Talking about Imitation Desire, AI Writing and Murphy Challenge

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The Chinese version of “Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life” by Twitter friend Luke Burgis is now available!

Human beings are always imitating others, wanting what others have, pursuing the goals that society sets for the masses. The fulfillment of desires will be painful, and the dissatisfaction of desires will also be painful, just because people live a “false” life. When a desire arises, don’t forget to ask yourself: Is that really what I want? Why do I have such a desire?

Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel was deeply influenced by French social theorist René Girard’s “imitation desire” theory, and briefly shared some notes I took while studying the theory:

– René Girard’s “imitative desire” theory is to psychology what gravity is to physics. Girard believes that humans do not have an instinctive desire mechanism, but often rely on external references to show us what we should or want. This is the desire to imitate in human nature.

– Girard emphasized that people’s desire to imitate others comes from their desire to achieve the same things as others, such as power, status, wealth, or social recognition. When a person sees someone else pursuing something and getting satisfaction, he will think that this thing is also attractive to him, and try to pursue it. This imitative behavior creates a cycle throughout society, leading to a convergence of desires and ultimately tension and conflict.

– The ultimate purpose of satisfying our desires is to show others what kind of person we are, that is, to gain status in society. Many times we don’t directly want a thing, but we see that the people around us have this thing, so we want it.

– Looking back at the university you dreamed of going to and the company you dreamed of working for, where did you get these ideas? Adolescent students are very susceptible to the influence of the surrounding environment. They often imitate the desires of others and embark on a life path that does not belong to them. Social media has doubled the influence of the desire to imitate. Ask today’s children what they want to do when they grow up, and nine out of ten answers will be bloggers or Internet celebrities.

– The result of the desire to imitate is competition and hostility in society. When multiple people are pursuing the same thing, competition between them can become intense, which can lead to tense and conflicted situations. Girard calls this tension and conflict the “triangle of desire.”

– Competition is at the heart of human behaviour, as humans tend to want what other people want, which naturally draws us into competition. Conflict arises when differences are eliminated and everyone starts fighting over the same thing. Many times when people win the competition, they do not get the expected happiness and satisfaction, because this zero-sum game is not what you want from the bottom of your heart, but the desire instilled in you by others.

– Peter Thiel wrote in the book “From Zero to One” that everyone should avoid competition, perfect competition can only lead to no profit at all, and innovation monopoly can create profit. Cultivate the ability to think independently and keep a distance from the public.

– Imagine a celebrity or social media influencer who starts tweeting about a particular outfit or hairstyle frequently. Soon, you’ll find others copying the style, especially those who want to stay in touch with fashion. When we see friends, colleagues, or celebrities display their success and enjoyment on social media, we may feel jealous or yearn to have a similar experience. This might inspire us to emulate their lifestyle, buy similar products, or pursue the same goals.

– Once we realize that we are in an imitation environment or have imitation behavior, what should we do at this time? Please do a thorough and honest self-reflection, think about the people you have interacted with recently, and review what you have heard and read recently. Although we cannot completely rid ourselves of the influence of the desire to imitate, we can reduce its influence in the process of self-examination. lowest. Free yourself from the herd mentality by building your life on something deeper.

– Girard’s theory of “imitative desire” provides a framework for explaining social behavior, which argues that desire and conflict in society arise through imitation and competition. This theory helps us understand why people compete with each other for similar things, and it helps reveal the sources of tension and conflict in society.

Previously, Shaonan, the seed user of CY Circle and founder of Flomo, recorded a podcast on “imitation desire”. Welcome to listen:

​AI writing

One of my favorite bloggers , Shane Parrish , just tweeted out an answer to a recent confusion I had. Simply compile it:

Why do we still write, instead of typing a few words and having an AI generate an essay for you instantly? Why do we still write emails instead of having an AI politely auto-reply to all the bullet points?

While AI can help people with these writing tasks, it shouldn’t replace writing.

Writing makes you realize that you don’t really understand what you want to share, but it’s through the process of writing that you have the opportunity to figure out the topics you want to talk about and write about.

Writing is one of the best ways to learn and understand a subject, it not only empowers us to share our thoughts with others, but also helps us understand ourselves. Writing about a topic teaches you what you know, what you don’t know, and how to think. As Paul Graham, the godfather of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, said , “A good writer should not just think and record his thoughts, but discover new things in the process of writing.”

Another aspect of writing that is often overlooked is the need to compress an idea. If the writer doesn’t know how to make trade-offs, he will lose the insight that the article should contain. Compression needs to involve thinking and understanding, which is one of the reasons why writing is so important.

