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Check out "Humanize Me" here:

I mentioned "Humanize Me" on Vlogbrothers a week or so ago. I was also on it. I know this isn't going to be for everyone, and it's very long, and also you can get it directly into your podcast app in a much less weird format, but I wanted to share it here.

For an atheist, I'm weirdly into organized religion. So Bart (a guy who used to be deep into organized religion, and had a bit of a break-up with God) is a really fascinating guy for me to talk to. I listened to his podcast a lot just after the election and it was super helpful for me. I think there is a great deal that non-religious people have to learn from religious people...and one big on is to let go of individualism a bit. Not entirely, just a bit. Because it is too dang hard for people to do things together in this world.

OK, well, this is weird. I hope it's useful to some people.

 (00:00) to (02:00)

H: Okay, I'm going.

B: Are you in a like, good headspace to talk to me today?  Like, if there's one thing I'm really aware of, it's that you have so many things going on.  
H: I do, but I like, I wanna force myself to get into a good headspace to talk to you.  Um, yeah, or else what--yeah.  Or else I will just continue doing the same thing I would be doing, which is probably not actually productive, it's probably get on Twitter and be upset about things.  It's amazing when you have a lot of stuff to do that you can still fall back on those sort of, you know, behavioral tics that we all have, and I've been doing that a lot in the last two days and I want to get out of it.  

B: Well, you know, I mean, it's funny, because at the, you know, I just came off this wedding and so for a week, you know, I just shut everything out, and I'm not a social media person anyway, you may have noticed, that I, you know, I mean one of the reasons it's fascinating for me to talk with you is because you're so entrepreneurial and you do all these things that have millions of people involved in them and I have no facility for that.  I haven't figured out how to even do--I, you know, like, I can't keep up with any of it, but one of the things that I have noticed is is that even at this wedding, I watched some of the younger people and they couldn't stop themselves from stepping out of the moment that they were in to check on what everybody else was doing elsewhere, and I'm starting to realize in a deeper way the difficulty that sometimes people that are really into this social media stuff have with being present in any given moment and it sounds like--

H: Yeah, I just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, where I had a convention that I was running that was very, like, amazing and exciting and I met a bunch of people I've never met before who are doing really cool things and I got to meet a bunch of fans and then I had seven days afterward to just spend time with me and my wife and my six month old son going around this really unique, interesting place learning about stuff, interfacing with people who aren't like me and talking to people--and Amsterdam is great because it's not just Dutch people, it's German people and French people and people from Africa and like, it's all over.  

 (02:00) to (04:00)

B: Oh, yeah.

H: --and, uh, and so like, just like, having--and also just like wanting to make the most of every moment while we were there, 'cause it was a really short thing, so getting up really early even if the baby didn't sleep good and going out and doing all of the things that we had planned to do and seeing amazing stuff that we would, like, you know, are very lucky to be able to see, and then I kind of get back to Montana, which I love, I love it here and I love my life here, and there's a little bit of like, all that, that, you know, that like, charging through life that I'd been doing for the past ten days was like, okay, we can take a breath and relax, but at the same time, like, then it's like, well, what is the reason to do stuff and so I'm only doing the stuff that's on my schedule and during the time when I'm not doing the--like, during the times when I'm not scheduled like, I'm probably not spending as much time like, trying to live a, like, to do good things in the moment and I'm just sort of like, well, I can just relax and so I'm gonna watch this, like, vacuous TV show and I'm gonna look at this argument that people are having on Twitter and be frustrated with my colleagues and worry about work and not actually do anything about the worry and it's, it's this thing that I've noticed with my life in general where I have, like, when I have big fun experiences, I almost always have a little crash afterward where I am more--

B: Yeah.

H: --likely to be, you know, a little bit under spirits, whatev--like, I don't wanna say depressed, because like, it's not depression, but it is, you know, less--and it's just, it's almost sort of like--

 (04:00) to (06:00)

B: It's the crash.  

H: Yeah, I had this wonderful, like, joy of humanity, like seeing all of the things that people have done and then um, then, yeah, I don't know.  I don't know.

B: Have you ever seen that Louis C.K. piece where Louis C.K.'s talking to Conan O'Brien about cell phones and why he doesn't let his daughter have one and he tells this story of being on the highway and something happens, like a song comes on the radio, and he gets really sad and he ends up pulling over to the side of the highway and just crying and just, he's so upset and he says, you know, the temptation was to pull out his phone to connect with somebody to avoid that emotion by distracting himself, and he says, you know, but what's interesting is he says is that that pain, that sadness, in a sense kind of left room and then a good feeling can rush in after it, and you go like, I'm alive and be grateful for things.  I think it works in reverse, too, that sometimes you have this really wonderful experience but when it's over, it does like, it leaves room for sadness to kind of rush in and fill that space and I'm not sure that, you know, when we came home from this wedding, we sat down on the couch and we were so happy with all that had gone on, and my wife then burst into tears and just was just--she cried for about an hour 'cause it was over, and then she fell asleep and I don't know that that's a bad thing.  I don't know that that--in some ways, I think that's one of the dangers of all the distraction stuff is that you know, after the trip from Amsterdam, it might have been good if you'd had just had a little while to just be sad without having it get focused on all the--

 (06:00) to (08:00)

H: Right.

B: It might have been a briefer but also a maybe a more powerful and more cleansing experience to just be sad rather than to like, be sad in the context of all these distractions and all that other stuff.  

H: I don't know, there's definitely a sense of like, I knew it was coming and so I was trying to fill things up and be like, okay, let's move and keep going but there is also, yeah, like, I definitely--there are moments when I see the sadness coming or I, like, there's a negative thought in my subconscious is like, aware of it without my consciousness even really quite knowing it's there.

B: Yeah.

H: And I'm like, quick, do something, quick, before it comes at you, which is not healthy, I don't think.  And I also felt like, an immediate like, just I felt like I could do anything the day I got back, and then like, two days after that, I felt like I could do kind of nothing.

B: You couldn't do anything.  Yeah, you could do nothing.

H: And there was so much stuff that I had to do, and I w--and I have gotten myself in a situation where I'm not capable of doing the, like, how could I ever be good enough to warrant the success that I've had and also to keep people employed, 'cause like, I've got a whole bunch of employees, to keep them--food on their tables as well as mine, and you know, am I, you know, getting behind on, you know, media on the internet can move so fast, am I losing traction?  Are all these other companies getting much bigger than my company and am I just sort of, you know, this little afterthought that's an interesting thing but is probably just gonna exist for a few years and then go away when like, that would be, you know, a really unpleasant experience for that to go away.  Not because like, losing it would be bad.  There's a part of me that's like, I'd be fine, you know, just having a normal job, but all the people who work on this stuff, all the people who love this stuff, I just, yeah, I really wanna make sure that it keeps going and I feel sometimes that if I'm not thinking about it all the time, then I'm letting everyone down.  

 (08:00) to (10:00)

B: You know, and that's--I mean, part of that's the game that you're in, you know, the social media and the int--like, because there is this fear if you step away for a second, it's moving so fast that it'll sort of race ahead without you.  My son, for a time, was partnered with one of the biggest Vine stars, a friend of ours who, when Vine was a platform and young people were making these six second videos--

H: I'm aware of Vine.  Oh, I guess you're explaining it to the audience as well.

B: Yeah.  Screw you.  Screw you, alright, because I'm the only who's like, I didn't know what it was, like, I had to have it explained to me, and that it's on your cell phone.  You don't even get it on your computer!  But, this guy, every second of every day was checking to see how each video was doing and how--and it was, it was insane.  It was insane making, and I thought, once you catch that tiger by the tail, I don't know how you ever let go of it.  

