Cellphone Freedom

If you came here because you feel like you might be addicted to technology, you’ve come to the right place.

I was seven when I first played a computer game. Grand Theft Auto. The colors were attractive and the violence was a great appeal. The game offered unhindered aggression to my young mind. I ate it up like cake.

This was a new technology then. Game designers didn’t realize it, but they were offering limitless practice for whatever fictions they could convincingly simulate.

Note the italics. Fiction. It is not real.

Computers are new to your brain. It isn’t used to this amount of sensory bombardment. It’s tricked by the information transmitted by the lights and sounds. As an example, it is 12:20 am and I can’t sleep because something is telling my brain, “It’s time to be awake.”

I tried to sleep for over an hour. It didn’t work. My so-called “free will” lead me here to my computer.

We do this to ourselves.

The nerds in Silicon Valley love their technology. They are great men, and a total plague on society.

In their minds, their actions feel okay. They feel justified. I understand. I would too if I made money this way.

My argument is that there is a better solution. A business model that does not involve addiction. 

Don’t even bother denying it. I can write a few emails to a few cognitive scientists and have a mountain of evidence at my fingertips. Those great scientists may have even helped cause this plague. I don’t know. (My mother is a scientist, by the way. She contributed to cancer research.)

The nerds do not understand that they too can be free of the addiction that is computer. They will be disagreeing with my article so far. But I have the high ground.

I believe Silicon Valley can be a better version of itself.

You see, some men are truly evil. I do not know if most people in Silicon Valley are like that because I have never been there. So I give them the benefit of the doubt. You can too, unless they disprove themselves.

Disprove themselves? Yes.

This will happen via negativa. You can see what action a person does not do and find out about their intentions. Even intentions that they themselves claim to hold.

It isn’t lying. They are simply blind to the damage they cause.

These great big huge nerds never realized they could be free of technology. So they went deeper into the abyss. They programmed a world that worked for their benefit, at a social cost to you.

You lose social contact with others. In your mind, I know that you want to see your friends more. You want to watch your child play on the swings, because as a parent you understand intuitively that this is important.

And then a little white light appears in your hand. And your attention is owned by someone else.

I heard from many Americans that freedom is among the highest values there is. It may even be the most important.

These Silicon Valley nerds are part of America. They use the freedom given to them by capitalism to take another kind of freedom from someone else.

You are objecting now because the damage that is very apparent to me isn’t appearing in your mind yet. Hang on. I’ll fix that.

You can see friends ignore you in favor of their phone.

You can see your phone steal your attention from work that benefits you.

You can see a screen in front of you right now and you know that there’s other things more important for you to do. And yet you are going to keep reading, because you can feel it right now. Part of you knows that I am onto something.

I’m exhausted now. I am going to try to sleep again. Please wish me luck.


Talking to George

Today I am going to tell you about an interesting combination of persuasion tools I discovered.

In my journey through the Persuasion Reading List, I came to Hypnosis and Accelerated Learning by Pierre Clement. For anyone new to persuasion, Pierre Clement is the hypnotist who taught Scott Adams when he was in his twenties. So I wanted to read whatever he wrote.

Unfortunately, the book is some combination of rare and popular, probably because everyone making their way through the reading list wants a copy. It’s priced at over $1,000 USD on Amazon. Whoa. So I had to find another way to learn from Clement.

The route I found was a (presumably smaller) writing by Clement titled Hypnosis and Power LearningIt’s only 138 pages long. The book is mostly self-hypnosis exercises which cover things from removal of test anxiety to memory to relaxation.

One of these exercises gifted me something incredible.

You are given a practice exercise. They mostly start the same way. Lay down on the floor, relax your body, and use one of three suggested methods to go deeper into a trance.

By this point, I had practiced the relaxation and the deepeners. The new part was trying to smell a rose on command. It worked for me but only mildly so.

Then I tried what Clement calls “Talking to George.” Something about the exercise immediately stood out to me. It involves imagining an army drill sergeant shouting at a private named George. You have the drill sergeant command George to make the rose smell stronger next time. And uh, lemme tell ya. At least in my head, it works really well

The realization hit me about a week later.

If you are studied in persuasion, you’ve probably read Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini. The book details six principles of persuasion. One of those principles is authority.

When you read sensory information in a story, or hear it in a conversation, your brain can only understand it by translating it into those senses. So my intuition is that, just like visual persuasion, the principles influence you even if it’s all in your head.

