Solutionism (Part 2) 03/10/21

Received a cool series of texts today from a friend:

“In response to the closing question on your blog today, this permaculture principle came to mind: Observe until you can see how the problem becomes the solution to improve something else. Make the minimal intervention necessary to achieve an effect. Measure the effect and decide whether an adjustment is in order or a different intervention altogether.”

This is more of a solution than I was thinking, which could be boiled down into “don’t do shit.” But I like it, and I appreciate the person sending it along.

In both cases, the principle stands that you step away from a difficult issue until you can either find a new way to tackle it, or you can find a different issue that you can tackle.

Put another way, while discussing the difficult Sekiro with a friend, he said, “Sleeping helps. It’s like playing the piano. When you wake up, you’ll know how to play the piece.”

At my worst moments on social media, I would become obsessed with a conversational meme, or just how stupid everybody was being. How wrong they were. I found it helpful to take a step back, find someone who was not online, and attempt to explain what was bothering me in under thirty seconds. If I couldn’t then the situation was complex enough to suggest that it was something specific to me, and that I was caught in a loop that I had to extricate myself from.

Being against solutionism does not suggest that you never attempt to fix anything, or make it better. It is against the all-encompassing principle that if a thing is “broken” it needs to be “fixed.” That implies that you know what broken is, and what fixing it would look like.

And I’m not sure that we do.

So what can we do?

Let’s give it another day to think about it.

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