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Memes & Motivation 41: Serious Jokes

Louie Bacaj
Louie Bacaj
6 min read

Hey Team,

You may not know this, but one of the reasons I landed on the name Memes and Motivation for this newsletter is because, at some point, it became painfully clear to me that the internet was full of big jokes but deadly serious at the same time.

Not too different from what's spilled over into real life over the last few years.

On the extreme sides of the internet, people troll and act as a mob. They can destroy people's lives with their rough banter, hacking, and crazy antics, so while a lot of what they do is a big joke when they impact someone's life, it's deadly serious.

But at the same time, I have met incredible human beings on the internet and social media over the last year. People that have helped me learn and grow, and I now consider friends. Many subscribe to this newsletter.

But the craziness doesn't end there.

Take crypto, for example; I recently tried to dive into it again. As part of my exploration, a friend recommended a game called Defi Kingdoms to help me understand NFTs, where some people are pulling in over $2k a day. The game uses blockchain; it's about 10% finished. You use NFT characters made out of what looks like 8-bit pixels, and you do quests, but behind the scenes, it is powered by complex blockchain technology that allows for trading, the creation of liquidity pools, staking, and so on.

But the fact that a 10% finished game has so much capital flowing through it like this is a big fucking joke. But at the same time, it's deadly serious because real people are making actual real-life money on it.

But wait, that's not even the whole joke yet.

To play Defi Kingdoms, one needs to use a Harmony ONE coin, which lives on some other blockchain that you and I have probably never heard of. It's not the Bitcoin, Ethereium, or even the Solana blockchain that does NFTs. It's the Harmony ONE blockchain; for my life, I have no idea why it needs to exist, but up until recently, their website had hipsters with Xs over their eyes playing basketball and doing other fun things. There is a joke somewhere in there.

More importantly, back to how serious this is, there are trillions of dollars moving around over blockchain technology, and yet the process of buying some Harmony One is terrible.

I can't explain the whole process to you because I gave up long before buying harmony one to play the game. But that, too, is part of the joke.

My friend says that's how they keep the "weak hands" out. It's so hard to get in and out that everyone stays; the large gas fees help. Blockchain is now kind of like Hotel California by the eagles, where we can check-in anytime we like, but we can never leave.

But perhaps the more significant point of all this is that the memes and motivations have already spilled over into real life. Real-life is a big joke and deadly serious simultaneously, too, now. And as far as I can remember growing up in Communism until ten years old and in the hood after that, real life has only been serious stuff for me up until this point.

But these days, we were locked up for two years because of a deadly virus. We made vaccines to help us against that virus, and we spent over a year fighting with each other about those vaccines. Then we got a new strain that didn't care about our arguing or the vaccines. It's going to get everyone probably, it got my family and me over Christmas, and we are all vaccinated multiple times.

You've got to see the irony in some of this stuff.

Then as a final example, there are creators like myself now, making content and things online going through the iterations of posting for years that make almost nothing. But some get lucky; eventually, their stuff takes off, and they make millions. It's serious stuff.

Thanks to internalizations like these and the wonderful people and friends I made in communities like Small Bets, The Minimalist Entrepreneur, and Write of Passage, I suspended my disbelief and became a creator.

I made a course that I charged 15 dollars for and that I hope will help some devs earn 10s of thousands more and maybe even hundreds of thousands over their career.

But in that process of playing this game, that's both a joke and deadly serious; I sold over 500 copies and made over 10,000 dollars so far in the last two weeks.

I hope you can see what I see. How crazy and serious that all is; there has never been a time in human history when single individuals could make millions without allocating large amounts of capital or labor and without needing anyone's permission.

I hope this motivates some people to follow in my foot steps and overcome their fears of taking this online game more seriously.

Now, let's get into some big jokes and serious things I ran into this week on the Internet:

Two Tweets from this week

As usual Naval puts into a Tweet, what can take many of us a lot more words to explain.

I am a big believer that leadership is about taking responsibility for other people. It is about doing whatever it takes to help them succeed. It is not about telling people what to do from an ivory tower. It is about getting in the trenches with them.

Tommy's visuals on Twitter are awesome. In it he captures one of my favorite learnings of last year, which is that just passively consuming social media and hitting like buttons is terrible for us.

What we need to grow is conversations. We need to engage so we can discuss and form better ideas.

Two Articles from this week

What makes an engineer an all-star? Hint: It’s not being a star
Communication, teamwork, and other interpersonal skills are even more important than an engineering degree from an ivy league university.

This article from my friend and mentor John Turek hits close to home. He is teaching lessons I was fortunate enough to learn with him on the front lines, building large scale systems under a lot of pressure.

In it he describes why the ideal engineering team may not be made up of obvious superstars.

Stop brainstorming
Why brainstorming doesn’t work - and why to do nothing instead

A thought provoking article on why group brain storming which we've been sold as an awesome way to generate ideas may actually at best not helpful and at worst harmful.

Two Memes from this week

Developers end up using StackOverflow a lot, this meme perfectly captures that.

All of my projects these days consist of me and my brother writing all of the code. He does front end, I do back end, and so yes I approve my own pull requests.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.


P.S. if you watched and enjoyed my recent course Timeless Career Advice for Engineers, I would be eternally grateful if you left a review on Gumroad for me.