Episode 0035 · April 18, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Caring a Little Less

[Unedited Transcript]

Rich Ziade: [00:00:00] I was wearing a mask, uh, a face mask, uh, and, uh, it was,

Paul Ford: where are you?

Rich Ziade: I’m not in New York City. I’m, I’m in a rural part

Paul Ford: That was a

Rich Ziade: of New England. Uh, and, uh, it pandemic is definitely subsiding, but, you know, I have family members, elders who I don’t want getting sick, so I, I kept wearing a mask for a

Paul Ford: right, right. Me too. Knock on wood. Okay. Also, also, you know, the New York City experience of the pandemic was a rough one,

Rich Ziade: It was a rough

Paul Ford: one. We were, we held on for little long.


Rich Ziade: exactly. And, and, and so I walked down an aisle. I, I forget which aisle I was in in the Walmart. It was very big. It was huge, man, you couldn’t see, and they make it such that you can’t find the exit, so they make sure you walk around more Shit.

Paul Ford: It’s like a casino

Rich Ziade: Yeah, it’s like a

Paul Ford: with an Ikea, but it sells guns. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: And this guy who was like putting stuff on shelves, worked at the [00:01:00] Walmart, had the vest on and everything. He was an associate,

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: gave me just the most brutal stare. Like, how dare you? How could you, oh,

Paul Ford: Oh, you with your mask.

Rich Ziade: You with your mask? And you know, I just kept walking and instead of feeling like I wanted to lecture this guy about the importance of like, you know, aerosol containment,

Paul Ford: Sure. All

Rich Ziade: said to myself is like, how did you get to the point where you gave a shit about me walking by you with a mask on?

I, I think, I think something’s gone haywire and I’ll explain what I think has gone haywire. I think we’re connected to one another socially, a lot less now, I think.

I think, I think people are, Netflix binging, or they’re on the internet. And I think the, the connection that we seek out, look, there’s a wonderful book I read many [00:02:00] years ago called, um, home from Nowhere by, uh, I think his name is James Howard Kunstler. Mm-hmm. And hi, his, the whole premise of his book is that the United States, um, is.

Set up architecturally to lead to, to have people living pretty isolated, separated lives. It’s a car culture. It’s a lot of setbacks. Strip malls, there’s less town squares. We talk about the town square on the internet ironically, but in fact it’s a lot of sprawl. It’s a lot of walking through big parking lots, and he actually talks about the sort of collective psychology as a result of that, which is less connectedness.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: What he didn’t have at the time, this is an old book, is that the internet would show up and provide this almost sort of

Paul Ford: proxy

Rich Ziade: form of connectedness. Mm-hmm. That wasn’t actually people connecting with each other. I’m meandering here. Hear [00:03:00] me out.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: If I know you in town, And you have a particular position on guns, but I’ve also seen you be incredibly kind at the daycare center or at the volunteering for this or that.

I’m now seeing a diff, a fuller picture of what you’re about. But when you have the internet that is perfectly optimized towards sort of position amplification and joining a particular camp and then saying your peace. You can’t see anything else. And so that’s all we’re left with and all of that energy that we would pour into, like frankly, hoping that person recovers from the flu just fine.

It all pours into one

Paul Ford: here. Here’s what happens right with that, cuz I, I see this too. It’s really tricky because all positions get evolved or grown or developed to points where they become intolerable, right?

So I, I’ll give you an example, which would be, okay. I know you, I see you at the, at the store and I know you like, you like [00:04:00] to. You’re, you’re kinda like a rough Second Amendment advocate. Not like you don’t have like an a rifle. You don’t have like one of these like machine guns, but you, you believe in the second Amendment and you want to protect it and you would vote accordingly and you kind of know that I know that about you.

Right. Okay. You’re right. For the first 70,000 years of my life, I’d be like, oh, well, you know, Mike is weird. He is got that gun thing, but I like him. We say hi. I get along

Rich Ziade: He also is just the, he’s really hilarious what he does at Halloween for the kids.

Paul Ford: Right. So, but I don’t think it’s just that we’re all online together.

It’s Yeah, that’s right. He is a really funny, like, and they do the haunted house, et cetera. He’s a good guy. And the guns are in a safe, like he’s following all the rules, right? Yeah. Okay. But then I go online and there is every five minutes I can add from a Sandy Hook parent. Yeah. Right. And every five minutes, um, oh, in Mike’s world, he gets an ad fr about liberals coming to take away your guns.