H: Yeah, I think a lot of people--I've seen people let go of it, intentionally and being forced to, 'cause the tiger was headed somewhere else, but I basically--

B: I guess the question is h--

H: I basically just finished writing a novel about this, about a person who is successful and ca--and then, like, will do basically anything to keep ahold of it, because once it starts slipping away, then you're like, well, what am I?  What is my value?

 (10:00) to (12:00)

B: And how's your autobiography doing?  Yeah.

H: Yeah, and I feel like it worked a lot better as a novel, because it would have been so like, self-congratulatory and also I feel like, you know, like, first world problem whininess.

B: Yeah, yeah.

H: If I had written that as a, yeah, as like, here's my story. It's so hard to be an internet celebrity.  

B: You know, it's so funny for me, because I have spent most of my life surrounded by failures and people that are not doing well.  I, you know, I don't know if you know this, but like, before I moved to California, I spent the last 20-some years working in inner city ghettos with people that were just on the edge and, and so what's funny is is that I can't imagine being--and I myself sort of squandered an Ivy League education and a tremendous sort of back, you know, family background and a famous father and also, I squandered all of those resources, multiple times over, and like, managed to like, you know, pull defeat out of the jaws of victory over and over again.

H: I don't know that there's anyone who knows you who would agree with that statement, and I will say that fame and success is such a weird thing, because to me, you are far more famous than your father, I have no idea who that guy is.

B: Yes, well.  I guess you just didn't spend enough time in the center of the Evangelical community.  But the weird thing about it is that financially, I, you know, I have not--all the good work that I do in the world, I haven't figured out how to monetize any of it, and so right now, like, I'm on the edge of moving back to Cincinnati because I can afford to live there and getting a job as a barista because with all the notoriety I've gathered as the humanist chaplain at USC and writing books and doing--like, I still haven't figured out how to get anybody to support the work or to pay for the work, and so when I look at you and see you actually, I think, putting really important messages into the universe, I mean, not just about funny, not just funny videos, but like, the science stuff, which at this moment in our history, I can't think of anything really more important than trying to convince people that science is maybe a better way of understanding the world than Fox News.  

 (12:00) to (14:00)

But, but, like, so I feel really, like, but you've figured out a way to pump all these good messages out there and turn into like, succeed at doing that.  I--I mean, I am incredibly successful at not making money while doing good things and have been for--

H: I have--

B: And have been for 30 years.

H: I have several friends who are in your boat who just make remarkable amazing things that I just--I--when I consume their content or their message or whatever it is, I'm like, this is genius.  This is so much better than anything I've ever done in terms of like, its artistic value, in terms of its humor, and--

B: And it's e-mail to you that they sent to one person  and they'll never send it to anyone else.  

H: Or it's a blog that like, only 60 people follow or it's a YouTube channel that has an audience of 5,000 or it's a podcast that has like, 500 really dedicated fans, and I don't, like, I think that that is the vaguery of the universe.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

I think that that has nothing to do with the quality of work.  I think it has to do--I think that it has some to do with, like, what you value and what you're obsessed with, and so I think that it's very d--like, getting rich is mostly a matter of luck, but there's another ingredient in getting rich, which is caring whether or not you get rich.  Like, wanting to get rich plus luck is what you need to get rich.  Those are the only two things that matter.

B: Yeah, yeah, wanting to get rich is necessary but not sufficient.  

H: Yeah, yeah.

B: But it is necessary.

H: It does occasionally, very occasionally, happen to people who didn't want to get rich.  It, very rarely, it will occur, but it is hard to get rich if you don't want it pretty bad.

B: Yeah.  And I--

H: But posisble.  I have watched it happen and it's very strange and then the people are very like, I'm confused, I guess I'll just keep--but yeah, I've always valued money and um, and so that like, that is part of it, and I like, I have no shame about that.  I--well, I do have shame about it, but I am not going to hide it.

B: Yeah, and for me, I--when I, like, when you just casually drop off that like, oh, I just finished a novel, and I see like, the eight other things that you're doing and the events that you're doing and all this stuff, I think like, oh my gosh, but I just finished watching the second season of um, Catastrophe.  It was so good!  And I realize that the reason that I'm not producing anything is because there comes a moment in each day when my wife looks at me and says, "Hey.  You know, are you done?"  Sort of like, can we eat dinner and do something?  And I always tell myself, tomorrow I will work harder, but I don't work hard enough.

H: Well.

B: To do those things.

H: Oh man.

B: Because--

H: I disagree with you.  I disagree with you.  I think, so, so, it's not about working hard.  

 (16:00) to (18:00)

It's about what you're trying--so it's about what you think a good idea is, and there's always--so, like, a good idea is I think different to every person, and I, like, to me, a good idea is something that is achievable with the tools that I have right now that can be monitarily self-sustaining and that hopefully is also good for the world, but like, for me, like, those first two things are like, what a good idea is, and then I'm lucky enough to be in a situation where I have enough tools and enough money that I can mostly go after the ideas that are also good for the world, because I have, I have a, like, if I just did all the ideas that I thought could be self-sustaining and that I had the tools to do, then I would be doing more stuff, but--and I would be less happy.  So my current capacity, like, is for just the things that also have this additional thing of like, I think that it's positive, gonna have a positive impact on people.

B: And that's the weird thing, like, the good for the world thing.  I realize that I wonder what you think when you say that phrase, good for the world, because I only ever think in terms of specific human beings that are--that have sent me e-mails or that I have to go visit or that are college students that have come into m--like, it's all individuals.  It's all, like, this little old lady I happen to know in Dubuque, Iowa who I met there 20 years ago, and if I write to her or call her, it'll make a huge impact in her life, and so like, I'm, I think I'm always trying to pump out positive messages, but even like my podcast messages, like, this podcast, I--the audience is small enough that like, I know most of them or I feel like I know most of them.  

 (18:00) to (20:00)

And so, I think that people probably hear that in my voice, like, I am talking to my, you know, my sister in law, Mary and this guy I know in Detroit who's having a really hard time because his wife still believes in God and he doesn't know how to stay close to her and like, I'm just talkin' to all these people, but the world.  I have no concept, you know, I have no concept of like, what's positive for the world, I just know what's positive for this handful of relationships, and that really motivates me, but I think it keeps me from making it anything of kind of, that could go viral, because everything I do is too personal, and whereas I think you're--

H: I don't think--

B: What's your idea of, when you say 'Good for the world,' like, who's the world that you're trying to be good for?

H: For--yeah.  First, I wanna say that I think the vast majority of good that is done in the world is done in that exact way, that really the good that gets done is person to person, human to human relationship thing, where, you know, I help you get to the airport or you know, you're having a hard--like, anywhere from like, you need a ride to the airport to like, your son has medical bills that you cannot pay and is going to die like, like, or your son has died and like, I'm there for you to help in whatever way, like, that's the vast majority of good that gets done in the world.  

B: Right.

H: And so all these people, like, you know, me or whoever else, you're looking at people who have a much smaller impact on a much larger number of people, and that's really appealing to me for ego reasons and also because it's easier to monetize and also because I can and I do think that it's--and I do think that if you can have a positive impact on a lot of people at the same time, then like, at like 100%, like, yes, and I'm so like, I get so energized by the fact that that's possible for me, but there are also times where I absolutely say no to something that I think Bart Campolo could never say no to, because I'm just like, no, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't do the high school graduation speech at m--at the high school in my town.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

I can't go see, you know, go to the, you know, teacher who does special ed in my school, who, their student loves my videos so much, I can't go see them.  I can't.  I just, like, that one on one small scale stuff, I just--

B: That's my whole schedule.  That's my whole week is that stuff.

H: Yep.  Yeah, so I--and like, I say no to those things and I didn't--and for a long time I said yes to them, but what would happen is everytime I do one, I would leave having said yes to another.

