Alchemy #2 - 10/18 - Outsourcing Self Discovery with Jonah Hill & Yuval Harari

Jonah Hill’s first movie as a director came out, mid90s.

It’s a coming of age story loosely based on his own life portrayed through the lens of a 13 year old kid, Stevie (Sunny Suljic).

Similar to Hill, and most people in their teens, he’s seeking acceptance in any friend group he can find.

That emotion is written in the masthead of the magazine his company A24 Films puts out.

The reason I bring up the movie is to contrast the conversation around self-discovery 20 years later.

In the 90s, him being in the suburbs of LA played a big part in the story.

Now, with the evolution of technology and the internet location is less relevant. You can find “your people” online no matter how niche the interest.

Many baby boomers think social media is net negative for kids and would prefer it not exist… that we could go back to the “good-ol times”.

Gary Vaynerchuk, someone who has been championing social media for more than a decade and probably gets faced with this question more than anyone, gives his rebuttal here.

Spoiler: not only does he disagree he thinks social media is just highlighting bad parenting strategies.

While I also believe that social media is net-positive I think that’s avoiding the question of how self-discovery happens now.

After reading Yuval Harari’s 21 Lessons for the the 21rst Century you can’t help but consider what the process will look like in the future.

We already live in a world where the movies we watch, the songs we listen to, and the content we consume are all based on an algorithm tailored to our individual interests.

If a baby starts interacting with an Ipad and falls under the influence of these suggestions before it can even speak how will that affect their sense of self later in life?

Assuming we agree this self-discovery process is going to change so drastically then is it also worth considering how believable we are as parents? Those same off-handed comments that were once interpreted as truism might now be devastatingly incorrect advice.

In Yuval’s book he carries this narrative a lot further down the rabbit hole considering scenarios where an entire class of people could become suppressed by their inability to protect their data (this is the information necessary for brands to make suggestions for us).

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of data protection this will likely be one of the biggest human rights issues of the upcoming century. To understand the severity of the issue and the potential consequences please read my summary on the book posted here.

Or if you prefer to hear it from Yuval himself here’s an interview he did with Tom Bilyeu from Impact Theory.

If you’re more interested in the act of self discovery rather than a hypothetical sense of how it’s changed here’s a great podcast episode from Shane Parrish with Atul Gawande called “The Path to Perpetual Progress”.

Photo Of The Month.

Another good friend of mine was turning 30 this month and wanted to see an NFL game. Somehow we landed on Nashville. I’m not a big football fan and it was pouring rain during the game but the city was a blast. (I’m the guy with his eyes closed)

I’ve had this song on repeat since the trip.

Quote I’m Thinking About.

“People are usually afraid of change because they fear the unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.”  ― Yuval Noah Harari