April 17, 2019

"Twitter founder and CEO and billionaire Jack Dorsey... says he eats only one meal a day in the week and doesn't let any foodstuff pass his lips at the weekend."

"He also starts every day with an ice bath. 'Nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold,' he says. And, rain or shine, he walks the five miles from his home to his office.... Dorsey's wellness-hacking habits are extrapolated from the ancient Greek and Roman philosophy of Stoicism.... [Dorsey has] created a platform that has allowed populists, alt-right types, and Russian bots to spread their messages to vast new audiences.... Twitter undeniably helped make Donald Trump president and gave Britain's Brexiteers a stage.... Dorsey has experienced how easy it is to create global pandemonium with a laptop and a smidgen of chutzpah. So for the Twitter CEO and his kind, trying to control biology with low-grade torture, plus a disinterest in traditional rich-people trappings, may be a kind of self-imposed penance for having built platforms and technology that have unleashed some pretty bad things on the world...."

From "Why are Silicon Valley billionaires starving themselves?" by Susan Margolis in The Week.

I don't believe there's any true penance here other than a desire for good PR (in that it makes him look serious, hard-working, and lofty — almost saintly). But I don't believe he's doing these things because he thinks he's done wrong — only that he wants to defend his company's reputation and freedom from regulation. I would guess that he's genuinely motivated by the desire for good health and long life and fascinated by extreme and challenging ideas about how to get that. Some people are drawn to stringent routines, and there's a sort of magical thinking about rituals.

And I don't think the philosophy of the Stoics had to do with penance. It's not about the sense that you've done something wrong and need to make up for it.

80 comments:

mccullough said...

It’s more New Age Flummery than Stoicism.

But Jack D. is no weirder than Walt Disney.

rehajm said...

and there's a sort of magical thinking about rituals

Yes, ask Mrs. Jobs all about the magical thinking.

rehajm said...

Walt's ritual was chain smoking Camels.

stever said...

As a tool for most people its - at best - self defeating and revealing of intellectual deficit. In the Trump era it has pissed off all the right people. Yeah its good PR.

Expat(ish) said...

I immediately distrust any celebrity diet stories.

Unless experts say!

-XC

rehajm said...

I'm old enough to remember when Twitter was 'transformative'. That whole arab spring thing back when arab spring was a good thing? All because of Twitter (never mind it just let rapey guys know where the blonde 60 minutes reporters were). Obama getting the message out. Give Cubans cell phones for chrissakes!!!

Now Twitter gets crap for everything. Deplorables don't tweet, ya know...

Anonymous said...

No wonder he always looks constipated. He probably is.

Bill Peschel said...

The self-regard is strong in this writer Ruth Margolis: "they're practicing an extreme form of self-denial that has me both troubled and puzzled."

So you'd rather they guzzle champagne and buy Bentleys? Is that the implication?

"Roman philosophy of Stoicism, which says, essentially, that you should be happy with your lot (arguably not hard if you have a lot) and deny yourself nice things — like warm baths and calories on days that start with the letter "s."

I'm glad she's taking Stoicism seriously. Tom Wolfe seemed to think highly of it, too.

"The man who rebooted Stoicism for today's tech moguls is author, podcaster, and tech startup investor Tim Ferriss"

Ah, the relentless self-promoting Tim Ferriss. Early in his career, he noted that he had been "profiled in the New York Times." I looked him up. The only mention at the time was an article about a company he worked for. The story wasn't about him, but he was mentioned in it. That, in his head, meant "profiled." I haven't seen anything to change my opinion of this snake-oil salesman.

"he's created a platform that has allowed populists, alt-right types, and Russian bots to spread their messages to vast new audiences, creating more chaos than he could possibly have imagined"

Yes, giving individuals a voice does lead to the impression of chaos, especially if they're calling you out on your bullshit.

" may be a kind of self-imposed penance for having built platforms and technology that have unleashed some pretty bad things on the world."

Ruth Margolis' mind-reading abilities are off the scale!

"I may have invented Twitter," Dorsey might say. "But I walk to work and vacationed at spiritual retreats that look like refugee camps!"

Oh, lord, is that really what this story's about?

Empty and vacuous.

DanTheMan said...

>>Unless experts say!

Well, "experts say" is of course much better than "some say" or "many believe".
But when it comes to credibility, nothing can touch "Everyone agrees..."
;)

Lawrence Person said...

