Watching Netflix at work (or at all)

If you value your time at, say, $15/hr, every hour you spend watching Netflix is $15 down the drain, plus the cost of Netflix.

I know you’re in college and $15/hr seems like a lot, but it’s actually a remarkably low valuation of your time; $50/hr is more indicative of the person you’re trying to become. If you watch Netflix three hours each day, that’s $54,750 lost every year. An economist would refer to this as the opportunity cost of watching Netflix.

I once overheard a student say, “Ryan won’t let me watch Netflix at work, so what am I supposed to do?”

The anatomy of online outrage

1) Someone writes something provocative online; that is, someone attempts to be thought-provoking for the betterment of others.

2) Someone else interprets what was written in a way the author didn’t intend. This person writes about his or her interpretation, rather than the interpretation the author intended. Here, it’s worth noting that the outrage probably hasn’t started yet. The author and the interpreter can easily talk to each other and come to an understanding.

3) But before that happens, lots of people agree with the unintended interpretation and start to get angry. They write about their anger online.

4) The angry mob shows up. They agree with the content of the outrage, but often they haven’t read the original content; rather, they are relying on someone else’s interpretation. Mainly, they like being angry; they like feeling right; they like fighting against perceived injustices because it gives them status.

5) A lot of other people show up to watch a good fight. If it’s a really good fight, CNN shows up.

6) Finally, the original provocateur is shocked to find out how many people interpreted her writing in a way not intended. She often apologizes for her choice of words, because nuance is difficult to understand, particularly online.

The world is safer than it’s every been, but rates of depression and anxiety are at all-time highs. We struggle more than ever to cope with our thoughts, and now we get unfettered access to everyone else’s thoughts too. We live better than kings and queens of yesteryear, but there’s no evidence to suggest we’re happier.

Yes, let’s keep fighting against racism, sexism, ageism, unfair labor practices, lack of medical access, and environmental destruction. This is a good use of our outrage.

But let’s make sure we understand what’s being said before we torch the earth.

[I adapted the above sequence from Jonathan Haidt’s article, “Professors Must Now Fear Intimidation From Both Sides“].

The Kardashians

This won’t come as a surprise to many, but I don’t watch “The Kardashians”.

You may be familiar with the term “penny dreadful” which today is a psychological thriller on Showtime, but originally referred to a novel from 19th Century England that had no lasting value. It cost one penny, and it was dreadful. It was cheap, sensational, and would be forgotten.

200 years later, everyone knows Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but nobody remembers the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire, which was more popular at the time. 200 years from now, people will still talk about The Sopranos, but I’d be surprised if many talk about The Kardashians. It’s the difference between Star Trek and The Beverly Hillbillies, Jay-Z and Soulja Boy.

Hits are fine, but we’re after art that lasts.

Picking up a second major

Don’t bother picking up a second major if you’re only doing it for status: “Look how hard I’m working. This will look great on my resume. A second major will finally let me feel good about myself.” That’s a waste of time.

You should only pick up a second major if there’s convincing evidence that it will make you more money in the future. A second major is an investment when it teaches you “multiplying skills”, skills that make you better at your primary career. Some examples that Fredonia offers:

  • Public speaking (Communications major)
  • Writing (English major)
  • Design (Graphic Design major)
  • Conversation (Communications major)
  • 2nd language (French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Russian, Chinese majors/minors)
  • Persuasion (Communications major)
  • Programming (Computer Science major)

Example 1: Applied math majors commonly pick up computer science because it makes them more valuable in the job market.

Example 2: A business marketing major who also knows graphic design is more likely to get hired than someone who only knows marketing or graphic design.

Example 3: An executive who can write well is a more clear communicator, and if there’s anything employees complain about in the workplace it’s poor communication.

There’s an endless list of examples you can make, and you don’t need to be in college to begin.

“I can’t afford that”

“How can I afford that?” That reframe, every time.

Then, over the course of hours, days, weeks, and years, your subconscious mind goes to work for you, finding ways that you can afford it.

Don’t limit yourself to the life you think you deserve. Think bigger.

Having something negative said about you

Very often, when someone says something negative about you it’s not about you; it’s about them.

People look for negativity in others in lieu of changing their own beliefs. Change is scary, and it’s easier to point fingers.

Negativity is almost never personal.

Cheering from the bench

No employer is going to care how many minutes you played per game when you interview for your first job. The second you stop playing college sports that statistic becomes irrelevant.

But if I were your future employer, I’d secretly be keeping track of how often you were genuinely excited for you teammates while sitting on the bench.

That kind of excitement you can’t fake is what’s needed in the workplace.

If you’re worried that everyone hates you

Don’t be, because virtually nobody on this planet of 7.5 billion knows who you are. And of the few who do, virtually none of them spend time thinking about you.

I know Twitter creates an illusion indicating precisely the opposite, but that’s why Twitter exists on a screen, and humans talk face-to-face.

Drawing bigger circles

Within three minutes of talking, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro both mispronounced Megan Rapinoe’s name and was shouted down by chants of “Equal pay!” from the crowd.

Then, even though she didn’t have to, Rapinoe drew a bigger circle. And if there’s anything humanity needs right now it’s bigger circles:

Would you still go to college?

If you didn’t need a degree to get the job you want, would you still go to college? If you could go directly into a well-trodden apprenticeship program–bypassing the majority of the classroom work–would you do that instead? If you had all the money you could ask for, would you bother with college?

I’m guessing a majority of students wouldn’t, but, for better or worse, we’ve set up society so that entrance into the middle class requires a college degree.

And so college finds itself in an unsettling situation: It’s trying to create educated, intelligent, cerebral people to solve the world’s most pressing issues, but few students want that. They want A’s, degrees, status, and high salaries–and I want to be clear that those are all fine pursuits–but those things don’t matter if Earth is uninhabitable in 300 years.

Two nights ago, friends I watched a new Johnny Depp movie, The Professor, about an English professor who is told he has lung cancer and has six months to live. In my favorite scene, Depp’s character decides to change how his classroom works (and here, I must note that I do not agree with everything Depp’s character says. As any comedian would tell you, there’s a difference between what one thinks, and what one thinks is funny to say.):

Depp’s character is making the point that it’s the remaining students who will make an impact on the world; the rest will go on to live mediocre lives.

I shared this video clip in my newsletter this week, “The Extra Dose“. It includes unpublished blog posts, ideas, software I’m using, books I’ve read, and other things I’m doing to live a better, more meaningful life. If you would have been one of the remaining students in Depp’s class, sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll send you this week’s issue: