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If you only have 10 f!#ks to give, spending 8 of them on things you can’t control means you only have 2 to spend on the things you can.
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In this article's first part, we reviewed a relatively overlooked emotion called Apathy. It is less potent and meaningful than anger, sadness, disappointment, or Joy, yet we claim it justified its own article. Why?
To recap, Apathy is a cousin of indifference, where you are indifferent to the things in your, the good and the bad. Where you you feel superglued to a chair kind of just drifting through existence and really indifferent or beaten down to the point that you become numb to the circumstances around you. Such circumstances will be all too familiar: social skills, financial security, employment prospects, health mindfulness ETC ETC ETC. It goes on.
TLDR: Think of your circumstances as massive cushions. Sure, we pile you under rocks, and you perish, but piling you under lots of heavy cushions won’t kill you. You’ll kind of just be stuck in place. Lying on comfy cushions but stuck under heavy ones.
But enough of that. Let’s kick that sh#! to the curb now. This is where we all try to overcome our current state of affairs by making small changes in our lives. (I am no professional. If you need mental health assistance, SEEK IT. These are small things that I have used to make incremental improvements. They will not overhaul a systemic issue. Look after yourself King/Queen/Xe/Xem).
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We will go through a few topics below, BUT if I ask you to keep one theme in mind going into every engagement going forward, it is mental bandwidth.
On average, the human brain can process about 11 million bits per second (bps) of information. Our “mental bandwidth” is the part of our brain processing that we have CONSCIOUS control over, about 100 bps.
Your brain has more processing power than most of the complex machinery on Earth. Our brains do tons of things automatically--we don’t usually “think” about moving our arms and legs when we walk or chew our food, for example. Our brains just make those things happen as part of that 11 million bps total. We only have active control over 100 bps, which I’m referring to as “mental bandwidth.”
Bandwidth is not "willpower"--you can't just think "harder" to get more.
Bandwidth is not intelligence or knowledge--you can't "educate" yourself into more.
Bandwidth is not time--we can't control it so easily.
Bandwidth is more like the physiological limit of how much "thinking" we can do in one moment.
SO, we have established one thing: there are limits to what we can mentally digest and act on at any given time. Long story short, there is only so much you can give a shit about.
Social animals but not that social
We always hear the saying that Humans are social animals, made for interaction. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar says the “magic number” is 150. Dunbar became convinced that there was a ratio between brain sizes and group sizes through his studies of non-human primates.
This may seem like an astronomical number, but when you factor in relationships, including spouses, friends, cousins, parents, coworkers, business partners, and friends of friends. This arbitrary number of 150 fills up pretty quickly.
But how many can you realistically call upon on a rough time, and how many are on Facebook and Instagram? Once you factor in the echo chamber on social media, where everyone is sharing all of their opinions all at once. it adds up.
But you’re asking, how is this relevant?
As mentioned, refer back to your mental bandwidth. Your state of apathy really kicks in when you kind of max out your bandwidth and lose the ability to take control. The 2000 opinions on war, economics, politics, and society shared by your network will, by default, consume part of your processing power. And in your already F$cked life, is catastrophic.
Therefore, the solution is simple. As you try and preserve your mental bandwidth, ask yourself. How much of my brain is this person really consuming, and could it be used elsewhere?
Foster and cherish the truly valuable relationships you have, as they are beautiful and healthy things. You cannot do this by yourself and be a shut-in. Only through the help of our fellow humans can we really become better people. However, regardless of your social status, I guarantee it isn’t 150 people…
Not really my problem
I will mention a BRUTAL truth to you now that no one will tell you.
Not every social, economic & political issue is your problem. Read that again and digest it. YOU have absolutely no control over your life. YOU Do not have the luxury of contemplating grand societal issues. You need to save your mental bandwidth on important issues like employability, relationships, and business building.
The right to vote is a right the people who came before you bled for. You cannot become politically apathetic. You will disgrace a democracy and deserve to live in an autocracy. No one is saying give up. But we need to understand which concerns are and are not important to us.
HOT TAKE: Regardless of your view on transgender/Gay people. Ask yourself. Your current state of affairs. Who is the villain? Who is the reason your dollar has no purchasing power? Why we have record inflation? It ain’t the gays. Plain and simple.
You must channel your energy at a level at which you know you have real power. This is where you are lucky. Most of you live in developed democracies, so Im going to give you a cheat sheet.
In most democratic nations, Power is still very much bottom-up. It may seem like your government is top-heavy; however, elections are won and lost locally. No one hands out voting ballots outside a parliamentary building, but they will hand them out at bus stops and train stations.
Now, remembering bandwidth. You only have so much energy to focus on political issues. We do not achieve this by binging YouTube and Twitter on issues like the Inflation Rate. Do not pretend to be smarter than you are.
Your vote at the federal level is insignificant but means a great deal at the local level. Many but not all of your issues, like sanitation, infrastructure quality (potholes and shit), community spirit, and civic discourse can and should be handled locally. You cannot control Fiscal spending and defense spending, so why spend two hours on YouTube watching it?
DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO YOUR LOCAL Politician is? What they stand for. Understand where you have real control and then lobby for small changes to make everyone’s lives a little better. ie. new social initiatives, better environmental policies, and local sanitation funding. etc. etc. There is so much power you have, you just choose to focus it all on the National Stage.
You are important. Not to the people on Twitter half a world away. But to your neighbor and brother who is probably going through the same thing you are.
Be politically active and brave, just in places where you have real control.
The Boomer solution. Social media
I will give you a typical scenario. You come home from work. Tired, bruised, and famished. You jump on the internet to destress. What do you watch? The News, new shows, and new content.
I AM NOT A BOOMER. I LOVE TV. Cutting quality TV shows and your small happiness and solace is irresponsible. I’m not some hustle sigma grind set donkey.
We are consumers, but not all content is created equal. The YouTube Algo is deceptively intelligent. Ask yourself why you waste your whole night at either an Analysis of the Ukraine War or learning about how bridges are made. You think you are becoming more intelligent, but what have you learned to make your life materially different? Are you a volunteer soldier learning battle strategy or an Engineer trying to learn how to build a bridge? NO!!!
The illusion of watching sMArT content on youtube actually makes you more of a moron. Because you come away wasting the rest of the little bandwidth you had on supposedly educational material that does not help you in any way.
Then you dare to laugh at tiktok addicts who watch stupid videos. You don't even become smarter by the end of your binge, and you don’t have fun, either. Who’s the real moron.
No, you need to dedicate some time to stupid content to destress, and then, if you are truly intent on sticking to YouTube. YOU must watch content directly related to your field or a new skill that will come in handy. It could be anything. Negotiation skills, copywriting guides, I don’t care.
TLDR: if you’re going to use your mental bandwidth on educational content, at least make sure you come out more informed on things actually useful to yourself.
I made very few references to apathy in this article. Because this section was about solving it. Because you know you feel this way. You don’t know why. You don’t know how. You feel something’s up. Apathy is the cousin of indifference. You only have so much mental bandwidth to care about yourself and the world around you. We spend all that energy on causes, people, events, and problems we cannot control. You need to understand that you are the priority. Only after we remove the things eating up our energy can we save enough to make small but golden changes in our lives.
If you only have ten f$cks to give, spending 8 of them on things you can’t control means you only have 2 to spend on the things you can.
Till then, keep moving forward.
“Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children. This is like rain that causes plants to grow, to the delight of the planters. But later the plants dry up and you see them wither, then they are reduced to chaff. And in the Hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness and pleasure of Allah, whereas the life of this world is no more than the delusion of enjoyment.”
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