"alt-right types"

Which "alt right?" There are dozens, depending on your definition.

When an MSM outlet uses "alt-right," what they really mean is "Some Nazis support Trump, therefore we're going to bring them up at every opportunity to subliminally smear everyone who voted for Trump as a Nazi."

mccullough said...

How does Jack D. get home from work?

Have the ice baths cured his compulsive masturbation?

Unknown said...

I am reminded of one of Joe Martin's classic Mr. Boffo strips (which I cannot find online so far) which ends with "And every morning I hit myself in the head with a hammer!"

Birkel said...

Intermittent fasting is a good strategy.
Nothing much to it.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

maybe they are taking the "you cant fire me-- I quit!!" approach
so as to avoid the "Suddenly, Last Summer" route

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

And I don't think the philosophy of the Stoics had to do with penance. It's not about the sense that you've done something wrong and need to make up for it.

I guess journalists don't even bother to read the Wikipedia page anymore before attempting to look like they have any idea what they're talking about.

It doesn't matter if there's no connection between tech pooh-bahs' adoption of Stoicism and the notion of repentance for having opened the gates of hell (that is, ordinary earthly events like Brexit or the election of Trump). It's all manufactured twaddle, anyway. It's a gossip column. Fuggedaboutit.

Darrell said...

Giving me a $Million would be much better strategy. Less money, less guilt.

Fen said...

"may be a kind of self-imposed penance for having built platforms and technology that have unleashed some pretty bad things on the world"

Hehe. And he thought he would survive the 2nd purge. I'm going to enjoy watching these guys get eaten by their children.

Chronos smiles.

Hey. Maybe the Greeks were saying something there. Gosh, if only we had a philosophy that believed in enshrining the lessons of history so we don't keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again?

Nah. That's SO not Progressive. Let's take another swing at socialism again instead! We expect a different result this time.

Howard said...

I hear NFL players take lots of ice baths. Prolly because of their Char-Womens knee syndrome from all the National Anthem protests.

Karen of Texas said...

Birkel is right - intermittent fasting is a good strategy. Telomere length - an indication of potential life span - is tied to fasting. Caloric restriction promotes lifespan across all species. Seems counterintuitive but it's a thing. Eating - processing what you ingest - creates oxidative stress. Restrict the food, reduce the oxidative stress, lengthen those telomeres...

Michael said...

The Stoics had no concept of "penance." What Dorsey is doing is a variant of the Hof Method which involves a lot of cold showers, plunges in icy streams, running shirtless in the snow, a particular style of breathing and a good bit of meditation. Self denial is not the same thing as penance

Achilles said...

Susan Margolis is a piece of shit.

Now that that is out of the way...

Jack Dorsey is a piece of shit.

Carry on.

Achilles said...

No CEO of a company walks 5 miles 2 ways a day.

There are simply not enough hours in the day for that to happen and for them to get their work done.

That is ridiculous on it's face.

Phil 3:14 said...

Didn't read article but this is based on some limited research suggesting starvation diets lead to longer life.

Roughcoat said...

I get it. It's not my bag, but I get it, and I'm not cynical about it. We all have something like it: the need for ascetic suffering, for pain . . . it goes to the desire to serve something higher than yourself, which is universal.

I'm reminded of the exchange in Ronin between Robert DiNiro's character and the retired French SDECE operative:

Jean-Pierre: But you understand it.

Sam: What do you mean, I understand it?

Jean-Pierre: The warrior code. The delight in the battle, you understand that, yes? But also something more. You understand there is something outside yourself that has to be served. And when that need is gone, when belief has died, what are you? A man without a master.

Achilles said...

Phil 3:14 said...
Didn't read article but this is based on some limited research suggesting starvation diets lead to longer life.

There is a difference between starvation and intermittent fasting.

What Dorsey claims he is doing is stupid. But he is a dishonest person and I don't trust anything he says.

It is all for show. He is a stalinist.

h said...