Yeah. And it’s just, So what happens is you get, you get into this position where even if you are someone who is motivated towards a kind of tolerant, like, well, we have to figure it out [00:05:00] together, you actually start to feel like you’re betraying your core values if you are kind or if you spend time with people who have really fundamental disagreements.

Rich Ziade: Absolutely.

Paul Ford: Absolutely. And, and I do think that the internet made that. I, I think that was always there, right? Because you would go to your church and they would go to their church. Yeah. That kind of thing. Or you’d live in one part of town. They’d live in the other part of town that’s always there. But what wasn’t there was this apparatus to continually optimize the messaging to, and, and look, we’re all vulnerable.

misinformation is always somebody else’s cultural problem. Exactly. Not me.

Rich Ziade: And

Paul Ford: mean, I might have fallen for some random hoax where somebody, you know, said something was cake, but it wasn’t. But my political beliefs are perfect.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so what you have is, you know, I have, you know, uh, family members who keep showing me videos of like, Biden flubbing a sentence.

Paul Ford: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Because it confirms a particular view that they have [00:06:00] about like him, and, and it’s not just that he’s old, but also they don’t like him. And so this is more entertaining for them or more interesting to them.

I kind of sort of don’t agree with some of it myself, but why do you care so much? I keep asking myself over and over again. Why do you care so much?

Paul Ford: Oh, everybody cares a whole lot right now.

Rich Ziade: Is that the advice here? No. Can we care less?

Paul Ford: If, if you go and study anything about the social sciences, like every single uh, research finding is like, ah, you know, people do better in really small groups. You know, they like have a cup of coffee together. Probably you should know about 20 people

Rich Ziade: your mm-hmm.

Life. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And

Paul Ford: never talk to anybody else.

You’ll be a lot happier go, go fishing,

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Ford: And, and,

Rich Ziade: so like,

Paul Ford: So we know in instinctually as humans that smaller clustered groups of humans that are kind of family and friend oriented are really healthy for us. And as we get bigger, bigger, bigger, we get more power and authority, but [00:07:00] we tend to like be less happy.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Okay. So you have, I think this sort of like somewhat atomized, somewhat unhappy cohort and then the great hack of the internet isn’t just that it put the information and the misinformation straight into your brain. To me it’s that it created, it actually constructed this whole new rhetorical structure where if you don’t.

Consume the information and you don’t agree with the information, you no longer are in the in group. And the in group is constantly shifting and variable.

What I think is actually happening is, uh,

Rich Ziade: An enormous

Paul Ford: of people make all this noise, and then a lot of people consume it. Most people just kind of go on with their lives and don’t pay much attention anymore. I would say 90% of the people in my world are just like not really connected to social media anymore.

Like they’re, they’re there. No,

Rich Ziade: I, I, I guess, I think you’re right, except that, and, and this is, you know, for our international audience, this is very much a, an American, uh, issue, [00:08:00] uh, or challenge. Um, the truth is, yeah, social media’s not, but what, what people have come to realize in media generally is that if you make it real juicy and you confirm my biase.

Boy, I will give you, I’ll give you views. Right. And, and you know, look, I, I know it sounds like I’m, I’m sort of signaling about Fox News, but frankly, CNN is, is just as guilty. MSNBC is just as guilty.

Paul Ford: Well, yes and no. That, that is a nice balancing to, yeah. Fox is like currently

Rich Ziade: a, is

Paul Ford: No, but they’re, they’re,

Rich Ziade: They are the innovators. Right.

Paul Ford: currently talking to the judge trying to see if they can reach a settlement.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Paul Ford: So like

Rich Ziade: That, that, I agree with

Paul Ford: just, I’m just flagging the term guilt cuz actually it looks like they’re probably pretty guilty, but the.

Rich Ziade: yeah, yeah. No. Yes,

Paul Ford: Yes. Again, just take it outta politics for a sec. Play it. Or actually, let’s take it further into politics. Play this out and let’s talk about this for a second to see how the world has changed.

2016 election. [00:09:00] Absolute chaos on social media. Everything’s hyper-targeted. People from like Eastern Europe are, are doing ad campaigns to Republicans about Trump in order to get clicks. So they. You know, make rent payments. So just absolute madness. Exploitation of human behavior. 2020, still a lot going on, but, but, but a little bit calmer, a little bit.

Still got your Marjorie Taylor Greens and your, you know, like, and, and all that stuff. Lot of noise in all

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Um, okay. 2024. What do you think we’re headed for?

