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I want to cease to be for a while.

That resonates much more deeply than wanting to be somewhere else.

The subtle and terrible part is the vicious cycle: the more time I spend opting out of `being', the more time I have to spend catching up (on homework, social life and skills, fitness, etc.) and that seems daunting, so I turn to escapism again and that spirals on down.

I heard a quote about addiction that I think applies well here:

`Kicking an addiction is harder because of the extra cost it takes. An alcoholic whose drinking is ruining his marriage may choose to keep drinking because it's easier than fixing the whole problem. Fixing his drinking problem doesn't fix the emotional distance it put between the spouses.'

Explicit and Implicit Communication

I have had a similar experience to yours, especially with Example 1. Often, that appears as either "why aren't you more upset/don't you even care?" or "why are you being so formal?", which reads to me as an attack for the benefit of an audience that may or may not be actually be present, rather than engaging with the actual conversation.

Which, to be fair, the actual conversation might not be that important, and they truly are looking for the implicit/emotional reaction, which demonstrates investment on (y)our part.

Example 2 is a classic example of mistaking kindness for weakness, assuming you can back up your criticism with boundary-setting or other consequences.

Do you throw yourself into stories that have little artistic merit just to pass the time?

Another concrete example of this: fanfiction. Some is good, the rest... well, I once described it to a friend as `giving my brain something to chew on'. Fast-forward button, indeed.

The Costly Coordination Mechanism of Common Knowledge

Edit: Yes, I misread. The numbers represent payoff, not number of years in prison, which is what my brain tends to auto-fill in for numbers when encountering the prisoner's dilemma. I followed the rest, and your bit describing the common-knowledge generating feature of religion lit the bulb over my head, I enjoyed that part! It really threw into sharp relief how and why religion has been so strong and effective for thousands of years.

A couple nitpicks of the Prisoner's Dilemma illustrated matrix (assuming C refers to being silent, and D to snitching):
C/C, at 3/3, seems worse for both than D/D at 1/1, when it's stated that both cooperating is better than both defecting.
In the respective C/D and D/C boxes (assuming that the format is Anne/Bob), the numbers seem backward to me: if Anne cooperates and Bob defects, then Bob should get off free (4/0) -- but the matrix has that outcome labelled as (0/4).
I stared at it for a few minutes, and I'll feel silly just for a bit if it turns out that I just kept misreading it, but better that than continuing to be confused, so let me know if I just read it wrong!
Expertise Exchange

Tiago Forte, of Forte Labs, has an interesting post titled A Skeptic Goes to the Landmark Forum. It describes his experience day by day, and may be of intrigue to you. On Twitter he is generally open to engaging with strangers.

On Defense Mechanisms

Optimizing for survival: that person needs to discharge their cognitive dissonance (manifesting as hurt feelings or stress) in order to return to functional baseline, but can't do that on the original cause for any number of reasons: will get disciplined, fired (at work or school), will be responded to or threatened with physical violence, etc.

So they discharge it onto someone/something else where the consequences are distant or non-existent. E.g. Emily's husband may shrug it off, or it may cause cracks in their relationship that will later cause them to separate (but of course she will have a much harder time thinking through that in the moment).

(I'm trying to be more concise in my writing and communication; let me know if you want clarification!)


I'm just commenting to give you another data point (and to reinforce to myself what I'm saying): your quote about everything being okay, and the way you describe the general reactions, resonates strongly.

Some days, I think "everything is okay" and it just is. Other days I fall off one side into nihilism, and yet other days I fall off the other side into boundless optimism. Rarely do I settle into the knowledge that it just is, and even more rarely does the resulting acceptance or (cliche) tranquility linger.

I haven't had words to describe this, so I've just been placing emphasis on certain words in phrases like "we just are" and "everything just is", and hoping that people who've had the same experience have that resonate with them. Your examples seem similar but more precise.

These may or may not resonate, but either way, kudos and I'm very appreciative of your post.