There are two closely related but fundamentally different ideas at work here. One is penance -- deliberately accepting or seeking pain or discomfort because one recognizes (or believes) that one has sinned. The other is a belief in a kind of universal ethical or moral zero sum game: if I avoid pain and discomfort, it can only increase the pain and discomfort of others; if I take on pain or discomfort that creates some kind of moral benefit to myself, or to the world at large. I used to see this frequently when people would tell me that margarine was healthier than butter because butter tasted better. But now I think it is an essential part of the discussion about the green new deal. Effectively solving the Anthropogenic Climate Change problem can only happen by imposing pain and sacrifice on people (justice requiring that the most pain and sacrifice should be born by the richest). So if GND opponents point out that GND programs will cause a lot of pain and sacrifice, that's not an effective argument to convince GND proponents -- to the proponents, the pain and sacrifice is a feature, not a bug. And if GND opponents point out that there may be ways to address ACC problem without causing (or causing so much) pain and sacrifice, those ways are unacceptable because pain and discomfort must be a part of the solution. So this last sentence seems to bring us back around to penance -- but I think there is an important difference. With penance, I seek (or agree to) pain and discomfort because I realize that I have sinned. With the zero sum game, I seek pain and discomfort for others because I believe that they have sinned.

William said...

I forget if it was Edison or Ford. One of them. He used to brag that he only slept four hours a night. That was true, but he also took a two or three hour nap in the afternoon.......Ever since they invented the printing press things have been constantly degenerating. Ideally you want monks writing things down on parchment in Latin. That way you're sure that only the best thoughts get spread and preserved.

mccullough said...

This fluff piece only says he walks to work. Doesn’t say how he gets home.

He probably has a rickshaw.

gadfly said...

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It was heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates, while stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus.

So I am to believe that the guy who screwed the world when he invented Twitter lives his life influenced by the teachings of Socrates? Someone would have to prove to me that he even read about Socrates' use of critical reasoning, his commitment to truth, and how, through the examples set in living his life, he greatly influenced the standard for Western philosophical thought.

gadfly said...

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It was heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates, while stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus.

So I am to believe that the guy who screwed the world when he invented Twitter lives his life influenced by the teachings of Socrates? Someone would have to prove to me that he even read about Socrates' use of critical reasoning, his commitment to truth, and how, through the examples set in living his life, he greatly influenced the standard for Western philosophical thought.

TickTock said...

@Achillles

Actually, walking 5 miles to work (and back) is a great thing for a CEO to do. I have walked to work much of my life (lawyer not CEO) and I was most productive when I was walking 4 miles back and forth. That's not lost time. It's time spent problem solving without the distractions of the office.

Not certain about the cold baths though. Maybe they make him walk faster ...

David Begley said...

Tom Wolfe’s “A Man in Full” and a book by Admiral James Stockdale (Fighter Pilot something) are great modern books about Stoicism.

Stockdale was able to survive in the Hanoi Hilton thanks to Stoicism.

Arashi said...

So when he has his Jim Fixx coronay, what gets the blame?

Jeff Brokaw said...

Yeah like Twitter is an “alt-right” safe space. Whatever.

Are these journalists really that stupid, clueless and lacking in self-awareness?

At some point the “cognitive dissonance” excuse morphs into insanity due to a complete disconnect from reality.

I’d say we passed that exit several months ago.

Fran Waxman said...

I would tax that weirdo to the hilt, and give the money to needy children.

roesch/voltaire said...

There is evidence that restrictive diets might be healthier and led to longer life, but it doesn't resemble what the Stoics advocated, and I doubt it is connected to penance any more that walking or running to clear the mind is.

walter said...

Re diet, besides "caloric restriction" supposed benefits, might be trying to keep his bodyfat % close to that of Raven Lynn.

Then there's Jordan Peterson's once a day steak only regimen...

Unknown said...

Caloric restriction probably makes it *feel* like your life is longer.

Like tofu. To paraphrase now non-person Garrison Keillor: "He had the feeling that the years to your life that tofu added wouldn't be the best years".

Paco Wové said...

I find that as I get older, I need to eat less and less. I can easily get by on one meal a day these days.

walter said...

"Before Dorsey was inventing groundbreaking new forms of instant messaging, or revolutionizing the payment processing market, he was breaking hearts as a vintage clothing model. He modeled many high-end, luxury brands – and made them look good too. It’s an interesting spot for the future tech billionaire to start, but Twitter hadn’t come out yet and everyone needs to pay their bills."
<
"This tech billionaire loves to eat at restaurants. He even maintains a specific schedule for where he goes on each day. For Mondays, he eats at Aziza. On Tuesdays, it’s Zuni. Wednesdays, Mint, and Thursdays, Tiburon. After being unemployed at 29, likely surviving on a Ramen noodle diet, it is of no surprise to us that Dorsey would want to eat out so often."
https://moneyinc.com/ten-things-didnt-know-squares-jack-dorsey/

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

As far as we know, Twitter and the other major service platforms colluded to deplatform center and right of left people and groups, and at least one competing platform was rendered nonviable by a friendly SPLC et al. The very SPLC marred by allegations of diversity and sexism.

