On being excited

Birthday time, confession time.

I have a curious feature of personality which manifests itself in being extremely suspicious around overly excited people. Examples include political ideologists, but also tech evangelists and other self-declared prophets. I am not sure if I want it to stay this way, but it feels right.

Familiar? Alienating? Let me explain, and decide.

As usual in these cases, and even more applicable than normal, I’m probably going to rationalize my personal views, so feel free to comment.

I am of course extremely curious why I behave this way, so I thought about it for a while, and I think I have a half-baked answer. No, a couple of half-baked answers.

So, first and foremost, a lot of over-excited people are telling that something great or awful is going to happen, like, tomorrow and everything is going to be great and for free (or awful and expensive). Let me just say that in most cases, being skeptical is pretty much okay as most technical or social things are very unlikely to change radically over the course of days and the last simple, effective and cheap construction I can remember is an AK-74 (or an M-16, depending on your religion) and the same trick is not that simple to perform in other applications.

Second, radical positive changes are pretty unlikely to happen as such, and even less so if some self-proclaimed prophets are furiously promoting them. I furthermore have very strong negative feelings towards the “radical change is due TOMORROW” attitude as it devalues the work of everybody not directly involved. Surely, some people do useless things, but nearly every little feature of human life now relies on megatons of infrastructure and people doing their daily jobs. Sure, there are geniuses and extremely good ideas, but the bulk of what we call “civilization” is the work of large organizations.

Third, there are some personal issues. I have been a fanboy once, and for a while I have been seriously reconsidering the attitude. Thus, it is hard to take people seriously that are falling in the same pattern now. Sure, there are cool interesting, even exciting things, but running around and furiously promoting them is like advertisement, but without being paid. It does not help if journalism is currently in a state of an arms race in the hunt for clicks, which means that any form except the superlative is unused. “Why X is worse than Hitler”, “Unrivaled”, etc.

Together it all may taint issues for me. Any issue, actually. Science? Even science, if people are screaming “go team science!”. Even if it’s nice if people are your fans, they seem to have no idea what science does, and, worse, why science does it. This does not help. No, it makes things worse, because it opens more room for misunderstanding, strawmen, very random and very strange people with strange impressions of what is good, and just unneeded publicity.

It all does not really make my life worse. However, there are some limitations, for instance, I have serious troubles joining any political (or even ideological) movement. Too many ideologists, too many memes, too many simple, wrong solutions. I may even change my color, like phenolphthalein, if someone tries to tell me how exciting %thing% is because all the exciting people are very excited about it. Especially if %thing% is one of, but not limited to: ground effect vehicles, any tech startup, political ideology.

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