Voices in my head: GTA was in my best self-interest

By Ryan Nunnery

I’m a senior at Skyline High School. Most of my life has been about learning how to go from point A to point B, responding to situations constantly happening in life. Being in Game Theory Academy has helped me make better decisions, whether it’s choosing what route to take home, to making lifetime choices that will affect my future.

Arriving the first day of class, I had no idea what to expect. I figured we would have a large class setting, look at charts, do math work and sit through boring lectures. Turned out the class was small, making it easier to learn and get to know my peers. We learned about scarcity, the difference between socialism and capitalism, how entrepreneurs make decisions, and Adam Smith. We specifically focused on the three assumptions of Adam Smith’s economic theory: 1.) Everyone acts in their best self-interest all the time; 2.) Everyone has equal access to perfect information; 3.) Economic interests drives everything. What really stuck to me was assumption number one, that the economy will be efficient if everyone acts in their best self-interest. I never had anyone say that to me before. I hear all the time from teachers that we have sources all around us to educate ourselves, and I somewhat knew that money drives people’s decisions. That’s common sense. As we learned more about best self-interest and used it to relate to our lives, I realized that Adam Smith’s first assumption would carry through the rest of my life.

Everyday now, no matter what it is or what I’m doing, I constantly ask myself if what I am doing is in my best self-interest. It’s involuntary now; it just happens like some kind of secondary voice going off in my head. From the morning when I wake up, “Is skipping breakfast within your best self-interest, Ryan?” to when I want to leave the house, “Is it within your best self-interest to walk to the Bart station or get a ride from Mom or Dad?” Deciding lunch, “Is it your best self-interest to spend $5 on junk food or to use that money to by a fulfilling meal?” It even happens while I get ready for bed, “Is spending time on Facebook your best self-interest or is going to sleep early so you can be energized for work the next day is?” With all these questions, there’s an answer and a decision that I have to make. No matter what, that question is constantly going on, even as I write this. That one question is what’s helping me and the people around me become better people. I joke around with my friends when they make impetuous decisions and I ask them, “Do you think that’s within your best self-interest? What are the benefits and costs of making that decision?” They look at me as if I’m crazy.

The more time passes, the more I refer to these things I learned at Game Theory Academy, such as what would be the trade off of going to play tennis this weekend?  I would be giving up time to do other things, but some benefits would be bettering my health and getting time to socialize with friends. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages so why not go play? It’s completely within my best self-interest to do so.

I use every last bit of the information I was taught at this class in my daily life. Yes, a financial incentive drove my decision to join. Yes, this information was equally accessible. And yes, taking this class was definitely, forever will be, and have been, within my best self-interest!