As an example, if you imagine President Trump telling a crowd of people that “Roly Poly writes a great blog, you can agree with that,” well. I appreciate you reading my blog, I really do. The crowd cheers in agreement.

If this works as well as I think it does, I hope the idea doesn’t travel too far. I like the Twitter persuasion sphere. Just keep it between us.

You can buy Hypnosis and Power Learning on Amazon here because you know exactly what I’m doing in this sentence.




Psychological Reinforcement: hodl.

If you like Bitcoin, chances are you know the word “hodl.” If you aren’t aware, that means “hold,” but it’s spelled funny.

by the way: this is not investment advice.

hodl is the general plan for buying BTC. You buy it and hodl. Most people who Tweet about BTC would agree, Bitcoin is going to keep rising. Some predict it will get up to $100,000 per coin, $300,000 per coin, or even a million dollars USD. So hodl it is.

Some people have already recognized a problem with this. It looks tempting to sell your BTC sometimes. You agreed you’d hodl, but if you just sold now…

So what can you do about this temptation?

You might recognize this as a psychology problem. For a solution, I’m going to refer to the cognitive science of consistency, a principle of influence established by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

Humans have a built-in need to feel consistent with their past behaviors. This includes private statements and writing it down, but public statements seem to work better. So if you tweet your commitment, it’s likely to work better than if you say it privately to yourself.

This is a principle I used in my time as a salesman. It’s common practice to get a small payment towards a sale before closing the deal. To the buyer, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference in the likelihood that someone will buy.

again: this is not investment advice.

So if you want to reinforce your psychological commitment, I offer that you can:

  1. Privately write down “hodl” over and over. It sounds absurd but it will really work. I really recommend that you define your exit points — until when will you hodl? Until what price? Maybe you want to keep your BTC forever though. That’s up to you.
  2. Tweet your commitment. Again, you may want to define an exit point. Use your own judgement.

But there might be an even better way.

See, humans are social creatures. It is true that public commitments are very effective. So suppose instead of stating your commitment, you wore it!

I checked on Amazon, and there are definitely BTC shirts available. The act of walking around in public with a commitment to hodl as your clothing, where everyone can see, would be pretty powerful.

You can buy a “HODL BTC” shirt here.

The Untold Story of Music Festivals

Most people believe in the phrase, It’s all about the music. And that’s true.

But dance music is also about other people. That’s an untold story in the music scene, so I’ll tell it now.

It is 6 pm on Thursday night. I am imagining myself spending the weekend at home doing my own thing. Then I see a message in my rave fam’s group chat: “I’m going to _____ at XYZ Nightclub tomorrow, anyone else coming?”

Suddenly my plans change. While I tell myself I am going to see the artist, the truth is more like, “I want to see my friends.”

Many people will recognize this scenario is true in their own experience, but do not say it.

I argue that we should appreciate our rave community more publicly. Our friends like hearing that we want to see them. And promoters can increase their community efforts, creating new economic opportunities. It’s good for everyone.

I am going to suggest promoters make additional efforts to create community spaces before and after large events. You will tell me that these already exist in the form of club events and after parties, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

It is important to note that people who go to lots of festivals often have friends from far away places who they only see at other festivals. My intent is to give these groups of friends more opportunity to meet and mingle.

This will be a starter idea. The idea is bad by design because I acknowledge that I do not have the knowledge that an experienced promoter has. They would know how to make this viable. I wouldn’t.

My idea is to have a variety of events before and after music festivals. A promoter could host generically appealing events like dine-out gatherings. Another option is to host a meetup style event based on niche preferences. The preferences can be related to raves or not. Some examples would be “outfit design,” “kandi creation,” or unrelated yoga sessions.

The idea is that if you have friends who you want to spend more time with, these gatherings are an excuse to do so in a quieter environment before or after a dance music event.

Remember that dance music is a community. If raves create your social network, it is more difficult to leave the community. So promoters have an economic incentive to help you make more rave friends.

If you are unsure at this point you might like reading about the well established principle of social proof, which many of my ideas are based on.

Have you got a strong rave community in your city? Let us know in the comments.

Support In The Early Stage

A common point of debate in dance music: Does it matter why someone supports your work?

Ask someone in the industry this question and I bet they’ll bring out an opinion. You can observe artists debating this on Twitter anytime you like. (@TheFPIA is a good place to look if you’re keen to find a debate going down.)

