Are You Desirable? Do You Know Enough?

Curated by CLAI

ARE YOU DESIRABLE? The old axiom says beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to initial impressions, this statement is not really true: Consensus about desirable qualities creates a gulf between the haves and have-nots. But the truth of this maxim increases over time: As people get to know each other, decreasing consensus and increasing uniqueness give everyone a fighting chance.

So if you do not have a high mate value, take heart. All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you, and a more level playing field should follow.

Desire

Desire (Olimpia Zagnoli, NYTimes)

FAKE CULTURAL LITERACY: What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened.

  • What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it.
  • We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.
  • Whenever anyone, anywhere, mentions anything, we must pretend to know about it. Data has become our currency.
  • Because we spend so much time staring at our phones and screens, texting and tweeting about how busy we are, we no longer have the time to consume any primary material. We rely instead on the casual observations of our “friends” or the people we “follow” or, well, who, actually?
  • The lesson was not to immerse and get lost in the actual cultural document itself but to mine it for any valuable ore and minerals — data, factoids, what you need to know — and then trade them on the open market.
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