Delusions of OSS

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope,” Helen Keller wrote in her 1903 treatise on optimism. But a positive outlook, it turns out, isn’t merely an intellectual disposition we don — it’s a deep-seated component of our evolutionary wiring and the product of powerful, necessary delusions our mind is working around-the-clock to maintain. At the root of that mental machinery lies what psychologists have termed the self-enhancement bias — our systematic tendency to forgo rational evaluation of our own merits and abilities in favor of unrealistic attitudes that keep our ego properly inflated as to avoid sinking into the depths of despair.”
Maria Popova
on Brainpickings.

I’ve just figured out why I’m passionate about OSS. Thank you “self-enhancement bias” for keeping my ego inflated long enough to avoid sinking into the depths of despair from working on OSS projects!

As usual, I’m seeing the world through the lens of OSS-coloured glasses and Maria’s article entitled “How our delusions keep us sane,” is a fascinating perspective on how our delusions act as self-preservation mechanisms. Like you no doubt, I’ve met some delusional people on OSS projects in the past, but it turns out that we’re all delusional, for the betterment of the OSS world.

I love this research that the article quotes, “Researchers conducted a survey of more than 25,000 people ages 18–75 and found that the majority rated their own attractiveness as about a seven out of ten. This suggests that the average person thinks he is a little better looking than the average person. About a third of the people under 30 rated themselves as somewhere around a nine.”

After 3-5 years in OSS, I probably rated myself like the 30yo I was – at about a 9. Now after 15+ years, it’s probably more like a ranking of 2-4 (although that can change on any given day). Perhaps my psyche’s “despair-inhibition module of positive illusions” ain’t what it used to be.

Then again, I suspect it is working just fine because for all of the aspects of OSS that could drive one to despair, I’m still enormously positive about how our OSS can change the world of comms, which in turn is changing the world.

Based on the article above, how delusional are you?

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