Out to Get You

Link post

Epistemic Status: Reference.

Expanded From: Against Facebook, as the post originally intended.

Some things are fundamentally Out to Get You.

They seek resources at your expense. Fees are hidden. Extra options are foisted upon you. Things are made intentionally worse, forcing you to pay to make it less worse. Least bad deals require careful search. Experiences are not as advertised. What you want is buried underneath stuff you don’t want. Everything is data to sell you something, rather than an opportunity to help you.

When you deal with Out to Get You, you know it in your gut. Your brain cannot relax. You lookout for tricks and traps. Everything is a scheme.

They want you not to notice. To blind you from the truth. You can feel it when you go to work. When you go to church. When you pay your taxes. It is bad government and bad capitalism. It is many bad relationships, groups and cultures.

When you listen to a political speech, you feel it. Dealing with your wireless or cable company, you feel it. At the car dealership, you feel it. When you deal with that one would-be friend, you feel it. Thinking back on that one ex, you feel it. It’s a trap.

Get Gone, Get Got, Get Compact or Get Ready

There are four responses to Out to Get You.

You can Get Gone. Walk away. Breathe a sigh of relief.

You can Get Got. Give the thing everything it wants. Pay up, relax, enjoy the show.

You can Get Compact. Find a rule limiting what ‘everything it wants’ means in context. Then Get Got, relax and enjoy the show.

You can Get Ready. Do battle. Get what you want.

When to Get Got

Get Got when the deal is Worth It.

This is a difficult lesson for everyone in at least one direction.

I am among those with a natural hatred of Getting Got. I needed to learn to relax and enjoy the show when the deal is Worth It. Getting Got imposes a large emotional cost for people like me. I have worked to put this aside when it’s time to Get Got, while preserving my instincts as a defense. That’s hard.

Others make the mistake of not hating Getting Got. They might not even notice. This is bad. If you Get Got without realizing, you’ll Get Got often for large amounts. Bad habits will form. Deals won’t be Worth It. Reasonable is insufficient: Out to Get You is engineered to fool. Only accept capital letters Worth It.

When you Get Got, do it on purpose.

Never Get Got without saying to yourself “I am Getting Got. It is Worth It.”

If you realize you’ve been unwittingly Got, feel sad. Update. Cost is finite, so you should sometimes Get Got unaware. It is still unacceptable.

You can choose to Get Got only if you know what you’ll be Got for.

You cannot afford to Get Got if the price is not compact.

You can Get Got by a car salesman, saving time and aggravation. Max loss is the price.

You can Get Got with an unlimited phone plan. Max loss is the price.

You can Get Got by a restaurant, club or cruise ship vacation. Leaving money on the table and relaxing could be Worth It, if you know your max loss and find it acceptable.

You can Get Got in a relationship. That’s the Price of Admission. That’s fine if you know the price and find it Worth It.

You can buy a AAA game for $60 today rather than $20 next year. Pay $2,000 a year for Magic: The Gathering. Overpay for concert tickets. Wear a symbolic hat. Go vegan. Believe the Knicks will be good next year. If you want. Your call.

There may be no reasonable max loss. Some things want too much.

A clean example is free to play mobile games. If allowed, they charge tens of thousands of dollars. Players called whales are so addicted they pay. The games destroy them.

The motivating example was Facebook. Facebook wants your entire life. Users not consciously limiting engagement lose hours a day. Every spare moment is spent scrolling, checking for updates, likes and comments. This reliably makes users miserable. Other social networks share this problem.

An important example is politics. Political causes want every spare minute and dollar. They want to choose your friends, words and thoughts. If given power, they seize the resources of state and nation for their purposes. Then they take those purposes further. One cannot simply give any political movement what it wants. That way lies ruin and madness.

Yes, that means your cause, too.

This generalizes into most sufficiently intense signaling and status competition. One must always signal harder or seek higher status. This takes over everything you are and eats your entire life. Part of sending sufficiently intense signals is showing that you have allowed this! Maya Millennial has fallen victim. Those keeping up with the Joneses fall victim. Many a child looking fitting in or applying to college falls victim.

Obsession with safety does this.

Television eats people’s lives. So do video games. So do drugs and alcohol. One must be careful and know your tenancies and limits.

Ethical arguments do this, ensnaring vulnerable people.

This property is a way to distinguish cults from religions. Cults want it all. Religion wants its cut.

You can only pay off those who charge a bounded price and stay bought. Before you pay the ransom, be sure it will free the hostages.

Would going along result in cooperation? Or put blood in the water?

When To Get Compact

Get Compact when you find a rule you can follow that makes it Worth It to Get Got.

The rule must create an acceptable max loss. A well-chosen rule transforms Out to Get You for a lot into Out to Get You for a price you find Worth It. You then Get Got.