In this post, I am going to present my case for one angle on the debate. My case focuses only on the early stage of an artist because their situation is different than a made professional’s. I define this period as the moment they start learning to a less defined point where their career is secure. For now I’ll define the end as the time when an artist begins moving up from the bottom of the ticket.

Because you do not know me and you cannot tell yet if I am credible, use your own judgement. I invite you to disagree if you would like to and explain why in the comments or on Twitter.

When an artist is in the early stages of their career, it is important to gain momentum. I mean this in multiple ways.

You will say that a producer/DJs musical talent is more important than the size of their fan base, their professional network, or their income. I agree that it feels that way. And you can continue to feel that way while understanding that reality is a separate entity.

The way you feel about your odds of success is a kind of momentum. Many people do not succeed only because they quit too soon. If you see lots of support from others, that feels like momentum.

An artist’s fan base grows via momentum. In this case I will start by stating what never happens: Artists just starting out never decide they want their fan base to shrink. Sometimes you want to grow at a different rate, but the direction is always up.

For an independent professional, income is momentum. A manager must believe the artist they support can pay them. So an old adage applies, “You must spend money to make money.” I can go on.

If you can accept any of the three premises above, you might change your mind when you realize the meaning of what I write next:

People are influenced by other people, even indirectly by observing what people say to other people. So arguing against accepting most (but not all) forms of early momentum can actually damage an early artist’s odds of success. If you want to explain your position on this topic, try inventing a positive way to state your message, so the feeling leads them forward instead of holding them back.

The good news is that support is really easy to get right because it comes in so many forms. There are many low effort, high yield things you can do to help.

For instance, writing kind comments on their social media or saying them in person is always helpful. It’s extra helpful if you take time to identify a detail to authentically appreciate. But a general compliment is great.

You can always share an artist’s post to help them, because mere exposure helps. This is actually a hidden benefit of haters. While they believe they are taking an artist down a notch, they actually do their advertising for them, for free. Isn’t that nice?

And obviously, a track or ticket purchase helps the most.

But it can be so easy, so so easy. Even looking at an artist’s advertising helps because it makes you more likely to support them later.

Now if you can still raise an objection to the idea that most forms of support are definitively okay, I encourage you to leave a comment.

More Than A Rave Scene

In this post I am going to make a case. After you hear my argument, you might find yourself wanting to help the rave scene. We all desire its survival.

It is generally true that if a market is not growing, it is shrinking. Dance music has cycles like all cultural forces. New things grow in the underground, break into the mainstream, and are displaced by something else.

House music will live forever, baby.

Most people in the rave scene would like that statement to be true. In a way, it probably will be true, even a hundred years from now. If you’re like me, you agree that sounds great.

But that’s how people felt about jazz, which is now almost dead. No jazz musician can have a grand festival like Electric Daisy Carnival, HARD Summer or Shambhala. Jazz musicians can learn to make dance music and help the rave scene, but they can’t have their own stadium shows.

It’s also how people felt about other old music, like this song.

Name a song like that made in the past twenty years.

You can believe that things will take care of themselves. That’s what most people do when they want something bigger than they are to go a certain way. But I think there’s another way for anyone who cares about the rave scene.

Take care of it yourself.

That’s what I’m going to do, and you can help the rave scene too.

But how, Roly?

I don’t pretend to understand the business side yet. I haven’t learned to understand accounting, or the inner workings of the label-artist-promoter-government connections.

But I do know about marketing, and about people.

Help the rave scene through community.

Part of what makes the rave scene special is its inclusiveness. The connection to others.

At a rave, you feel like you are part of a tribe, with a sense of safety and belonging that you do not find in the city. And so part of you knows that the rave scene is special.

Or maybe that’s all in my head. You can tell me if I’m wrong. But I doubt that will happen because I know…

People like people. A person might dislike people, but they like people too. So the general idea is to help people in the rave scene feel like they are part of a community.

The current practice is to go to the event, see your rave friends, go back to your normal life. It’s as if you bring yourself to the rave and that universe stays there, popping temporarily into existence as the event begins. And then it’s over.

What if you could change that? What if you could bring the rave home with you?

Bring the rave home with you.

Kandi kids already do this. That’s part of why I support kandi and Insomniac Events, which clearly supports kandi kids by allowing kandi at its events.

Making kandi with friends is really slow. It takes a time commitment and that means two things must be true if you are making kandi with friends:

  • You both really like raves.
  • You like each other enough to commit long periods of time to sitting together while you attach plastic beads to string.

