Perfectionism, risk aversion, and compromises

I have an odd trio of topics loosely connected to perfectionism.

The first is this thread from HN about perfectionism and procrastination. The first few comments are fascinating, and reflect a lot of my experience at tech companies. Namely, there’s a group of people who’d be happy never shipping anything. It’s a whole lot easier to eviscerate others than actually doing something yourself.

I don’t support the flip side of just shipping garbage. It’s fine to produce unpolished work if there’s intention behind it: we’ll get this data by shipping now, which will make it easier to choose direction A or B.

The second point is from Freya India:

[S]omething I see constantly among my generation, is a subtler form of safetyism, a reluctance to take risks in our everyday lives. Being terrified to talk on the phone. Being scared to order in a restaurant. And somewhere I think it’s really starting to affect us is being risk-averse about relationships.

Gen Z are dating less. Having less sex. Settling for situationships that are empty and meaningless. And I think a major part of this is that human connection comes with a high level of risk. Among young men, for example, I’d say this risk-aversion is most obvious in fear of rejection.

But I think young women are also risk-averse about relationships. We are naturally more risk-averse, for a start, and an even higher number of women are voluntarily single. But our risk-aversion plays out differently. Most obvious to me is the way we talk about relationships, the advice young women give each other, the therapy-speak and feminist clichés that I think often cloak a deep fear of hurt and vulnerability.

And most poignantly:

Sometimes it seems to me we’ve become so suspicious of each other’s intentions that we pathologise romance and commitment, and end up psychoanalysing to death behaviour that’s actually decent. Now we take everything that comes with real love—being affected by someone else’s emotions, putting your partner’s needs first, depending on them—and call it damage or anxious attachment or trauma. No! It’s called deep connection!

And last bit has no link, but it’s something I’ve been mulling over for awhile. Western culture tends to assume everyone wants a safe compromise, and reporting on wars in Eastern Europe and the Levant carry that projection. Yet that’s just not the case in Ukrainian culture, and I suspect is also not the case in much of the region.

Obviously everyone prefers to get 100% of what they want. But many Eastern Europeans I know would rather get 0% of what they wanted than reach a win-win compromise that gets them 90% of what they wanted. I find that there’s really no cultural equivalent to making the most of a bad situation.

I’m not an anthropologist and have no idea what this is called, but many cultures simply don’t have a rational approach to conflict resolution. It’s one of the things like the evil eye, which dominates daily life in many cultures but flies entirely under the radar of Western observers. 🪬🪬🪬