B: Yeah, yeah.

H: Or at least one other, because like, when you're in the room and they're a--they're like, hey, can you do this other thing, and you're like, oh, of course I can do that, that's wonderful, I'd love to, but so like, I have had to start saying no to absolutely everything because I know that if I say yes to one thing, it will be yes to five things by the end of the month, and I feel really bad. 

B: But you see, here's what--

H: It feels terrible.

B: But you see, here's what's funny is, you feel bad about saying no to all those things.  I feel guilty about having said yes to them.  I look at my schedule at the end of the week, and I think, another week gone, Bart, where you didn't do anything of enduring value, where you didn't do anything--

H: Oh, God, that's terrible, that's the worst thing I've ever heard.

B: No, no, where you did--

H: All of those things are of enduring value.  Jesus Lord.  Oh my God!

B: No, they are, like, don't get me wrong, I know, I know that they each crystal thing is of enduring value, but I look at my wife and I realize, like, um, she's going to have to keep working at that job to support me because I didn't do anything that can make any money, and--and--or also, I think about a thousand people somewhere that might have been helped by this message of making the most of your life by making meaning by developing relationships, like, the stuff that I pump out there, and I think like, there are thousands of people that'll never hear that message, because I had lunch with this guy who I had lunch with basically because he asked.

 (22:00) to (24:00)

You know, and not because--it wasn't strategic, it wasn't--it was just like, he wanted my time and I couldn't say no to him, and so, you know, that and boy, when I do say no to somebody, I get these--they write me these letters going, like, I thought you were a different kind of person, you know?  You've commun--like, I really, I mean, people don't let me off the hook easily, because I--and so, I think that, and I guess maybe there's a message in here, like I'm being like, if you're listening to this conversation, if you're overhearing us, like, what do you go, like, whatever you do, feel bad, but I think it's the other way around.  I think that there need to be some people in the world who don't succeed on a large level because they're busy having lunch with people that need, that like, ask them, and I think that there're other people that need to not have lunch with people that ask them, so that they can put out messages about science or messages about goodness in a way that will reach lots and lots of people, and I mean, I know it's more lucrative to do the latter than the former, but I think that that's a sidenote, because, you know, my guess is that even if I said no to everybody and tried to be a bigger deal, I suspect there's something, some sort of funda--like, I suspect that there's some sort of instinctual thing this is.  Look, you can be really good on this one on one level, but you might not be as good, and I think maybe there's something instinctual about you that goes, maybe you're doing the most good you can do by keeping--by broadcasting, you know, instead of--I don't know, but I get--when I came--when you reached out to me the first time and I, you know, and again, like, I spend no time on the internet, so I, you know, I was completely u--you know, I'm unaware of everybody, but when I then honed in and thought, like, okay, who is this person?

 (24:00) to (26:00)

I was just so thrilled that you were pumping out that kind of content because even the stuff that is just for fun, it's not mean.  

H: It's possible!

B: And there's a lot of stuff out there that derives its fun from being mean to somebody.

H: Yeah.

B: And so like, I--I--I mean, I don't know, I'm not trying to blow smoke in your ear, but like, I'm going like, I think what you're doing is important even though it makes you money.

H: Yeah, well, I mean, I do, too.  So thank you.  But it's very nice to hear that from someone, yeah.  But I also don't think, like, I listen--the first thing I found of yours, it was my, you know, it was the thing where you were talking like, sort of post-election and I was about to have a child--or had just had a child, and I was just so despondent.  It was a terrible moment.

B: Yeah.

H: And I was looking--and all I was seeing was like, hot takes about what went wrong or why whoever is--did a terrible job or why America made this terrible decision and then I listened to what you had to say and I was like, thank you, someone for responding to this in a way that isn't about anger and is about like, understanding and compassion but without, without necessarily forgiveness, because I think that people get those things confused.

 (26:00) to (28:00)

That they think compassion is forgiveness and that understanding is forgiveness, and it's like, oh, I understand why you did that and thus it's okay.  No.  I can understand why you did a thing and also say, like, like, you are a damn fool.

B: Yeah, or that forgiveness is absolution, which it is not.

H: Right.  

B: I forgive you, but what you did was wrong.  

H: Right, this is also a very important point, and--which I'd, to be clear, I do not forgive yet Americans who have made this choice, but I think it is very important to understand.  Like, I think that without trying to understand a problem, like, that's the--that--like, what--how are you going to solve a problem you don't understand?  Like, just--you're just throwin' stuff at the wall at that point, and you know, when it's all of us throwing stuff at the wall, then it's all going to cancel each other out.  So I, yeah, I needed to hear that, and I was like, who is this guy, and then I looked you up and I was like, oh, this (?~27:13)  and you have, you, I mean, I have a lot of affinity for a lot of what religion does, and I often feel like in the secular world, even in the science world, we suffer from a lack of a lot of what religion provides, and you know, and that is like, outlined by the fact that, you know, conservatives give more money to charity than liberals, and th--I'm like, that is a frustrating statistic for me.  We, like, I feel like we are the compassionate branch of US politics and we should be, like, why on Earth wouldn't we give more, and it's because we don't have organized institutions that tell us how to give, you know, and we're supposed to like, all make those decisions separately and on our own and quietly and--instead of being like, here is the plate that you put money in once a week.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

B: And that's so--that's exactly right, and the funny thing is is that people know better than that about every other part of their life.  They know that if they wanna quit drinking, they can't just sit alone in a room and do that, they're gonna have to get with a group.  If they wanna get in shape, they gotta join a gym and be part of a group.  They understand that like, none of us are very good at living up to our most cherished values, that we need to sort of surround ourselves with people--

H: That's so true.

B: --that reinforce those values and underline them and so that, you know, when I start to let down, you go like, hey, I thought you--I thought we said we were gonna, you know, eat healthy this month, and you're all, oh yeah, dammit, and you know, and--which is why smokers who are part of families that are smoking almost never can give up smoking or, you know, there's this sense in which we are tribal.  We are incredibly influenced by the people around us, and so you would think that a bunch of smart scientific people resolving that they wanted to live lives of moral depth and joy and exictement or goodness would go like, well, damn, if I wanna live by those values, I'd better find a group of people and institutionalize it, and they just--and we just don't, and so--

H: We can't!   It's because, I feel like one of the values is individualism.  One of the values is every person is supposed to make their own choices and every person is their own king, you know, is their own Pope, and--

B: But here's the funny--

H: And like, that value is so deeply ingrained in our society that it's like, and it, and I--individualism is great and it has lots of advantages and I think that its done lots of good things for our, you know, for our whole world and our culture and individual people, but there's like, it also has drawbacks, and this feeling that we all have to figure it out on our own is a huge one, 'cause man, is that hard.  

 (30:00) to (32:00)

B: Well, you know, it's funny, because I was thinking of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish existentialist philosopher--

H: Of course you were.  

B: And uh, yes, of course  I was, and Kierkegaard once said that it is only in the context of the group that an individual can emerge.  That my individuality is only expressed and understood and when (?~30:36) against everybody else's, so in a sense, I find myself in relationship with everybody else, and so the idea, well, I don't want to join a group, because I wanna do my own thing, I'm like, you know, here's the funny thing is, you won't be able to do your own thing unless you're part of the group.  I'm thinking, you know, in a sense, I have a friend who's a cook and one time he said to me, he said, the one thing I've learned, Bart, is that if you want to cook, don't own your own restaurant.  Because if you own your own restaurant, you'll never cook.  

H: Yeah, yeah.  

B: That you're too busy paying bills and ordering linens, and I think it's that same way to an individual, I go like, oh, you wanna be an individual?  Join a group, because unless you join a group, you'll spend all your time doing things that you're not that good at.  You need to be a part of a group where somebody else is good at that and that and that and they just want you to do this thing that you're amazing at.  

H: Yeah, but Bart, what if we disagree on some fun--like, some very small topic that we can't--we can't resolve?  Then it all, then like, how can I trust these people to be part of my group?  I've seen--I get that feeling sometimes where I'm like, working with people and I'm like, but that thing that you think isn't right, and I kinda like, I kinda don't wanna do a show with you because you're wrong about that thing, and that's even more common when I'm working with people who are different from me, who like have had different upbringings or are, you know, not white dudes, like, I find that more frequently, do I find like, little tiny things that I'm like, nah, not so sure about that.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

No, I don't really like that perspective and thus I'm kinda maybe not gonna want to work with you, and I'm--

B: So interesting.

H: Then when I hit myself in the face 'cause I'm such a stubborn and terrible person.

B: You know, it's so interesting because I think that there's a certain kind of smart science-oriented white guy, not to put too fine a point on it, but that--

H: Yeah.  I know, I get it.

B: That cares too much about truth.  Like that being right is too big a value compared to being kind or being together or be--or like, that truth is more important than value and so that they're willing to sacrifice value for truth, and I love ideas and I love arguing about ideas, but I have to tell you that, ultimately, the most--the thing I value even more than truth and anyone who's been around me and watched me lie will tell you this, is that I value love and loving relationships, and so in some sense, I would rather sacrifice being on the same page with you in terms of facts or perspectives if we can stay--now there's a limit to that, there's a limit to that, but it's just like, sometimes I see these white science guys and I'm like, wow, being right is more imporrtant to you than being together.  

H: And than being kind.

B: Yeah.

H: And I think that kindness is a really--and I, like I, I  have come to the conclusion that this is the example that I hit myself with over and over again.  

 (34:00) to (36:00)

I have lots of friends who are super into astrology, 'cause I live in a pretty hippie town, and I know that astrology is super fake, and when my friends talk about their astrology readings, I am like, I need to find a way to listen to this conversation in a way that, even when I'm being quiet, they can tell I'm judging them, and they can tell that I am imagining them in unkind ways, and so I, like, I have to find ways to understand, like, so there's two things that I could do.  Understand astrology in a way that allows me to just appreciate it for what it's doing for that person, and then appreciate it for that reason or two, just give in and be like, it's okay, this isn't real, just like, go with it and like, be like, this person is into this thing and tell me about what Mars was doing in Virgo and let's party about it.

B: Yeah, you kind of have to find a bemusement, where you go, like, wow.  I cannot believe that is compelling to you.  Like.  

H: That--that--I mean.  Yes, that is how I feel.  

B: *talking over each other* I cannot believe that is compelling to you--
H: I dont believe thats a kind way of--

B: But, but like, since it is, you gotta tell me more about that. 

H: Right.

B: Like, explain that to me. But I think the thing is, like, I don't get angry anymore when people believe in--

H: No, I don't get mad about it.

B: No, but the thing is like, but I also don't get, I don't get contemptuous anymore because if there's one thing-- it's funny, the whole phrase 'the free thinkers movement'? I always laugh about 'free thinking' because I'm like, if there's anything that science has taught me, its that theres no such thing as a free thought.

H: *laughing*

B: Like, you, we're full of cognitive biases and (? - 35:55) like we-- 

H: Yeah, yeah. 

B: Why did I believe in god growing up? That wasn't a choice.

 (36:00) to (38:00)

So, you know, when I see somebody who's believing in astrology, you sort of go like, wow!  I do not understand that!  Like, you--like, but there must be something that brings you to that place.  Like, why is that so appealing to you?  And to recognize that it is appealing to them for some reason.  

H: Right.  Well, I'm--I think I get why it's appealing.  Like, it's--it's an opportunity to talk to somebody about like, what you should do.  It's just like, it's basically therapy, just unlicensed, which is fine, and like, I think astrologers--

B: No, it's not.  It's not--it's worse than that.  And the only reason you're saying that is because you're Sagittarius and you all think that way.  


It can be really bad, like, people are locked into, like, original sin for Christianity.  Like, it's a horrible doctrine.

H: There are bad ideas.  There are absolutely bad ideas.

B: It's a bad idea, and so like, but the fact that a person has adopted a bad idea doesn't make them a bad person, and now, now, don't get me wrong.  I can't be close to somebody who is really wrong about things that are really important to me, like, I can be loving to them and I can be kind to them, and I can even be respectful and listen to them, but there comes a point at which intimacy, friendship intimacy, closeness, that's reserved for people who on some level share some really basic elements of the world, and that's why I don't think you can have, like, these Unitarian Universalist churches.  I think there's only so close that a bunch of people with different worldviews can get to each other, and that's why I think secular people need to create communities, but when you say like, yeah, but I, but what happens when you disagree?  I'm like, there has to be a range of things at the center, where you go these are the things that we really do agree on, and that you kind of can't be part of this intimate circle if you don't agree on.  

H: Yeah.  

 (38:00) to (40:00)

B: But then there has to be, you know, like, there has to be some wiggle room out there where you can just go, like, wow, it is so fascinating that you like that.  I, you know, tell me more, but I'm convinced that the most important aspect for this community building that secular people don't grasp is is they, I think that they are afraid that by joining a group of people, some of whom don't agree with them, that they will have to give up their belief or give up their truth, and I just haven't found that to be the case.  Like, in--I don't think those people have enough experience at being part of a community to understand that, like, lots of communities have lots of people that don't agree on lots of things, but they--what they do agree on is this thing in the center that defines the community, and I think loving, you know, with all due respect, I think loving relationships and trying to make the world better for other people and cultivating a sense of gratitude for life, like, even if it's just those three things, like, that's enough to build a community around.  

H: Except that we really just love to argue now.  I mean, like, I've watched the internet start a culture war over basically strawmen and just like, just imagining that the--that other people are saying things that they aren't even saying.

B: Yeah.

H: Some of them are, but it's, you know, it's a tiny minority.  It could be like, 150 people that have, like, built a culture war, because we are so bad, we are so not built to communicate this way and so when I, like, so I think there are legitimate interesting thing--like, discussions that need to be had around social justice and how we make the world a more fair and equitable place and--

 (40:00) to (42:00)

B: They're not gonna be had on the--and those discussions are not--they're not gonna happen on the internet.  They're not gonna happen on the internet.

H: What we had instead was like, a reaction that basically got us Donald Trump as a president, like, there are young people who were so convinced by this, this backlash against social justice, that they became like, I thought--like, is this--it was this super sad moment as, not a moment, but over the last few years as I've watched this happen, where I have seen like, I thought what was gonna happen was that the, you know, that the people with these stodgy worldviews were just all gonna die, and then we would have a new progressive world, and watching young people get swayed over into, you know, uh, I don't know, like, the defense of the status quo and of whiteness and of maleness, um, it has been so sad.

B: You thought they would die out and you didn't realize, like, that the internet had the ability to spawn new ones?  To spawn young idiots?

H: Not just--yeah, not just the internet, but in general, because like, my experience with young people, like, we are liberal, we are progressive, and that's--and then like, this whatever this backlash wave thing was, like, yes, that there will continue to be people who are fighting for the status quo and feel as if they are being attacked by fairness, and of course I'm strawmanning myself right now, but uh--it was very--

B: But what if I--what if I told you--

 (42:00) to (44:00)

B: Do you remember, I don't know if you ever read Marshall McLuhan or heard of him, he was big in the 70s, Woody Allen has a very funny scene in a movie where a guy is arguing about a movie and he goes and pulls Marshall McLuhan out, like, the guy's doing film criticism in line waiting for a movie, and Woody Allen, he's irritating the hell out of Woody Allen, and he goes and he grabs Marshall McLuhan and he brings him out to talk to him, but like, at the time, he was a hugely famous intellectual who nobody remembers now, but he wrote a book called Understanding Media and the big line from the book was "the medium is the message".

H: Sure, yeah.

B: What's more important than what you're watching or listening to or participating in, it's the medium itself, and some idea, like, that's why football took over, because football was a game for television, it's a perfect game for television, and baseball was a perfect game for radio, and so when the medium changed--what I would contend is that the kind of connections that nourish human souls are not, like, the medium of the internet is perfect for turning people into angry divisive, like, the internet delivers you Donald Trump.  It creates a context where a certain kind of conversation really does well and another kind of conversation dies on the vine, and the kind of conversation that the internet facilitates is the one that will lead to a polarized country with Donald Trump as its president, and so you say, well, what's the answer?  Like, blow up the internet?  And I don't think you can, but I think what you--

H: Also, don't, please.  

B: No, no, you'd be out of business.  But I think that the question is, to understand the implications of that medium and of the tele--you know, of your cellphones and all that stuff, and to understand that if you wanna have a different kind of conversation, you're gonna have to start using the internet as a tool to get you into a room with 100 other people that are really there, because you'll talk to them differently if they're in front of your face and you'll argue differently if you see the way your words crush their spirit, and so that there's this sense in which, as human beings, the internet we've taken a tool that was sort of meant to like, get us together, and we've used it as the get-together.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

We're like, we, like, it's almost like where y--the wedding invitation becomes like, the whole wedding, and you're going no, no, no, this was just--I'm sending you this to get you to the real part, and the real party is when we're together in a room together and so what I'm convinced of is is that the internet is going to crash us and this way of consuming food and money and air travel and all this stuff, like, it's all unsustainable, but on the other side of it, I don't think all those things'll go away, I think that people will realize that they have to be used more judiciously in the service of human relationships because as human beings, that is what we are actually wired for, and so I mean, I'm just convinced that the internet isn't a bad thing.   I just think it's people thought it was everything and they didn't realize that there's a certain kind of--the most important kinds of conversations that need to happen for our tribe cannot happen on the internet.  

H: So I--my counterargument is that right now, we are experiencing the internet as it exists right now, and in a very real way, it's saying that the internet is a medium, is almost like saying, you know, radiowaves are a medium.  You can broadcast TV over radiowaves, you can broadcast radio over radiowaves, you can broadcast a cellphone conversation over radiowaves.  I think that the internet is a lot of different medium--media.  So like, Facebook is different from Twitter is different from Tumblr is different from Vine is different from YouTube.  

 (46:00) to (48:00)

I think that you--I think it is--and then, and even like, you look at something like Reddit and you find places that are 100%, this is like, the worst example of how the internet works.  It's all, you know, people who are all exactly the same as each other holding up examples of how evil the people who disagree with them are, but another place on Reddit, another subreddit could have a small community of people who, like, I'm--like, I spend time on the subreddit for people who have Ulcerative Colitis, 'cause I have Ulcerative Colitis, and it's just  a supportive group of people who are like, we have this disease and when somebody is going to the hospital to get surgery, we're like, you know, good luck, man, and when somebody, you know, gets their first day where they're, you know, not pooping out of a hole in their stomach anymore, like, you know, success, everything is great, and that exists for, you know, for people who love a certain video game, it exists for people who, you know, have had certain life experiences, and those like, the internet is very like, can be really good at creating small communities that could never have found a place in the real world, because there just aren't enough of them.  Like, there--there probably are, like--

B: Yeah, no, no, no.  

H: Yeah, and so like, they're all of these different media that are on the internet and it can even be to the point of like, different communities using this thing differently.  It's so--

B: And that's what I'm trying--I think we're saying the same thing in the sense of what I'm saying is is that there are certain kinds of conversations that can only happen on the internet.  You have a disease that only 1,000 people in the world have, the only community that you'll ever find will be on the internet.  

 (48:00) to (50:00)

There's not enough of those people in Montana for you to ever get--so I go like, that's beautiful.  You can have that kind of conversation only on the internet, but what's happened is that people are living an increasing amount of their lives on the internet, on their phones.  They're actually at a party and they're on their phone, checking things elsewhere, and what I'm saying is is that I think that they've taken this tool that is good for something and they've tried to make it replace everything, and you know, my counterargument is, look at the world around you and look at, like, in a sense, if somebody says to me, well, it's--it remains to be said, well, when your house is half-burned down, you can go like, I don't know if this fire is a good thing or a bad thing, like, it remains to be seen, I go like, well, you know, based on what I'm seeing here, I think, you know, I think I know that it's not a good thing, and what I would say is, or what I wanna ask you, 'cause you know this medium better than I do, is don't you come to a place, like even when you connect with your fans, which is a community if you will all by itself, and sometimes you get those fans together in person, and so, don't you find that although it is powerful and amazing, it is also limited?  I mean, how, can't you see the limits to what you can do and can't do with the internet in terms of--

H: Yeah.

B: --changing another person's life for the better?  

H: Absolutely, absolutely, and I think that when we, like, when we do things in the real world, it is--people are often surprised by how much more it matters when they, you know, meet the people who they have been talking to in comments or, you know, and we try to provide, you know, some opportunities for that to happen.  It's, again, not again, but like, it can be--it's hard and it's, you know, like, because of the constaints of the real world, like, it has to happen in a physical place and it has to cost money and um, and I would love to figure out ways to make it cost less money and I think like, preachers have been really good at that, figuring out ways to do real world gatherings on the cheap.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

Just throw up a tent in a parking lot kind of thing, not that I'd necessarily wanna live that life, but um, I do look to those places for models, but yeah, it definitely has constraints, and I do worry especially because I think some people have had so much time to have social experiences on the internet that are very cultivated, that are careful, that aren't super stressful because they can disengage immediate if they want to, and that you oftentimes are even really sort of, you know, you can easily get drawn into sort of a, you know, a dopamine spiral, where it's like, I just wanna see the cute puppy or whatever it is that gets you going, and uh, and that there's not that same--not necessarily gonna get that same experience in the real world and also it's going to be more stressful, like, it's probably--it might freak you out.

B: And that brings me around to where this conversation started out, coming back from Amsterdam, coming off the wedding, and sort of going like, in some ways, the thing that human beings are going to have to learn and teach each other and teach their children is how to come down or how to resist that little dose of dopamine.  How to defer gratification.  How to have a phone and not pull it out or how to program your phone so that it can only be used in a way that you can handle.  It's like alcohol, where there are--the problem isn't alcohol itself.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

The problem is that some people don't have enough restraint or are succeptible to alcohol in certain ways and the key is not to eliminate alcohol from the world.  The key is to give people tools to cope with it, or I'm boring you that bad, aren't I?

H: I have a six month old child.  There's lots of reasons I might not--

B: Um, and so for me, that's one of the things where I think the future of humanizing people and of helping young people grow into happy, flourishing people is somehow not throwing the whole thing away.

H: Yeah, because it is so valuable, like there's so many opportunities to have--to connect with people who are outside of your sphere and like, never before has there been a chance where, like, you know, two people across the world can have an instantaneous conversation and both see each others' faces and that that technology is available even to people who have, you know, not very much.

B: Yeah, it's amazing.

H: Like, all of these things, like, we need them so much.

B: And yet, they're such amazing and wonderful tools and yet the sum total is that people are less empathetic than they were 20 years ago and more people are anxious and sad and depressed and discouraged and when people go on Facebook to connect with their friends, they end up feeling more disconnected than they've ever felt, and so all of these things are not indictments of Facebook.  They're not indictments of the internet.  They are flags going up saying, hey friends, we've got to really get--like, we've got to really science this thing.  You know, like, it's that movie the Mars thing, where like, I'm gonna science the hell out of this thing.  We have to science the hell out of this thing and sort of go, if our value is human flourishing rather than maximizing profits for a corporation, if our value is human flourishing, we've gotta come up with a whole new way of teaching young people to handle this substance, this tool, this technology that could make their lives a lot better but could also crash them and is crashing so many of them.  

 (54:00) to (56:00)

I mean, when you see the way it affects their sexuality, their friendships, their sense of personal identity, and their politics, my God.  Like, you just go, we have got to teach these people how--it's like we've given every little child a--like, a Boeing 767 in flight and sort of gone like, figure it out, and we've gotta start teaching people how to use this stuff, and that's where--I guess, that's why when you reached out to me, and this was like, this wasn't a podcast conversation, this is just like you and me talking, right, at this moment, I'm like, the reason I was excited is is because I feel like you have access to the tool.  Like, you know how to use the tool and you sort of--I felt like you were reaching out to me saying, like, hey, we know there's something, like, wrong with the way people use these tools, and like, could you--you wanna have a conversation about how we can make these tools, not how we can throw them away, but how we can make them actually help individual human beings flourish, and I guess like, I feel like that's still the conversation I want to have, because I know better than to think this stuff is gonna go away, but I also know that, like, at this wedding I'm at, my son and daughter, some of their friends are there, and they're sucking up to all these friends of mine who are so relationally gifted, and they're going like, we don't know what it is about you people, but like, we want more of this, and like, this is the best party we've ever been to, and it's sort of like, yeah.  

 (56:00) to (58:00)

There's this thing that you don't know and we've gotta figure out a way to help them both and rather than either/or, rather than either/or, and that's where I feel like both you and I are sort of the ying and yang of that both/and.  

H: Yeah.  Yeah, and--I have definitely been discouraged, and I--and like, I think that we were so optimistic about what the internet was gonna bring us, and it did--it has brought us great things, like Wikipedia is amazing.  It is the--such a tremendously useful resource that no one had access to and that it was created entirely by just volunteer human beings and there are many examples of things like that, none as large and dramatic, but um, whether that's collections of human knowledge or collections of human community, but man, uh, it's funny, it's almost like it all went to hell when it got a little more diverse.  Like, when people got access to the internet who maybe, and also like, who didn't have the tools to understand how it worked, and they were put on the internet and then they were like, oh my God, I didn't know about all these things that were happening and it's like, oh no, those are just inflammatory clickbait stories.  You don't know about those?  Oh, those are BS.  Those aren't real, and they're like, but they don't know.  It's almost, it's like, it's like you, it's like giving, it's like giving heroin to a group of people who have never heard of heroin and they're like, oh!  This is really fun.  I like this.  And you're like, oh God, don't do the heroin!  Careful with that, like, that's not--that's not just--

B: It's exactly what happened with LSD.  LSD is this amazing, all these psychedelics were doing amazing therapeutic things for people, and then they got out and people were like, here, just everybody, LSD's great, like, and all of a sudden then, for 30 years, people were like, No LSD, it's evil, because unrestrained, it was a nightmare.

 (58:00) to (1:00:00)

You know, but like, if you talk to people that are using it responsibly now and that are experimenting with it, it's the most promising kind of stuff that's happening right now out there in the world of sort of medicine, and overcoming trauma, but you c--the internet and LSD are very similar in that you just can't throw them out there and say it's really fun, see wh--take it out for a spin!  So--

H: Yeah, um, so it's, yeah, but also, I think that, like, you know, it was such a happy fun time when it was just all of the nerdy white guys, and we were like, everybody on the internet is wonderful, and it's like, well, it turns out that everybody on the internet is basically you, and that like, and, you know, also some nerdy women and also some people of color but like, there was an overwhelming demographic focus to the internet for its first like, 15 years, because it was nerds.

B: Yeah.

H: And it was--and everything was wonderful and it was just a bunch of nerds.

B: 'Cause they all got along with each other.

H: And then when the other people who had different worldviews, it was like, okay, everything's gone to hell and like, I'm gonna just use this tool to shout and, you know, and like, I get that, because uh, I was one of those nerds and there were those glory days and YouTube was the same way, where it used to be a lot of the same kinds of people doing a lot of the same kinds of things.  We all just sort of agreed with each other, 'cause we all came from similar backgrounds, and now it's very diverse and there's lots of people doing things that are terrible and people doing things that I'm just completly uninterested in, but I'm sure are lovely.  The, like, the, you know, the--but I would never, like, deny access to these tools to those people just because it made it more complicated, but we do have to find ways to co-exist.

 (1:00:00) to (1:02:00)

It's like, a weird, like, coexisting in this nation of people that is international and that has like, opportunity for direct touch but mostly exists inside of these little bubbles and so when the bubbles like, brush up against each other, then there's suddenly these giant sparks and flames and gasoline fires that occur.

B: So let me ask you a question.  Let me ask you a question.

H: I don't know--I've--yes, please don't be--please let the question not be how do we fix it?

B: No, here's what my question is: again, like, I don't think you fix it, I think you teach yourself how to like, you can't fix the ocean, but you can teach yourself how to be a better sailor, and I guess my question is: Is there anything, like, you live in that world, and on the one hand, I go like, well, you're obviously not that great a sailor, because like, at the beginning of this conversation, you were totally bummed out, but I think in general I feel like you do sail pretty well, and so I got a bunch of people out there and they're hearing me go all apocalyptic the-internet-is-dangerous and you know, and like, can you make--what do you know about sailing?  Like, what have you learned in your years, and what have you learned by watching other people, you know, about like, how to filter out fake news or how to recognize bad tendencies or how to, you know, what do you know that can help me be--make the better--make more of my life in the internet?  

H: Um, I think a big one is that you get, like, unlike the ocean when you're sailing on it, doesn't matter how angry you are, the ocean is going to be the ocean, but what you put into the internet comes back to you, and so if you put rage and flames and energy in that way out into the internet, it's gonna come back to you in the same way, and uh, and if you are calm and respectful and thoughtful and you think about people complexly, then that--the majority of what comes back to you will be those kinds of things.

 (1:02:00) to (1:04:00)

That's not all that will come back.  There will always be people who will, you know, we just made a video on SciShow recently where we used like, you know, language that recognized the existence of transgender people, and just us saying words those ways made people feel like they were being attacked by us, because they have become so convinced that language policing is the downfall of Western civilization, whatever that is, and um, and so you know, you catch those things and I think you catch them more if you're a cer--like, if you're not a white dude, if you are a person of color, if you're a woman, you catch those things more than if you're, you know, the sort of default human as far as our culture is concerned.

B: And so you catch more pain, you catch more unsolicited anger.

H: But there is definitely an amount of like, if you are making content that is like, destructive and you're like, whatever, everything, like, people are--then you're gonna like, you are going to have a frustrating time.

B: That's gonna come back to you.

H: And as far as like, you know, it's interesting because I feel like I have a responsibility because I have a large audience, and so there will oftentimes be things I will see where I'm like, that looks like it  might not be real.  I'm gonna check first, or I, you know, or more recently, it's been like, if I'm gonna share this thing, is it going to make my life better, is it going to make the people who see it--is it going to make their lives bet--or is it gonna energize them to do something productive and positive or is it just gonna make them feel more angry and more--put more weight on their shoulders?

 (1:04:00) to (1:06:00)

B: More helpless sometimes, yeah.

H: Yeah.  And so I have attempted to think about that with every sort of piece of media I'm putting out there, and I think that if everybody thought about it that way, that would be fantastic, because I think it would--yeah, I think the internet would be a more productive place, so if everybody sort of considered the impact that their words and their, you know, like, it's almost like people don't know their own power.  I think that this is a huge problem that we generally have in America, like, we--you are unaware of how powerful you are as an American and how much impact you have on the world and on other people and like, how important our vote is not just to us, but to the rest of the world, um, and I think that it--

B: Well, I just--I just--

H: --a recognition of the amount of power that we have would help a lot of people.

B: I just realized something listening to you that I think--because I think that the things that you put out are of such good quality, and I realize, like, oh wait a second.  You're not doing it alone.  Like, you're having a--like, before you put many of the things you put out there don't go out there until you've had a conversation with your brother or with somebody else in your company, like, you're not just a guy in the basement putting out content.  You're part of a team, and I wonder if people in the real world, like, just if they called somebody on the phone and said, "I'm thinking of posting this," what do you--like, like, let me show this to you.  Like, so much of the damage gets done--

H: Yeah.

 (1:06:00) to (1:08:00)

B: --because there's nobody saying, "Well, what are you trying to do with that?  Like, what are--how is that--is that gonna make anybody's life better?  Like, what do you think will happen if you put that out there?  Like, let's just, let's just, well, when I read that, you know it kinda reads angry to me, oh, oh, if you change that word, it's okay," like, I think about all the editing that I do when I'm putting together a talk and my wife is there and I'm like, I'm gonna say this, and she goes ohh, listen, don't you know what that image suggests, and you know, and isn't that what you do?  Like, you're not just putting stuff out there all by yourself even though it's in your name.  

H: Yeah, I was walking out of the gym yesterday and I thought to myself, how long, if I had been doing this on my own, how long would it have taken for my YouTube channel to become 100% like, Marxist propaganda?  Just like, railing against the financial system and like, the stuff that really pisses me off in modern society where, like, like, financialization and how we--how greed runs everything in America, like, how long would it have taken if John wasn't there to be my, like, to be--

B: To temper you.

H: To temper me and also to like, be that person when I like, write a script that I know is a little bit on the edge, be like, John, is this okay?  Like, I'm sharing this with you, I don't wanna do a thing with our thing that isn't alright with you, and like, I think I would have devolved so far into angry and like, also, you know, in respo--and I think a lot of what it is, it's in response to people who come at you.  You're like, oh, I have to, I have to, you know, to almost like, I have to make it hotter because they're making it hot.  

 (1:08:00) to (1:10:00)

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no--

H: And--

B: This is brilliant.  Like, this may be the most important thing that I'm getting from you, 'cause like, I'm thinking, no, no, no, listen to me, 'cause like, one of the things that is very known about me is I have a very recognizable personal brand, like, like, people go like, what would Bart do?  They know what Bart would do.  What would Bart say?  They know!  Like, like, I'm just, I'm a caricature of myself, and so, but like, that's cultivated, and so what happens to me sometimes is like, and I actually did a podcast a few months ago where I--somebody wrote me an e-mail and I was gonna send them something that was mean, and one of my students was like, dude, that's not your brand.  That's not who you are.  

H: That's off-brand, dude.

B: Don't send that, and they were right, and I pulled it back and I didn't send it.  I sent something different, and I ended up in this wonderful, having this wonderful encounter with this person, so your point about what you put out there is what you'll get back, I put out warmth and I got back warmth, from somebody who--

H: Yeah.

B: --you know, was prone to dislike me, and but what I realized was is she was protecting my brand, 'cause she knows my brand and she cares about my brand, and I wonder how many people, we need to almost do a buddy system, where we go like, I'm still me on the internet and you're still you, but like, I'm gonna run everything by you 'cause you're here to protect my brand and I'm here to protect yours, 'cause our brands are sort of similar, but like, I think that if people had one other human being that they had to actually interact with before they broadcast stuff, I think it would change everything.

H: But you--yeah, you're imagining the internet in a way it doesn't work, where like, I wait more than 13 seconds before I Tweet something, like, I don't run a Tweet by John, but I do--I will do that with scripts occasionally, but with a Tweet, I won't run it by John, but I do kinda think about what he might think.  

 (1:10:00) to (1:12:00)

B: And--and--and he--and you know what he might think, 'cause you've talked with him a lot about your personal brand.

H: And so like, yeah--right.  

B: Your angle, what you're trying to do.

H: Right, so I think--yeah.  Having some kind of, yeah, it doesn't--not like every time, but having some person that you talk to regularly about this stuff is absolutely val--and I think that might be part of why so many of the really, not just popular but also like, not, you know, not like, reactive things on the internet, like productive things instead of reactive things, are teams, you know, small teams of people who trust each other.

B: Yeah!

H: Usually two people.

B: Yeah.

H: Like--

B: And that's the thing, I'm thinking, like, if you just had a person that every week, you got together and said, like, you know, what are you trying to do with your social media?  Like, what are you worried about in the world?  What are the things you're trying to put out there?  Let's review some of the stuff that you put out last week.  Let's talk about how we can, you know, 'cause you're gonna use the same language again two weeks from now, like, like, that I think if people were talking to each other about their messaging, to a real human being, their messaging would get better, almost within a week, within two weeks.  Their messaging would get better, and then they would be putting out better stuff and they would be getting back better stuff.  

H: Yeah, I mean, it's putting together that kind of support group is very appealing to me.  I feel like, hard in practice.  I--I just--you know, I think some people do have that.  I'm thinking about a particular person right now who Tweeted something this morning that I thought was--he's been, you know, in the middle of a lot of controversy and people think that his perspectives are not what his perspectives are.  Mostly he's just trying to have a good time and have fun, but also he's like, trying to be a little bit irreverent and be a little bit, like, all this stuff, it's just like hullaballoo and none of it matters and people are trying to make big deals out of stuff that isn't big deals and you know, that kind of perspective, which oftentimes is like, oh my God, I was just trying to say something and you're attacking me for using this word when it's not, like, I'm not trying to be offensive with the word and like, stop trying to like, make everything into an issue kind of perspective, which, like, I get it.  

 (1:12:00) to (1:14:00)

It can be really frustrating, especially when you have a large audience and people are always coming at you, but he Tweeted something this morning that was clearly like, meant to rile up his haters, but it also was kind of a gross thing that the people he disagrees with and that his haters think that he is, would post, and so like, he's turning into the thing that his haters think he is, because they--because he's just reacting to them and he's so frustrated by them, and I'm projecting all of this, because I don't even know him that well, but I'm just, like, I'm like, duuuude.  Don'--like, just take a step back and not like, if you want to get up in their business, love what you do, have a good time doing it, have fun, and--but also try to be a little bit better.

B: And you know, I bet that--was that Tweet proactive or reactive?  'Cause I'll bet, like, he didn't need to send it out there.  It was apropos of nothing.

H: Oh, no!

B: Oh, yeah.

H: Oh, it was absolutely, no, it didn't, it absolutely did not need to be there, and I almost responded to him with like, dude, what the fuck?  Like, I--so almost did, publ--and publically, because that's what you do, because you're always creating content as a content creator and I'm saying like, well, like, it's time for me to create some content and this is my content for the day.  

 (1:14:00) to (1:16:00)

I'm gonna get in an argument with a guy on the internet, and so intead, I sent him a message, and I was like--

B: Oh, I love you, I love you, 'cause that's what I would have done.  I would have said, like, don't send him something publically, call him out and say, hey man, I'm with ya, I'm rootin' for ya, I think you can be more effective if you do it this way, but my gosh, think about it, like, he didn't need to send that out, so if--wouldn't it be great if that guy had a partner and they were talking--

H: Yeah, and he doesn't, and yeah.