Rich Ziade: um, I, I, I think 2024, like as an election,

Paul Ford: Just assume there’s a Biden Trump rematch, right? Like to just worst possible scenario for everybody.

Rich Ziade: I, I’m, I can, I can list out the flaws of a Biden as much as the next person, regardless of where you sit on the

Paul Ford: spectrum.


Rich Ziade: But I will say that I think part of the reason Biden won is there’s just, there was, there was.

Paul Ford: um,

Rich Ziade: [00:10:00] He busted the template of like the crazy vaudevillian marketer and just was like, how about we just all eat a piece of pie?

Paul Ford: is Biden’s good at the other kind of politics, right? He just went to Ireland and everybody in Ireland waved an American flag and then he came out on stage and he went, hello.


Rich Ziade: Right? And so I, I think, I think Biden was very much a reaction to, um, just sort of the cynical kind of baiting of a Trump

Paul Ford: Biden is when you elect Joe Biden, you’re someone who says, you know what, I, I really, we need, we need to get a new sofa for the living room. Really? You’re just like, I’m gonna live a good life. I’m gonna like watch, I’m gonna watch tv.

I’m gonna Yeah,

Rich Ziade: short. Right? And, and, and so what he’s, what he was betting on was that most of the country isn’t running to the edges and is rather again, looking to like get that new dishwasher by September. Right. Like that’s, that’s like the goal.

And, and so, and what you heard from that again and again was [00:11:00] something incredibly not exciting and unimpressive. Mm-hmm. And what, what we none of us have acknowledged yet is that’s kind of exactly what we needed

Paul Ford: Oh no, it was, it was, that’s exactly, it

Rich Ziade: what we needed

Paul Ford: mid pandemic. We’ve been under enthrall of this absolute goofball lunatic who really doesn’t mean anybody any. Like,

Rich Ziade: no, it’s just the game. He’s playing the game. Right. Like

Paul Ford: he’s just also like fundamentally and even people on the right, he’s just kind of a bad guy. Like he might, and then, um, and then so I think like we wanted soothing, right? And I actually think that, so when you’re saying everybody needs to care a little bit less, I think there is an element of that.

I think people, what happened culturally is that, To say you don’t care that much is an unforgivable offense.

Rich Ziade: Correct.

Paul Ford: You can’t say that. You cannot go out into the public square and say, you know what? I don’t care. You know what you [00:12:00] do instead? You go quiet. And if, I mean, look, look at my Twitter presence right now.

You look at everybody’s right. People just aren’t saying as much. And it’s not because there’s like, why wait in?

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Um, I want to tweak it. Okay. Because I, you’re right. Oversimplifying it and saying, why don’t you just care a little bit less isn’t right.

Paul Ford: Well, I, but I, I think a lot of people, what happens is there’s no evidence of people caring less.

Rich Ziade: I don’t think people,

Paul Ford: they get quiet.

Rich Ziade: They get quiet. They get quiet, but, but it also, families get torn apart. Friendships get torn apart because they, because they get quiet and then you have that dinner party and then that other person just won’t shut up about

Paul Ford: I gotta say, some of the most brutal stories have been like, and then my brother died of Covid because he refused to believe the vaccines were real.

And it’s just like, well you are never gonna fix that. Right? Like, that’s horrible.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Oh. Or, or my brother didn’t, but we can’t sit at Thanksgiving dinner at all, period. Like it’s done. Right. And so I think, I think the tweak [00:13:00] I would make is this, if someone, uh, is holding up a sign about, you know, transgender rights

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: Right. I guess what I’m reacting to is that person that walks by that just spins up into a fury because they feel like something has been invaded on their side, even though that person is holding up a sign to just raise an issue and you can walk by and say, okay, um, I don’t know much about.

I think, I don’t disagree with it. I’m not speaking for myself, but okay. And then they keep walking. Instead, what? You have this incredibly emotional, intense reaction. Right, and, and I think that, I think is a condition of the last 10 years of both the pandemic of the internet of, of, of our president, our former president.

I think those are all things, those nerve endings got way more sensitive. Let,

Paul Ford: me flip it. I’m extremely [00:14:00] protran rights have been for a long time, have given money and so and so forth. I’m also extremely pro-choice. Okay. These are not really secrets about me. I remember once I was walking by, um, literally the Planned Parenthood, like one of the original ones in New York City.

The one that

Rich Ziade: Margaret said og.

Paul Ford: the oj. And there were nuns outside.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: And I remember I was with my friend, um, and, and he went, I want to punch a nun.

Rich Ziade: I wanna punch a

Paul Ford: I wanna punch a nun.

