Enthusiasms is an edited stream of consciousness, by Simen.

Epictetus Discovers the Internet

On trolls: Remember that foul words or blows in themselves are no outrage, but your judgement that they’re so. So when anyone makes you angry, know that it’s your own thought that has angered you. Therefore make it your first endeavour not to let your impressions carry you away. When we’re hindered, or disturbed, or distressed, let’s never lay the blame on others, but on ourselves, that is, on our own judgements. To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun; to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

On basement dwellers: By the gods, when the young man feels the first stirrings of philosophy, I’d rather he came to me with his hair sleek than dishevelled and dirty: for that shows a sort of reflection of the beautiful, and a longing for the comely, and where he imagines these to be, there he spends his effort.

On copyright and information sharing: Never say of anything, “I lost it,” but say, “I gave it back.” Has your child died? It was given back. Has your wife died? She was given back. Has your estate been taken from you? Wasn’t this also given back? But you say, “He who took it from me is wicked.” What’s it matter to you through whom the Giver asked it back? As long as He gives it to you, take care of it, but not as your own; treat it as passers-by treat an inn.

On blogging: Lay down for yourself from the first a definite stamp and style of conduct, which you will maintain when you’re alone and also in the society of men. Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what’s necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if occasion calls you, but don’t talk of ordinary things—of gladiators, or horse-races, or athletes, or of meats or drinks—these are topics that arise everywhere—but above all don’t talk about men in blame or compliment or comparison.

On alt-tabbing and procrastination: When you relax your attention for a little, don’t imagine that you’ll recover it wherever you wish, but bear this well in mind, that your error of today must necessarily put you in a worse position for other occasions. Does the carpenter by inattention do his work better? Does the helmsman by inattention steer more safely? And is any of the minor duties of life fulfilled better by inattention? Don’t you realize that when you’ve let your mind go wandering once, you lose the power to recall it, to bring it to bear on what’s seemly, self-respecting, and modest: you do anything that occurs to you and follow your inclinations?

On the culture of oversharing: When a man seems to have talked frankly to us about his own affairs, how we’re drawn to communicate our own secrets to him and think this is frankness! First because it seems unfair to have heard our neighbour’s affairs and yet not give him a share of our own in turn: next because we think we won’t give the impression of being frank if we’re silent about our own affairs. Still, though he has confided his affairs to me with security, am I to do the same to the first man I meet? No, I hear and hold my tongue, if I’m that sort of man, but he goes off and tells everyone. “Yes; but I trust you, and you don’t trust me.” In the first place you don’t trust me; you’re only garrulous and therefore can’t keep anything back. For if what you say is true, trust your secrets to me and no one else: instead of which, whenever you see anyone at leisure, you sit down by him and say, “My brother, you are the dearest friend I have; I beg you to listen to my story.” And you do this to those you haven’t known even for a short while. If you really trust me, you trust me, of course, because I’m trustworthy and self-respecting, not because I told you my secrets.

Feb 12, 2013