Out to Get You

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.