The unexpected efficiency of shitlists
3 min read

The unexpected efficiency of shitlists

The unexpected efficiency of shitlists

What is a shitlist? My definition of a shitlist is first of all a list of people. These people end in the shitlist by displaying behaviour that is you guessed it: shitty either towards me or generally speaking displaying outright stupid and uninformed behavior at positions where they shouldn't have the luxury of doing so.

I get it, nobody is perfect, but when it is your job or duty to do a certain thing, there are minimal expectations that should be so that you deliver results that contribute to a greater idea.

It mainly differs from an "echo-chamber" (where you surround yourself only with likeminded people) in the fact that it is mainly like taking the trash out so that your thoughts or efforts don't get polluted or hijacked by statistically relevant measures of stupidity.

I thought I'll put this into a small write up. Maybe you'll start a shitlist too. To quote Nietzsche: if you stare long enough into the abyss, it will eventually stare back at you, so this is my way of mitigating my access to abysmal levels of shit and their way back to me. With the different channels of communication we have today (social media, video chats, email, ...) it is important to keep an internet hygiene with regards to what reaches you. Just like you wouldn't let anyone into your house, you shouldn't let anyone's thoughts or ideas into your brain.

All the platforms are today configurable and seemingly personalized so let's personalize them more by ghosting/blocking/muting people in the shitlist. The positive side effect is that by blocking one person you usually also implicitely reduce your exposure to their close circle :)

This also largely applies in a work environment where I more aggressively focus on results and not hedging any kind of friendship games by listening or agreeing to crap.

People that make it into my shitlist

It's usually all people that display behavior that I consider harmful or unproductive in different contexts.

  • Racists or people that "are not racist, but *": nothing positive ever came out of discussions like that
  • Snake oil sellers in every configuration
  • Sophists and people avoiding the issue (fallacy of evasion) in their answers: Beating around the bush is a main corrolary: It takes a certain skill to bullshit your way out of discussion and that skill is very abrasive and is a catalyser for sub-par work
  • People that are arrogant (without having anything to show up for it) and don't let other people finish speaking and constantly interrupt anyone and everything
  • People that put more effort into avoiding taking responsibility for what they deliver or not rather than actually doing something
  • People that discredit other people's work without offering any alternative or solution that is better: these are especially bad since they are smart enough to maybe raise relevant points but they purposely stop there since their only input is raising topics but never find solutions because of "not my job"
  • People with fake knowledge that want to look or feel smart (name droppers, con artists, buffoons), easy to spot and to deal with, these are harmless since they are too busy with looking after themselves to actually make any impact. Nevertheless, blocked too.

There are many more and I'll update this from time to time.

My current shitlist

I keep an emacs org mode file shitlist.org where I enter all the people that end up into my shitlist along with a reason why they ended up there. It also comes with actions like forwarding their emails to the trash, muting / blocking them on social media and usually auto-cancel meeting invites whenever that happens.

There are currently ~80 people on that list. Work and private people that I actively block or ghost on purpose.

What about second chances?

This is nothing critical or life threatening, this is just my way of dealing with things that, with my current set of thoughts, consider shit. So far there hasn't been any miracle or change of mind that made me take anyone out of the shitlist, and it's great so.

6 Months in

I've been running this experience for 6 Months as a test and I have to say I am very surprised. At first I thought to myself ok why be so vindicative and actively block people that fit certain criteria?

It turns out that this frees up so much of my brain processing time for tasks that have a higher ROI or impact on end results. By not allowing myself to ever get into a situation where I could adversely react to shit, I maintain a sane mind and generally higher productivity and my thoughts are clearer.

Every now and then I check my shitlist and am thankful that I started it.

Maybe you could start one too :)