Managing Waluigi


  • i vaguely wanted to stop using twitter
  • i eventually got sick of the idea of twitter and deleted it while visiting family
  • the first week is usually hard but luckily i was distracted by a major change in environment
  • after that, there’s something strange that happens
  • the more i try to erase the thing from my life, the more i desire it
  • i have a very strong “waluigi” self
  • the idea comes from AI ethics discourse, where the more you try to align a model against a thing, the stronger it becomes oriented around that thing, and thus the better of an idea it has about the thing, and thus the easier it is to slip into a mode of being for a thing instead of against it
  • there’s probably an article i should link that initially coined this phrase
  • when you conceptualize your waluigi, if this is something you struggle with (wanting to transgress your own morals for basically no reason), it becomes easier to reason about how to actually interact with the problem
  • in dopamine nation, anna lembke describes a patient who struggled with alcoholism. she says that the patient found much more success keeping one beer in the fridge than zero beers, because all she had to do was deny herself that one beer. it was a totem of alcoholism, and the single item was much less alluring in its reality than all alcohol was conceptually. so one way of interacting with a waluigi is with a totem. you simplify the struggle, and remove the romanticization around the indulgence / breaking of promises to self
  • when i deleted twitter from my phone, i found it very important to conceptualize it as “taking a temporary break”, not “leaving twitter” or “quitting twitter” or “breaking my twitter habit”. waluigi cam would have rebelled if he thought i was quitting twitter forever. so i’m not necessarily. i’m not drawing a hard line in the sand. all i’m saying is that i’m not using it right now because i don’t want to. that quiets the voice that values transgression, because there’s no transgression to be committed here. you cannot invalidate the statement “right now i don’t want to use twitter. maybe soon i will, but for now, i don’t”. there’s no power in overturning this statement. there’s complete allowance for reversion. i am not cutting part of myself off, or denying myself anything. i am simply describing what i’m already doing.
  • i don’t know why this is so effective but it is! i mean, i have some guesses. but it seems like this denies my shadow so much power over me, by virtue of not telling my shadow to fuck off and die. maybe it’s a lack of moralizing? i’m not saying “oooh >:( being on twitter is bad and nobody should do it” i’m just saying I’m not doing it right now.

first ai generated version

In a recent personal endeavor, I found myself yearning to step away from Twitter. The motivation was strong enough that during a family visit, I took the plunge and deleted the app. Surprisingly, the initial days weren’t as challenging as expected, largely due to the distraction of a changed environment.

However, a peculiar pattern emerged: the more I tried to detach from something, the greater its allure became. This phenomenon mirrors a concept from AI ethics termed “waluigi”. The idea is that resisting something can inadvertently intensify our focus on it, making the attraction even stronger.

A book titled “Dopamine Nation” offers an insightful strategy for dealing with such challenges. Anna Lembke, the author, presents the idea of a “totem” - a simplified representation of the larger temptation. For instance, a recovering alcoholic might keep a single beer in the fridge. This tangible representation becomes less enticing than the abstract concept of all alcoholic drinks, making it easier to resist.

In my own experience with Twitter, reframing the decision was crucial. Instead of viewing it as quitting or abandoning the platform, I saw it as merely taking a temporary break. This perspective removes the weight of permanence, allowing for a more relaxed approach. It isn’t about making definitive, moral judgments, but rather understanding one’s current choices. By acknowledging and respecting my inner “waluigi” tendencies, without passing judgment or setting inflexible rules, I found an effective way to manage and balance my desires.


Recently, I felt the need to distance myself from Twitter. The push came during a family visit, leading me to delete the app. The early days of this transition were made easier due to the distraction of a new environment.

But an interesting challenge arose: the stronger my efforts to avoid something, the more enticing it became. This pattern can be likened to a concept from AI ethics known as “waluigi”. Essentially, the act of resisting something can paradoxically heighten our fixation on it.

In my journey with Twitter, it was essential to reframe my perspective. Rather than labeling it as quitting or abandoning, I saw it merely as taking a brief hiatus. This subtle shift in viewpoint reduces the feeling of finality and allows for a gentler, non-confrontational approach. By recognizing my “waluigi” tendencies and not imposing rigid judgments or rules, I’ve uncovered a balanced way to navigate my desires.