If Eliezer's art of solving confusing questions is the basic punch of rationality, and fighting akrasia and becoming personally effective is the basic front kick, I would like to master the loving hug. Here is a simple protocol to help us build stronger relationships and stronger communities:

In the spirit of Crocker's rules, I give you Nyan's rules: I hereby declare that you are allowed to love me. I will not judge you or hate you or stop talking to you. I will recieve and return your affection happily and gently let you know if you push my limits.

What's this all about? Here is the story:

I have strong feels of love and friendship for some of you that I met at minicamp, and some of you that I know from my meetup. On reflection, I see that I want to be deeply in (reciprocal) love with as many people as possible. I look forward to a future when I am smart enough to be in wonderful friendly love with all N billion of us.

I don't just want more feels, I want to be able to express them, too. I want to be able to tell you all that I love you and hold your hands and hug and cuddle and generally be nice without anyone feeling awkward or creeped out or conflicted.

Happiness research and personal experience suggests that more affection and closer relationships are generally a good thing. Mammals seem to like curling up together. Unwelcome affection is no good tho; the utility of affection seems to drop off past some point where people start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I think if we tried, we would find that there is tremendous value in finding the right level of affection in our relationships. The problem at this point is how quickly the utility of affection drops off, and how unwilling people are to be explicit about their preferences here.

Currently, I feel like if I tell my friend that I love him or try to hold his hand, and he is not interested, this at best creates an awkward situation, and at worst irrevocably damages the friendship. It is a violation of fun theory to have a misstep that is this expensive. The usual method prescribed to deal with this is to be able to work up the curve slowly and get a feel for when you are reaching the limit. The location of the optimum also moves up, so building rapport like this is a pretty important skill. IMO, tho, it is too expensive to do things this way if we can avoid it.

We should be able to find and operate at the optimal level of affection with minimal cost. In the current social dynamic with my current skill level, even probing for information is so scary that I don't bother to play the game.

Many percieved social risks are imaginary, but if this one is, no one is being explicit about its non-existance, so it still scares me. If it scares me, it probably scares others. There may even be people who want to be more affectionate with me, and aren't able to work up enough courage to try. That makes me really sad.

This is all made worse by love being mixed up with romance. Romance brings a whole other bag of grenades to the love party. If, in some case, full-on romance is uncomfortable or inconvienient for someone, that doesn't mean the optimal level of affection is none. We can probably still have hugs and cuddles. Note that this is just a consequence of the optimal-affection idea.

So there are two things we need to do, I think, to create a better social dynamic in which we can optimize affection and relationships faster and better. We need to be more comfortable with being explicit about what we are comfortable with, and we need to try to flatten the tail of our affection->utility curve so that overstepping comfort limits is not such a disaster. This means not punishing people for overstepping the bounds the first time, just gently nudging them back to your comfort zone.

At minicamp, there were a couple moments where a few of us semi-deliberately made these changes. IMO, the result was huge; we probed each other's comfort boundaries and built loving relationships very quickly, and all came out of it happier. At least that's what it felt like to me. This is one of the sources of strong feels of love and friendship that I mentioned above. This post is an attempt to formalize what happened there into a useful protocol.

Human social dynamics is one of the most complex systems in the known universe. Hacking it naively is bound to hit some pitfall or other. Even so, it is our system, and we are rationalists; I think we can do better here.

The naive approach is to do like radical honesty and start expressing love honestly when you feel it. Even if this were explicitly endorsed and enforced by the group (good luck overcoming that momentum), it still has two big issues: It requires way too much courage, and punishes people who are not comfortable with saying they are uncomfortable. This is the same sort of thing, except worse, that sinks radical honesty. Forcing the new rules on people who are not ready is bad.

The solution, I think is the same as the solution to these problems for radical honesty: transform the intervention from a something forced on people who are not ready to an opt-in protocol where people who are ready invite others to initiate interactions under the new system. Radical honesty becomes Crocker's rules, really awkward affection becomes Nyan's rules (or something).

(if anyone has a better name...)

