Polarize: How do you find people you’ll like? Be polarizing.
I quite enjoy being alone, so I often prefer to be alone than in the company of most people. Because of this, when trying to make friends 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.
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.
After practicing this consistently, you’ll be left with a concentrated dose of people who really like you at your rawest and truest— just the people that you’re likely to like quite a lot.
Note that the objective of this isn’t to necessarily select for people that merely believe the same specific beliefs you do, 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.
For example, I’m active in the Effective Altruism community, where the majority do not eat meat to try to limit harm to animals. Now, I don’t eat plants for health reasons (carnivore diet). The most interesting and curious people tend to find my beliefs interesting because they’re unusual. I’m not looking for other carnivores—I’m looking for open-minded individuals.
And if someone sees my strange beliefs and wants to rationally debate them, then that’s all the better signal that they’re an interesting person.
When meeting someone else in the Effective Altruism community I don’t shove this in their face, and it’s not what I say first, but I feel free to bring it up.
Sing your own song. Be (almost) raw. Be polarizing to attract the best and filter the rest.
- 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 find themselves 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. It’s hard though.
- If you’re not actively filtering lots of people in a new environment, you’re probably not being polarizing enough in my opinion. Again, expect this to be tough.
- 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.
Polarizing is hard. Especially when you don’t feel that friend opportunities are abundant. But I know that I’d be happier chatting over zoom with an awesome individual that I met online than someone half as awesome that I met in person. One benefit of the pandemic I suppose.
Do you disagree with this essay’s claim? I’d love to hear what you think!
Posted 2020 August 2, updated 2021 February 7.
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