Rich Ziade: out of fairness. People say that even without a protest in front of Planned Parenthood,

Paul Ford: you know, you know the critical thing.

Rich Ziade: Hmm?

Paul Ford: I laughed and he laughed.

Yeah. And then we walked out. You’re gonna have the thought.

Rich Ziade: fight. Yeah.

Paul Ford: But what’s lo, what’s got lost is the social context where people go, yeah, I completely disagree, but I’m not gonna blow up my entire life for this thing that I see in front of me. I’m gonna just let it go for right now.

Rich Ziade: You can disagree.

Paul Ford: No, no. And then I’m gonna vote, then I’m gonna make decisions.

I’m gonna give money.

Like, I’m just like, you’re gonna li if you’re gonna live in the real world and it’s gonna be sticky and, and it’s gonna be [00:15:00] unpleasant in some ways and you’re gonna have. Complicated moral decisions. We hit a point with the pandemic where everything became absolutely black and white, and I do think that that is an internet thinking is very black and white.

Rich Ziade: Let, let me end this with a question

Paul Ford: to you. Hmm.

Rich Ziade: Obviously the advice is why don’t we pause and realize that most issues are pretty nuanced and really understand

Paul Ford: No, no,

Rich Ziade: Why does that not work? Let me, let

Paul Ford: me actually, let me turn it into real advice, which is that you may feel under pressure to have strong opinions on absolutely everything.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: And that is the, that’s how they get you. That’s how you don’t get anything done.

Rich Ziade: That’s how you drink the poison.

Paul Ford: and then you end up spending all the time trying to get the right opinions in place and the right strategies in place. In our world, it comes down to like we’re building a new product and I, you know, I, if I went online to my particular cohort, it would be like, you can never [00:16:00] launch this because people could abuse it.

Rich Ziade: it.

Right, right, right, right.

Paul Ford: that is a, there’s a morally sensible argument in there, but it also is utterly IMing. I can’t do anything with

Rich Ziade: that. Yeah,

Paul Ford: because I

Rich Ziade: Don’t take the bait is what you’re saying,

Paul Ford: saying. Because Hu and here’s the thing is like, you’re gonna be right. Let’s say you’re incredibly right about something like human perversity will mean that you’ll be wrong the next day,

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah,

Paul Ford: right?

You can’t win. So anyway, uh, the advice is don’t take the beat because believe what you want to believe.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Give some money away. Yeah, stand up and And if you have something, you say you gotta stand up and say it. Of course. But

Rich Ziade: what’s one last piece? Cause I have a feeling most of our audience doesn’t take the bait.

Paul Ford: man.


Rich Ziade: Yeah. Possibly.

Paul Ford: Well now, now we’ve affirmed them. We affirm them. Good for us.

Rich Ziade: but what advice should you give to the, what would you, what advice would you give to the person who is sensible and kind of even keel but is standing next to someone who’s losing their minds about an issue?

Paul Ford: I mean [00:17:00] that’s when you gotta go out for a beer

Rich Ziade: bud Light.

No know.

Paul Ford: apparently not. No. I mean, look, again, we’re in this funny zone where if like you guys both really like to play Call of Duty and one of you is like a Republican one is a Democrat, ethically, you’re not supposed to be able to play Call of Duty together.

That’s where we’ve ended up as a society.

Rich Ziade: Right. Which is crazy because then you’re not doing anything together.

Paul Ford: Well, nothing’s gonna change at that

Rich Ziade: point.

Paul Ford: So, you know, find a hobby and hang out with your friends.

Rich Ziade: Let’s end it on that note. Beautiful.

Paul Ford: And we solved it. Ya and Ford Meta advisors very

Rich Ziade: very tricky, thorny topic, but I think we, we came through

Paul Ford: Yeah. But here’s the thing, rich, they’re all tricky and thorny. Yes.

Rich Ziade: Hit us up. Ziade, uh, hello. At Ziade ford.com with questions, thoughts, opinions, anything. We’d love to hear you react to this podcast, which was a bit of a minefield, but I think we came out

Paul Ford: No, we’re doing all right. Look, listen. Also, if you want to, uh, go to a [00:18:00] board.com and put your email in, we really could use some beta testers real soon and we have something exciting and interesting,

Rich Ziade: Yes, aboard.com.

Paul Ford: right.

All right, rich, let’s get back to it. We got a lot of work to do. Have a good day. Bye.

Rich Ziade: I’m gonna get my laptop. [00:19:00]

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