June 13, 2020

Pet peeves

A mixture of trivial and less trivial things that I find disproportionately irritating. I am noticing that many of these relate to people choosing socially inefficient or suboptimal strategies that unnecessarily impost a cost on others…

  • Academic papers being formatted with two columns - It might be easier to read printed out, but it’s so annoying to read on a computer, because you have to scroll down and back up again on each page
  • Double spaces after full stops - There is no need unless you’re using a monospace font.
  • People who stand too close to the luggage conveyer belt - If everyone stood back, everyone would be able to see their luggage coming, and would have room to step forward and get their luggage off the belt. The only reason to stand right up against the belt is because you’re worried someone else will come and stand in front of you, but if it was a norm to stand back everyone would be able to see their luggage coming so there would be no reason for them to stand in front of you. It’s kind of a Stag Hunt-scenario.
  • People who try to get on trains before people have got off - This just seems so obviously inefficient.
  • Putting sentence-ending punctuation (commas and periods) inside quotation marks even though they are not part of the quote - e.g. There was a storm last night,” Paul said. - This is apparently the correct thing to do, but it seems so silly
  • The norm of it being polite to go round and say goodbye to everyone before leaving a party - It’s annoying for the person leaving as it takes ages and people try to persuade you to stay. It’s annoying for everyone else because they keep getting their conversations interrupted by people going round saying goodbye. Just sneak out. It might be appropriate to say thank you and goodbye to the host, but even then sometimes it’s better just to send them a message afterwards.
  • People who make fun of or criticize other peoples’ appearances - No good comes of this. If you don’t like a person, criticize their behavior or ideas. As soon as someone make fun of another person’s appearance I pretty much lose all respect for them.
  • When Trade-offs aren’t made explicit - Don’t ask should we lower taxes?’ without asking what should be defunded, don’t tell people to exercise without saying what they should give up, etc - Sayings like No one ever said on their deathbed that they regretted watching too many sunsets”. What about all the things you would have had to give up to be watching those sunsets?
  • Engaging in zero-sum behavior when you could be engaging in positive-sum behavior. Scams are about gaining at someone else’s expense. Sometimes people put others down to make themselves look better. We should instead be looking for ways to engage in positive-sum activities (trade, cooperation, etc)

Updated Sep, 13 2020