The 4-Hour Social Life

by lsusr4 min read30th Dec 20205 comments

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Social & Cultural DynamicsPractical
Frontpage
Circumscribed Leveraged
Passive Labor Skilled trades
Active Self-employment Entrepreneurship

The horizontal axis denotes expertise, a mix of technical skill and book smarts. The vertical axis denotes initiative, a mix of creativity and street smarts. Intelligence, self motivation and hard work contribute to both.

If you employ expertise without initiative then you can get a high-paying job such as in engineering or management. If you employ initiative without expertise then you can become self-employed in the service sector. Expertise gets you lots of money. Initiative frees you from corporate bullshit.

The ultimate economic activity is creating a business you can sell. A business you can sell is a business that generates profit without you managing it. Whether or not you sell the business is immaterial. The critical factor is whether you could.

The opposite of entrepreneurship is labor. Labor is when you sell your time for money.

Extraordinary Loneliness

The simplest way to make friends is to spend time around other people in meatspace. Trading time for friendships via labor is a practical way for normies to to befriend one another. If you are extraordinary then normie friends are mind-numbingly boring. Extraordinary people are rare. If you want to make friends with extraordinary people then it is not sufficient to search manually. You need a better friend funnel.

  • You can employ expertise by participating in a skill-intensive activity such as a social dance, a campout or a scientific conference. Expertise is good for increasing the quality of your encounters. Such activities are the social equivalent to skilled trades. They are more time-efficient than meeting random people, but do little to scale the absolute number of people who know about you.
  • You can employ initiative by hosting your own MeetUp or similar club. Initiative is good for increasing the quantity of your encounters by maximizing the attention you get for every in-person event. Initiative of this sort rapidly increases the number of people you can meet, but only until you hit the limits of your niche. Initiative without expertise is the social equivalent to self-employment in a service business.

If you are one in a million then neither expertise nor initiative alone is sufficient to meet equally extraordinary people.

The number of extraordinary people you meet is equal to the number of people who know who you are times the density of extraordinary people within them. scales by orders of magnitude. does not. If you can keep your from dropping to absolute zero then improvements to are more important than improvements to . Meeting extraordinary people comes down to getting famous yourself.

Iteration

Fame is the number of people who know who you are. It is possible to get famous on merit alone by, for example, becoming extremely good at basketball or creating Carnegie Steel. For our purposes, earning fame legitimately is overkill and is therefore a less-than-optimal use of time.

Rather than doing cool things until someone else writes about you, it is better to create media yourself. This has two advantages.

  1. It doesn't rely on others creating media about you. You can bootstrap yourself.
  2. It saves reporters the effort of writing stories. Other people can just plagiarize you—which is a good thing[1].

The game is all about scale. You must cultivate a personality lots of people find interesting and then deliver it to them. High bandwidth beats low bandwidth. Video beats pictures. Pictures beat text.

Whatever you do, it must satisfy demand and it must be executed well. Do not worry about execution. Execution naturally improves over time. Your niche often requires deliberate effort to escape.

Your first goal is to get some initial views. A forum like Less Wrong is fine for this. After you have found a niche, you are in a position to explore and exploit.

  • Exploitation: Fame is long-tailed. When you exploit, you should measure improvements as a percentage of your previous audience. If your monthly percentage growth slows to a crawl then that is a sign you should explore instead.
  • Exploration: Exploration is a quest for game-changing innovations. Pay tight and aggressive. Run lots of cheap experiments. Throw out any result that isn't game-changing. If none of your experiments work then either your are boring or you are unskilled. If you are boring then go have real life experiences. If you are unskilled then go back the basics of your medium.

Rinse and repeat until you have a large following.

Automation

At this point you should be expending lots of work to satisfy a niche with lots of demand. It is time to begin automation. There are two ways to automate a media empire: delegation and timelessness.

  • Delegation means getting other people to perform mundane tasks for you. You should delegate everything you can as soon as you can afford to.
  • Timelessness comes from creating content that stands the test of time. You are doing this right iff you find yourself hyperlinking back to old content.

You can use the Lindy Effect to anticipate whether something will be timeless. If something is old and matters now then it will probably matter far into the future.


  1. Copyrighting creative works trades fame into money because intellectual property restrictions reduce virality. Out goal is to maximize fame, not money. We want our creations to be easy to copy. Karl Marx didn't get famous by copyrighting Communism. ↩︎

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4 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 8:19 AM
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For having a good social life it's not necessary to have fame in the general population but be known among those people you want to hang out with. 

Tim Ferriss posts about the downsides of fame is worth reading for anyone who seriously thinks about a strategy that will result in fame.

I’m want to make a good try at vaccinating myself with the EMH. So I’m going to note that the reward associated with these steps, fame and fortune, will probably require 60-80 hours a week for half a decade or more to have a small chance of paying off.

Easier solution: wait until a person who is following Isusr's strategy weeds you out and bam you have your equally extraordinary match. The only failure states are when Isusr's strategy doesn't manage to distinguish the extraordinary people they're looking for from everyone else, or when you're not extraordinary.

Initiative frees you from corporate bullshit . . . True and to add to that 'a desire to scale' and a limited understanding of the 'limits and implications of growth' tend to bring all that initiative back full circle and into the marshland of corporate bullshit. So when you do take initiative, be clear on what you are seeking and what you are avoiding. Does that make sense?