Monday, November 16, 2009

In reality, it's just that our default setting is lazy

A recent gchat between my often wiser younger sister and I uncovered an interesting psychological fact about most people that can be applied to our understand of the male/female dating situation: people are lazy, almost always.  Read on.  

Dani: i'm responding to your blog
trying to think of something funny

it's an interesting idea

Jessie: the calling thing?
or the approaching it backwards thing?

Dani: yeah
to the calling thing

Dani: nevermind
i can't think of anything new to say

Jessie: I have to ask a few more guys about this

Dani: it's not about what is said - it's the effort put forth

Jessie: exactly

Dani: the girl who commented about the letter and emails is right

Jessie: but texting has re-set the expectations around effort
that's the point
that's my friend Meg
she's a peach

Dani: it's not the texting that is the problem, it's the fact that he doesn't think it's important to call

Jessie: right

Dani: it's not worth a phone call if one is necessary

Jessie: the sad thing is - the world doesn't think it's important to call anymore

Dani: it's like when someone comes to pick you up on a date and you live with your parents
they could come to the door
but instead they just call

Jessie: yeah, annoying

Dani: it's an inertia thing
i just read a book about it
do what their default tells them to do
and humans are just that lazy

Jessie: how are the defaults set?
oh interesting
why is my default different?

Dani: but things can drive you to act against the default

Jessie: wait could you write a follow up post about this?

Dani: like actual interest in someone

Jessie: right right
this is v good

Dani: the book i just read says this
it was about investments and how people never change their 401k settings
when they can afford to and should be saving more money

Jessie: why don't they change them?
because they can't experience the future?

Dani: because they don't have any inetia
sorry *inertia

Jessie: hm - I'm having trouble understanding inertia this way

Dani: they are lazy

Jessie: oh
get that

Dani: heres an example
401ks are usually opt in enrollment
like you have to actually go out of your way to enroll in them

Jessie: yep
don't I know it

Dani: and for the purpose of this example let's say that 15% of people opt in

Jessie: okay fair

Dani: because they are lazy and forget or don't care enough
but it's NOT because they don't want to participate

Jessie: makes sense

Dani: and when the enrollment is changed to an opt out plan
only like 5% would opt out

Jessie: makes sense again

Dani: because it's not about the money

Jessie: it's about the effort

Dani: it's about the fact that they would have to put a little bit of extra effort to make it happen
and that's the case for relationships i think too

Jessie: brilliant
okay write this up

Dani: people think that things will just happen if they are supposed to completely disregarding their part

Jessie: well
more importantly I think there's an element of standards here
people allow things to happen expecting minimal effort from others
so others give minimal effort
they can get away with it

Dani: true

Jessie: we'll only ever do what we can get away with
remember high school?

Dani: so complex

Jessie: yeah, but in my mind it's sort of simple
the more self respect you have, the more respect you'll get
you'll just be single longer

Dani: but what about showing respect through example

Jessie: a very good point
but I'd argue that girls needs and guys needs are different

Dani: and dispositions
and inclinations

Jessie: if I never called a guy I was dating I'm not sure he'd be like, "ggrrrr why isn't she paying atteeeention to meeeee?!"
guys/girls communicate differently
and want different levels/amounts of communication

Dani: right

Jessie: so we have to tell them to do it
or ask them I guess
that part's tricky

Dani: hmm
then how do you make it work?
when do you communicate and when do you wait?

Jessie: I don't know
but I think it's a combination of guys not getting mad when we overcommunicate
and us not getting mad when they undercommunicate
AND understanding the other signs that a guy really cares about you
"because he calls me all the time" might not be it...

Dani: right

Jessie: but
it's never going to be even
unless they're gay

Dani: even then

Jessie: and that, as we know, presents a whole host of other issues
mm true
have we solved anything?

Dani: never

Jessie: right

Jessie: I should probably stop writing this blog then

Dani: fair
okay maybe i will go watch some tv

Jessie: good idea
so long as it isn't Sex and the City
I watched an episode last night
set me back at least 4 years

Dani: ugh so unrealistic
NO ONE IS 40 and single and happy

Jessie: Carrie is an idiot
she never should have left Aiden

Dani: AND if they are 40 and single they make WAY better choices

Jessie: I would never leave Aiden

Dani: she's a moron and it's nauseating

Jessie: I know - but the outfits transfix me

I'll talk to you later

Dani: kk

Jessie: byebye

And there you have it.  People are lazy.  Technology makes it so that they can be even lazier.  Some things - money, pride, alcohol, a huge crush on someone... can inspire people to stop being lazy but even then positive reinforcement ("it was really nice that you called to check in the other day. I really appreciate that") or constructive criticism ("it bothers me that every time I call you, you just text me back") are helpful. 

