A few days ago, a few of us, all middle-aged men, had a meal. We talked about Bitcoin, coconut oil, and also kids/sneakers/other entirely unimportant things. Typical of most conversations in life, we tiptoed around these topics, scratched the surface, carefully not to go too deep, because instinctively we all knew some of these topics could get too emotional. It was a nice lunch by the pool, at this quaint little club, and we really had no reasons to ruin it.
But why do conversations around topics such as coconut oil and Bitcoin, similar to how any discussions around Donald Trump, Apple vs anything else but Apple, education and parenting, etc, either end up unsatisfyingly superficial, or you-are-not-my-bff level of destructive?
The thing is, we run into things like Bitcoin and coconut oil all the time.
In the 80s/90s, the ideology of Low Fat conquered the world, while the world wide web was starting to become the thing.
Packaged and premade meals were the thing in the 50s/60s, when communism was pure evil.
And I find Bitcoin and coconut oil represent two unique spots on this spectrum of things-that-just-somehow-get-people-bat-shit-crazy.
Bitcoin is so different and hard to understand, and many of us would then end up talking about the speculative value of it. Conversations would seldom be around cryptocurrencies, what they are, how do they work, and the science behind them.
Coconut oil, in contrast, seems to have this very different “pass”. It’s seemingly easy to understand, it’s naturally good, and therefore religiously accurate and omnipotent. Conversations would also seldom be around oils/fats, what they are, how do they work, and the science behind them.
And then in conversations around these things, there are two distinctive stages, depending on the dynamics of the group. The first stage is “Actually I have no fucking clue what I am talking about”. If we ever get to this stage, most often we would cop out and be all generic and open about it: Yea, “All lives matter” so I agree with you and peace on earth!
The second stage, which is “let’s geek it out and find out more”, is where I think things start to get meaningful. Yet sadly, it would be lucky if conversations ever get to the first stage, and God would be reincarnated when we arrive at the second stage.
In general, I think I have this reputation of always trying too hard, getting way too serious at the wrong time in the wrong place, and can’t chill. I know. I am socially awkward.
I also am fully aware of the fact that I can’t tell why coconut oil cures AIDS more effectively than sesame oil, and I have no idea why Bitcoin is the path to utopia. But I just want to figure out how, we could steer conversations to the second stage where we would pull our phones out and geek out on … say …. what Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox assets could mean.
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