Why is it good to not care?

A follow-up question from this post. See also this metafilter thread. Really, the headline says it all. Why exactly is it good not to care, especially about a) the outcomes of one’s actions, and b) the results of one’s interactions with others?

Or, I should say, why is it good to pretend not to care? For we all care, and we all know that we all care. So why the massive conspiracy of lies? Is it just a signal that one has enough social skills to realize that it is appropriate to lie?


6 Responses to “Why is it good to not care?”

  1. jane Says:

    Because if you are showing you care, you’re showing you have something to lose. Your resources are limited, and hence you are lower on the totem pole.

    It is good to show that you don’t care too much when you’re pursuing a girl, as a canonical example, because if you did care too much, that might be implying that you don’t have other options–i.e. that you are desperate.

    Not caring might be a sort of peacocking. You know, you can afford to not care because you have so much awesome shit and stuff. That peacock can afford having such a huge shiny tail because he’s such an awesome runner he can outrun the extra attention from predators.

    It is also good to show you don’t care too much as a display of emotional control, I think. Lose your phone? Friend cancels? If you scream and cry, that’s bad, but if you calmly get over it, that can be a sign that here’s someone real chill who you can rely on.

  2. Mike Says:

    Caring is a sign of weakness. /The End.

  3. Joe Says:

    At the outset, I think it’s important to distinguish sprezzatura from signaling “caring too much.” If sprezzatura is defined as making ones actions appear effortless, there’s a natural rationale: to give the impression that one has strength in reserve.
    Appearing to care less than one actually does has a similarly obvious motivation: in bargaining it implies that equity is attained by giving the person caring less more stuff.
    For the latter, there seems to be a natural analogy with currency markets: in the US, we aspire to pretend to not value the Yuan in the hopes that, when making trades, dollar-denominated assets seem valuable in comparison with yuan-denominated assets.
    On the other hand, I think you’re asking why there’s an equilibrium, instead of everyone adopting a nihilistic posture of caring about nothing. The China/US relationship could offer some clues there as well, as China seeks to make us dependent on their goods (in contrast to other producers), as well as finding value for its people in exporting.
    Natural analogies to romance and customer service are left to the reader.

  4. Phoenixism Says:

    How can I be (more) Alpha?

    In which the striving to attain the artifice of the hallowed trait becomes a caricature of the trait itself.

    Is it Alpha to act Alpha?

    At what point have I begun caring too much about…not appearing to care?

  5. jane Says:

    @phoenixism: if you have to make an effort to not care, you’re not truly alpha. There are certainly cases where forced confidence turns into real confidence (again, asking a girl out), but there’s limits (I can’t fake having the confidence that a tinpot dictator with an army of bodyguards would have).

  6. Phoenixism Says:

    Exactly Jane.
    Whereas I feel Paul’s original point is substantial and sincere, there are lots of little boys out there in the blogosphere (and even the internets) who take his thought only about 30% of the way. Lazy kids looking for the Easy Way…they complete the rest of the thought with a mental filler that substitutes for life experience.

    It’s the youth culture promulgated far and wide by this cyber medium.

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