A few days ago, I was procrastinating. It was a stupidly easy task — a few minutes at most — but it produced disproportionate amounts of anxiety. Finally, I decided to be nimble and do something else.
So I started flipping through old journals. (Made easier because we’re in the midst of a move to New York City and they were stacked in a box in my office.)
I came across one from about two years ago, written right after my fifteen minutes of fame on Twitter.
Here’s the story, briefly: Tim Ferriss posted a really personal story involving suicide. After telling the story, Ferriss presented an argument about why people should not commit suicide. One of Ferriss’s several points is that a person who commits suicide might cause more sadness among friends and family than he or she experienced themselves.
Brian Cuban, Mark Cuban’s lesser-known brother, took issue with the word might, arguing that this suggested that it might not, which in turn means that suicide is an OK option. Cuban and Ferriss then got in a Twitter battle, each side joined by their followers.
I Tweeted something about words being imperfect, and how meaning cannot be derived without the context of other words. By focusing narrowly on might, Cuban was missing the point. Worse, he was extrapolating to argue that Ferriss was arguing that suicide was OK — which was the complete opposite of his actual argument.
Ferriss quoted me as his closing argument and ended the battle.
Reading my journal entry, I sensed some vanity. I was on a dopamine high because I’d earned the (brief) respect of the famous Tim Ferriss, a bunch of new Twitter followers and blog readers. And I was absolutely damning of Cuban’s comments: condescending, almost to the point of vindictiveness.
This was disappointing to me. I’d like to think that the Michael Motta of T0day wouldn’t have gloated so much, or been so quick to shit on Cuban. (Or even taken the time to get involved in an ultimately meaningless Twitter debate.)
But the truth is, I’m not sure how I’d react today. I’m subject to the same condition as Brian Cuban and Tim Ferriss: mental models. Ferriss saw one thing. Cuban another. And me a third. We’re all just responding to the world we see, not the world of others, not the world we share.