Michael said...

David BegleyI
jim Stockdale wrote a book called Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot about his study of and adoption of Stoicism and how it saved his life.


daskol said...

That's more self-abnegation than I'd consider, but eating one big meal a day wasn't unpleasant when I was strictly low carb. I do the ice cold shower things most mornings: ice cold to hot to ice cold to hot a couple/three times. It's invigorating as hell and does give me a feeling of courage to face the day. Never gets easier.

Michael said...

I take Scottish showers, hot ending in cold for a couple of minutes . Believe me you know the difference between winter water and summer water

daskol said...

I'd credit Ryan Holiday's The Obstacle is the Way with the techie Stoicism revival before Tim Ferriss, although Ferriss promoted the shit out of it on his podcast and other forums. Good book: Holiday is an entertaining writer and a smart cookie.

daskol said...

Heh, I call them Russian showers, but yeah, the winter water is something else.

David Begley said...

Michael.

That’s correct. I was too lazy to look it up. Great book.

Fernandistein said...

promoting extreme dietary choices that resemble eating disorders to their followers

If they didn't resemble eating disorders they wouldn't be worth mentioning.

Silicon Valley waitron: May I take your disorder, sir?

jwl said...

I don't know anything about Dorsey but he sounds like combination of aesthete and self flagellation.

Bob Boyd said...

Journalists are now trying to pressure publishers to censor. Through the looking glass.

Earnest Prole said...

Nothing has done more than Twitter to inflame passions and turn our society into a mob.

chuck said...

Dorsey should get rid of the beard, it looks heavier than him and doesn't go well with his skinny neck.

Fen said...

"He even maintains a specific schedule for where he goes on each day. For Mondays, he eats at Aziza. On Tuesdays, it’s Zuni. Wednesdays, Mint, and Thursdays, Tiburon"

For Zuni, does he use the side entrance or the front?

Asking for a friend.

(I doubt they are this stupid, likely made it up. Like his diet)

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Is Bernie gonna hit this guy up for his billions?

Dan from Madison said...

Dumb company. Looking forward to seeing it go tu within the next half decade.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Obsession with eating is gluttony, even if it results in you eating nothing. It is excessive attention to an appetite.
I tell you, these tech entrepreneurs may have made some people wealthy and created jobs, but you do not want to be like them. It's a shame that they talk about rejiggering society to match their ideals, and they aren't laughed out of the room.
The other day I listened to an interview with the tech whiz who started Spotify. It wasn't a technical conversation at all, when you are at "that level" it's all money, and marketing, and scale. Globalism is an essential part of scaling for these people, screw what happens to the people in the newly globalized economic sectors. if you swapped "music recordings" for "soap", it could've been an interview with the CEO of Unilever.

Yancey Ward said...

Obviously, to really atone for helping give Trump a platform, Dorsey needs to do the the 100 day fast routine.

Yancey Ward said...

There are a lot of these stories out there, though- the tech titans apparently think they might actually become immortals at some point- but I think they are all born about 100 years too early.

On Dorsey's routine- I definitely applaud the walking, though it will eat into his time. A 10 mile round-trip is going to be not less than 2.5 hours/day, and that is really, really brisk pace of walking- probably more like 3 1/4 hours.

I have done the 1 meal a day thing, too, for a long period of time (several months), but I like food a little too much, and would rather eat smaller meals 2 to 3 times a day.

As for the cold bath- no way, but I get the appeal that it might have to some. I shower before I go to bed, and the reason is that showering in the morning after waking, even with warm water is just a little too invigorating to me- it always gives an odd and unpleasant feeling.

FIDO said...

Nope.

He is intermittent fasting. It has a long cultural history. As do dips in frigid water. See Alexander the Great, Spartans and Romans’.

Old Age Flummery perhaps.

However I also have fasted this way and lost a pound a week for months.

BUMBLE BEE said...

It is a fasting thing, he's not a lumberjack, not burning carbs. Theory... lean lasts longer.

Bob Loblaw said...

Oh, Jack Dorsey is one odd bird?

News at eleven.

Nichevo said...

Michael said...
I take Scottish showers, hot ending in cold for a couple of minutes . Believe me you know the difference between winter water and summer water
4/17/19, 7:59 PM


This might be legit. I believe Ian Fleming had James Bond doing this. Possibly inspired by Alan Moyle’s 1950 guide on naturopathy, Nature Cure Explained.

From http://jamesbondmemes.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-moyle-memes-inherited-by-ian.html :

Does this remind you of anyone? In his first adventure, Casino Royale (1953, chapter 8), Bond ‘took a long hot bath followed by an ice-cold shower’. Bond does something similar in From Russia, with Love (1957, chapter 11): he ‘stood in the glass shower cabinet under very hot and then cold hissing water’. Incidentally, that was after he did twenty press-ups and touched his toes twenty times, among other exercises, all while naked. And we know from Moyle (1950, 157) that naked exercise is recommended in Nature Cure. Returning to water treatments, in Diamonds are Forever (1956, chapter 22), Bond takes ‘a “Hot Salt” bath followed by a “Cold Domestic” shower’ while sailing the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth.

Nichevo said...

Blogger mccullough said...
It’s more New Age Flummery than Stoicism.

But Jack D. is no weirder than Walt Disney.

Oh aye? Isn't he teh ghey? Or is that not weird anymore? Gays have a reputation for being quite faddish.

daskol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
daskol said...

Ancient Roman baths included hot and cold (tepidarium and frigidarium) rooms and pools, and the ancient Russian and Turkish baths on the Lower East Side do too. That's not the weird part of his regimen. Nor is the intermittent fasting, although he takes it pretty far with abjuring all wine and eating nothing on the weekends. It's the whole thing taken together, along with the publicity around it, that gives it a strange tint. However, given the bubble he lives in, it may not have seemed so strange to discuss it in that interview...

stlcdr said...

When you have everything you want from the material world, you turn to things that money really can’t buy.

At the same time, a no-name office dweller in Minnesota doing the same thing wouldn’t be news. Reporting this is this is purely for entertainment.

Kay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay said...

My grandfather led a pretty quiet existence. Didn’t eat much, walked everywhere, seemed impervious to stress in a lot of ways. He lived to be 99, so there may be something to it all.

Rick said...

in that it makes him look serious, hard-working, and lofty — almost saintly).

This is not at all the image this projects. It makes him look frivolous that he doesn't have business to attend to and is seeking something else to keep his attention.

Joe Y said...

Never trust the intellect of anyone who doesn't know how to use the word "disinterest" correctly.

Phidippus said...

You're correct, Professor. There is no notion of "penance" in Stoicism.

The idea is more that evil is its own punishment, because it makes impossible the calm, orderly life that is most conducive to human nature, properly understood.

mockturtle said...

Grapevine has it that a lot of these tech execs are on stimulant drugs.

The Gipper Lives said...

So ice baths and fasting cause arrogance and censorship? Who knew?

Matt said...

Prediction: at some point in the next year or two, Jack Dorsey is going to publicly collapse. That diet may work for a monk or a retired person, but a CEO of a large company who presumably travels constantly and has his day scheduled down to the minute needs a lot more calories. Unless he found a way to get 2,000+ calories in a single meal, Jack Dorsey is not eating enough.

Richard Dolan said...

"And I don't think the philosophy of the Stoics had to do with penance."

Yes, absolutely right. The Stoics were focused on freeing themselves from any limitations and constraints subject to their control -- which, as it happens, are most of the important ones (fear, envy, jealousy, etc.). As for those that one cannot control (suffering and mortality being big ones), the idea was to put it in proper perspective and move on. Ward Farnsworth, dean at UTexas law school, wrote a nice summary (The Practicing Stoic) that is well worth the trouble for those interested in the subject.

Bunkypotatohead said...

Why does the guy even need to "go to work" each day. It's not as if Twitter, Inc produces anything. The SJWs who work there can search out and censor wrongthink without him peering over their shoulders.

Martin said...

"Nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold," he says.

From observing him and his companies I feel very confident in saying that Dorsey does not lack for confidence--if anything, he needs less of the arrogance that he mistakes for confidence, and more humility.
*******************
Matt at 9:41 AM--It's easy to do 2000 calories at one time with Chicago-style Pizza. Fun, too (but not every day).

A said...

If he has bodyguards accompanying his treks to and from work, what do they do at the restaurants? Stand in the doorways?

Sarah Rolph said...

"Foodstuffs"? I don't believe for a minute that he doesn't eat anything all weekend.