I write often about cooperating with myself, as that’s a fairly important aspect for anyone trying to make the world more like themselves (always have a back-up plan in case you succeed!). There more than one way of doing so though – sometimes you can negotiate with your future self for personal gains. It seems like a decent test-case for the self-cooperation principle. Future-me is likely to be very similar to present-me, after all.
A bit over two years ago I was single and I had a goal – sleep with hot chicks. Not the noblest of goals maybe, but not an uncommon one. I already knew I was interesting (Ha!), but I was out of shape and I absolutely couldn’t talk with girls. Both of these would require a lot of work to fix, and I decided to make a deal with future-me. I would put in the work of working out and getting in shape to deliver to him the physical body needed, and he would put in the work of learning how to talk with girls to deliver the social skills needed. Together we might achieve victory!
It has been quite a while, and past-me delivered on his end of the agreement. I’m lookin’ alright. However future-me (or now, present-me) seems to have shirked his side of the deal! The number of girls flirted with over the past year has been negligible! In part this is because I’m in an awesome relationship with an awesome woman, but that is one (1) hot chick, and the goal was hot chicks – plural! :) And honestly, I’m a bit cross with myself. Yes it’s hard! That’s why we had the deal in the first place, to divvy up the labor! Playing guitar is hard too, but you put in 30 minutes a day and before you know it a year has passed and you’re playing passably well at parties. You’re gonna suck at it at first, but I put in 3 hours/week working out, so I can put in a few minutes a week chatting! Before you know it a year will have gone by and you’ll be able to strike up a conversation with anyone. Suck it up and deliver already!
I started at Denver Comic Con. After hesitation and doubt, I finally approached an awesome Sargent Calhoun cosplay near the end of the last day. “Approached” is too generous a term – she happened to stash some of her props near me and I used that as an opportunity. Had that not happened, I probably wouldn’t have even said hi. So yeah, ok, I suck. But it was a first step! Gotta start small, you can’t run a marathon your first day. It went ok for several minutes, but I let myself be pulled away before I got her number and was secretly glad that she wasn’t there when I came back. Fail. >< But again – small steps. Can’t berate myself too much. Gonna keep building on this over the summer.
It’s hard to say how relevant of a test-case this is for self-cooperation. Obviously it wasn’t a great success, this action is long overdue. On the other hand, it’s not really a direct comparison, since past-me doesn’t have any enforcement ability or methods to incentivize continued commitment (where a seperate very-similar-to-me actor in the present would. With shaming, if nothing else). The best I have is the knowledge that if I fail in this temporal cooperation now, I’m far less likely to trust future-me from now on, and that seems like a big loss. I don’t want to burn that bridge if I can help it.