Notes: Giving Gifts

One of those things that happens when you develop some expertise (ha ha ha) in a field, you’re going to see your own expertise as an element in the works around you. You’ll see someone doing something and think oh, if only you knew what I did, and then the next thought, oh you should listen to me inform you of what you’re missing. That is, to say, learning can make you into a meddlesome tit.

But despite that warning, this whole thing about Christmas Presents is an interesting discussion of perceptions of values, of what we can value, but my immediate reaction upon hearing the premise, should you give Christmas Presents, and a question that viewed as a way of making people happy is that it’s a game.

Giving people Christmas presents – or any present really – is a game. It’s a game where I am trying to show you you. Now there are constraints – I can’t spend too much, or too little, and I can’t ask you (I mean, I can, but it deflates the game a little). There could be all sorts of mindsets for this game. I could view it as cooperative, where we both win if I get you something that satisfies you and vice versa. It can be competitive – you might be wanting more than you give, you might be wanting to use this to demonstrate power or competence over me, and you might even view it as a game with minimal participation. You want to get out of the game as fast as possible. That leaves all sorts of different attitudes towards the play of the game, but the time spent within this game is play. It’s creative. You test ideas out, you consider options, and then, crucially, with the thing that makes this game really interesting, you make your choice, make it obscured, and reveal that choice at the end of the game.

This is why giving money is gauche. It says I don’t know you. It also doesn’t have any interesting tension associated with it. We disguise gifts in funny boxes or with suspicious wrapping. We even tease one another with the decision.

Now I am studying play and the making of games, so obviously I’m going to see this. I could be fulla nonsense.

Still, good channel.

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