How Deep Does the B.S. Go?

Lately I was speculating on the role of B.S. in our economy, politics, and technology. I’d spell it out (and swear more probably) but I do have some discretion!

We’ve normalized the idea that some people are honestly, lying to us. We expect that we’re being lied to be marketing forces, by the latest trends, and by politicians. It’s honestly so normalized, it seems we can’t imagine a less deception-free world.

(It also makes me realize how people can get blaise about COVID.)

In turn, we’ve also normalized that people we like are lying. Yeah, that famous tech guy is hyping stuff, but we like his product. Sure the politician we voted for is spouting demented nonsense, but they’re our politician. We go to see a movie we know we’ve been sold on in the negative sense or a restaurant whos food is just “OK” but you know, advertising and familiarity.

What’s struck me lately, is that we are probably too used to lying as well.

When I’ve seen people rallying to the defense of people, media, and so on that they like you an hear them repeat talking points. You can tell with just a bit of empathy that many people don’t really or exactly believe what they say. But to defend what they like for whatever reason,

I even found myself tempted to do it (which tells me I do do it, I just didn’t catch myself).

I’m wondering how deep the B.S. in our media-saturated, pundit-heavy, social media culture goes by now. I mean yes humans have always lied to others and themselves, but it feels pretty amplified and survival-adverse in my experience. How much of our lives, as individuals, is just lying about stuff?

I think some of it is definitely internet and media culture. Say the right things, do the right things, and you get money, attention, and might even become some kind of Influencer or Pundit. You can lie for a living if you play your cards right! Whatever B.S. problems we had in the past, you can do it faster, giving less time for experience and other people to provide restraining feedback.

In a time of chaos and climate change, this is even more disturbing. We’ve got a lot of problems to solve, or at least survive, and if we’ve all internalized outright deception to an extent, it’s going to be much harder. When everyone is busy not telling the truth, it gets harder to tell the truth, and even when a bunch of people do, too many might not out of various motivations.

I know at least I’ll be watching myself closer. But this is going to haunt me.

Steven Savage

Diversity: It Is Good

Let’s talk diversity – I’m all for it. Yes, I’m an older white guy, which ironically means people may listen to me more about diversity. Yes, I accept the irony.

In fact, since I’m being blunt, let’s get to it – arguments against diversity are almost always rooted in sexism, racism, and territoriality. They have nothing to do with making things better and everything to do with people’s bigotries and wanting things to be “for them” which is often a pretty narrow definition of “them.”

So let’s talk diversity in groups, businesses, boards, teams, etc. and why it’s great.

Diversity brings a wider range of experiences and knowledge. Having people be different means they have an understanding that others may not. When you’re trying to deal with complex situations like life, you kind of need broad knowledge.

Diversity also ensures less groupthink. When you have a diverse team or group then people think differently. Yes they may conflict and that’s good. Less homogeneity decreases the chance for everyone to decide the same stupid thing at once. If people make a bad decision, at least it may be a more informed bad decision.

Diversity also means that people may express ideas clearer and learn more. When people are different, then you can express your own differences. You’re also going to pick up a lot more from a diverse crowd than people just like you. You might even learn what you don’t know.

Diversity also brings a range of skills to a situation. You never know quite what you’ll need to solve a problem, and may not even know you need to know. Even when people have the same skillsets, diversity means it’s still different from person to person. Writers, artists, coders, leaders are not the same – and that’s good. Mix them up to get better chances to solve you rproblems.

It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So why do we often hear arguments against it?

As noted, I think it’s bigotry and territoriality.

We know diversity brings broader skills but we hear the tired old bigoted argument of “we should hire by ability” which really means “those people are getting special treatment.” Well when everyone in a team or group or organization is all alike people are getting special treatment – by being like everyone else. I’ll trust diversity to solve a problem over an organization of people who want everyone to be the same and call it “talent.”

That also leads to territoriality – people against diversity as, though they oft wont admit it, they want to be surrounded by people just like them. It’s a peculiar kind of mental inbreeding, and just about as healthy for people as the actual inbreeding of royal families throughout history. Yes, it may be comforting, but if you’re trying to lead a company or solve a problem then comfort may not solve your problems.

Of course as we’ve seen many an organization that was undiverse fail, and people escape without consequences – and that’s part of the problem. People get away with all sorts of crap by being “part of the in crowd.” Diversity challenges that layer of protection – when everyone is not 100% “the same” there’s more chance you might get held responsible.

So I’m all for diversity. I’d like to actually work with people, not a hall of mirrors. The world would be a better place with more of it.

Steven Savage

Evil Agile

We wonder how people can get away with so much horrible stuff.  I’d like to talk Evil and Agile productivity, and yes, I am completely sober as far as you know.

For those of you who are in no way familiar with me, I’m a Project Manager, a professional help-stuff-get-done-guy.  While I’m being paid to be the most anal-retentive person in the room, I prefer to use Agile Methodologies, which are all about rapid, adaptable, approaches to getting things done.  It doesn’t sound Evil, but stick with whatever journey I’m soberly on because I think Evil people are actually pretty good at a kind of Agile.

Many Evil people have A Goal.  It may be (more) money and power, it may be dealing with their childhood traumas, and usually, it’s a dangerously pathetic combination of things like that.  Agile is all about Goals because when you set them, they direct your actions more than any single plan.  You gotta know where you want to go to get there.

Then, simply, Evil people set out to achieve their Goal by whatever means they can.  They don’t care if they lie, cheat, steal, burn books, burn people, and so on – the Goal is what matters.  Agile is also about making sure that your actions direct you toward your Goal so you’re focused and efficient – it just doesn’t involve Evil.

But what if Evil people hurt others, get caught, etc.?  Simple, they lie or do something else because they don’t care – they adapt.  Agile emphasizes constant adaptability and analysis as well, just with an emphasis on truth and honesty.  Evil people are pretty adaptable, even if that adaptability is staying the course and lying about it until others give up.

Agile emphasizes goals, directing yourself towards them, and adaptability.  Evil people do the exact same thing.  The only difference is that Agile emphasizes helping people and being honest, and Evil people are just Evil.

And this is why we’re so often confused by Evil people.

We expect elaborate plans from Evil people – and there may be some – but they’re focused on their Goals and how to get there.  We expect Evil people to be derailed by getting caught in lies or hurting people, but as we’ve seen they don’t care.  They want something and they’ll adapt no matter the price played by other people.

It’s the banality of Evil all over again.  Evil isn’t even interesting in how it gets things done.

Steven Savage