But bottom line: if someone can't overcome all counts of lazy relations for you (never calls, makes minimal effort to see you, doesn't respond to emails in a timely manner, puts friends before you) then they don't really like you in a serious way.

And if someone makes all those mistakes but apparently does like you in a serious way - then you should absolutely not like them. 


  1. haha, reading this post, I almost fell into a state of despair ("THIS is how other people talk on gchat?! like, having REAL conversations about intelligent things?! Jesus what have I done with my life"), until I got to this part:

    Dani: fair
    okay maybe i will go watch some tv

    Jessie: good idea
    so long as it isn't Sex and the City
    I watched an episode last night
    set me back at least 4 years

    Dani: ugh so unrealistic
    NO ONE IS 40 and single and happy

    Jessie: Carrie is an idiot
    she never should have left Aiden

    Dani: AND if they are 40 and single they make WAY better choices

    Jessie: I would never leave Aiden

    and I thought, ok, I recognize this, this is what real gchats look like, I am not a failure after all. :)

  2. I was trying to come up with an example where we had had a gchat conversation about something like this blog post (i.e. somehow relevant to other people), but all that came up in my search were chats about bodo's bagels, twilight, hating on dickens/joyce, and steak. or win. up in the air.

    great blog post by the way. I almost didn't comment on it, due to my inertia, but I overcame.

  3. Love this convo. And thanks for calling me a peach :)

    Strangely, I was most interested in the bit toward the end about SATC/Carrie/Aiden. Why do you think Carrie should have stayed with Aiden? Yeah, he was a great guy, but maybe they just weren't right for each other. Or maybe deep inside, on some level, she always knew Mr. Big was "the one" for her. I always thought her leaving Aiden was the right thing, because clearly their engagement was causing her so much fucking psychological discomfort. My last relationship was like that - he was definitely an Aiden in every way - but for some reason the relationship itself just made me insane.

    So, my question is, should we stay with someone because they are a great person and we'll likely never find anyone better, even if the relationship itself is causing significant psychological distress?

    My answer is obvious. Just wondering what your answer is.

  4. "...when you're interested in something, you do it only when it's convenient. when you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

  5. I think SATC probably ruined a lot of decent relationships.

  6. My friend from work started dating a guy who would only text her. After a couple weeks she said "If you want to speak to me, call. Do not text." And that was that (they got married this year). Most guys just text because they're awkward on the phone. Taking a lesson from my friend, now if a guy texts me, I just respond "Just call me, it's easier." And they usually get it from that point on. If they don't--I mean, come on...not worth your time!

  7. I am noticing a serious decline in the quality and thoughtfulness of the post, snap out of it or we will go ….actually we probably wont do anything we are lazy. :)

    Bottom line though, is that while people might be lazy this post did nothing to prove it (other pasting whole Gchat conversation which granted is being sensibly economical with your time), People are path dependant which is hardly the same thing.

    You see we keep doing what we always been doing even and this is important if there is a better faster more pleasant way of doing it. Changing directions is something people have a general dislike for, the qwerty keyboard designed to slow down typing is the most commonly cited example of this principle, but the 401k is also a viable one, more troublesome then retirement plans and the text/call conundrum is that the same principle is also true for opt in/out in organ donations – Sign a card Today!.

    But the same principal also does a long way to explain why people stay in unhealthy relationships, “better the devil I know, yeee? …well no, but you would not know now would you?”.

    Back to the matter at hand though, I think what you have failed to account for, is that texting is less scary then calling. You see, unless you are in a proper relationship – there is always a risk that the person might not answer there and then that he is “screening you”, now and despite the appealing simplicity of “he is not that into you” people’s attraction is not binary answer to the question of :”do you want to be with A” it’s an axis of attraction I might want to be with here so much now and 3 times as much in two days, moreover this is something that flows and ebbs with time and circumstances, sending a text means that if He/she choose to respond to it they will do so when they have a. time b. desire to communicate and that might be not right now. Moreover it gives you time to think, to frame your thoughts in a better way –most people are not great in the on the spot conversation, a shame but some would actually need a repose to gather their thoughts.

    Now granted texting back and forth within seconds of each other is downright silly – but that would be an exception not a rule.

    I am all for the conclusion “voice out what you want”, in methods of communication as well as in the rest of life, man are stupid and no we do not get (or chose not to get) hints, blatant as they may be, but laziness has nothing to do with it – cowardness might.