So much of fashion is about sticking to certain trends and styles to convey that I'm this "kind" of person: "I'm a rocker," "I'm a tech professional," "I'm into creativity and art." But within these kinds or species, there's incredible differentiation among organisms. Some species have a lots of conformity of expression, such as investment bankers, and others have much more variability, such as New York fashionistas. But even with the variability of a New York fashionista, you can still look at them from across the street and think to yourself, "Oh, this is some 'New York fashionista'" even though their ensemble may be very individualized.
The hipster poses problems for this way of thinking. Hipster fashion defines itself with being syncretic, slapping together bits from other species, almost like a collage, and then re-purposing them with some commentary such as irony or nostalgia. However, despite this remixing, you can still spot a hipster. Even if they dress like a jazz musician from the 50s, there will still be dead giveaways: the curly mustache, the fake eye-glasses, or simply that the guy looks too young and savvy to just be a professional jazz player.
Now that hipsters are falling out of fashion, the question is, What will take their place? While for most hipsters their dress was about conforming to their indiepop-youth scene, some of them were trying to push the limits of individuality (like our 50s jazz muscian). The next logical step then is a new kind of style based around sui generis, which means "of its own kind or genus." The members of this new way of thinking will have to be so far from each other that they can't even be accused of being some syncretic "out there"-thinking or ironic hipster. They have to not only avoid appearing like a goth or a rocker or this or that, they have to not even be accused of being part of this new movement. Everybody in this new "group" will need a look that is simply undefined.
This will complicate one of the purposes of fashion, which is to identify your kind. The only way members of this "sui generis" class will be able to identify each other is if they can can tell that the person is dressing really well, but simultaneously can't tell which box they belong to
Carl Jung's concept of typologies has a resonance in modern times, because one of the most common divides and labels that people struggle under is whether or not they're a people-person. The people-person is hailed as being charismatic, potentially a leader, able to connect with many people and rack up thousands of Facebook friends. The non-people-person carries the stigma of being aloof or uninterested in others, and by extension, uninterested in the human race.
What the typologies do is give these shy people a different label to linger under. It gives them the terms introversion and extroversion. Introversion changes the conversation from substance to style, from content to the nature of the content. It's not people that introverts have a problem with, but it's the tempo and over-stimulation of socializing, especially in large groups. It's not a people-problem that introverts have, but rather a temperament-problem.
Temperament is the middleware of the brain. It represents our inclination for certain patterns and structures of thought. It deals with pacing and flow. For example, when we receive a stimulus, do we process it and deal with it immediately, or do we reach for the third of fourth association and start to daydream? Or, do we parallel process those thoughts? None of this says anything about whether introverts like people or not. Socializing just carries with it a certain tempo. People in a group stream in and out, with their own thoughts, topics and proclivities, and structurally it can be an overwhelming swarm for introverts to handle.
A common strategy for achieving success is off-goal targeting. This is usually represented in templated expressions of the form, "Just focus on 'x,' and then 'y' will happen naturally." In other words, focus on a tangential objective that indirectly contributes to the other, "real" goal. A common example, as often expressed on the blog Daring Fireball is to focus on delivering truly high-quality user-experiences. If you make product interfaces an absolute joy to use, then those products will sell themselves.
The point of this exercise is two-fold. First, it gets your mind away from short-term expectations of success. If you step into product development with the idea that you want to make as much money as possible, you will likely cut corners and sacrifice quality in order to more efficiently maximize income. This mindset is likely to be self-defeating or only lead to short-term gains.
The second aspect of this goal is to focus on something you can control. It's much easier to control quality because you can measure it yourself, every day. Since there are many uncontrollable factors that play into how successful a product is (e.g. luck, timing, and competitors), by focusing on quality, you can quiet distractions. Your anxiety will be reduced because you've narrowed your attention to a locus of control (as described in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). If your product doesn't do as well as you had hoped for, at least you can rule out quality. This would encourage you to possibly retry marketing, or to wait and see if market conditions improve. Whereas if you had made a shoddy product to begin with, and the returns don't come in, all your effort will have been for naught.
Off-goal targeting is ultimately a hedge against failure. If your off-goal target is to "learn programming" or "build things of quality" then even if those products don't succeed commercially, you'll have improved your overall experiences and built up your portfolio, all of which will outlast the initial gains from a quick success.
A Red Queen-like phenomena exists in the consumption of personal palliatives like Advil or Dayquil. For example, if you get sick and are afraid of missing days at work, you can take a Dayquil to get through it. Before the existence of these elixirs, you just had to white-knuckle your way through the day or stay home. But now, it seems that unless you are god-awfully sick, like truly bed-ridden, you can find enough palliatives at the convenience store or pharmacy to help you show up at your desk and simulate a fully-engaged worker.
