On Being That Weird Guy Online
visceral downsides of being public online, am I your kind of weird?, and burning [metaphorical] ships is good actually [cont.]
I’ve been loud on the internet since I first posted punk rock lyrics as Facebook statuses in 2010. Back when the format of a post was “Grant is…” “Grant is ‘Fight every fight like you can win; An iron fisted champion…’”
Earlier this week, I attended another Bitcoin meetup. At the event, I met one of the executives of the hosting company and introduced myself. He replied, “Oh, you’re that Twitter guy who messaged me on LinkedIn…,” referring to a post that I had made a week earlier about attending their BBQ meet up. The executive seems to be a great dude, he bought me dinner.
However, this interaction brought me back to a more cringe version of this experience. Before I started at the University of Rochester, I spent a ridiculous amount of time answering my fellow incoming students questions in our class Facebook page. This behavior led to many of my classmates developing opinions about me before we had even met.
It was the first week of school, everyone was eager to make friends and enjoy the new freedoms that come with living on campus. My friend and I were wandering around campus and ran into two young women in our class on the freshman quad. We walked over to them and started talking to them about something dumb, probably what hall they lived on and what they were majoring in. I remembered to formally introduce myself and said, “By the way, my name is Grant. What’s your name?” and I’ll never forget this.
She replied, “I’m Iforgothername. Ahaha, you know who else is named Grant? That weird kid on Facebook.” I remember telling her some version of “Ahaha that’s me…I am kind of weird.” The conversation wasn’t salvageable after she had tried to build rapport with me by talking about how weird I was. That’s too much awkward for two seventeen to eighteen year olds to overcome. Maybe anyone.
This is just one example of a small, yet visceral downside of being loud online. In this specific case, I do think that the upsides far outweighed the downsides. My posting on the 2016 class page created way more opportunities than known costs: my first bullshit job, name recognition that ultimately led to me being elected class president three times and student body president, my friendship with my freshman year roommate and innumerable other close friends, and more. I cover examples where the downsides have outweighed the benefits in my book.
If I didn’t believe there was the potential for non-linear upsides from posting online, I likely wouldn’t have ever returned to social media, after rage quitting in October of 2016. ie. connecting with your new roommates in Austin, getting invited to an exclusive party, and maybe even meeting your future significant other!
For every girl who thinks I’m a weirdo, there’s someone who has essentially said, “Grant is weird. My kind of weird!”
My post last week, Freak Gasoline Fight Accident in the Harbor of Optionality, got me thinking more about the status game trap on social media. It’s hard to believe that having 900 followers may be better than having 1,500. It’s even harder to believe that perhaps one of the most valuable aspects about posting publicly online is all the ships you burn. The voyages you could’ve taken but would’ve taken you on a journey unsuited to who you are. I’ve ruled myself out of specific relationships, jobs, etc. because of my online presence. And now I’m thinking that is okay and even good.
My Recommended Reads:
Why People Are Scared of Marie Kondo (Kondopilled, part 1) by Sasha Chapin
But it’s not like that at all. KonMari is fundamentally about killing your own falsity, about holding a funeral for all the remnants of old, illusory perceptions of yourself that you’ve been too afraid to give up. All she asks is that you say goodbye to the person that you thought, at one time, you were. She is fine with you keeping whatever survives this departure.
Sasha brings to bear his exceptional writing abilities to defend Marie Kondo from memes which strawman her philosophy. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss ‘Kondopilled, part 2’. I likewise credit Sasha with my inspiration to describe my online behavior as loud.
This is a longer piece where the pseudonymous author describes his life after he achieved FIRE— Financial Independence, Retire Early. When I was in my late teens, I spent a ton of time consuming FIRE ideology(, a few choice recommendations: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez, and the blog of Mr. Money Mustache). This led me to spending an absurd amount of time on the /r/personalfinance and associated subreddits answering people’s questions about personal finance theory (which I no longer think is exactly true btw).
I no longer believe in FIRE, although I do want Financial Independence. Well, the more crass version, f*ck you money. But I now plan to more or less work until the day I die. I love to collaborate with others and solve problems. I’ve done the be unemployed and live off of your savings (even abroad) bit already, it doesn’t suit my personality.
Life in Austin is good. I’ve made many friends and attended various events and one crazy party this week. Hoping to have an update about my job search for all of you soon. I hosted a low-key meet up at a distillery on Friday and ~16 people showed up! That was a visceral win for being loud online.
Please feel free to reach out if you read this piece. I wouldn’t be writing online if I didn’t want a dialogue. I appreciate you reading and would love to hear from you.
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Silly photo from the meet up at the distillery: