12 October, 2020

My Interactions on Reddit


"Ew. Why are you celebrating thirteen years on Reddit? What a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Aren't they all chauvinistic red-pillers that post weird Pepe the Frogs?"

Why, yes, Reddit is certainly home to a lot of people with bad ideas, but that's mostly because Reddit is home to a lot of people. I've had a lot of interactions on Reddit that I've found insightful and worthwhile. Here are just a few that I've personally participated in (I'm u/EricHerboso):

The Best Philosophy Podcasts from r/philosophy

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Deathwing Every Turn from r/hearthstone

Star Trek First Frontier (2020) Fan Film from r/startrek

07 October, 2020

Why I Value Sleep

From the now defunct study-hack site.
I've always highly valued sleep. On the EA Forum, I've argued that sleep should be prioritized. I've always enjoyed the dozen or so seconds after I first wake, when my brain continues to filter out all sounds, sleep-paralysis-style. My dream worlds never cease to fascinate me. More than half of the times I go to sleep, I find myself dreaming lucidly, and I almost always enjoy it. I've even taken the time to attempt experiments in my lucid dreams, to see whether I can do meaningful work while asleep.

When listening to others describe their lives, I have always been surprised that no one seems to value sleep nearly as much as I do. Is it just because they are more focused on earning money? Or accomplishing value in the real world? Maybe it is because they don't have lucid dreams at all. Maybe they can't even remember their dreams. These are all increasingly good explanations, but it was only recently that I realized why I in particular might be overvaluing my dreams in particular.

I have aphantasia, which means I cannot visualize things in my daily waking life. But, in my dreams, I can visualize spectacularly well. I can direct my dreams in all kinds of ways, and I can experience them visually. For me, this is a unique experience that I never have while I am awake. But I only just realized recently that my everyday lived visual experience was radically different from others', and so I never fully understood why, to me, the experience of dream worlds felt so very real. Yet now it is obvious: for others, it is no big deal that they can visualize in their dreams; whereas, for me, it is a uniquely real-feeling experience that I can resume and direct each night on demand.

Of course I value dreams (and therefore sleep) so much more than most people. It feels so obvious now, in retrospect. But this was something that I've thought about for decades and have only just now understood.

25 September, 2020

Thirteen Years on Reddit

Ace cake by MJ Buell.

Today is my cake day. I joined reddit 13 years ago, only a few months after Conde Nast bought it from the original founders.

At the time, I was a webmaster and I joined reddit because I wanted to experiment with how marketing on reddit affected web traffic. I wrote a couple of trash articles that I knew would not be popular on my own and then posted links to them on reddit using a few different accounts. In one, I just posted a link that copied the bland title. In another, I posted the link alongside a catchy title. In the last, I posted the link with a fake (but catchy) title that had nothing to do with the blogpost. As you might expect, the second approach worked best, and I used this completely nonscientific experiment as the basis for chapter 4 in an ebook I wrote back then about Email & Social Marketing.

Although my purpose for joining reddit ended after only a month, I stayed and became a regular redditor, like everyone else. I only ever upvoted the stuff I really liked, so it’s been interesting going back in my own history to see what I liked throughout the years. I feel like I’ve changed as a person so very much in the past 13 years.

Thirteen years ago is a long time ago. 2007 was the year that the iPhone was introduced. Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker of the house that year. Tumblr was launched. Mauritania became the last country on earth to officially criminalize slavery. Words like “hashtag”, “netbook”, “retweet”, “Latinx”, “coworking”, “crowdfunding”, and “colony collapse disorder” were added to the dictionary. Trump was on Wrestlemania.

Thirteen years is a long time to be doing anything. When I was 13, my first sister was born. For a long time afterward I still considered myself basically an only child because I never had a sibling my age. The group I most identify with, Effective Altruism, is not yet even 13 years old. Thirteen years is longer than most people spend in primary education. I’ve been on reddit for a very long time.

And yet, in all these thirteen years, this is the first time I’ve remembered to post on my cake day.