These products were supposed to make work easier for us, but since everybody takes them now, everybody is expected to show up to work all the time. As we make things easier for ourselves individually, the standard of difficulty for us as a group rises along with it. Perhaps this explains the new trend for companies to bundle sick and vacation days into a combined allotment that represents a general, "Don't show up to work because you don't feel like it"-day.
A common argument for why cities in warmer climates aren't as prosperous as cities in colder ones is that it's harder to survive in colder climates. This argument falls flat easily when considering that there have been many other times in our history where the only interesting cities were in latitudes closer to the equator such as in Ancient Egypt or Assyria.
But there's another counter-argument, one that can draw from modern times. San Diego is a city that is generally free from weather-related strife, which could imply that its residents are going to eventually be lazier because they don't have to work as hard. However, a lot of wealthy people move to San Diego for the better weather, so perhaps San Diego might gain a net increase in tenacious citizenry, assuming that those wealths were generally acquired by smarter and/or more hard-working people.
Likewise, our ancestors who drifted up to colder climates must have done so because they couldn't make it in the warmer ones. While colder climates require more human effort to extract calories from the ground, warmer climates have more people which means more competition, which also requires considerable human effort. The statement, "It's too crowded here, let's move somewhere else," is ultimately a veiled expression of the form, "There is too much competition for resources here."
If we were elementary particles of physics, then happiness would not be about our position, but rather the velocity of where we're going in life. It's not our current state that vexes us, but rather our beliefs about what is happening to our current state. If you're poor, the lack of money doesn't strike you as something negative in the moment, rather it's the thought that that state will persist. The upsetting thing is not that you're poor today, but that you will continue to be tomorrow. If a hungry rich man forgets his wallet when he is on the street, he is technically, in that moment, in the same position as the perpetually impoverished. It is through future-attached activities and emotions, such as hoping, planning, and complaining, we develop a perception of how "poor" we really are.
Mindfulness is a better substitute for happiness because it is focused solely on the present. Meditation reduces the load of all that future projecting, which is a subtle, but crucial, perceptual shift. The state of being poor transforms into "unalleviated future poorness," which is a more manageable and less vexing proposition.
The negative spaces of successful educational techniques often beg the question, Why are we designed to learn this way? For example, consider the hit memoriziation technique "spaced repetition." It's based on the notion that there is an key time period after first learning something when it's best to re-learn it. When your recall dips down to 90%, a refresher will shorten the time it takes for you to get back down to 90%, and so on and so forth until the curve of forgettery disappears and you've created permanent knowledge. The graph of this process initially looks inefficient and brings up the question, Why aren't we designed to retain everything the first time we learn it?
However, this learning curve closely matches our omnivorous nature for task-selection. Whereas the woodpecker has only a few tasks to learn in life, we pick and choose tools and methods as our environment and culture demands. When you first encounter a tool, like a knife or pick, you may or may not use that tool again. So at that moment, it's not necessary to retain that knowledge. It may actually be a while before you return a second time—if you return at all—and so forgettery happens quickly early on. If you come back a second time, and have sustained interest, you are liable to come back a third time sooner, and a fourth and so-on. Your learning therefore ramps up according to the understanding that you're actually interested in becoming familiar or developing a mastery of the tool in question.
When you are intrinsically interested in a task, your learning will naturally follow spaced repetition, but when you are not, such as when you're studying for an exam, then software and a manual application of the principle will be necessary to trick your brain into following its optimal and natural pattern.
Since cognitive therapy is such a powerful and reliable tool for alleviating depression, its techniques provide insight into the nature of depression.
The basic premise of cognitive therapy is that by iterating through a list of negative biases, one can cultivate a more calm and quieter self-understanding. For example, a common disputation technique is to address whether your thoughts are too black-and-white. For example, if you believe, with 100% certainty that you will get fired, probably the situation is more nuanced and gray.
There's a little over ten common disputation techniques, and they all have a similar pattern: they address the mindset of someone with an Aspergers-like tunnel vision. Aspies often lock onto an idea and inflexibly shut out all contrary thoughts. The black-and-white disputation would apply to this, and so would the disputations on over-generalizing ("I'm unemployable"), filtering (ignoring some side side jobs you heard about recently), disqualifying the positive (ignoring the compliments you've received at work), jumping to conclusions ("that criticism from my boss means I'm definitely fired"), and magnification (this is all you can think about).
Is depression, then really just about having a narrow, and inflexible mind? Is that perhaps why meditation is so effective at alleviating depression as well, because it loosens up the mental muscles that clench onto single, negative thoughts?