There are many other options however. The main characteristics you want to look for in a winning idea are these two conditions:

  • It has something to do with raves or people you go to raves with.
  • It’s a social activity that everyone likes to do, either in real life or on social media.

Ideally the concept also spreads itself via social proof, or it helps the rave scene grow by adding new members, more money, or some other valuable resource.

Promoters and artists want more fans.

Many of the best nightclub and festival promoters understand that fans are the most important part of their success. Fans generally begin to realize that they are important to the dance music industry too, especially after reading this post.

If you are a fan of dance music, you know there is more to life than a rave. The good news is that all the things I mentioned above can contribute to your own success.

Suppose you begin a weekly or monthly meetup in your city. You can invite whoever you want because these ideas come from your own creativity, not me. Now you can have your rave friends as a part of your life outside of the rave.

That means you will spend more time together. You will find new friends together and pull them closer to the rave scene. The culture will grow and change, different from year to year. But the industry that you love will survive. Even flourish.



Persuasion: Connecting the Dots

This blog post is going to connect some dots in the three dimensional world of persuasion. You need to understand Cialdini’s Influence principles and Presuasion to get the full effect of this blog post. Hypnotism training would probably handle the presuasion part too but I don’t know because I haven’t done that yet.

If you want to begin seeing things the way I do, I’ll tell you about a little bunch of pictures I’ve been looking at for almost a decade — since I learned that the brain is a bundle of neurons.

Simple image. You imagine a bunch of dots. Some are connected, some aren’t. You can rearrange the connections however you like. It’s just an image to represent other ideas later.

Part of your brain stores the things about you that you like. So give one of those dots a color to represent something you love to do with your time. It can be a happy little neuron all for you.

Now you’re talking to someone new. They start talking about their favorite hobby — and it’s one of those things you like. In order to understand what they’re saying, you probably look at them. Even if you don’t, at the very minimum, your ears have to send a signal to light up some dots and process the conversation. One is the dot you use to store things you like about you.

This is called Liking.

New scene. You have another arrangement of dots in the picture. Some are connected, some aren’t. In this case, one of the dots connects to somewhere off beyond the bounds of your imagination. You don’t know where it goes but you do know it controls your actions.

This dot also connects to a bunch of other dots, and all of those connect to one big important dot that is very, very old. This dot is the concept of your earliest caregivers. Your parents.

Now you’re talking to someone new. They start talking in a familiar tone of voice, or use a turn of phrase that you can tell has been around for many decades. And something about the way they’re standing tells you — in a subconscious way that would not consciously translate into these words — “Listen up.” In order to understand what they’re saying, your eyes and ears send signals to light up a bunch of dots. Some of them happen to be connected between your parents* and your behavior. And without question, off you go.

This is called Authority.

New scene. Your dots are all disconnected for now, but some have worked together before. You aren’t sure what the combinations all do yet.

Now you’re talking to someone new. You believe some things off in another part of your brain, and the person seems to agree with you. So you fire up a pattern of dots to agree back. And they fire a new pattern to agree a few moments later. One or two send a signal off somewhere outside of your imagination and your finger twitches. A moment has passed and some other possible combinations are gone for good.

This is called Commitment.

New scene with a bunch of red clustered in a corner. These are some dots your brain came with.

The stranger with similar hobbies, who suddenly seems to have a brighter smile, has to leave soon. Your bundle of red dots pulse quickly and your biochemistry changes.

This is called Scarcity.

New scene and we have just a few dots in two separate groups. One has a visual of another person next to it. The other is you.

This person gives you a gift. The dots next to your friend fire away and one of your dots lights up like a Christmas tree. You can feel gratitude flow through you. The rest gently wiggle as you imagine ways to make their dots light up in return.

This is called Reciprocity.

New scene with your group of dots from before, with many other groups of dots around it. Remember that all of these dots are in your head, even though you might think they aren’t.

You are standing with a group of friends and they are all agreeing about something you disagree with. The groups of dots in your head fire over and over. Even though they do not initially turn on in unison, they slowly begin to beat in sync. The ones that didn’t light up at all are shining bright.

This is called Social Proof.

You might believe I was discussing Influence here. That is true. But I also indirectly told you about a part of Presuasion.

Each of the examples describes a pattern of neurons firing together. That’s association forming.

Each of the examples also describes the effect of repetition. Your brain wires and rewires itself over time. Whatever configuration exists at the time is the one a persuader will work with.

You can also go back and find “acting together” and “being together” hiding in the pages.


*There are many classes of people I could put here. Just an example.