So here are the rules:

  1. I want to optimize the level of affection between us; I probably want more of your love.
  2. To make it easier for you, I will give you feedback about what I feel comfortable with. I am ready to do this and you don't have to worry that I am secretly uncomfortable.
  3. To make it safer for you, I won't punish you or hate you for going over my limits. I still expect you to respect them, but you can expect me to warn you before blowing up. (don't keep testing me tho).
  4. If you reach out to me, please be comfortable with being open about your own limits. You may be suprised at how much I love you back.

What does this get us? If this works as well as I think it should, it will become a major piece of the group rationality puzzle. Rationalists should be able to build strong emotional relationships faster and better than any Dark Side cult. Is this going to work? I think it is at least worth testing.

I feel so much love just waiting for an opportunity to come out. There are many people I would love to be more open and affectionate with, but don't want to risk making them uncomfortable or ruining a friendship. I can't force this on them; all I can do is do for others what I would like them to do for me.

So if you like, try this out at your meetups. Lets see if it works. It seems safe enough, so I'll be the first to awkwardly stick my neck out and say it:

It is safe to express love or be affectionate with me, really, I won't bite.

New Comment
114 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

I approve of the general goals behind this post. Affection is great! That said, it sounds kind of like it was written on ecstasy. And I'm not sure the exact approach will work generally. #3 in particular is a little badly worded - how far over one's limits is one expected to tolerate encroachment? How many times?

I think it makes sense to consider what we want to use from ask culture versus guess culture here. If I like and want to hug everyone at a gathering except one person, and that one person asks for a hug after I've hugged all the other people and deliberately not hugged them, that's gonna be awkward no matter what norms we have unless I have a reason like "you have sprouted venomous spines". But if someone I'm perfectly comfortable with longs longingly to pet my long hair, and doesn't ask, this is indeed a sadly missed gain. Because my hair is awesome.

unless I have a reason like "you have sprouted venomous spines".

I approve of the general goals behind this post. Affection is great! That said, it sounds kind of like it was written on ecstasy. And I'm not sure the exact approach will work generally.

That's an excellent summary.

For my part I'd never dream of saying or declaring implementation of anything remotely like such a protocol. Heck, I might consider saying something as gushy sounding as "#1" to a partner I had been dating for 6 months but even then I'd use phrasing that was a bit more mutual and engaging and sounded less like "I'm a Needy Carebear".

But abhorrence to making any declaration myself aside I have no particular problem with interacting with others who were trying to implement such a protocol. If Nyan (or someone else who isn't a jackass) really wants a hug then sure, I'll give him a hug. To be honest I don't know what else he has in mind with his whole "loving relationships" and "optimal affection" idea. I suppose he can hold my hand if he wants to. Whatever, I hear they do that sort of thing in other cultures.

#3 in particular is a little badly worded - how far over one's limits is one expected to tolerate encroachment? How many t

... (read more)
hahaha. More testing! I guess if I tell someone not to do something, and they do it again, that's no good. I'll look into that. ha
Out of curiosity, are there any particular behaviors you have encountered at a gathering (or worry you may encounter) that you find off-putting enough to make the hug an issue?
I prefer to hug only people I like, and I don't like literally everyone. Hugging people I merely don't like that much is not so much "an issue" as it is "a thing I do not think should be subject to social pressure" - who I'm going to touch and how should be solely about the intersection of my preferences and the other person's. It's not about a specific behavior (i.e. I'm not particularly afraid someone's going to take a hug and turn it into unexpected rear-grabbing or anything like that).
Update: I am now a little afraid that people will take a hug and turn it into unexpected cheek-kissing. I now wish I hadn't hugged that person. All, please be careful with this sort of pitfall.
Where was that person from? In certain places, cheek-kissing is the default way to greet a female with whom one is on a first name basis, so if they were from such a place, maybe they didn't assign a higher prior to you being weirded out by a kiss on the cheek than to you being weirded out by a handshake.
I didn't know his name, first of all. Second, as far as I know (based on lack of obvious accent and later learning his name) he's from America or some comparable culture. Third, reasonably aware people in the United States interacting with Americans should figure out not to kiss near-strangers pretty quick.
(I was assuming that you had at least introduced to each other and interacted for a while first. Possibly because I myself don't usually hug people whose name I don't know (unless we're dancing or it's midnight on New Year's Day or something). Damn typical mind fallacy!)

