On Cultivating Taste
Be picky so you can focus on what matters
One of my (many) contrarian beliefs is that we do not have strong enough preferences. We often blame social media or the speed of information as the reason why we’re easily distracted, but the real reason behind our inability to focus has less to do with the sheer quantity of media and more to do with our laziness when it comes to distinguishing what to focus on amidst a sea of worldly thrills. We have nothing deeply purposeful to anchor ourselves to, and, as a result, our standards for pleasure have dropped to zero, and our focus remains fuzzy and shallow.
Taste, by definition, is the ability to be decisive about what you like and what you don’t like, and exclusively seek out the first. In other words, good taste is a sign of good judgment. Want to have good taste? Get comfortable with saying ‘no’.
For example, a curator (of any sort, be it art, fashion, or music) is a professional nitpicker and is paid to exercise her bias. A job interview is a discriminatory process: The purpose of an interview is to screen out candidates who seem unfit for the role. Dating is no different (in fact, dating should be the most discriminatory decision you ever make): A first date is not solely about impressing the other person, it’s also to see if you are pleased by them. ‘Do I like them?’ should precede ‘Do they like me?’