The Long Run Game

One of the things which I’m slowly learning about as I grow older is the existence of the “long run game.” In my last blog post you may notice how it is the case that this exists for adults: at one point in time it seems like someone is doing something for compassionate reasons but then when you zoom out and look at the actions and their consequences through time you realize that in the long run their actions are harmful and manipulative.

This long run view is what I call the Long Run Game. The funny thing about it is that you often don’t even know which long run game you’re playing when you act in the world – you just act and the world manifests itself. I cannot see (yet?) how one can play the long run game except through many years of looking back at the outcomes of long-run games and changing their actions.

But I can give you a quick example of the long run game. Imagine you are the parent of a child. The childĀ really wants to eat a nice big bowl of vanilla ice cream with a sliced banana, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles on top every day for dinner. When you say no, the child begs, cries, gets angry, and throws a tantrum. And you can see that your stubbornness hurts the child: after all the child is crying and not happy. But you know that in the long run that it is what is good for the child.

I think that in the long run, the child himself will know that the parent has his best interests in mind. I am sure this is what is called “love.” This doesn’t just apply to the relationship between parents and kids of course, it also applies to the relationship between adults. And I think you instinctively know when someone is playing well in the long-run game because you start to trust them and you can rely on them through time.

So pay attention in your dealings with friends! See if they are reliable, see if they lie, and look at the different narratives that can be spun to most fully explain their behaviour. If it’s a bad narrative which is anti-fragile, then you should find new friends.

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