Meaning-Making #27 — The Evolutionary Advantage of Victimhood | How To Write a Blog Post Outline | What Old Razor Sharpeners Tell Us About Disposable Culture

written by JIBRAN EL BAZI |

Hey friends,

I know, I know, I'm a little delayed with this edition. But I have some interesting articles to share!

  1. The Evolutionary Advantage of Victimhood
  2. How To Write a Blog Post Outline
  3. What Old Razor Sharpeners Tell Us About Disposable Culture

What is the evolutionary advantage of victimhood?

(by Cory Clark)

For anyone having spent some time on any social media channel, it’s obvious there are a lot of “victims”. I say it in scare quotes because much of the ‘realness’ of online victimhood is really hard to distinguish. Anyway, I wondered why there is so much online signaling of victimhood in the first place. Coming across this article from Cory Clark made me see it’s actually very obvious why we see so much of it. Let’s dig in:

“Victimhood is defined in negative terms: “the condition of having been hurt, damaged, or made to suffer.” Yet humans have evolved to empathize with the suffering of others, and to provide assistance so as to eliminate or compensate for that suffering. Consequently, signaling suffering to others can be an effective strategy for attaining resources. Victims may receive attention, sympathy, and social status, as well as financial support and other benefits. And being a victim can generate certain kinds of power: It can justify the seeking of retribution, provide a sense of legitimacy or psychological standing to speak on certain issues, and may even confer moral impunity by minimizing blame for victims’ own wrongdoings.”

Ok, so victimhood signaling has an evolutionary advantage: you get (survival) resources. But isn’t it better to just not be a victim?:

“Presumably, most victims would eagerly forego such benefits if they were able to free themselves of their plight. But when victimhood yields benefits, it incentivizes people to signal their victimhood to others or to exaggerate or even fake victimhood entirely.”

Ok, so if you’re an actual victim of something, you need the resources to survive and then hopefully get out of the precarious situation. But this incentive structure means that if you can fake or exaggerate victimhood really well, you get the benefits without the cost (of victimhood). And here’s why you’ll see victimhood online much more than in real life:

“Historically, our ancestors may have been better able to discern habitual or false victim signalers from those in true need. We lived in smaller communities where we tended to know what was happening, and to whom—and so those who deceived others were at higher risk of getting caught.”

When you only see someone’s tweets or Instagram posts, it’s way harder tospot a fake victim. So, naturally, fake victims flock to these channels. What they get in the form of resources differs. Some want engagement (likes, retweets, follows, etc.) and others go even further, posting crowdfunding campaigns for their sick dog (even though they don’t even have a dog, for example).

Really interesting, and maybe a good lesson to not be duped into going along with someones online victomhood too much.

Here's the link to the whole article.

How To Write a Blog Post Outline

(by Gail Marie)

It's good to sometimes go back and look at processes that you're doing regularly. If only to check that you're not forgetting things.

If you're writing (professionally) like me and you want to look at your outlining process, this article by Animalz' Gail Marie is excellent.

She shows you, step-by-step, how to think and write-out an outline for your articles. It's very much the same process I use in my writing.

Here's an excerpt that captures the power of good outlining:

"An outline will probably take you longer to write than a draft because it requires you to do most of the hard thinking upfront. Crucially though, that front-loaded thought dramatically increases the likelihood of a great finished product—an article that delivers on its promises while being interesting, compelling and original. Like turning the key in your ignition after weeks of planning, your outline makes the process of writing productive and enjoyable."

It's a short read, so make sure to check it out!

What old razorblade sharpeners tell us about our disposable culture.

I found out there were (manual) razorblade sharpeners around through someone’s post on Twitter. I started looking into it further and found this amazing video of a whole range of different sharpeners. (It’s really satisfying to watch, lol.)

Anyway, I came to realize that nowadays we just buy stuff like razor blades, use them, and throw them away (with the whole plastic body around it). Which is such a waste really. The way we use things in society, the things we buy and consume, are all for a big part decided upon by the manufacturing and distribution process.

I.e., what is most efficient for the manufacturer, but not best for either the consumer or the world at large.

I don’t really shave much (only my neckline, because I have a beard that I trim), but I’m still inclined to buy an old-fashioned razor that I can sharpen myself. Maybe it’s even a meditative ritual!

Anyway, I’m really interested in more of these types of examples, of things that were historically better/cleaner that we could still use today. So if you have an example, please do share!

That's it! As always, send me questions, interesting content, or your products/website. I'll have a look and may share it in the next issue.

See you in two weeks!



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About jibran el bazi

Hey I'm Jibran, I'm here to learn, to play, and to connect with other meaning-makers. I write to seek understanding and to help others to become their true selves. I often start my writing with a question in one of the below themes:

🧭 Understand yourself - "How do you find clarity on who you are and what you want out of life?"

Take charge of your life - "How do you pursue your purpose while living a balanced life?"

Pass on the torch - "How do you best help others to become their True Self?"

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