I have a dear friend F who is working on their* master’s thesis at the moment. We met recently for lunch with another academic kinkster friend, and F, who already had to postpone their thesis defense to summer session because of the IRB (internal ethics committee that needs to approve all research projects) moving at IRB speed (which is somewhere between drying paint and the pony express depending on day, reviewer, and project) expressed worry about their ability to actually write the thesis once they’d gotten enough respondent data.
“You know what works for me?” I said. “I basically trick myself into going all the way. Oh baby, that’s right, just format the paper. And while you’re at it, pop a few sources in there. Mm hmm. Lookin’ good. Why not write a few topic sentences? Oh, you’re so sexy, baby. Might as well connect those contentions while you’re at it.”
Each task is non-committal and seems like a nothing sort of concession, but most of the time I find I’ve half-written papers (or more!) before feeling like I’ve done a damn thing.
“I basically coerce myself into doing it. Completely circumvent my consent,” I said.
F and K giggled. We’re all consent culture sex pozzies who should know better, which somehow made it all funnier.
F is apparently now calling it the “just the tip” principle and finding it very effective as a form of self-manipulation.
I’ve had a few days to reflect on it and have come to the conclusion that it exploits a basic suggestibility that most of us have (namely, the power of creeping concessions) unless we’re making a conscious effort to defend against persuasion. I get in trouble sometimes for being a bit of a moral relativist, but I really think that there’s nothing wrong with exploiting that vulnerability for positive ends.
*preferred pronoun, not a prescriptive grammar no-no or informal attempt to mask gender of the person talked about