26 August 2016

The Economic Reason Why Self-Worth Is the Only Worth

I never really grokked why people emphasized "love yourself" and made such a big deal about self-worth. I mean, I guess I kind of intellectually got it, but it didn't make sense to me.

If you already understand why that's important at a fundamental level, this post may not be for you. Everybody else...

This came up in a conversation with a friend of mine, who's in a bit of a tough spot with his new boyfriend. He said, "With him it's never enough. I can never do enough. I'm not enough. So I'm not sure how much I am worth, really."

There was something about the starkness of the way he said it that clarified the whole thing for me; the rest of this is an expanded version of my reply to him.

This is Economics 101, really, along with a bit of crappy linguistic bleed in the way we use language. 

So first, language, and using "worth". We're using the same word that we use in economics to talk about markets and exchanges. While it's a bit (okay, extremely) tacky for us to talk about the economic worth of different people, and the whole discussion totally discounts the idea of love and affection, this is the word we use in our heads to describe our sense of self-value, even if that's not how we'd describe the way we care about the people we love.

Right. Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about "worth" and "value".

Those are both relative and subjective terms - fundamentally, inherently, and always.

I mean that the value of anything varies hugely from person to person, and sometimes even moment to moment.  I am not talking about market fluctuations, though those make things even even less uniform. 

In the global West, it's easy to forget that "worth" and "value" do not have some concrete value.  We put stickers with the price (or "value" or "worth") on most things, but that's simply an illusion.

The value, worth, or price that we see is the highest price that the maximum number of people will pay (or alternatively, the price that maximizes profit if a lower price has more people buying the item). But that's an aggregate valuation.

Take a candy bar. When you're hungry, it's worth a lot - you'd pay more. After you've had a bunch of candy bars? You would pay less.

This example is often used to illustrate how demand curves change, but its most important aspect here is reminding us that demand curves are individual.

Let's illustrate: I am not a small guy. I am fairly hairy.  I am a nerd and a geek, and a bit of a goof. I describe myself as a cross between a tanuki, a bear, a golden retriever, Ben Wyatt from Parks & Rec, and a bit of Silent Bob (without the silent parts). 

For some people, that means I'm... well, repulsive. Not just "unattractive", but downright gross.  For some others (thankfully, though I don't understand it!), I'm really attractive. My worth as a sex object to the first group is a negative number.  My worth to the second group is a positive number.

And if you try to reconcile those both into how to value yourself... well, good luck with that.

So for your life - because you do have to recognize that the only person you have to live with is yourself - trying to base your self-worth on other people's valuation of you simply doesn't make economic sense. 

Your self-worth has to be based on, quite literally, your self-valuation of yourself.

Amusingly, doing that - and then identifying how to increase your satisfaction with yourself - will probably raise your value in other people's eyes as well.

22 August 2016

Sharing Time Together, Apart: Watch2Gether

Let's not mince words - we're more separated than ever before. As we've become virtually connected, we're often friends, family, or lovers with people who are further and further apart.

And anything you can do that creates some kind of connection is worthwhile.

Which is why I'm so tickled by Watch2Gether.

It's a free service that lets you watch videos.  But it's more than that, really.  You can create rooms - temporary or permanent - and invite who you want to be in there with you.  (Note that once you give out the URL of the room, though, people can pop in without an invitation.)  But unlike a regular chat room, you can watch videos from a number of sources (YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion) together... at the same time.

Unlike some other options for this, you can have as many people as you like in there, and it doesn't require a specific browser or any addons.  (It doesn't work on mobile, though...)

So, for example, you can get a playlist of videos from Alliteration Ink and put them in a room, and share the URL like so: 


and watch the videos together.  That particular room is moderated as well; only I can add videos and toggle playback, which is another nice feature.

So if you're separated from your friends, family, or other loved ones, this is a nice way you can do something really together while still apart.

19 August 2016

Make the Web Nice and Dark (and still work) - updated Stylish styles

If you use Stylish (and if not, why aren't you? Get it for Firefox and Chrome) and like dark global themes, you might want to check out my global dark web theme. It's a fork (meaning I'm starting with someone else's template), but I'm slowly making it my own and keeping it updated. And this is also the style I use on a regular basis, so things that are irritating are gonna get fixed.

You can also exclude sites; I've excluded several by default (mainly Google and RTM) because their UI changes too frequently for me to keep them in track as well. If you're using the new Remember the Milk UI and want a dark theme for that, I've got you covered there as well with Darker Remember The Milk. I also use Remember The Milk for my chores and stuff on a daily basis, so this gets updated when things break.