PolarisDiB (polarisdib) wrote,

Minor personal silver lining

The other day I edited a video where a foreign exchange / macro guy said, "Everyone is overselling on fears of a hard Brexit, but they'll never let a hard Brexit happen." It struck me that that was the first time I had heard "They'll never let..." said sincerely and without a tinge of self-doubt or worry since 2016.

Which is a bad thing, in the case of this dude being bullish foreign exchange. He might be right about the pound being strong but it isn't going to be for the reason of 'they' (whomever they are) never letting 'a hard Brexit' (whatever that means to him) happen. And I'm not saying that a hard Brexit will happen.

I'm just saying that his certainty behind a statement not only unprovable, but recently shown to be arrogant ('they' also would have never let Brexit be put up to referendum, and once it was 'they' would have never allowed people to vote for 'leave', and when that happened 'they' would never actually leave, they'd just sort of rewrite the trade deals and their relationship to the EU to be the exact same right?).

But to be fair to this guy, two years after we've gotten used to a reality show con man in the White House doing exactly what he said he would do, the "maybe we shouldn't try to predict the future or feel certain and comfortable in our assumptions" lessons have started fading to post hoc rationalizations. We're officially at the point where everyone knew Trump was going to win, because the whole time they've been tracking [American racism / wage and wealth inequality / the effect of massive migration from climate change on populist recidivism in Western democracies / your-own-all-history-boils-down-to-this-issue-I-have-the-solution-to-here ]. It wasn't surprise, it was disappointment. Poor analogy alert: the same way everybody I went to see Titanic with when it was in theatres swear up and down they never liked it and thought it was totally overrated from the get-go, all half-dozen times or so they went back to see it again.

I've also been reading a ton of financial history and even as the writers insist every chance they get that the causes of major financial breakdowns seem obvious only in retrospect, they can't help but point out the points where other participants noticed or seemed to notice it's 'obviousness' at some point pre-break, and if only other people were listening and so forth. That also presupposes the author's focused 'cause' is, well, 'the' cause.

Narrative self-identity preservation makes the future as readable as the past by rewriting the past to be foreknowing of the future. You read this a lot in psychology books but if you've been conscious and self-aware since 2015, you now have first row seats to it in action. By ten years from now Trump will be just a linear inheritance of the Reagan tradition rather than an abberation that took over 'conservative' orthodoxy -- haha, gotcha! I don't know!

Anyway I never understood that post hoc rationalization as well before 2016 that I do now. And my brain, like the gotcha statement above, still works very hard to keep the narrative linear.

The 2016 election did two good things for me. It made me far more reticent and far less assured to predict the future, and it completely changed my relationship with the Internet and social media*. I personally have found some useful growth from those disenchantments. I hope not only that others will too, but that I retain the lessons somehow.


* An idea I'm getting better at expressing but haven't fully figured out how to write about yet.
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