Selfish Recommendations
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Selfish Recommendations

Read Time in min.
3
Live
Live
Tags
worldview
Created
Jul 22, 2021
Soon after arriving in LA, Becky and I were introduced to a group successful cinematographers. They were all in their early 20s, and could go on and on about the music videos they'd worked on, the big brands they had shot for, and the celebrities they'd met. They were killing it in their field, living out the LA dream. As I spent more time with them, I discovered something strange. Not only did they not use their phones for calls, they didn't use them for text messages either. They communicated almost exclusively through voice messages. I had a small existential crisis where I contemplated if I was already old and out of touch. I brought this up to a friend, and his response was really insightful. He commented that voice messages are an inherently selfish way to communicate. It's a breeze for the sender, you simply hold the button and talk. It's much quicker than sending a text, and lets you convey emotion. However, receiving it is a different story. First, you have to be in a social situation that allows you to listen to audio. Next, you better hope you don't get distracted while listening, else you'll have to listen to the whole thing again. Last, make sure you remember, as the message will disappear soon after you listen.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot more about how that idea permeates to other areas of life and I think recommendations is a huge one for me/in my circles. I will so often tell someone to read a book/article, watch a video, or listen to a podcast and leave it at that. I think that’s the cultural default, that’s how basically everyone does it. But I think that’s inherently selfish. There’s opportunity cost involved with recommendations. Typically, the recommendee takes on the opportunity cost of consuming content they don’t know if they’ll value or not. The recommender is tacitly forcing the recommendee to decide between rejecting the recommendation and taking on the opportunity cost. Their subconscious justification is “this content is worth the opportunity cost,” but they’re making that decision on the other person’s behalf. I propose that the unselfish, loving way to recommend would always be to pair the recommendation with a summary, however brief, and a value proposition for the other person. This shifts the opportunity cost from the person who hasn’t yet received value to the person who already has.