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Guilty Pleasures

IndyHall is a kind of hip place, and it is kind of artsy, but it's pretty privilege-y too. I'm probably an oddball in not being one of the entrepreneurial sorts here, but there are at least a few others. They do have one of these irritatingly saccharine motivational posters in the space. I noticed it again today and remembered an awesome parody jwz pointed at last week.

I have a tough time analysing exactly why I find the original poster just make me want to shout "fuck you!", and there are not a lot of things I encounter in my daily life that make me want to do that. Maybe it's that the advice seems to suggested that a meaningful life is equivalent to one lived with gusto, that its advice is not consistent, that some of its advice is devoid of meaning, and maybe that privilege figures so much into it.

I have always had significant material privilege, initially from my family, and then from having a CS background. With my only major health problems not easily treated by medicine, no debt, and sufficient work to always pay the bills and stash reasonable amounts away, I've never been kept back by a lack of funds. I think that BS poster is targeted at people like me; it is not reasonable advice for people who are having difficulty making ends meet (and it's fairly insensitive advice for them).

It's strange thinking about this in my daily life; while I'm not continuing the level of privilege I was born with, I still have substantial privilege (lack-of-debt, education, etc) that others lack. It's a challenge to build/keep the mental habits to perceive that it's there and not allow injustice to stem from what's been mostly-invisibly part of me for my entire life.

Some of the other messages in the sign are easier to dismiss; I believe in living a philosophical life, designed around fulfillment and depth rather than happiness. Happiness is just one thing worth optimising for, and it often should take short-shift.