(Very much WIP)
Steven Universe is one of my favourite shows. I care terrifically about the characters, the world, and the story, and my life would be a lot darker without it.
It does also have a notoriously bad beginning 20 or so episodes. I’ve often looked back with gratitude that I managed to pull through those episodes, and worry about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t.
But of course, there is a lesson in this. In the same way I live in the timeline where I get to love Steven Universe, I am not living in the timeline of other worlds where I pushed through the first 20 episodes of some other show that I would be loving right now instead.
(All things equal, having a more consistent show quality is better than starting off crap and getting good. Gravity Falls pulled it off, so did Community. Let us not fall into the trap of rationalisation so obvious that is “All of Steven Universe is perfect the way it is.”)
There are so many books and shows and movies which battle for our attention, and the rewards for getting it right and finding the right books and movies is insanely high. You get to permenantly relocate yourself in a new timeline where you care deeply about these worlds, forever. You never have to sludge through it again.
Unfortunately, knowing that you’ll change your mind about something isn’t all that it takes.
Desire modification is a bizzare thing. Your non-modified self would look at a block of coal and think “I’m not putting that in my mouth, coal tastes disgusting”. However, if we modified your taste buds as to find coal delicious (and modify your digestion track to be able to manage consuming coal perfectly finely), knowing that your taste buds have been altered isn’t enough to make it not suck!
I have a lot of faith in animation youtubers. They are almost always right about what cartoons I will like. They rather universally see Gravity Falls, Ducktales (2017), The Owl House.
If YouTube starts reccomending me a bunch of videos about the same cartoons, it’s always right, and the show is always good.
The Owl House is a new Disney cartoon. My friend reccomended I watch it. I didn’t love it much it at first, and I still consider most of season one to be rather dull. But I kept watching at her insistance, and now I love it to bits. I care The Owl House so much, and would have to be paid a large amount of money to never watch it again.
This next happened with Amphibia, yet another Disney cartoon. I wasn’t afforded the luxury of having actual peer pressure from a real life friend, all I had was the incessent approval of every animation youtuber. I started watching season one with my brother, waiting for it to get good. We both found it remarkably okay, and weren’t excited to continue on past the season one finale. But by now I knew I was more likely to be wrong and it’d get really good than the show actually sucking. My trust had been broken in by The Owl House and I wasn’t going to fall over and fail, so I trudged through season two, with the show getting progressively more interesting to me until I was BLOWN away by it’s INCREDIBLE season 2 finale, and now I love the show and care about it’s characters and world as much as I do Gravity Falls and the Owl House, and I never have to worry about not having got through the first bit again, like Steven Universe.
I’d written off Amphibia as being a silly show not worth watching before. That was when it was a slab of coal. But I had been told and told again, “pick up this coal, and put it in your mouth. It’s not as disgusting as you think. And the more you chew it, the more you’ll realise how good it tastes, until it’s the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten.”
If you don’t actually eat it once, if you don’t actually let yourself taste how bland it is and then watch as it gets good and then be BLOWN AWAY at how wrong you were, you won’t get the joy of being able to eat it forever!
But most importantly, you need to be blown away at how wrong you were and feel it. You need to feel that feeling of “even if something looks and smells like bland charcoal, if people I trust are saying it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever eaten, you eat it, even if it’s gross at first”
Trust isn’t a thing that you can break in just by wanting it to be broken in, or knowing that it should be.
You need to actually think you’re right and then be shown you’re wrong, to have your incorrect belief shattered vividly right in front of your face.
We’re not lucky enough that just knowing the coal’ll taste delicious is enough for the coal to taste delicious. It’ll still look and smell crap, until you actually put it in your mouth.
“I admit you say Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is good, but I’m not gonna actually read it now”
Of course you’re not! But you don’t have the same evidence as me!
There’s this whole art about not refuting people’s points until you yourself are exposed to the evidence that was used to convince them, and there’s this whole thing about not trying to convince people of things except by displaying them with the same evidence that was used to convince you.
I can’t do that with HPMOR! If HPMOR is the best book I’ve ever read, I can’t show you that evidence without getting you to read hpmor!
You’re just going to have to trust that I seem cool enough that the things I go out of my way to reccomend as being really good are indeed really good.
Maybe people don’t care about following your reccomendations because hearing people say “THIS IS SO GOOD OMG IT’S THE BEST THING I’VE EVER READ” is a cheap signal that can be given whether or not the thing is actually that good for you. If some random blogger says this about “The Power of When”, and Neel Nanda says this about “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality”, you might end up hating The Power of When or not thinking it’s that cool and so your gut level processing of the trust of the signal “THIS IS SO GOOD OMG—” goes down, because it’s failed you.
Then, when Neel Nanda says that about HPMOR, you’ve already come to distrust the signal, so you won’t care that much. You won’t open hpmor.com or download the book to be read at any moment of downtime on your phone. You might say with your lips “I’ll be sure to read that”, but you won’t care.
But Neel Nanda is cool. Neel Nanda is insanely cool. Neel Nanda would love to just shut up and provide you with the evidence of his claims, and no