The privilege of being relatable; how often do you filter what you say for the sake of fitting in?

See original post and follow up discussion on /r/slatestarcodex here

Last year when Rob Wiblin interviewed Ezra Klein on the 80,000 hours podcast, something really stood out to me. There were a few topics where Rob presented an economic argument in favour of something and Ezra responded by saying something along the lines of, sorry, but no; it doesn’t matter if your argument works in theory, it doesn’t take into consideration how people feel and is therefore wrong.

While I actually agree with Ezra about all of his specific points, I remember being struck by a sort of privilege I realized Ezra had and I was very jealous of.

Rob, despite being a very intelligent and knowledgeable person, has views and values that are very different from the median academic/media elite (as well as NYT reader). Ezra in contrast, has views that are aligned. As a result of this, Ezra can speak his mind and feel comfortable that his ideas will be well received.

Many years ago when I was going through interviews in law school, I remember feeling very jealous of one of my closest friends who I viewed as an everyman. When asked about his favourite musician, tv shows, restaurants or vacations, he could just speak honestly about what he enjoyed and feel confident it would resonate with the interviewing lawyers. In contrast, I had to work very hard to filter my responses to ensure I would be seen as being relatable.

This may be obvious as I’m posting this on /r/SSC, but despite enjoying fairly conventional hobbies, my specific interests or ideal conversations are often very niche and esoteric.

Ie I love travel, but I am more excited to travel to a place like Pakistan than to Colombia. I love exploring new restaurants but I am more excited to go to the restaurant the local Szechuan community loves 45 minutes away from the city than the new trendy Japanese fusion restaurant. I love music, but I am more excited to listen to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard than John Mayer etc.

One of the benefits of having so many different sets of interests and generally being a very knowledgeable person is that it’s relatively easy for me to have a great conversation with people about the things they are most interested in. I also genuinely love talking with people about the things they are excited about.

I am not complaining about struggling socially – I do fine in all of these interactions. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I’m noticing lately how rarely I get to have conversations anymore where I am not filtering myself to a very significant degree.

From past experiences with people in the SSC/EA community, I am actually much more normal/conventional than most around here. Given this, I am curious to hear how other people in this community experience and deal with this.

  • Do you find yourself having to filter a lot of your conversations?
  • Do you just not care and embrace being different/having less in common with others?
  • Have you curated your work and social life to be mostly filled with like-minded and compatible people?