How do you find people you’ll like? Be polarizing.
I prefer to be alone than to be with most people, so I don’t mind filtering through the vast majority of people in search of the few I really like.
I know I can’t be close friends with everyone around me, so I’m not looking to satisfy everyone with my thoughts, opinions, and behavior. I think this is a preferable way to live.
What follows is my strategy for finding interesting people.
How do you find people that you really like?
Share your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs strongly, without restraint, and always. Be polarizing.
- Those in your proximity who find themselves disinterested will soon find other people to spend time with.
- Those in your proximity who appreciate your polarization will stay.
- And whenever you encounter someone that likes the core of who you are, they will stick more than they would’ve otherwise.
I think we usually do a dance of opening up slowly when meeting other people. If what you’re looking for is people to be real, close friends, why not skip that dance?—You were going to open up eventually anyway. That’s what this is.
After doing this consistently for a time, you’ll be left with a concentrated dose of people who really like you at your rawest and truest— and these are just the people that you’re likely to like.
Note that the objective of this isn’t to necessarily select for people that merely believe the same specific things as you, but the objective is to select, on a meta level, for people who find strong beliefs interesting, even if your specific beliefs are different than their own.
(And if someone sees your beliefs and wants to rationally debate them, then that’s all the better signal that they’re an interesting person.)
I think strong beliefs can help steer a discussion towards truth, and that benefits everyone.
Sing your own song. Be (almost) raw. Be polarizing to attract the best and filter the rest.
- Note that the ability to be kind to anyone is distinct from the desire to be close friends with anyone. Of course, be kind to everyone—even those who are repelled by your polarization. But separate true friends from mere ‘allies’. Do not confuse close friends with helpful neighbors.
- Removing stale friends may have similar marginal value to that of gaining new close friends. I suspect that one’s social satisfaction is correlated to concentration, rather than one’s quantity of friends: Splitting your time amongst 4 great friends seems to be preferable to splitting your time amongst 4 great friends and 2 dreadful friends. More might not be better.
- If you wake up one day and realize you don’t deeply revel in many of your friends, being polarizing is the way out.
- If you’re not actively filtering lots of people in a new environment, you’re probably not being polarizing enough. (This is tough to do, expect that.)
- In some ways, this essay’s argument makes me wonder whether I should be intentionally careless, at least a little bit, because I’d rather not spend time trying to befriend anyone that can’t allow others to make mistakes nor act out good intentions in less-than-always-ideal ways. I don’t want to befriend anyone who’s fragile.
- I’ve partly written this essay to convince myself (in the future, in the past, in the present) of this philosophy. I do struggle with it. I find myself far too often spinning my wheels griplessly trying to befriend someone who, given introduction and ample opportunity, won’t go out of their way for me, even just a little. Simply thinking about someone else unprompted and randomly, is going out of one’s way. But for now I find myself a bit hopeless in this regard, often attracted to people that don’t seem to care about me. I believe being polarizing, and being comfortable with being polarizing, is the way out.
Do you disagree with this essay’s claim? I’d love to hear what you think.
A personal example of this in action.
You may be interested in a related philosophy, Stoicism.
2020 August 2 (posted) – 2020 November 2 (revised) - 2020 November 9 (updated)