretty fucked up if you define your friends purely by how well they handle stress and difficult situations. The worlds more complicated than that. Friends are friends partly because the good stuff is better than the bad stuff. If you start off just looking for bad stuff, you're never going to find out how awesome they are and how that awesomeness is worth more than something tiny like them freaking out over a change in plan.
posted by seanyboy at 3:34 PM on November 15, 2007

All things considered, it was kinda a jokey post. I think y'all spend too much time on here and have lost your trolldar.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:01 PM on November 15, 2007

Man, why are we so f*cking hard on everyone and everything?

You don't have to go out and do exactly what Tim Ferriss says, and I don't think he expects you to. I just tried to take the general idea from the post, which seemed more focused on seeing the opportunities where people show you their character, not on masterminding those opportunities. I also believe that he's being a little bit cheeky, for, like, (gasp) creative writing's sake.

Then again, maybe he is a sociopathic asshole and that I should just eschew everything he says based on that consensus. I could happily continue on with my jaded world view and assume everybody is machiavellian and judgmental. If that's the case, I hope I fail all the tests and die lonely.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:17 PM on November 15, 2007

From the Gawker comments:

Place your friend in a room with an actor. Convince your friend that he is to electrocute the other person in the next room if he or she fails to appropriately connect word pairs. Progressively up the voltage and secretly instruct the actor to begin pounding on the walls and screaming in agony. If they protest, continue to insist that it's for science until they absolutely refuse to shock the other person further. Then reveal that the person being horribly electrocuted to death is Timothy Ferriss. (Testing to see if we can make the world a better place if we work together)
posted by jason's_planet at 6:12 PM on November 15, 2007

Yesterday's Best Deleted Post Ever was actually written by Tim Ferriss. He is testing whether MeFi readers lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations. Life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic community weblogs.
posted by lukemeister at 8:37 PM on November 15, 2007

Then again, maybe he is a sociopathic asshole ...

That bio (assuming it's true*) is leading me in that general direction, though "sociopath" is more specific than I'd get. (Nobody does that much of that kind of stuff without having some serious issues to work out. Just ask this guy -- who, while clearly having some serious issues, puts them to humanity-embiggening use.)

*... and if it's not true -- well...?

posted by lodurr at 5:52 AM on November 16, 2007

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