Everyone a Crackpot
You’d be surprised how therapeutic it can be for me to check in around here. The thing you have to understand is: everyone on the internet is crazy. If they weren’t crazy, they’d be talking to people around them about whatever they’re talking about, instead of typing it on the internet. I have another (less frequently updated) blog on some aspects of software development; there is a reason I write into the ether instead of boring my friends and family with monads and macros and mutation, oh my!
The problem is that “crazy” doesn’t actually mean crazy. We decide that someone is “crazy” when they do things we see no reason for. But this is giving ourselves way too much credit. Take everything humans know, and call it K, for Knowledge. Take everything you know, and call it k, for, uh, knowledge. k/K is the ratio of stuff you know to stuff that you could know.
I don’t know about k, but K has multiplied vastly in the last hundred years. In addition, everyone’s little k is different—Tracy knows how to drive a car and how to send weather balloons into space, while Fred knows how to drive a car and what actually makes people fat. But Tracy is weirded out by Fred’s weird dietary restrictions, and Fred thinks Tracy is a little too excited that the price of helium just fell by half.
So the proliferation of knowledge—especially in the serve-yourself buffet of the Internet—makes it very easy to find oneself in a “lone sane man” situation, bereft of moral support. Case in point—the number of close friends the average American has has been declining.
From an economic point of view, it makes sense that people should know different things. Specialized labor leads to more productivity, which in isolation is a good thing. But a cost of specialized labor is that it creates division where it wasn’t there before. To take the most fundamental example: husbands and wives. I visited my college roommate’s uncle’s house a few months ago. This man (the uncle) is a middle manager at a large software company. His wife said something like, “I don’t know anything about computers, I leave that to him.”
That is, of course, perfectly understandable. They’re in their mid-fifties and have raised six (6!) kids. She likely has no use for anything beyond Word and Outlook. But there is definitely a cost: she can only understand so much about her husband’s work. This was not true of smiths or woodworkers, and certainly not true of farmers or hunters.
Why I’m talking about this
I’m talking about specialized labor, which is something that men usually do, and this matters because I am a man, thinking about the mannerbund.
The mannerbund is a German word literally translating to “band of men.” I don’t want to explain it all here, but will instead point the reader to Radish’s treatment.
Problem: personal mobility has gone up. Labor specialization has increased. Employee longevity has decreased. Guys have more of their comrades move somewhere else, have less to talk about with those that remain, and have them for shorter periods of time. In short, it is harder to hold the mannerbund together.
This was the ultimate end to my earlier attempt at creating a mannerbund—one got married, another got into medical school, I moved.
And this sort of thing is an inescapable feature of modern life. We have unchained the individual, but we have also unmoored them.
So: I am starting my own mannerbund. True, it only has one member, but that doesn’t stop it from having all the other important parts that a good band of men has: a code of honor (this kind, not this kind) a mission, harsh entry requirements, and, of course, a God. You can join if
- you live in my town (bands need to be in close proximity)
- you’re male (it’s a band of men)
- you’re LDS (this isn’t actually completely necessary, but closely-aligned values are)
- you’re my coworker (otherwise, what is the band actually doing?)
As you can see, the group is not very diverse. But its members are highly homogeneous, communicate well, have well-aligned goals and values, and are tightly knit.
It’s alright if you’re not eligible to join. The mannerbund bears you no ill will. But the rules will stay as they are. Clarity of purpose is the goal here, not membership numbers.
Pfft. Like I’d tell you. The first one is: You don’t talk about the mannerbund.
Why make anything?
I realize this seems kind of ridiculous. I am the only member. Why not just take whatever the gang would do, and do it myself? Why have this weird mindhackery?
Because I’m just trying it out, that’s why. I’ve seen how I act in gangs, and how I act on my lonesome. I like how I act in gangs better, but I can’t find a gang I want to join at the moment. So this is an attempt to have my cake and eat it.