Y'all might enjoy Ted Chiang's story Liking what you see that explores the consequences of modifying your brain to stop evaluating other people's attractiveness.

Thank you for the link, a very interesting story.
This made me curious about what it'd be like to see beauty as completely objective. Hot or Not exists and usually produces consensus; the same supermodel with the same makeup and retouching is attractive to whole audiences; in a room everyone knows who is ugly and who is pretty. This is rather alien to me - I have unusual tastes and they change a lot, permanently, with even fleeting like or dislike of someone with given features. I think I like this better, but I want to try the normal way.
eeeeeee that's scary. Not done reading, but looks really good. First impression: I would never let that happen to me in a society of humans. Am I being too conservative? If an FAI said it was a good idea, I'd do it. I guess I found the one of the craziest things an AI could tell me.
I must admit I'm surprised. Based on your recent talk about not worrying about status I would have expected this to appeal to you too, and certainly not be scary.
The future scares the crap out of me. If I thought FAI was impossible, I'd probably be an anarcho-primitivist or something. Time to build a real line of retreat... Humans cutting out a part of their existence in service of some ideal that is culturally desirable seems very stupid. A much better solution would be to make everyone beautiful. The beauty and persuasiveness enhancing software seems scary as well. Maybe calli is the best solution to that, maybe not. The faster we get FAI, the less we have to worry about stuff like this...
I'm curious, why do you find that scary?

The obvious problem with your 'protocol' is that affiliative behavior is strongly linked to status considerations. Humans seek to affiliate with high-status, attractive or otherwise impressive folks, and affiliating to others in an overzealous or seemingly "desparate" way can lead to an unconcious loss in status, even if nobody is overtly "punish[ed] or hate[d]" for their behavior.

Edit: A generally accepted workaround to the above problem is known as "qualifying": if I find out something about you which would plausibly count as 'impressive', then I can lightly compliment you on that, and pretend that it really explains why I'm affiliating with you as someone who's impressive. It's really quite transparent, but it allows both counterparties to affiliate to one another while "saving face" with each other and any third parties.

I'm struggling a little to apply this to the post's concept; could you help me come up with an example? I am thinking of a high-status person declaring themselves under Nyan's Rules, receiving desperate or overzealous affection from another person, and unconsciously reducing that person's status. This doesn't seem like the obvious problem you mentioned though, so I feel I've gotten lost somewhere.

I'm struggling a little to apply this to the post's concept; could you help me come up with an example?

Look at #1:

I want to optimize the level of affection between us; I probably want more of your love.

Saying that kind of thing will make the speaker have lower status after the utterance than before... unless they are somehow masterfully countersignalling. Even then it is something that is extremely hard to countersignal so it is almost always just a status lowering move.

Ok I'm new to this status thing. Can someone explain why it's important? I know it's heavily weighted in our decisions, and options that might lower status are really scary. But we don't live in a world where status lowers IGF anymore. I don't even care about IGF. Why shouldn't I self-modify to overcome that crippling fear? Is it just that status crap is wired in and lowering my status will cause people to involuntarily not take me seriously? Maybe that's the next piece of the group rationality puzzle to solve. This status thing hacked together by azathoth to optimize things we don't care about anymore can't possibly be optimal for what we want now. Of course there is a component of status games being a fun terminal value like love, but I don't really feel that right now. Have I failed to have some experience that would enlighten me? Am I impoverished by not knowing how to play this game? (serious, not rhetorical).
It is important in the way money is important. Understanding it is useful for predicting how people will be influenced by any given stimulus. For example, for many X you can reliably predict that saying X to a person of equal status would be fine but saying it to someone who thinks they are more important than you will prompt them to be offended, consider you arrogant and punish you socially. "This hacked together status thing" is also what allowed us to produce civilisation and redirects the vast majority of competition away from direct violence and into on net pro-social forms of competition. Getting rid of it because it doesn't seem nice would bring with it the same problem that trying to get rid of markets because greediness doesn't seem nice would have. You do know how to play this game, to a significant degree (you are vaguely functional and don't find yourself beaten up or arrested too often, right?). Just not as well as you could. You are less effective than you could be. For example, If you were more socially aware ("better at playing this game") then you would be able to take actions much more likely to actually produce changes in your local social environment in the direction of the easygoing effective bonding and affection than what you have done here.
IIUC, you are saying that status games are the current reality, and playing them is instrumental. I'll take your opinion seriously. I'll learn how to play this status thing better. The other question is, is it the best we could be doing? If we could choose how to organize our communities and our minds, would we put this status game in? If no, it seems that alongside learning to deal with the current reality, we should spend some resources figuring out how to change it.
Yes, but not merely. There are aspects of the specific ways status games are played by humans, and humans in my culture and subcultures specifically that are arbitrary and undesirable and that I would change if I could. However the game itself is playing a critical role of solving a complex cooperation problem in a way that doesn't end up with everyone dead. You don't just arbitrarily discard your entire power structure because having power structures is unpleasant. Because everyone dies, nothing works and power - and something analogous to status - still exists so long as there are multiple agents around that can make decisions that impact each other.
Of course we shouldn't just be idiots about it. I am reminded of Bob Dylan's "don't criticize what you can't understand" and random internet parable "If you don't know what the fence is for, I cannot allow you to remove it." But if a large part of our daily lives seems unpleasant and we have reason to believe it is nonoptimal, it's worth looking for how can we do at least incrementally better.
Is that metaphor actually a random Internet thing? I normally attribute it to Chesterton.
Good to know the proper attribution. To me it's just another meme. Doesn't matter who said it.
I had exactly that parable in mind while I was responding. Like it. Totally agree. Want a hug?
Internet Hug Protocol, v0.1 INTERNET HUG!!!!
Actually, both wedrifid's and shokwave's scenarios are problematic. I think that one would not really lose status from simply declaring Nyan.cat^W^WNyan's rules, but that still leaves it open to what extent you will actually allow others to overtly affiliate with you, or return the affiliation in kind. My concern is that these rules might just make things less transparent, and not increase affection or social bonding in any meaningful sense.
Ah, I see.
Yay! Obvious problems! I don't generally think about status, so I didn't catch that one. I guess you mean that if it is high status to be mean to people there could be a problem; adopting the rules would sabotage you. Not sure I'd want anything to do with a community like that tho. Anyways, people who deem themselves too high-status to cooperate can opt-out.

I don't generally think about status, so I didn't catch that one.

You went through the process of creating a protocol for optimizing affection and status considerations didn't cross your mind? Wow! I can't decide whether that state of mind would be relaxing, completely crippling or perhaps a little of both.

I don't usually find my own version of status-obliviousness* disabling, but I think this is partly because I am surrounded by friendly others who will use words to tell me things. *Anna thinks I am "orthogonal to status", and thinks this should be more widely known, because it would raise my status. I think this is funny. (I cannot tell the difference between deliberately aped high- and low-status body language, and apparently I handle things that are opportunities to make status moves one way or the other in unrelated ways without noticing.)
There is a certain amount of irony in here somewhere.
Where? (Is reporting something that someone else said because I think it funny some kind of status bid and therefore ironic?)
No, I was actually finding it ironic that in this circumstance it was Anna in the role of the status guru, describing how you handle opportunities to make status moves one way or the other without noticing. It is not quite the area that I would have described as Anna's greatest strength. It wouldn't have seemed at all out of place if you were making the description of her.
Anna's is the phrasing; others have pointed out situations in which I have not-statused.
Status is what other people think of you. Anna is an other person. Edit: Or not!
I think I will have to study this "status" thing a bit more.
I recommend against it, if you're capable of denying your curiosity here. I don't think I'm better off for having studied it.
Why do you recommend against it?
Being aware of status has caused me to either 1. make status-stealing moves more often or 2. be more aware and conscious of making status-stealing movies, with the practical upshot of both being that social interactions have become a little less enjoyable for other people.

Well, don't do that then.

My kingdom for complete causal control over my actions!

That can be an easy excuse for not doing that then.
How did you study status? My biggest single source of information has been Keith Johnstone's book Impro (although I haven't actually done any improv, too scary), and I started liking social interactions more than before. They feel less confusing and arbitrary; more like a game that can be mutually enjoyable, and in which both participants can "raise their score."
This hasn't been a problem for me, so my experience doesn't include the benefit of understanding social interaction more. It seems likely that if I had been confused, I'd have recommended learning about status instead of recommending against it. As for how I studied it: Overcoming Bias posts on the matter, The Office according to The Office, and Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power.
These only really apply to organized hierarchies, though. When people talk about "status" mattering in human interactions, they mean a combination of perceived power, influence, impressiveness and the like, plus instinctual dominance-submissiveness interactions. Formal hierarchies in a complex organization are a distinct matter, although they do influence status in the former sense.
also being depressed about human interaction.

I love you just for writing this post, and I don't even know you.

(whispers) Oh good, I was worried it was just me.
Yay! I hope you like internet hugs!
I try to avoid using sarcasm on the internet without explicit [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags, or at the very least italics. Count me opted-in!
Some people talk about how cool it would be to be able to punch people over standard tcp/ip. I think it would be cooler to be able to hug and hold hands. We will have to make do with imagination. Internet hug!
The "hug" functionality could be implemented in LW, just like "poke" in Facebook. (Later, someone could also write a "RationalFarm" plugin, where rationalists could cultivate various plants and domestic animals. Then we could further improve our relations by working on each other's farms.)
(sadly) It's not the same...

I've been in spaces where people were comfortable with verbally and physically expressing affection for each other (mostly in groups of young Quakers). It is delicious when it works.

The groups where I've seen it work have been largely female. At least in the US, it's socially easier for women to be affectionate with each other. Personally, I feel a lot more comfortable with physical closeness if I believe it won't turn into something sexual, so I'm most comfortable cuddling with straight women and gay men. It's hard for me to imagine how LW gatherings will turn into that kind of space, but there may be ways I'm not seeing.

I'm not sure how to build such spaces. I think it helps to have a few people who have the courage to start a hug, etc. which helps establish it as the culture. But I'm also not sure how to get people to be honest about their boundaries. I was in one such group of mostly liberal North Americans who were fine with hugging and cuddling, but the one Bangladeshi guy was worried sick his parents would find out he had hugged girls. And there wasn't a comfortable way for him to tell us that until he knew us better.

I was about to suggest that universal adoption and expression of Nyan's protocol would be a step in the right direction - ie. towards making LW gatherings to be gatherings of gay men. But it occurs to me that technically my actual prediction is that it would cause an increase in the number of bisexual men. That leaves fewer opportunities for people to be comfortable with physical closeness with no sexual possibility - albeit not lost opportunities that would affect you personally,.
I think that the way that Nyan's rules are actually adopted, on the high status parts of California culture, is for all the men to have some same sex experience and then to identify as gay regardless of the genders of their sex partners, rarely bring it up, tease those who probe, and angrily attack those who insist that they aren't, using social rules that allow minorities to automatically attack those who talk about their situation. As a last line, they can fall back to "don't stereotype me, don't box me in" routines. It seems that this shouldn't work, but does. The downside is that you can't actually engage in PDA beyond what others around you are engaging in, which is arguably a good rule anyway, and that you can't demand any sort of exclusivity from same sex partners or engage in relationship drama with them, if you want those things. Not sure though.
I totally can't parse your posts, in general... FYI. Edit: took me a while, now I get it. Sort of like your habit of saying absurd things, but then thinking about it later it becomes obviously reasonable.
You probably wouldn't be able to parse his face to face conversation either, in that case. From what I've seen It's approximately the same .
When I met him at minicamp, he was understandable but very interesting/possibly insane. see my edit.

It seems to me that it would be good if I could figure out a way of getting the sorts of absurd things I tell people digested without coming across as insane, since the impression of insanity obviously lasts even after people have assimilated the now obviously reasonable things. Feel free to email me pointers at my gmail (michael.vassar@gmail.com).

I know I create parsing problems, which is part of why I generally focus on F2F, where people much more frequently do understand.

I read Nyan's protocol as being about affection, not sex. I wouldn't classify men who cuddle with men as gay (at least not based on that evidence).
Nor would I. I instead make a prediction (labelled as such) that a significant degree of application of Nyan's protocol would result in a net increase in bisexual males. Some would call it "making it easier for naturally bisexual men to come out of the closet or come to self awareness of their flexible sexual preferences".
Wait, why is any particular sexual orientation the right direction?
For the purpose of supplying the specific instrumental good mentioned in the quote. ie. Comfort with physical closeness due to lack of sexual potential.
You mean it would be more comfortable for women?
I mean for the purpose of supplying the specific instrumental good mentioned in the quote. It was a quote by juliawise. It applies to her and anyone anyone sufficiently similar which, yes, implies female.
sex causes a lot of problems... Indeed. My only hope is that it seemed to work at the minicamp. I worried about this a little bit. This is why it is crtitical that it be opt-in. Crocker's rules doesn't seem to have this problem (people opting in when they are not ready), so perhaps it is possble to not fail this way. Worth testing at least.

Maybe. I want empirical data on this.

Me too.
This definately came to mind. I hope making it optional and nonsexual keeps out most of the drama. Maybe I'm being absurd tho. I must test it.

Meta note: Instead of saying "as rationalists, we can do X better", could we just say "we can do X better"? I think in general if you want an idea to spread it's good to require as few prerequisites as possible, and I don't see how any of the LW cluster of ideas is a prerequisite for telling people that you're comfortable with them displaying affection towards you.

I understand. You are generally right. I find it helpful for certain things to remind myself that I am a rationalist.

I find it helpful for certain things to remind myself that I am a rationalist.

Keep your identity small. "Being a rationalist" is not a reason to draw any conclusion or make any decision. You just draw the conclusions that are right, because they are right, and make decisions that are good, because they are good, not because "you are a rationalist".

If therefore "being a rationalist" isn't playing any epistemic or decision making role, it should be abandoned as a meaningless label.

Identity sucks; agree. I'll try to turn my "I am a rationalist, I can do X." idiom into "I can do X". If it doesn't work, it will be because saying "I am a rationalist" first primes all the rationality memes (decision theoretic courage, do what wins, etc).

This is completely unrelated, but I'm guessing you're a brony.

Friendship is magic! Just kidding. I am not a MLP fan. Kudos for making a prediction, and I can see how you came to that conclusion (at least I think I can, given my limited knowledge of MLP).
You seem to be big on love and tolerance, and you're on the internet. Naturally I connected this to cartoon ponies. "brohoo- er, I mean, -hug"
(As an aside, I don't understand why I keep hearing that phrase used in connection with the Friendship Is Magic fandom. The show is about friendship; love and tolerance, while laudable, are entirely distinct concepts. Okay, s1e9 "Bridle Gossip" and s1e21 "Over a Barrel" were about tolerance, and s2e25/26 "A Canterlot Wedding" was about love, but I still wouldn't call them major themes.)
My suspicion is that the "love and tolerance" thing was an explicit disavowal of the expected snarkiness, cliquishness, and one-upsmanship of some online forums where bronies were congregating; rather than a summary of the message of the show.
It's not really a theme of the show, but it does kinda fit the general tone. The word love is used to indicate more of a brotherly respect and affection then romance. In that sense it is essentially a stronger form of friendship, and relates directly to this post. The show is as much about getting along with others as anything, so its not a big leap to make. Tolerance on the other hand does specifically reference the ironic nature of the fandom and the contrast to other online communities, but it still fits with the innocent nature of the show, and I cannot believe that I'm analyzing this on this site.
IHP (internet hug protocol) v0.1 HUG!!!

Back when the DC meetups were first starting, we realized that we wanted to build up friendships faster than normal. One person (I think it was atucker) suggested that we start hugging each other, because that naturally installs feelings of affection for each other. It's only a data point of 1, but it seemed to work very well in making us more comfortable with each other.

Hugs do seem to work. I wanted something more general, and safer for people who are uncomfortable. Rather than just setting a reasonable (has to be low) affection set-point for the group, individual optimization can be more effective, IMO. EDIT: The computational complexity of my rules is definately higher. I wonder if a groupwide protocol could be cheaper but still safe and effective (assuming mine is)

Reminds me of cuddle parties, and also #7 and #8 here.

Have you ever been to one of these? (Others of course feel free to answer.) I find them intriguing and think I would like to go to one sometime.
Nope, just heard of them.
That's super cool!

I'm really, really uncomfortable with formalizing these aspects of social behavior. I prefer affection and love to emerge slowly and naturally. Although it is absolutely opposite of your intentions, and I recognize that fact, I'm still very strongly reminded of Love Bombing. Your concept just transmits a really phyggish vibe for me.

This post in no way is meant to be a criticism (I don't see why your rules shouldn't work), I just wanted to express the emotions that emerged when reading your post - which seem kind of important, given the topic.

Actually I'm really interested in your aversion to the formalization/hacking aspect. Do you think that is rational or just flinch-conservatism? I know there are some places ("let's all just wirehead") where the flinch reaction is correct IMO, so I'm actually curious here. Can you reflect and tell us more about the true source of those feelings?

I was a member of a Tibetan Buddhist group for about 3 years. I didn't feel very comfortable for the last half year. I don't think I can accurately sum up all my experiences, but the part that is relevant to this discussion:

  • Local groups strive for harmony and affection via common activities and lots of physical contact (hugging etc.). This isn't quite as formalized as you propose, but still a deliberate part of the group structure.
  • This does work rather fast, and raises happiness (for a time for me, indefinitely for others).
  • Unfortunately, this also made it emotionally unpleasant for me to voice dissent/argue when I disagreed with something, especially when it was about something where I was the minority.
  • As a consequence, today I prefer to develop such bonds slowly.

I'm not sure how this applies to your proposed structure, but I fear that it's implementation may lead to the above, simply because people like the same things you do. You do not need to force them to participate (neither was I), but they do so out of their own free will. The negative consequence I described may still happen, if many people adopt your rules and develop Affection for a large group of people they don't know well quickly.

This is serious. I remember thinking of that. I hoped that our rationality memes and general sampled-from-contrarians makeup would be enough to counteract that. We will see. Right. Humans are not rational. We may choose something bad for us voluntarily. I don't think my proposal is a devil's offer tho, at least not yet.
This is not a strong argument. Everything is like cocaine.
Thanks! I tried to keep it as far from phygish forced-bonding as possible. Your perspective is helpful.

Don't forget that some people will actually be hurt if you hug them, most likely because they suffered from a traumatic incident in the past.

I have not suffered from a traumatic incident, and would still have trouble handling that much emotion.

I would allow that this most direct potential problem is avoided by Nyan's "Opt-in" caveat.
True, but you can still get Alicorn's issues again - "let's all hug NewMember, except NiceGirlWhoGotRaped" doesn't sound terribly comfortable for all involved, either. Good protocols can probably solve that, but that does get complicated quickly.
For sure, the awkwardness of doing something that one or a few are unable to do, and when that activity is already sensitive individuals for the excluded.
That is indeed the motivation

I'm just curious, is there any gender involved here? From the stats, I'm assuming you're male, and I'm also assuming that most of the people you want to be more affectionate with are males. But then you threw in, "if I tell my friend that I love her or try to hold her hand," which confused me.

Your assumptions are right. I usually feel a bit more love and a bit more nervousness around girls, so that was the scene in my mind when I wrote that. EDIT: on second thought, I switched the sex to the more likely case.
But on reading “him” (I hadn't read the previous version) I thought you were only talking about men, which also confused me. (I tend to overcompensate those things by only using gendered words for 1. specific individuals or 2. generic people for whom it wouldn't even make sense to be female, say, “a patrilinear ancestor”, and using gender-neutral words such as “people” or “them” even for reference classes of which 99% of members are male.)
malglico I hate english.
mi go'i

It's pretty cool that you are a friendship slut platonically promiscuous less likely than average to reject someone approaching you for affection. Advertising this might reduce your status, but you'll probably get more hugs overall. I say, go ahead and publicly spell out your unusual openness (by telling people your rules, etc).

I would guess so, yes. Not wildly unusual, but kinda, yeah. My perception might be skewed because I'm unusual in the other direction. You seem like one of those extra un-picky people, while I am extra picky.

How do I know if this applies to someone? Should I just ask them?

They will be the ones looking like this: