Thanks for this context, and for your warm replies in general. I really do feel okay now, I just also feel like I want people to not fall through the same sorts of cracks that I did in the future. I should also be clear that in my experience, lots of people in EA are from a wide variety of backgrounds. But enough core EAs are from a more elite background that’s hard to detect up front, and the culture shock, at least for me, was massive.
I think EA culture is really good relative to general elite culture as I understand it. It’s still the coolest professional culture I’ve been a part of. But I think norms really are a bit different than what I’m used to, in ways I find hard to place, and beyond the ways that are deliberate and reflectively good.
On further reflection re: enthusiasm, I think it’s mostly a difference in enthusiasm around gratitude, specifically. People seem to display gratitude in a different way, which feels a lot more effusive.
I think the EA community is unusually meritocratic, though of course I agree it’s imperfect. I’m glad people are working on making it even better. The fact that it’s unusually meritocratic does make it a bigger emotional hazard, though: it’s easier to shrug off harsh judgments when you distrust the party making them.
In general I find this stuff very difficult to talk about, and feel low confidence and emotional about all of it. But it also feels very salient to me, so I have an impulse that it should be in the conversation somewhere. I hope that other people with painful experiences will share their stories and impressions, too.