21 September, 2020

Killer Queen Black

My first KQB (casual) tournament win.
Yesterday, my team, Eezy Beezy KG, won the Killer Queen Black weekend event. It was quite exciting -- although I can't help but to feel as though I was carried through most of the matches. Our queen, Matt "KG28", is among the best queens in the game, and so it isn't hard to see why I may feel this way. The event was a draft; I was, understandably, picked dead last. I really enjoyed the experience. Our run was livestreamed on Twitch.

Katherine's first KQB win.
The KQB community is relatively small. Katherine has said that she thinks she knows at least half of the KQB players that are on discord at the acquaintance level. I don't play enough to know that many, but her claim is easily believable given how many of the same people I keep seeing show up in the discord. (Later, KQB will be launching on Xbox Game Pass, which I expect will dramatically increase the player count. But, until then, it still feels like a manageable playerpool.)

Katherine has played this game significantly more than I have and is rated 200 ELO points above me. She's also won a draft weekend event, but, even more impressively, she won second place in a solo weekend event, repeatedly winning with different teammates in every game. I'm looking forward to seeing what IGL team picks her up for the fall circuit 2020.

It feels really nice to play in a community like this. I haven't enjoyed a truly competitive game like this since StarCraft, and this has the added bonus of being team-based. It's a game of skill and strategy, but unlike most other competitive games, it's also a game of attention. Knowing when and where to put your attention is as important as being able to platform well, dodge opponents, and hold parts of the map.

highly recommend the game to anyone who wants to seriously compete. The only warning I'll give is that it's notoriously difficult to play as the queen, rather than as a worker. If you're a beginner queen, you really need to train with people on discord first before playing in ranked. This was a tough start for me and my friends; when we got the game, we would queue in ranked as a four person beginner team and we would rotate as queen each game. It was a terribly demoralizing way of starting the game, and I almost feel like the game itself should disincentivize you from starting the game by playing in the way that we did.

If you're interested, here're all the links you need. The most important ones are the link to purchase the game and kqbdiscord.com, which lets you interact with the greater community. If one of my friends decides to play KQB, please let me know! I'd be glad to team up with you for some games. (c:

17 September, 2020

Emotions

I laughed and cried when I was young. I have no reason to think that I had any less emotion than other children at that age. But at some point in my young adult life, I got it into my head that I could suppress the outer trappings of emotion -- the frowns or smiles, the laughs or tears -- and over time that outer suppression affected (or at least seemed to affect) my own inner feelings.


There was a period of about fifteen years or so where I'm not sure that I laughed or cried at all. Not just outwardly, but on the inside, too. Sure, I smiled at times, but only, I think, on purpose, to fit in, to seem like I was a part of the group. Did I do this to myself? Maybe. But I can't help but feel, after listening to others talk about their emotional lives, that there had to be some sort of natural low-emotion state that I was in in the first place, if I were able to so dramatically suppress certain emotions so easily for so long.

One of the reasons that I fell in love with My Little Pony (G4 FiM) was that its episodes taught me to feel again. I remember sitting there, deeply depressed, turning on those first few episodes and learning, perhaps despite myself, about what it really meant to be a good friend.

I was lying on the couch when I first watched Arrested Development. I don't know which joke it was, but at some point halfway through the first episode, I laughed. --and it was.... I think I missed the rest of the episode, not really paying attention to it anymore. Instead, I was in my own head, thinking and wondering if this really was the first time I'd spontaneously laughed in the last decade and a half. By the time I watched Community later that year, I found myself perfectly able to enjoy laughing at what I felt was funny, without needing to go through all that self-reflection.

Fiction has been especially impactful for me recently. I've found myself crying during shows, crying after reading reddit posts, crying at story beats in my video games. I don't know what caused the changes. I don't think I'd been intentionally suppressing emotions all those years; it just became unintentional habit. But now I seem to be making up for lost time? Or maybe they're hormonal changes after my recent medical issues. It's hard to say.

I'm just glad that I'm experiencing these emotions more fully now. Maybe I'm not nearly as far on the sociopathic spectrum as the PCL-R would have me believe.

(Writing this post reminds me of The Drought, except I think I'm being more honest here than I was there. If I had to rewrite that piece, I'm not sure that it would even make sense to publish it after all the corrections.)