I recently had a conversation with coworkers about what they look for in a restaurant: vibes or food. Most people answered, roughly, “mostly vibes as long as the food is at least decent.” This is wild to me; I’m very much optimizing for food quality. Even more recently, my wife and I tried a much recommended pizza place which turned out to be aggressively Not Good. From these and similar meditations I come to two conclusions:
- Most of the time, most people are optimizing for holistic experience rather than focusing on the direct quality of the thing they’re consuming, at least for food and drink. (This is okay! People should satisfy their preferences!)
- Even when focusing on quality, perceptions are heavily shaped by idiosyncratic preferences. We inhabit less shared reality than we’d like to think.