Great writers get their point across in a way that resonates with their readers, whereas average writers start with what they want to say without thinking about how it will affect the reader. Great writers understand that the writing journey begins with the reader’s needs. When you start at the beginning, you have to convince the reader that the path is right. When you start at the end, the reader already knows that you are leading them there. .

We live in an age of redundant information and poor signal-to-noise ratios, making content production a piece of cake. Therefore, writing is not difficult, what is rare is the thinking behind it and how to deeply understand the problem. None of this is something simple AI tools can help us achieve. In the not-too-distant future, the ability to think clearly will become even more valuable.

Further reading:
– 50-day writing course
A Brief Talk on James Baldwin, Mental Models, and Writing Guidelines
David Perell | 28 Life Advice From Writing The Little Prince Online


The first thing I did when I came back from the trip was to make an appointment for a CrossFit class. I thought it would be a little easier on the weekend, but when I opened the class schedule, it turned out to be the famous “Murph Challenge Murph Challenge”… A few years ago, I thought that I would definitely do it in my lifetime. I wanted to challenge it, but I was a little caught off guard when this “opportunity” came.

The Murphy Challenge was a favorite training routine of the late Navy SEAL Captain Michael Murphy. The action includes: 1609 meters (1 mile) running + 100 pull-ups + 200 push-ups + 300 empty squats + 1609-meter running, and must be completed in one go wearing a 20-pound weight-bearing vest or body armor! Generally, the average challenge score of CrossFit athletes is 47-57 minutes to complete, and some gods can complete it within 25 minutes.

Speaking of Michael Murphy, I have to mention a tear-jerking movie “Lone Survivor”, which I watched a few years ago. In order to get in touch with the headquarters, he resolutely sacrificed himself in exchange for the tragic scene of a communication signal. Murphy was also the first SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor of the U.S. Army, and there are still many places and anniversaries named after him.

In addition to the movie, the original memoir of the same name is also worth seeing. The author Marcus Luttrell (Marcus Luttrell), the only survivor of the Red Wings operation, recalled it as a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast. His expressions and body language during the battle were moving. Although it has been many years, the shadow and trauma left by that war will haunt him forever.

Finally, I would like to commemorate my first Murphy challenge. Under the guidance of the coach, I did not carry any weight, and I also divided up the movements that should have been completed at one time. I am very satisfied with the results in the last 46 minutes. Brain tricks, challenges are never as hard as you think, and the same goes for doing other things in life.


A week of miscellaneous thoughts

1. Your most beautiful temperament is freedom.

2. The more you play this large-scale role-playing game of life, the more interesting you are. You must go to a certain place to do a task, or find someone to talk to, in order to get clues to the next level, unlock new skills/new maps, and get New props and new plots.

In the first 30 years, I was a novice player. With a sense of curiosity and courage, I wandered around in the game world, but I also played happily. Now I think I have advanced to the level of an intermediate player. I have figured out some rules, equipped with the necessary equipment, and my perception of clues is constantly increasing.

And when you feel “stuck” in your life, it’s most likely that you didn’t do something or talk to someone, so the game story can’t move on to the next stage. At this time, pay more attention to and reflect on the surrounding environment and details (through meditation, writing), and then find clues to advance the game process.

Just like the state of playing “Wulin Heroes” back then, practice your skills, go to different places, meet friends from all over the world, hook up with people you like, that’s enough!

3. Imagine that you are the protagonist in a book or a movie. When readers see your current character design and life, what thoughts will they have?

4. Fantasy Premier League (FPL) The 22/23 season ended with a red arrow, 2426 points, a global ranking of 490,000 (a total of 8 million players), and the four major leagues are empty. The only happy thing about this season is that my city won the league championship, went to Manchester to supervise two games, and finished watching “Football Coach Ted Lasso” by the way. I can really consider entering the entertainment industry hahaha! The task now is to squat a triple crown, collect a new season jersey, and fight again next season!

5. I am very grateful to the little angels who appeared in my life. Maybe we just passed by and never met again; maybe we had contacts for several years or decades, and then slowly separated. But the moment of our interaction is eternity, leaving imprints in each other’s lives that transcend time and space.

I met a filmmaker at the Santos Festival in Lisbon yesterday. We discussed the filming techniques and story settings of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers, and then he reminded me of my confusion about the creator’s search for a niche. For a moment, on the noisy streets of Lisbon shrouded in darkness, his words seemed to hit my heart like a ray of light, giving me peace that I had not seen for a long time.

This feeling is really wonderful.


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