B: And going like, what are you going to do this, what are you thinking needs to be said this week?  He says, well, I think I really need to like, give a big fuck you to everybody and this is how I wanna do it, and his partner said, listen man, I know what you're trying to do overall.  That's just gonna take you off-message, so like, how about this?  And I swear to you, I think that 50% of the bad mojo that's out there would be avoided if somebody had just somebody to talk to in (?~1:74:43) again, not each Tweet, you're right.  I'm not s--but just somebody who they would regularly sort of saying, you help me with my brand, I'll help you with your brand, and this is not like people that are monetizing, this is just like, my aunt Mary, like, she has a brand, too.  Her Facebook page is a brand, and the way she responds to other people, and just to go like, hey, tell me about your week on the internet this week and let's talk about like, is that really who you wanna be and where did you get the biggest positives and where did you get the biggest negatives, and let's see how we can--how we can tweak these messages so that you're sen--because, you know, every secular humanist has a responsibility to be putting out messages that send--that help educate the rest of the world that goodness in a secular way is positive and is possible and fun and joyful, you know, like, there are people that are trapped in crazy Christian prisons because they don't think there's any other way to be a good person, and so if a humanist hones their message in such a way so that they show somebody this, they could actually be liberating another human being into a better way of life and so it's important, even if it's just you responding to your aunt Sally's wedding pictures, it's important for you to just stop, and I don't think any of us have those conversations unless we're having them with another human being.  

 (1:16:00) to (1:18:00)

H: Right, and so the only feedback we get is the numbers and so what we see is what does well, what gets the most likes, what gets the most shares, and that--that, like, sort of thoughtless, you know, I'm having this impact, people are liking what I'm doing, but it is disconnected from the reality of the impact it's having where people are sharing it because, like, it, like, whether the people are sharing it because they felt good or because they felt bad is completely removed from the equation and it is actually much easier to get people sharing something because it made them feel bad or made them feel angry.

B: You know what, that's--one of the big questions I ask the college students is at the end of this thing, like, how are you keeping score?  You know, like, and so for you as an internet provider, like, one way of keeping score is how much--how many views or how much money comes in, but like, on some level, like, with my podcast at least, one of the ways I keep score is I look at actual e-mails from somebody who says, "I heard this podcast and it made me do this."  I mean, I had this experience a few months ago, where a guy wrote, he said, "I heard you do this podcast about this life being the only one you have and making the most of it and about relationships," and he said, "And I reached out to my sister who I hadn't talked to for ten years and we connected and we reconciled some stuff.  We started talking, and then like, last week, she dropped dead unexpectedly of a heart attack," and he said, "If I hadn't listened to you, I wouldn't have reconnected," and he said, "I'm grieving my sister," but he said, "But she died and we were connected when she died," and he said, "It's--it made--that podcast made a huge difference," and I sort of go, like, okay.  Like, I don't know how many views it got or how many listens.  

 (1:18:00) to (1:20:00)

I don't care.  Like, if it got enough listens to get to that guy, like, that's just a different way of keeping score and I think that one of the things that people, especially big--you have to balance out both those ways of keeping score in the sense, like, if you don't have numbers, you can't keep putting out your messages but if numbers are the only thing you're looking for, you're gonna put out shit messages, and so you've gotta balance out, like, I want quantity so that I can keep doing this good work, but I want to have stories or I want to know how it's actually touching individual lives because otherwise, like, it's really just, it's really just for the money, and that's not who I want to be, and again, like, for the average person listening to this podcast, they're not talking about money, but it's the en--it's still clicks.  It's still like, number of likes, number of listens, like, people care about just being--they just care about the impact that they're having out there and somehow we've gotta sort of train ourselves to go, like, there's two kinds of impact, and at different times, they're both important, but I mean, you must have--I know that when you go out and do these on the road things, you're having actual people come up and tell you, like, this is how this video changed my perspective, or this is how this helped me to have a better relationship with this person, because I've figured this stuff out and you know, like, I think that you gotta weigh that in.  

H: Yeah.

B: I know, I'm--

H: I think the question, how are you keeping score, is a question that every person should be asking themselves, because I think we all do it and I think that the internet, that successful internet platforms have in part become successful because they allow you to keep score in a very tangible way and there is a psychological boost that we get when our score goes up and that's actually pretty creepy.

B: Yup.  And that's--

H: That that's what's pushing--

B: Yeah, yeah, that's really cr--and here's the thing, like, I have a feeling, I don't know your brother, but I know you--I sense you like your brother.

 (1:20:00) to (1:22:00)

H: Yeah, I like my brother.

B: And so here's the thing, what I think is, there might be a decision that you have to make that would get you 1,000 or 10,000 more hits but if you say something, if you say, "I'm thinking about doing this," and your brother comes back and says like, "I don't know, like, where's that going?  Like, what about this?", I think like, his actual face to face approval is a different way of keeping score and it matters to you and so that's the thing, like, I think if you have a human being who's--who you respect and admire in your life talking to you about what you're doing online, you're way more likely to be able to resist the temptation of the numbers.  

H: Yeah, and this is a thing that I would also say to people who run businesses.  Watch out for anything that's gonna change the way that you keep score, which is what, you know, it's what, you know, a new client can do to you.  It's what an investor can do to you.  It's what, you know, a tight situation can do, so if you--and if you lose track of the original reason why you're doing something, whether that's business or whether it's a relationship or whatever it is, then like, and it stops feeling good and right and it starts feeling like you're doing it--

B: Yeah, yeah.

H: --for the grosser reason--

B: Yeah.  Well, we gotta go back to life, um, but this idea of how do you keep score, that we sort of end up with and how do you--and again, like, coming back to the community thing of, it's great to make a resolution of like, this is what matters to me, this is how I'm gonna keep score, but what I'm telling you is like, none of us live up to our highest values unless we're surrounded by people that affirm those values and reinforce them and hold us to them when we are weak.  

 (1:22:00) to (1:24:00)

This is good.  

H: Yeah.

B: I mean, I appreciate this conversation a lot, and I mean, I especially appreciate that last part of it, because I really do--

H: Yeah, that was really interesting.

B: I'm sort of obsessed with how do I actually help people, not just like, internet's really dangerous and bad things are happening, but like, how do you give people tools to move forward, and I guess I feel like that's--thinking about you and your brother, all of a sudden, it was like, of course he puts out better stuff than most people.  He's not alone, you know?

H: Yeah, that helps.  

B: So if nothing else, you should call your brother this morning and say to him, you know, you're wonderful, I love you, and I'm glad you're in my life, you know, or something like that.

H: I should.  Yeah, I should.  I don't do that enough.  

B: Alright, so that was my conversation with Hank Green.  I hope you liked it.  You know, most of you probably didn't make it this far.  Actually, if you're listening, you did make it this far, but most of the people that started that podcast probably didn't make it this far, but for those of you who did, you deserve a gold star.  No, better still, you deserve a little excerpt from Robert Ingersall, so here you go.  This is again, from Ingersall the Magnificent, and I'm gonna, you know, Robert Ingersall wrote in the 1890s and so, it was all about men, even though he loved women, he just used masculine pronouns for everything, so I'm gonna try to switch this up to make it a little more inclusive, but I think you'll get the idea.  Here's Robert Ingersall. 

"I want you to go away with an eternal hatred in your breast of injustice.  Of aristocracy.  Of caste.  Of the idea that one person has more rights than another because he has better clothes, more land, more money.  Because she owns a railroad or is famous and in high position.  Remember that all people have equal rights.  

 (1:24:00) to (1:25:20)

Remember that the person who acts best his part, who loves her friends the best, is most willing to help others, truest in the discharge of obligation, who has the best heart, the most feeling, the deepest sympathies, and who freely gives others the rights that he claims for himself is the best person.  I am willing to swear to this."  Well, I am, too, Robert.  I am willing to swear to it.  It's all about humanizing ourselves.  That's why we're here, that's why I love you for hanging with me.  I'd love to hear from you.  Write to me at but until we connect again, stay wonderful.  

For more information about the work of Bart Campolo, please visit