by Will Schreiber

Everybody already knows

When I came across the image I sent out to Second Breakfast the other day, I thought it was a cool depiction of how cars and people are incompatible.

After taking it in, I also thought to myself that it wasn’t very novel. “Everybody’s probably already seen this.”

I have a tendency to do this about so many things I discover.

  • “Everybody has a Substack newsletter now.”
  • “Everybody knows the main complaints about Prop 13.”
  • “Everybody knows who Henry George is and what his ideas were.”
  • “Everybody has heard of Mailchimp.”
  • “Everybody has seen Empathy Wines by Vaynerchuk.”

Why do I forget that 10 seconds ago, I had never seen that image?

It feels like a version of Crichton’s Gell-Mann amnesia effect. Just like how we forget journalists aren’t experts, once we learn a fact, we forget what it’s like to not know that fact.

This problem is exacerbated by Twitter bubbles. Oftentimes I roll my eyes because it seems everyone I follow on Twitter is reading Sapiens and Atomic Habits and Poor Charlie’s Almanack and is engaged in a collective party of confirmation bias.

But even if it’s true that everyone I follow online is reading all the same stuff as me (they aren’t), I need to remember this is a tiny fraction of my actual life. It’s a self-selected group based on my interests.

None of my IRL friends are on Twitter.