04 junio 2022


¡Que maravilla de escritor, psicólogo y filósofo! empecé leyendo Sand Firm, seguí con Standpoint y ahora lo ha vuelto a conseguir con The Join Of Missing Out, (JOMO).

Es una crítica de las siglas FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, es decir miedo a perderse oportunidades, un sentimiento en la actualidad que muchas personas tienen cuando viven atosigadas por demandas del ambiente, la publicidad o la cultura de querer más, más y más. Sin comprender que es como si estuviéramos en una cinta de correr donde por mucho que nos esforcemos no llegaremos más lejos. Es una crítica a esa obligación de querer todo lo que deseamos sin saber que no depende solo de nosotros y aunque dependiera ¿Que sentido tiene si luego vamos a seguir queriendo ser más y mejores?

Me he dado cuenta de que lo que he leído lo puedo aplicar a mi vida, y mi día a día. De joven vi una película que se llamaba “Tierras de penumbra”, El protagonista se pregunta para que seguir subiendo montañas si desde la colina donde está le gusta el paisaje. Y es eso, Conformarse con lo bueno, no con lo mejor.

El libro abarca muchos aspectos, el social, el ético, el filosófico y el psicológico, ahora mismo no sé muy bien diferenciarlo, pero dentro de lo social explica que no somos totalmente responsables de nuestro futuro, nuestro entorno puede que nos lleve por un camino o hayamos llegado a una situación por la que no debemos sentirnos completamente responsables.

Habla mucho del compartir y conformarse con algo menos de lo que nos corresponde porque a fin y al cabo vivimos en sociedad y éticamente también somos parte de la felicidad o bienestar de los que nos rodean o no han tenido la misma suerte que nosotros.


Este libro, como los dos anteriores de Brinkmann me ha recomendado muchos libros más y otros he recordado que me gustaron mucho, por ejemplo del de Barry Schwartz “Por qué más es menos” del que hace un buen resumen y que me gustaría copiar algunos puntos a mi decálogo.


Notas

THE JOY OF MISSING OUT


While Stand Firm criticised the self-development mania, Standpoints sought to identify the basic ethical values upon which it is worth standing firm. In The Joy of Missing Out, I discuss ways of living our lives that would make it possible for society as a whole to focus on these values.

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we have created a society with a cultural landscape, an ecological niche, based on invitations, temptations, choices and special offers, but we rarely practise the art of self-restraint, of saying no and opting out – those are skills we lack both as individuals and as a society. This book recommends making a virtue of necessity and practising the art of missing out.

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If we want life to be sustainable for the maximum possible number of people – ideally, for all of us – then we need to learn the art of self-restraint, especially here in the richest part of the world.

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we should not want it all.

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SUSTAINAIBLE SOCIETY

The demands for skills enhancement and optimisation are constant and never-ending, which logically leads to a situation where nobody ever does anything well enough, because we all know that we will soon be instructed to do more and do it better.

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The elitist trap refers to a situation in which the wealthy and privileged use arguments about the (perceived) need for savings or cuts to keep others down.

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I study and recommend the value of accepting less than we are due.

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Many companies have advertising budgets that exceed the costs of manufacturing their products – the whole machinery of society is very much geared to engender dissatisfaction with what you have.

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what is the purpose of the economy? Segal and Aristotle both answer that the purpose of the economy is not to provide us with more and more, but to liberate us financially to live the good life.

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A lot of people want to be as rich as possible, but Aristotle believed that money can quickly become too much of a good thing and distract people from what is truly important in life. (....) Segal believes that one way of progressing away from the consumer society is to make the inherent value of work the focal point of the economy. It is often said that if we are engaged in something meaningful, work is almost its own reward.

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According to Segal, reflection on meaningfulness also depends on leisure time. He celebrates leisure as an art form that we can learn.

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Freedom also implies a sense of solidarity – which is, in effect, precisely what this book is about: a willingness to miss out on something when it benefits someone else whose need is greater. If no one is willing to give up anything, then life becomes a struggle between individuals to rake in as much as they can for themselves, and that only affords freedom to the very strongest. The dilemma between freedom and coercion is, in a way, at the heart of all pedagogy – we have to be forced into education in order to be capable of being.

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finiteness ‘that makes it all worthwhile’.

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To bestow form on your life is, literally, to practise the existential art of living, which is only possible if we are willing to miss out on other things.

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In reality, our more or less legitimate desires and psychological impulses consist of a range of motives and justifications that we rarely fully comprehend. 

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For Frankfurt, it is crucial that caring for something is different from simply having a desire or lust. You may briefly have a craving for something and then forget it a moment later. But you cannot care for something for an isolated moment. It is only possible to care over time, once it becomes part of the way you live your life and your identity (...) things we care about are usually outside the influence of our will. We can do our best – we can water, prune and fertilise (...) caring for something always implies the risk of being disappointed or suffering real grief. This is the price of love, as is often (rightly) said. In turn, there is something liberating about running this risk, in accepting that aspects of the world are beyond our control.

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Existentialists claim that individuals are defined by their actions. They are not completely wrong, but we must also take into account that we are defined just as much by what we do not do. We are formed by what we miss out on, not just by the things we do.

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Max Weber in his book on the Protestant ethic.  According to Weber, the highest good in the Protestant work ethic is to acquire more and more money – a purely instrumental phenomenon that becomes a goal in itself at the expense of individual happiness.

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 The ambition of realising as many of our own desires as possible is far from liberating. On the contrary, in doing so we run the risk of becoming slaves to our desires. To be liberated, we must be prepared to miss out – in other words, we must will one thing rather than will everything and succumb to an amorphous formlessness.

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 Experiments have shown that we have a strong proclivity to reject anything that we perceive as unfair – even when we lose out personally by doing so.

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Using the terminology employed in this book, it would appear that many of us are willing to miss out on something we would otherwise have had, even when we hold out no expectation of a reward at some point in the future.

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We know that we are actually nothing without others – and not just abstract others, but specific individuals with whom we have relationships and share a common history.

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We must learn the art of self-restraint right from the start. We cannot demand to have our own way all the time, just because we think our ideas are brilliant. We have to acquire a certain reserve, learn to listen to others and sometimes even hold ourselves back.

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Our suffering does not stem from our ability to talk –‘for that is a virtue’, he writes –‘but from our inability to keep silent’.

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Clor goes so far as to claim that moderation and character may be considered synonymous, in that to be of good character implies the ability to say no to your own impulses and resist temptation. He believes that, ultimately, we are our character.

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According to Ricoeur, to achieve self-constancy we must reflect on our life as a whole, and the best way to do this is to look at it as a narrative. In a sense, our lives consist of stories that we must interpret and tell in order to endow our existence with form. Many of us keep a journal or diary or fill photo albums, and so on, in order to put together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of life. In contemporary psychology, we refer to this as narrative identity.

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but illustrates the lack of ethical obligation in constantly wanting something more, something different and something new – in this case, in the context of love and sex. If this becomes a consistent attitude to life, we quickly descend into a kind of Kierkegaardian aesthetic despair, destined to remain forever dissatisfied because we feel that something better awaits us around the next corner. This not only leads us into a state of despair (see the existential discussion in the previous chapter); it also makes it difficult for us to live an ethical life based on obligations, which necessarily involves a certain degree of loyalty, trust, self-sacrifice and other similar virtues.

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The researchers concluded that it is not only self-control – in abstract terms – that is essential to human life, but also our trust in the world and other people. Prueba de los caramelos.

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But what about situations in which we have to keep ourselves in check and delay gratification without any expectation of a greater reward later on?

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The thinking that underpins the marshmallow test might be said to imply the same opportunistic and instrumental logic. It is all about learning to wait for the sake of a greater reward later on. This is a purely quantitative perspective, and by adopting it we run the risk of neglecting the qualitative dimension, in which some actions are simply more correct than others.

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The industry necessarily involves downplaying the significance of the individual’s environment and situation, and instead claiming that ‘happiness is a choice!’.

