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Apt, not best

Apt, not best

We're always looking for the best way to do something. The best way to write, cook, code,... And so on. Maybe 35% of the Internet is about the best way to do X.

The problem is that "the best" is misleading. It implies a single right way to do something, which there most often isn't. Second, what is "best"? "Best" is both generic and highly subjective. One person's "best way" is another person's worst way. It might not work for you, and so it breaks down, putting you back to square 1 or even 0.

I'm more and more skeptical of "best." It's used lazily and widely. But then, what word is there to better illustrate dealing with reality effectively? I have one in mind.


mid-14c., "inclined, disposed;" late 14c., "suited, fitted, adapted, possessing the necessary qualities for the purpose," from Old French ate "fitting, suitable, appropriate" (13c., Modern French apte), or directly from Latin aptus "fit, suited, proper, appropriate," adjectival use of past participle of apere "to attach, join, tie to," from PIE root ap- (1) "to grasp, take, reach"

Apt implies an important thing: integration. "The best" exists in isolation. This is the best way, everyone should follow it. How very definitive. Now, maybe the "best way" approach is okay to follow if you're making tiramisu (simple close-ended problem), but whenever the situation is more tricky and human, apt is your friend. Something's happening, what's an apt way to deal with it?

Of course, finding a suitable solution requires doing something which we like to avoid: consideration.

To find a fitting action for a situation (logistics, navigating social agreements, relationship issues...), you must first think about what the shape of the situation is. What are the facts? What are the possibilities? What do you actually want to do? Or in other words, what's an apt way to deal with this?

Of course, the main issue with this line of thinking is that it requires actually dealing with reality, which many people seem to be opposed to, mainly out of habit. It's easier to just watch YouTube videos, check Twitter, or reply to Discord messages, and then pass out.

And now this is turning into another piece moaning about the influence of modern technology and endless distractions available at our finger tips, so I'll just stop here and end with a summary.

Looking for "the best way" is a mental trap. Don't look for best ways for any slightly complex, open-ended problem. Look for a fitting, suitable, apt way, given your situation. Consider the circumstances like they are a puzzle, then look for what piece you have available that has the right shape.