Why You Are the Way You Are

You are the average of the five people you associate with most.

If your brother, your dad, your best friend, your flatmate, and your only friend at work all play golf…guess what you’re doing this Saturday.

If you think these five people are all idiots, you are in all likelihood an idiot.

If these people all have their finances in order, yours will be too.

The causality here is bidirectional. We can’t help copying those around us. But we also find ourselves gravitating towards people who are of a similar disposition and have similar interests.

A modern addition to this is the content we consume: you are the average of the 5 sources of interaction and information that you associate with most.

Watch too much American TV, news, YouTube, etc. and you’ll start saying elevator instead of lift, movie instead of film, and store instead of shop (you’ll also receive a thorough telling-off from me).

If I read too much of a certain author, their style starts to creep into my writing. They might use short sentences. Simple sentences. Repeated words. Or they might play around with the rules of grammar, contrary to what you were taught in school and what you really should be sticking to because punctuation helps the reader grasp the meaning of the sentence and only once you master the rules e.g someone who has been writing for 20Years+ can you play with them.

Want to get rich? Get rich friends.

Why? Because you can get ideas, options, and inspiration from these people. They may also help you or include you in their next money-making scheme.

But this mechanism seems to work mostly because of motivation. We really don’t like to be the odd one out in social situations. If everyone you know is talking about and doing rich people shit, you’re going to want to get rich too to join in with the gang. This is the dark side of this strategy. Feeling left out isn’t fun. You’ll eventually get what you want, but it might take a while, and you might suffer until you do.

If you join online forums, Reddit communities, Twitter circles, etc. that are all centred around personal finance, you’ll become good at personal finance.

But at what cost? These online spaces warp your sense of reality, convincing you that a million really isn’t a lot of money if you really think about it. Or you’ve flopped if you’re not earning six figures by age 25. Is this true? It depends on who you’re comparing yourself against. Taking a step back will tell you that you can be considered broke on money twitter whilst being incredibly well-off and #blessed by most peoples’ standards.

To see how lucky you are, just do some simple combinatorics – what is the probability that any given human alive today has internet access AND can understand (quite fancy) English? <0.5? And that’s the bear-minimum requirement for reading this; I’d guess you’re probably from a developed country, having had a decent education, and parents who didn’t fuck you up too much. I could go on.

You must also be careful not to become too closed-minded. These areas of the interwebs are echo chambers. Monocultures. They are typically not places for debate and new ideas. They are more like cults: hostile to outsiders and anything that challenges the status quo. Spend too much time here and you’ll become similarly arrogant and toxic and closed-minded.

Which may be fine if the goal is what you really want. The problem is that most of us are bad at knowing what we really want. Sure, sometimes it’s obvious. If you’re ill, you just want to get better. If you’re living in poverty, you just want money. If you’re a 38-year-old virgin…

But beyond basic desire, life is about both figuring out what you really want and going out and getting it. Building a life centred around only one thing is great for getting that thing. But before going all-in you should be sure that that’s what you really want.

One thought on “Why You Are the Way You Are

  • Haydn Martin
    01/02/2023 at 5:28 pm

    I should add – investing/trading is different.

    As already discussed, to be good you need an advantage. Even after 50 years of obsessive consumption of trading internet content, you might still lose money. Because being the average of the presently-held beliefs of market participants is exactly how not to make a profit.


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