This works best using a natural point beyond which lies clear diminishing returns. If no such point exists, be suspicious.

A simple way is a budget. Spend at most $25,000 on this car, or $5,000 on this vacation package. This creates an obvious max dollar loss.

Many budgets should be $0. Example: free to play games. Either it’s worth playing for free or it isn’t. It isn’t.

The downside of budgets is often spending exactly your maximum, especially if others figure out what it is. Do your best to avoid this. Known bug.

An alternative is restriction on type. Go to a restaurant and avoid alcohol, desert and appetizers. Pay in-game only for full game unlocks and storage space.

Budgets can be set for each purchase. Hybrid approaches are good.

Many cap their charitable giving at 10%. Even those giving more reserve some amount for themselves. Same principle.

For other activities, max loss is about time. Again, you can use a (time) budget or limit your actions in a way that restricts (time) spent, or combine both.

Time limits are crude but effective. Limiting yourself to an hour of television or social media per day maxes loss at an hour. This risks making you value the activity more. Often time budgets get exactly spent same as dollar budgets. Try to let unspent time roll over into future periods, to avoid fear or ‘losing’ unspent time.

When time is the limiting factor, it is better where possible to engineer your environment and options to make the activity compact. You’ll get more out of the time you do spend and avoid feeling like you’re arbitrarily cutting yourself off.

Decide what’s worth watching. Watch that.

For Facebook, classify a handful of people See First. See their posts. No others. Look at social media only on computers. Don’t comment. Or post.

A buffet creates overeating. Filling up one plate (or one early to explore, then one to exploit) ends better.

Unlimited often requires limitation.

Outside demands follow the pattern. To make explanation and justification easier, choose good enough rules that sound natural, simple and reasonable.

Experiments need a chance, but also a known point where you can know to call it quits. Ask whether you can get a definitive negative result in reasonable time. Will I worry I did it wrong? Will others claim or assume I did it wrong or didn’t give it a fair chance?

When to Get Ready

Get Ready when you have no choice.

Getting Ready means battle. An enemy trying to Get You. You are determined not to Get Got. You have done the research. Your eyes are open. You are on alert. You are ready.

You have no choice. The price of surrender is too high. Simple heuristics won’t work. You are already in too deep, or they have something you need and all alternatives are worse.

Sometimes you must accept a bad time and try not to let events get to you. Other times going into battle can be fun. I like games. Games are fun! So are puzzles. Buying a car, planning a vacation, trading for your Magic deck or managing one’s social media interactions can be a game or puzzle. Get the one trying to get you. Get a lot for a little.

There are big downsides.

The game can be fun. The original activity can be fun. Both at once is rarely fun. Both means multi-tasking and context-switching, plus a radical shift in emotion and tone. Relaxing into cooperative experience is not compatible with battles of wits and tricks.

The result of this is that you often end up unable to maintain both states at once. Sometimes you end up relaxing, and Get Got. Other times, you focus on not Getting Got and don’t enjoy what you get. Either way, you lose.

The best way out of this is to try and front-load or batch as much of the battle as possible. Sometimes this happens naturally. If you first choose, shop and haggle, then later enjoy the bounty, that’s the ideal way to do battle. Do your best to transform into that sequence, or to make enough choices to transform into a Compact situation.

If this is not possible, consciously switch between modes when needed. Think, “time to pause to not get got,” deal with the issue, switch back. This minimizes bleeding between states. If getting attempts are too continuous, this becomes possible and you need another mode.

You pay for not Getting Got with time and attention. You master arcane details. Time disappears. You spend parties talking tricks instead of living life. If shower thoughts shift to such places, you are paying a high price.

The biggest downside is you can lose.

When To Get Gone


You need good reason to stick around when things are Out to Get You. It is often wise to Get Gone, if you can.

If your instincts say Get Gone, Get Gone. At worst it is only a small mistake.

If your instincts do not say Get Gone, but you can’t find a viable approach to another option, Get Gone anyway.

The getting can be insidious. Constant vigilance is required. Many think they can handle it, check all the right boxes and not get drawn in. Some are right. Often they are wrong.

If Getting Got means you lose an order of magnitude bigger than you can win, Get Gone.

If Getting People is how something survives, Get Gone.

Free trial! Automatically renews. Probably won’t want? Don’t wait. Get Gone.

You think you are getting good odds. You are probably wrong.

You think you know all the tricks they will try. You are probably wrong.

You think there is something is forcing your hand. Make sure this is something you need rather than a want. The word need is thrown around a lot these days.

Getting Gone is worth making sacrifices. Big sacrifices.

If you cannot Get Gone, do not engage more than necessary. Go into Easy Mode. Get what you must. Then Get Gone.