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A Distrust of Zero Sum Games - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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May 5th, 2010


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02:07 am - A Distrust of Zero Sum Games
I was discussing happiness with teaotter a few days ago, and we talked about how (IMHO at least) far too many people see it as a zero-sum game, and it occurred to me that this may also be an issue with why some authors dislike fanfiction. I think that the idea of zero-sum games is in part embedded in capitalism, but that is also clearly not the only source of this idea. Whatever its origin, the idea that the world is essentially a zero-sum game seems deeply embedded in many people's psyche, and I consider this one of the most destructive ideas that someone can have. I long ago realized that I'm far happier around people who are happy and content, and that this applies to everything from casual interactions on the street or in shops to dealing with friends and romantic partners, and with that realization it was immediately clear that the idea of life being a zero-sum game was utterly foolish and self-destructive.

I have unfortunately seen far too much evidence that some people actively enjoy the suffering of others, just as at least as many people have little or no trouble ignoring seeing other people suffer, but I remain baffled by both of these concepts. However, I think they are both related to the idea of life (or at least particular aspects of life) as a zeros-sum game, since otherwise under that PoV, every gain would be fairly bittersweet. While there are certainly aspects of life that are at least somewhat zero-sum – for example if there are more applicants for a job than there are openings there are clearly winners and losers, but at least for me, such times are a relatively small part of life and to me, the existence of such situations indicates a problem in need of a solution.
Current Mood: tiredtired

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:alobar
Date:May 5th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
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We see similarly on this one.
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From:siderea
Date:May 5th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
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I find myself coming back, again and again, to the idea that one's happiness is a sort of garden. It requires cultivation; if you take care of it, it will take care of you, in so far as environmental conditions allow. Alas, many -- maybe even most -- people have no idea how to tend gardens, so attempt to rob their neighbors'. :(
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:May 5th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
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I really like that analogy.
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From:bodlon
Date:May 5th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
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This is me, very much in agreement.

To some extent, I wonder if some of the problem is an issue with abstract thinking. It's like people get worked up about How Much Pie there is, and trying to force something intangible (culture, love, happiness) into a framework that's much more oriented to tangible things.

Books are pie. Ideas are not.

Edited at 2010-05-05 05:23 pm (UTC)
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From:bruceb
Date:May 5th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
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I like the thought that civilization (like biological prospering, like...well, geez, everything back to stable leptons, more or less) is about increasing the extent to which our interactions can be positive-sum.
[User Picture]
From:roseembolism
Date:May 5th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)

A Distrust of Zero Sum Games

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Technically, Capitalism isn't supposed to be a zero-sum game, but a value-additive game. As in labor done on resources increases their value. That a fair number of people interpret Capitalism as a zero-sum game is a major problem, especially given the economic power some of those people have.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:May 5th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)

Re: A Distrust of Zero Sum Games

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Pretty much.
[User Picture]
From:krinndnz
Date:May 8th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)

Re: A Distrust of Zero Sum Games

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And as in "rational market actors usually make trades from which both parties benefit," which is pretty much the opposite of a zero-sum game.

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