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we get used to both the good and the bad, and they gradually cease to be considered particularly good or bad. We return to our former starting point in terms of the way in which we see the world. (...) The happiness treadmill can be never-ending, and we find ourselves running faster and faster all the time, like a drug addict constantly upping the dose just to get high. (...) Socrates compares human desire to a leaky bucket: no matter how much we fill it, the water leaks out again, leaving only a hole and a craving for more. At least, this is the case for the ‘ignorant’, as Socrates put it. For as long as philosophers have been aware of the treadmill or the leaky vessel, they have also sought to transform our relationship to our desires by means of rational thought.

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The point of Stoicism is that there really are things we cannot change, which is why it is important to learn to live with them instead of engaging in a never-ending pursuit of ways to optimise the self. (...) From the Stoic perspective, it is not in itself invidious to have desires and dreams, but they would insist that we have a duty to consider the ethical value of those dreams. The point is not that we learn to miss out in order to prove that we have a particularly strong degree of self-control. No, the point is that we should miss out on that which poses a threat to our moral fortitude and psychological integrity, such as constantly hunting for new experiences, relationships and objects that provide a fleeting rush of happiness as we continue to plod away on the hedonic treadmill.

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Perhaps we (daneses) have engendered a form of cultural stoicism in which we like to imagine everything will go wrong so that it is easier to cope with adverse situations when they do arise. In psychological terminology, this strategy is called defensive pessimism.

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Positive thinking has taught Trump that the mind, through positivity, can create its own reality. If you repeat ‘alternative facts’ often enough, reality will bend to them, and to your advantage – or, at least, you will get people to believe you. This is the exact opposite of the value of low expectations, negative visualisation and defensive pessimism. Based on the analysis in this book, I would contend that Trump is the product of a culture that knows no bounds, which risks spawning people with no feel for the art of missing out. He is the symbol of a mentality that wants it all – and wants it now!

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Schwartz is correct when he says that this would be a pretty tragic state of affairs. The very idea of a multitude of opportunities can be a destructive influence.

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Schwartz’s basic point is that maximisation can ruin lives. He recommends that we learn to make do, to be satisfied with less than we might theoretically have had, but the ideal of almost limitless freedom of choice systematically contradicts this.

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Personally, I derive a great deal of pleasure and frustration from the computer game Civilization, the slogan of which is ‘Just one more turn’. I find it almost impossible to stop once I have started to play. (...) According to some studies, we spend more time gazing at screens than sleeping. Alter says that our digital econiche causes huge problems with addiction – addiction to the technology, the applications, the games and the series. In Irresistible, he emphasises the flipside of a culture that constantly invites the individual to experience and consume by clicking, scrolling, checking and watching.

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Learn to live with limitations: This, of course, is the focal point of this book. It is also the final point in Schwartz’s book.

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all societies need rituals so that people can spend time together in civilised ways. Rituals enable us to interact with each other in a fruitful manner.

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Many of our problems stem not only from a lack of roots, but from a lack of understanding of their importance.

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We must teach the citizens of the future to do what is right because it is right, and not because they stand to gain from it. We need to reward them for sharing their marshmallows rather than hoarding them. We must understand that this kind of upbringing is the opposite of opportunism; that it is based on respect for the virtues of moderation and self-restraint that are essential for our ability to cope with the crises.

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designing systems that are based to a greater extent on the idea that no individual is master of their own destiny, we can encourage greater solidarity. This might even increase the willingness of the most well-off to accept less, because one day they might fall victim to chance or illness and find themselves vulnerable and in need of help. We must learn to ‘miss out’ not as an empty exercise in asceticism, but to ensure that there is enough for everyone.

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In times gone by, we had more of an understanding that life is interwoven into larger contexts that involve ups and downs. We knew that ‘everything has its time’.

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the courage to do the same as usual, because it is the right thing to do.

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we opt out – including from potentially exciting new relationships. If we want to be friends with everyone, we cannot truly have a friend.

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In general, the landscape metaphor is quite apposite. It is not simply a matter of having the will-power to step off the treadmill, it is also about creating a culture in which the treadmill does not even exist.


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