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Sort of weird that this post came up. Right now we have our son-in-law staying at our house with my step-daughter. He got out of the Marines a year ago. Since then he has tried multiple jobs and never lasted more than a week. He also tried college. Quit after one semester.

Every thing he tries and quits, he always has an excuse for. It’s to hard. To messy. To boring. To whatever.

What does he do with all of his free time? He sits and plays video games on his laptop or binges Netflix.

My step-daughter however is hard working and conscientious. Quite frankly deserves better.

My son, who is bright, lives in Scotland. He has a job and a place with his girlfriend. But the job is literally working as a dishwasher at a restaurant. Because it’s the UK he can survive. He isn’t bothered because hey…. Video games, weed, and Netflix.

Another son-in-law, in the USAF. He goes to work, spends pretty much every evening playing video games. Despite having three kids.

These are just three examples, but I’m sure it’s repeated endlessly across the country.

Netflix and video games especially have become so good… so enjoyable that it cuts into the social life and fabric of Americans.

Honestly, as technology gets better, I suspect it will only get worse.

Personally, I think it’s a bigger risk for men than for women for whatever reasons.

The education gap will continue to grow between men and women. Educated women will continue to have poorer and fewer options for marriage.

*anyway, I’m trying to get my first son-in-law a job with my company as a winder (works on generators). It’s a travel job, but you work have the year, make very good money, etc…. One of the questions he asked me was about the hotels we stay in. He was obsessed with knowing if the Wi-Fi was good enough to play video games.

Sorry for the rant. The post was triggering.

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I have 4 young kids and a nice stable UMC job, but I still have problems controlling my video game playing.

I keep it mostly contained to after the kids go to bed, but it definitely impacts how much sleep I get.

Anecdote, but had a smart nerdy friend group back in high school, and out of 8 of us, only 3 of us graduated college with a useful degree and went on to have actual careers. The rest are all 'failure to launch'.

(And we were all pretty top tier in our class, so that percentage should have been quite a bit higher.)

I am still in touch regularly with most of them, but mediocre jobs + singledom + most free time absorbed with streaming and video games are their defaults.

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FWIW, I played video games every day until my mid thirties. At that point it slowly started tapering off. Now, in my mid forties I go weeks without playing.

I can't think of any precipitating event...I just seem to have grown less interested.

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I definitely waste a lot of my time on unhealthy and compulsive media habits (like reading comments to blogs I like etc.) and stay up later than I ought to, but that has been my experience as well--I game vastly less than I used to.

In my case, I think having children was a pretty clear factor though. Among other things, they just introduce a bunch more structure into your life (you *will* be getting up earlier, and so will your wife, so staying up super late to game just no longer fits; you *will* be making dinner for everyone, so ordering in and gaming during dinner time not an option, etc. etc. etc.). A feature, not a bug, as much as a miss my old hobby sometimes.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

This is me too. As a child, my mom banned video games, but I would obsessively try to make friends whose parents allowed them so we could play at their house. Ruined a few friendships because it was clear I was more interested in the games than the person (which I deeply regret).

As a teen, I figured out how emulators worked and would play on the computer whenever I could. If my mom worked late on our home computer I would get really pissy. I did not do any homework until 12th grade when I got my shit together just in time to get into college.

In my 20s, I would play games but they sort of lost their appeal. Maybe it's because I never got into online play, but interacting with a computer gets tedious and the novelty of each new game would wear off quicker and quicker, with a couple of exceptions for really deep strategy games like Civ and Europa Universalis. You also start to realize that a lot of games make you do "chores" to make the game seem longer, like grinding for levels or going on side quests for items you never use. When I re-played Pokemon in my 20s I couldn't play for more than a few hours because the pattern of play was just so dull.

In my 30s I play a healthy 3-4 hours a week because I mostly play Dark Souls which is too stressful to play for more than an hour at a time.

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After I got to college, I started playing a lot less. Even today, 5 years out, I can hardly sit down to play anything.

However I am pretty addicted to youtube at this point

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When offered the downtime, very occasionally the itch I want to scratch is to build something in Rollercoaster Tycoon or SimCity 3000.

Maybe a few times a year though. Otherwise there's always something more important or more fun.

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My "video games" are blogs, Twitter, news websites, Wikipedia and (when it gets late) Youtube. Just never really got into video games. But lack of interest in video games is certainly no barrier to wasting time!

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Yeah. I am the same. But you sound like me. Before the internet I was an avid reader. I would carry books around with me and spend hours reading. I guess I am blessed that I have ADHD that I have to physically do things as well. So I watch YouTube to learn how to do other things. My blog/substack addiction is mainly travel or slow work period time waster.

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I just want to say that I appreciate this input. It tracks with my experience. At least you are aware.

People talk about how Facebook and social media drives engagement. It has nothing on the feedback that video games provide.

For whatever reason, I never took to video games. Would much rather go out and drink and chase girls when younger. Now, I spend all my time doing stuff. Old cars. Cabins. Ebikes. Gym.

Though I am a fan of YouTube. I learn everything there.

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I'm currently having to deal with my eldest son being 'exposed' to Fortnite by some of his friends...and it basically resulted in instant addiction

Like, he went from being fine with only getting 30 min of video game time per night (after dinner, chores, reading, and getting read for bed) to basically being depressed or throwing fits that he can't play Fortnite more with his friends.

It is insidious. And now I feel like I have to go Mean Dad and take away all his electronics until the spell is broken.

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This is reminding me of that Star Trek: Next Generation episode where the whole ship gets addicted to an alien video game and Wil Wheaton ends up saving everybody.

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Like people would be able to use the holodeck responsibly.

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We are all Reg Barclay.

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God help out civilization of holodeck ever becomes real.

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Honestly. I doubt the spell can be permanently broken. He will just go to his friends house. I went through this. It’s probably just a delaying tactic.

I have a pathological hatred of video games because of this very reason.

I would honestly prefer he was out drinking or chasing girls.

I don’t know what the solution is except moving off-grid.

Sorry to be pessimistic.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

I hit rock-bottom after failing a third class in college and was able to quit, but it felt brutal (partially because it was the main way most of my friends socialized, so it meant dropping a lot of social ties)

(not fortnite in particular -- the mass addiction at the time was league of legends)

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I had thankfully graduated before I got into League, but Singed all the way!

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I can’t understand the perspective that video games are more unhealthy than alcohol and trying to get casual sex. A video game isn’t going to give someone an STD or an unplanned pregnancy or a DUI.

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Surely the idea is that they're damaging in a different way—obviously the worst that can happen to you playing video games is way less bad, but they are also very easily to attain (the most addictive video games these days are generally free to play), you can play them anywhere, etc., so the potential for a lifelong habit is very very high.

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Sex is a powerful motivator. I basically spent by whole 20s working to get money to afford to go out to meet chicks. (I wasn’t particularly good at it back then).

Anyway, my now successful career is a byproduct of this drive.

Ironically now I’m fairly successful it’s really no problem to meet women if I wanted to. (Even 20-something old girls) even though I’m 52.

The young me would hate the old me.

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I'm hoping that my own experience grappling with this allows me to help my son...

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How old is he?

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A former co-worker had this problem with her kid and she reportedly was able to eventually break the hold it had on him.

I worry about this with my own kids. I'm pro video games (I work in the industry!) (and I'd rather they did that than just stream Netflix/Disney+) but I'm also averse to having my kids addicted to them.

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It’s tough. Very tough. I suspect there are some genetic / personality traits that make some kids more susceptible.

As I said to that other dude, I think working in the video game industry is probably net bad. But the same could be said about lots of other industries. Hell, I work on gas turbine power plants. I contribute to global warming.

Didn’t I read that one of those famous tech billionaire eliminated electronics from their kids lives. I forget who it was.

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I think video games, like lots of things, are good in small doses and bad in large doses.

When I was in high school I spent _way_ too much time playing on a Text MUD (multi-user dungeon - precursor to MMOs) on the school network(school was a boarding school). They banned that stuff the next year. The school banning it was 100% good for me.

When I was around 30 I spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft, including as a raid leader (having to help wrangle 24-39 other people to work together to get stuff done - had to stick to a a schedule etc). This was fairly social - talked to a lot of the same people over time, about not just game stuff - and honestly I think it helped my patience later with kids.

Games aren't nearly as passive as TV watching. Some games definitely exercise my brain and make me think. Other games are basically killing time (I play some of these but I can't say they're ... good)

I think balancing these things is tricky but they aren't all good or all bad. Power plants contribute to global warming, but energy is a good thing!

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The fps 3d games all gave me motion sickness. Got me off video games right quick

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founding

I figured out back in college that once I picked up a game that was "a good game" relative to my tastes, I was unable to control how much I played it, and therefore resolved to (a) only play games that have a clear storyline, and hence an endpoint (so, no MMORPGs or PvP strategy games that have endless replay value), and (b) I only start a game if I feel confident that I have the free time open for it.

So, I recently played a short indie game, The Pathless, because I looked at my schedule and knew I had a slow week, and my spouse was going out of town for a chunk of it. But I have been leaving Horizon: The Forbidden West on the shelf (figuratively, since it's a digital download). I plan to start it the weekend after the election, so it doesn't interfere with my campaign.

In any case, I agree with Matt's general point. And I sympathize with everyone else that sees the issue of how addictive / behaviorally habituating these things are.

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If it weren't for my now-fiancee's encouragement, I don't think I would've made it through college.

I basically quit cold turkey in junior year and have only recently started playing again since getting a steam deck (I've wanted to spend a healthy amount of time playing video games for a while since it's the main way my high school friend group socializes)

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Wow. The second person to confess admit that video games were distraction. Given the limited sample size of substack readers and the fact commenters are probably more engaged, I think it gives weight to my theory that video games are an issue. Also…. Good work!

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There is a twofold selection bias here. First, the topic disproportionately attracts comments from those with whom it resonates in some sense. Second, being a substack commentator *is* a form of procrastinating activity , and an online male-skewing one at that, so it’s not surprising if we have a large overlap with video gamers.

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Yes. But it only wastes my time while I’m traveling. Hello from Boise Airport.

The overlap with males and video game players though is the point, since I suspect it matches what people observe in their normal lives.

I base my opinions on knowing a shitload of young kids. Not from substack.

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It's not universally negative, though. I got interested in computers because of video games, so sure, I spent a lot of time playing Doom, but I also spent a lot of time learning how to hack Doom. That led me to learn programming and (to hack game consoles) how digital circuits work, which led deeper still until I hit the bedrock of physical science and ended up with a PhD.

At this very moment I am looking at an Arduino board that I am programming for an instrument in the lab I run, where we publish papers that draw on those early skills, like encoding digital information in molecules.

I still love video games, but I'm so busy with work, kids, hobbies, etc. that I have to carve time out to play just a handful of games an hour here and an hour there on weekends, which makes them all the more enjoyable.

Addiction is human trait and there are whole genres of games that reward players for pouring time into them, grinding away at menial tasks. When those two inclinations intersect, they can ruin lives. But people also socialize through games or use them to escape, instead of reading a novel or watching a movie.

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Count me as the third, but I could give you so many examples from other college kids I know.

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I have to admit, I’s sort of really respect you guys that were self-aware enough to diagnose the problem or issue, and then attack it. Beat it. Are used to be a smoker. Took me forever to quit. I still backslide every once in a while.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

Men may be in a crisis, but is technology a cause or a symptom or a bit of both? I don’t presume to speak of these individuals you mention, but the *type* is familiar from the past, except instead of video games they’d spend the time at home or at the pub with a drink, and thus with worse results. In other words take away the video games and the steaming and the tendency towards procrastination would find other, potentially worse, venues.

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I disagree. The types who drank all the time still do. The types who play video games all the time would of formerly been more productive.

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I'm guessing that soon after the advent of mass produced alcohol and the proliferation of bars in the mid to late 19th century, prohibitionists argued that men would have been much more productive doing something else than wasting their time, money, and lives in the saloons for hours.

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Well, they might have been right, right?

It's a slight tangent, but back when Netflix had actually good documentaries I watched Ken Burns doc on Prohibition. It did sound like drinking was a bigger social problem than it is now.

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It gets worse the further back you go. Per my reading, virtually the entire country was pretty much hammered all waking hours if you go back to pre Civil War days.

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Michael Pollan made a comment in an interview once that before the advent of industrial machinery (that you had to be sober to use) and coffee, it’s impossible to overstate how fucked up everyone was all the time.

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Or better, depending on your perspective. Read Edward Slingerland's 'Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization', an amusing read with a contrarian take on the benefits of getting hammered.

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I guess I'll say they might not have been entirely wrong, though their ultimate solution was.

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Agreed. I can't fault them for being concerned, but prohibition was not the right answer.

Even today, I don't want prohibition, but it's shocking how many deaths are caused by alcohol. The CDC says it was 49,000 in 2020, up from 39,000 in 2019.

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Jane Coaston once posted a series of tweets about this that I found so amazing, I went and looked it up.

"By the 1820s, whiskey sold for twenty-five cents a gallon, making it cheaper than beer, wine, coffee, tea, or milk....”

"By 1830, alcohol consumption reached its peak at a truly outlandish 7 gallons of ethanol a year per capita. Via Okrent:

“Staggering” is the appropriate word for the consequences of this sort of drinking. In modern terms, those seven gallons are the equivalent of 1.7 bottles of a standard 80-proof liquor per person, per week—nearly 90 bottles a year for every adult in the nation, even with abstainers (and there were millions of them) factored in. Once again figuring per capita, multiply the amount Americans drink today by three and you’ll have an idea of what much of the nineteenth century was like."

https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/alcohol-history/the-1800s-when-americans-drank-whiskey-like-it-was/#america-s-colonial-thirst-

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Wow - what a great link.

"People of all ages drank, including toddlers, who finished off the heavily sugared portion at the bottom of a parent’s mug of rum toddy." (!!!)

There was some unbelievable stuff in that article, up to the point where I don't quite believe it or I'm just a little skeptical that they are presenting it accurately. I guess I'd want to check the primary sources. But even if there was some exaggeration it still sounds like people were getting really damn toasted.

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That seems very likely true. We know there are societies that are fairly paralyzed by heavy drinking—the US used to be this way, Russia has been described this way.

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Turns out you can drink AND play video games.

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Not well.

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Some people perform a few activities better when they're drunk. For me back in the day, it was playing pool at a bar.

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Alcohol is the ideal way to transmute gold into bronze.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

Well we know lots of mens social activity has declined a ton. ‘Bowling alone’ elks rotary club etc etc etc. just hanging around the garage with the boys. Lots of non work time has gone into video games. And like, your son is working! Most of what’s been eaten is other R + R not work. I don’t know how much of what’s gone is ‘drinking’ although I’m sure there was some drinking at the bowling alley from time to time.

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I guess one good thing you can say about video games is that in some ways the improved tech has also made them more social than they used to be. You talk to your friends over the headset while you're playing, etc. Still, even online gaming with friends is obviously less social than spending time with them in person. And when I was a kid, the video game tech was so primitive that you had to go over to each other's houses to play together (and playing along was much less fun) and that's also more social than gaming with friends online.

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I see video games getting really pounced on in this thread and, since it’s my stock and trade, I just want to offer my perspective.

I think you have something there Evan Bear, it’s all about new social connections these days, it’s a more efficient tribe creation mechanism that (like social media) allows you to form alliances, win victories and suffer bitter defeats from your couch at home.

I think we are in the middle of a change as a society where how we socialize and what matters about that socialization is changing and we are sort of getting the worst of both worlds at the moment. I think this is because the world is run by older people who can’t connect with this and don’t want to see society change.

To me this is the uncomfortable transition of a revolution period like agricultural to industrial except applied to social networking.

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Everyone wants to justify their jobs with fancy words. You sound like a philosophical crack dealer.

I assume you are successful in your trade. I assume you balance your playing video games with creating them. You are an outlier, and I honestly think your work is net bad.

Disclaimer: video games are simulations and have applications elsewhere. Also there is an artistic side of video games which should be appreciated. It’s story telling.

I just wish you guys weren’t so good at it.

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But friendship isn't all about victories and defeats, and hasn't been since like the Neolithic era started. There's a difference between a group of friends that sometimes gets together to play video games, sometimes at a bar, sometimes to play board games, sometimes to watch sports and shoot the shit, etc.; and a group of friends that only exists around a certain video game because that game is the sole platform for them to interact.

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I actually think this is a drawback. Back in the 80s people would get together in person to play video games. I don’t think online interaction is the same. Plus it tends to focus conversation on the trivial.

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And yet I suspect their parents looked on this behavior with despair.

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Those were fun times! Reminds me of that scene in Swingers where they're passing the controllers back and forth to each other. Or this ESPN article about Mike Tyson's Punch-Out: https://www.espn.com/sports/boxing/news/story?id=3729473 "'We were all poor in Brownsville, so not everyone could afford a Nintendo, but if you could, that meant a house full of kids coming over to play Punch-Out!!,' said heavyweight Shannon Briggs, who grew up in the same neck of the woods as Tyson."

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True. But…

1. The video games are unique relative to previous social activities. No one bowled every single night, for five to six hours. (Common now)

3. My gut tells me that video games along with stronger weed (and porn) jointly contribute to a general lack of ambition. Sure boys work…. But just not the same drive for success.

Yes I know I skipped 2.

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Maybe. I definitely know what you’re talking about! I just wonder, this is also a time period when we’ve seen womens role in the workforce change dramatically but men just haven’t moved into the traditional ‘womens work’ roles in nearly the same way—and this is for larger reasons than just their own machismo. So how else could it shake out other than more unattached men sitting around more than they used to? Basically they could turn to crime.

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I attribute the demise in crime over the last two decades to video games. Idle hands… current increase withstanding.

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No one bowled every single night, but it was common in the past for people to watch cable TV for hours every night.

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I approve. Drinking and passing out will limit video game time!

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Perhaps you’re all right. But here’s a counterpoint to consider: you’re comparing only one or two generations back. What happens if you go back longer? Perhaps there are other factors, economic, social, cultural, driving mens behavior one way or the other. Maybe the boomer generation (and a bit before and after) was particularly favorable to young men in a way it wasn’t before or after so that fewer were drawn to less social and productive activities ? It’s easy to blame technology for social malaise and there could be some truth to it (and certainly in some individual cases) but it should not blind us to other possible factors.

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I agree with this. I think technology might be at the root. But I’m not a total doomsayer. Less crime. Less disease. Lots of good things about modern age.

And video game addiction probably only effects a limited percentage of young men. But it’s enough to have outsized effects.

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I’ve been reading this comment thread Rory and really appreciate your engagement. Fwiw I’m a guy in my 20’s and none of my friends play video games

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Hey thanks Nate. I appreciate that.

I hope it didn’t come across that I think that all 20 something’s are addicted to video games. I’ve met some awesome people your age. I know this kid, that at 18 that built his own rock crawler. One of my daughters is dating this guy that works in the National Guard, and is a mechanical engineer student. My other son-in-law is an officer in the US Space Force. Great guy. It’s just a larger proportion then is probably healthy for our country.

I’m curious about what you and your friends do do? How do you guys spend your recreation time? What do you guys do for a living?

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I think that men were the 'first adopters' of a lot of video games, and so the video games were made to appeal to them/addict them.

Also the loss of a clear 'role' for men in society.

I think it will hit women just as hard in a couple generations if it continues.

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For plenty of these ‘problem cases’ if they were women who loved video games (streaming tv!) just as much it would be much easier to become a full or part time homemaker. It’s much easier to decide one day to have confidence in your own ability to be a parent and work at it than it is to take your slacker boyfriends word for it.

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Yeah, I know several women who did this, too.

Here in Alabama, it's basically standard for not-ambitious women to just go the homemaker/housewife route.

They may have to work part-time still, but that's the goal at least.

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Seems like that's been standard almost everywhere geographically. Social classes, perhaps a bit different of course.

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Fair. I should have said 'at least in Alabama...' instead, as that's the only place I have enough experience with to make that kind of observation and feel confident in it.

It is probably common elsewhere too.

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founding

I'm like you, i think video games are how it manifests...but i think it has more to do with cultural norms or forces as a root cause, and trends leading more people in a later cohort (Millennials and Zoomers) to manifest in such a way (basically this generation's Lloyd Dobler)

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founding

I think a much more of Millennials and Zoomers grew up in homes with an over idealized idea about what "work" *should* be...and how it *should* fit into their life...and when most work didn't fit those idea, they just default to things like video games and hobbies, etc

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Would love to hear a longer post on what young men should be spending our time on, especially for increasing our marriageability. I've never once played video games and I'm still not having much luck!

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While I can't speak for women...

1. Have career (even a modest one) and be able to keep a job

2. Don't have a completely horrible personality

3. Do at least a little bit w.r.t. physical fitness and healthy lifestyle. You definitely don't have to be ripped, or even good looking, but at least put forth some effort semi-regularly.

Basically, be pleasant (or capable of it) and get your sh** together.

Maybe it is different if you live in a big coastal urban area, though.

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As a woman, I approve this comment.

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As a man who met his wife while living in NYC, I think this applies to big coastal urban areas, too.

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Add to these replies: make sure everything is tidy with your personal hygiene. Only leave your house smelling nice, with your hair under under control, and wearing clothes that you would take your mother to lunch in (at minimum). Good luck!

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Yes, and learn to dance. Doesn’t have to be cool dancing either. Contra dancing, partner dancing (tango, salsa, blues, nightclub two step, etc.) or any other kind of community folk dance could get you pretty far. Plus it’s a great endorphin hit and wonderful community to engage with along the way to finding your person.

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Clothes! (And shoes)

I’m not tall. Or particularly good looking. But my superpowers include dressing well, dancing (I was an 80s club kid) and irrational confidence.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

Are you in your mid-20s yet? That's when, as a straight dude who only ever wanted a relationship, it became easier to find a partner. I don't fully understand why, but I think it has to do with guys being in a good place at that point (fairly mature, some idea of what to do in life, social skills are there) and straight women your age being more interested in "settling down".

I don't think I made any major changes at that point in my life - I slowly matured and all of a sudden had a lot more dates!

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Aug 24, 2022·edited Aug 24, 2022

Seconded. A lot of guys I know (myself included) had lots of difficulty meeting women in their early 20s, but once you get to like 25-27 it's like a switch flips and it gets a lot easier. Most of my friends (again, myself included) were married or in stable, long-term relationships by their early 30s.

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I know this isn't helpful but basically I think this gets you a good deal of the way there:

1. Life: Have a steady job

2. Looks: Always be acceptably groomed and hygienic

3. Fashion: Wear acceptable clothes, no need to be "fashionable" but don't wear huge baggy cargo pants

4. Personality: You need to be nice and willing to engage in small talk, but definitely not so nice you come off as creepy or desperate.

5. Fitness: Be reasonably in shape

6. Disposition: be basically chill, positive and optimistic. I have had sharp witted friends who were delightful for their acerbic, sardonic nature. But if you're a negative person and NOT funny, you're just a bummer to be around.

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1. Work out. Specifically lift weights. Not only is it healthy, but it will build confidence. Rock climbing would be a good alternative.

2. Get a hands on hobby. Jeep’s. Rock climbing, wood working. Something that gives u purpose outside work.

3. Church. I am not religious, but it’s a good place to meet people. Alternatively some sort of club.

I know these suggestions sound red pilled.

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I'm a caricature of a liberal coastal elite and I agree with all of those things. I'm married-with-kids now, but I still have a bench and squat rack next to my 64 1/2 Mustang in the garage because I grew up around men who kept in shape and worked on cars. And if you find the right church (in my case a synagogue), it can be a great way to socialize in a very non-threatening environment, even if, like me, you have a lot of social anxiety and are the opposite of religious.

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Shut the fuck up. I have an early 65 Mustang in my garage. 42K original miles. Bench seat. Original paint.

https://share.icloud.com/photos/02d_MeKi6ITqyXa0P9XDvfvuQ

(I never do legs, don’t need to, but I kill upper body).

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The first Rory comment I vigorously disagree with. Everyone needs leg lifts. And a good power clean set is a bigger stress reliever than anything else in life.

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Ha. I was blessed with muscular legs. I’ve had professional bodybuilders express jealousy at my calves. (Skinny jeans and I don’t mix).

I’m do however see the value of deadlifts, I just rarely do them because they are hard.

On a side note. People in my gym think I’m a monster. I rarely work out for Longer than 40 minutes. Do random exercises with no rest and extreme intensity. My doctor didn’t believe me when I told him I had never done steroids (he thought it was the cause of my low testosterone).

Since I’ve went on TRT, my gym gains trip me out and my belly fat is shrinking.

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I never used to do legs. But after reading "the barbell prescription, strength training after 40"

I now do legs and deadlifts

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Wow, that is an OG 64 1/2 right down to the instruments and hub caps! I bet it even has "Falcon Spirit" stamped on the hub under the pony logo on the steering wheel.

I don't have pics handy, but mine is a red convertible (with the same 289). It was somewhat sloppily restored (by my grandfather) in 1984, so not all the parts are original. But he did install a custom white leather interior, just like Henry Ford II.

My upper body is limited by a bad shoulder (baseball) and wrist (bike accident), but I can still max out with dead lifts : )

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Church. The ratios there are highly in your favor. Especially a progressive one.

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But then you'd be getting a progressive -and- a religious person... =)

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I agree with this take.

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15 years ago I was chatting with a new friend who was in the Coast Guard and I asked him how he ended up joining - he said he failed out of college because he was playing videos games too much. I thought he was joking, I played a lot of Halo in my dorm too, but he was serious.

I found video games highly engrossing in the 1990s and early 2000s, so I can't imagine how captivating they are making them now.

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Putting aside your son in laws, which honestly seem to be seperate issues outside of video games, but when it comes to your son, since I'm assuming by bright, you mean 'above average' and not 'could be doing heart surgery or figuring out ways to save the planet' level of bright, why do you care that he's dishwashing instead of say, doing IT or some other random middle class work for some random corporate job, if the former is giving him enough to do what he wants, without being a burden?

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No, I mean bright as 97 percentile on every standardized test. Passed every class with an A despite no effort.

He despises his job, wants to be a programmer, but doesn’t put in the effort because weed and video games. He does go to work I guess.

I did lend him some money so he could enroll in an online programming course. I haven’t checked, I hope he follows through. Probably won’t though. Big at procrastination.

Try again.

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Ironically, I’d be satisfied if my son-in-law was like my son. He isn’t the brightest. But going to work everyday is something to respect even if it’s not the best or most fun job in the world.

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Maybe especially if it’s not the best or most fun job. Shows good character.

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💯 it took me a while to adjust. Ironically it was my son-in-laws failure to work that sort of gave me perspective. He is a good kid. He reads. Has a home. Etc… but we always want more for our kids.

Ironically, my dad probably felt the same about me. I was a lowly enlisted man in the USAF. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a MS in Mathematics. He died 25-years ago, but I make more money than he ever did now!

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Wait, we can put emojis in our comments?

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I lost my entire twenties to that. If and when he is ready to try to break out, here is what worked for me after so many failures.

Go back to school. Not online school and not the local campus. Somewhere far enough away that you need to move, preferably in a city with lots of jobs in the industry. Pick something difficult to study, and pick the most rigorous program you can get into. When you move don't take your gaming rig with you. Don't even take a TV. Rent the smallest crappiest room as close to campus as possible.

At the same time, take up working out or playing sports every day. And take up going to every social function open to you. As soon as possible, try to land a part time job or internship in your new field while still taking classes.

The goal is to be so busy you are never even home except to sleep. And certainly not home bored.

It was expensive, stressful, and something I would never have done except out of desperation. But it turned out to be the best years of my life and I am still coasting off that effort.

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self-paced programming courses are tough to make it through.

I like MattY's take that we should have more unpaid internships, or even apprenticeships where ppl pay to be an apprentice, because I think the best way someone like your son-in-law could learn would be to work with experienced software devs. However, as much as I personally enjoy helping junior devs, it's not really in my company's financial interest for me to spend work time teaching him if he's really starting from zero (since they can't capture the economic benefits of his education)

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We’ve got to figure out a way for organizations to develop an interest in cultivating & sustaining non-college educated talent

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As a well paid skilled blue collar worker I agree.

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Yep. It’s why I’m not optimistic.

Ironically I have a degree in computer programming. But only because I taught myself to program starting with reverse engineering some access databases that had lots of VBA. From there I was hooked and learned Java, etc…

But alas, I don’t use my degree. I instead inspect power plants. But my computer skills do come in handy.

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Damn. I just read every comment in this thread. You people are some smart MFers. Seriously, I want to give kudos to everyone for some thoughtful commentary.

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Interesting. Loved video games as a kid. Never really was able to get into it as an adult especially once we had kids. Tried FIFA soccer a few times but it is so complex I’m aware I would never have the free time to get any good at this. But also I almost never watch tv except occasional movie maybe once a month so I think this whole post just doesn’t apply to me. Do people really spend that much of their free time on tv and video games and stuff?

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Yes. You have no idea.

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I often wonder what pervasive Generationalized cultural assumptions about what work (or a career) should be impact Millennials (of which I am one). Seemed to me a Generation of relatively well off young people were raised and encouraged that a job should be part of their identity rather than a means to an end.

I had a lot of friends who (from my POV) have over idealized notions of what a job should be such that the perfect is the enemy of the good. It's all very Lloyd Dolbler-esque... couple that with two mahor recessions (2000 and 2008, with the later recovery being very slow) it provided a lot of excuses for a generation of folka caught up in the rip tide

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I think this is mostly for the PMC.

My friends that aren't part of that don't seem to really see jobs as anything more than a mean to an ends.

It's us smart-dumb professionals that let the job take over their lives and be come the 'ends'.

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Genuinely curious: do you (or others) think that weed is a major part of this equation, more so than alcohol would be? In my urban cosmopolitan twentysomething friend group, weed is a very social drug, but I have often wondered whether weed legalization/normalization is going to have population-level effects distinct from those of alcohol, such as making the Netflix and video games lifestyle more tolerable.

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I think weed also has same issue of alcohol where a small percent of heavy users make up the majority of sales, so the industry financially depends on people who use the product far more than a normal recreational amount (and they a strong incentive not to curb abuse/dependency).

Alcohol I think is far more harmful to society looking at alcohol-related deaths and % of crimes involving heavily intoxicated people, but a growing number of people who use marijuana to excess isn't going to be great for society.

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So… I think weed contributes to malaise, but not as bad as video games.

The big issue with weed is it’s sort of a under the radar negative thing. It marginally affects motivation and go-gettedness.

Part of the issue is weed is so much stronger than my youth and easier to get.

I think it’s sort of a multiplier effect to porn and video games for young men.

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As I was reading through the article, I was thinking you'd have something to say about it. Not surprised to see you with the most upvoted top level comment thus far!

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Ha. I’ve been quite lately since I’ve been at home. My substack engagement correlates with slow jobs or travel. On my way to the airport!

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Best of travels as always, I'm finally going to get to the airport for the first time in 3 years in a few weeks myself.

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You have a lot of kids! No risk-aversion here!

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That’s an understatement. 1 son. 4 daughters. 4-step daughters.

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I know several people like that. One brother-in-law just moved out of his Mom’s house at 33 and finally has a seemingly stable job in the industry he likes and was trained for. Only took 12 years.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

Somewhat hot take - a lot of people's families, jobs, and friends weren't all that great, and were easily ovetaken by video games and better streaming options.

More importantly, I think this is absolutely true when it comes to dating, on both ends. I'm going to give of course, pretty hyperbolic examples, but I think parts of all of it are why there's a depression in sex on the edges.

If you're a guy, you can go out, on a date with a woman you may or may not like, likely pay a decent amount of money, and she'll either never call you back, or on the other side of things, you might be not that interested in her, but she'll be clingy toward you...or you could play GTA Online for 6 hours, and then watch very high quality porn of all kinds involving women much more attractive than you have any shot at.

Or, if you're a girl, you can go out on a date, or just out in general, get bothered by a lot of creepy dudes if you're not specfically on a date, and if you do go home with one of them, it's highly possible the actual sex won't be all that good, or they'll be clingy in a vartiety of ways (that are much more dangerous)...or you could watch 6 hours of really well edited reality shows, and then use a sex toy that's much better at giving you an orgasm than a majority of men.

Obviously, Bowling Alone and it's descendents have it's reasonable arguments, but honestly, hasn't this been the reaction to any kind of change in culture/leisure time? Look at how people reacted to comic books and television during the 50's, let alone previous times of moral outrage and worries about the undergirdings of society.

What I think is largely happening is a lot of mediocre sex, mediocre friendship groups, and mediocre relationships in general are dying on the vine, or never happening in the first place. I also think a lot of this is older people not understanding a different in communication - from what I know, the zoomers talk a lot to each other, it's just in Discord or whatever instead of in the park or the backyard of somebodies house. Now, you can judge whether that's truly a friend group or not, but I also think some of this is older Millenial's pushing their ennui about college/early 20's period friendships/relationships drifting apart as they tend to do, to some huge society defining thing.

Also, do people actually have fewer friends, or are people less apt to call a guy they see every couple of weeks to have a beer or two a friend? Perhaps those sensitive snowflake young kids just have stricter views, just like they do on a lot of societal views.

I'm being somewhat overblown, but I think this is something where there's something slightly screwy at the edges of society (like there is some evidence that a small percentag of kids who are having the usual lack of luck in high school are getting sucked into the incel vortex), and turning it into something that is effecting a wide swath of things. Like, I live in a large city - in our cities 'place 20-something's go out', things seem no different than when I was in my mid-20's, now that COVID isn't really a thing.

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This begs the question— how valuable are superficial human connections. We would all agree that deep human connection is one of the best things that exists, buts it’s difficult. Many marriages lack it. Most adult friendships exist within rather narrow boundaries. Adults with adolescent style friendship boundaries don’t tend to make many friends as adults!

Superficial friends might sign a card when you get sick or feel sorry that you lost your job, but actually making ends meet is up to you, your family and the welfare state.

I’ve made a lot of superficial friends playing pickleball and I prefer those kinds of interaction to streaming videos at home. Yet most of the really good conversations I’ve had in the past year have been with my wife or my assistant, people I share a lot of time and serious responsibilities with.

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I'd agree generally that most friendships are low value (my personal metric is "could I call this person to help me change a tire"). But I'd also posit that the reason to engage in superficial friendships is because you don't know which will turn in to a deep, rewarding friendship.

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That and also sometimes it's just useful to be in a place with people where you've all agreed upon entering the space that you're ok with socializing. There's something valuable lost when these easy-access superficial spaces become less prevalent or more like theme parks (everyone doing their own thing) instead of conventions (everyone open to be with others).

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What Eric C. said. Many deep friendships start out as shallow, superficial ones. No superficial friendships = no raw material for deep friendships.

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Isn't there also another dimension? With your partner and with your close colleagues, your conversations are extremely wide (and sometimes deep). I have friends with whom I discuss (F2F, internet based) extremely narrow issues and we only mention life in general because we try to be good bourgeois but that's mostly window dressing

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Various data I’ve seen suggests that the number of friends adults have has been declining over several decades. Interestingly though, it seems possible that it’s just that people born after World War II have fewer friends than people born before, so that it could just be the changing composition of the population. If that’s right, it could be as much due to television, suburbanization, and other earlier changes as the recent ones.

But I do think it’s a problem that the early part of meeting people is often less fun than streaming alone, even though the later parts of knowing people and doing things with them are much better.

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Since you are an SSC commenter I recognize, I would also like to note that I find internet commenting dangerous to personal interaction as well!

Online Take Artists of all stripes are simply too good at it -- in 2006 I'd regularly meet people who said things I found surprising and interesting, but now no one I meet IRL can match the quality of the best writers and comment sections. And then sometimes I'll meet someone IRL whose opinions are very clearly Online -- but whereas in a past life I'd have been thrilled to meet a kindred spirit, now I'm often just disappointed by their watered down versions of the commentary that interests me.

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Yes. I’ve been intentionally moderating my standard social media intake, but the substacks keep getting me. It’s more concentrated and thus in some ways higher quality. But still online.

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My experience is that moderating my social media intake is pro-social in that it means I don't end up consuming my friends' Bad Political Takes, and thus get mad at them.

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The “blue sky” of internet commentary.

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This is where, if we could post images, I would put a picture of Matt pasted into the Walter White, "You're damn right," meme.

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I relate to this a lot. I find most people’s opinions on politics/society/economics boring if not outright frustratingly basic. I kinda hate this about myself, though, as it makes it hard to connect with most people as someone with a lot of intellectual hobbies. I don’t think I’m smarter or better than others, but I don’t know what to talk about.

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Yup - I'm passionate/a weirdo about politics (obviously, I'm here), but even though I'm a committed SJW social democrat in a very blue city, anytime politics comes up, even though everybodies solidly left-leaning, there's either an astounding naviete or a complete lack of knowledge about the actual political limitations we're under.

Ironically, I get much better convos about politics in an alternate history group I'm in, because the fun is figuring what realistically different situations could've happened, which grounds things a bit.

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How does one find an alternate history group?

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This is a very good point—I get a very "yeah yeah, we've covered this" reaction whenever an IRL person at work or a party or wherever brings up some political or cultural topic that I've already seen discussed online ad nauseam. I have to either change the subject or sound like (that is to say, be) an impatient know-it-all. It cuts off a pretty important avenue of conversation!

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It's really unfortunate for one's self-image to realize that *sounding* like an impatient know-it-all really is all there is to *being* an impatient know-it-all!

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But the SSC meetups everywhere event is coming up! you can leverage online takes to meet people irl.

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True! In years past I wanted to go but I always had a conflict. These days I don't read SSC (I refuse to call it ACX) as much or go to Open Threads so I hadn't considered it. But maybe I will.

It's a little intimidating though. Offline my normie friends find me a little... out there, for lack of a better term, but I think a gathering of SSC readers would find me a dull normie!

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FWIW, I had similar feelings the first time I went, but I met my best friend at the second SSC meetup I attended.

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I think the Discord part is pretty big. Like on a lot of nights I can just not plan anything and still have a 60%+ chance of hanging out with some pals on Disc. And I already like those people, so it seems like a higher percentage chance I'll have fun than going out with new, potential friends in person. Unfortunately this means I have no friends in my city, which has really been getting me down lately, so maybe not as perfectly substitutable as I would like.

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But don’t you need to have a certain number of unsatisfying or superficial connections with potential partners or friends to find the good ones? You can’t automatically home in on friends-for-life. It takes time, effort, and editing.

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Interesting take. I think of Netflix time as clickbait to some degree too. It’s not that it is better than those friends or dating or whatever else…it’s just so easy to fire up and zone out. I think if folks were replacing their suboptimal relationships with something more fulfilling, while it may feel weird that that thing was totally online and electronic or whatever, would be more or less fine, but I don’t think that’s the case on average.

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What exactly is an incel? Is an 18 year old college student who is a virgin an incel? What if he doesn’t get laid by his junior year? What if he gets laid in his junior year but then has a three year drought? Do you have to post in obnoxious online groups to be an incel? Or is bitter misogyny the sine qua of incel status?

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Incels are the outgroup. Despite basically being an incel (I didn't go on a successful date with anyone until I was 27) I probably would never have seemed like one on the outside or been considered one.

I had friends, went to a decent college / (eventually) a decent job, a loving family. I think the term as it was initially conceived probably would have described me, but it's gone through an evolution and I think both self-identified incels and the broader public have come to associate it with a rejection of societal norms surrounding relationships entirely

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Incel specifically includes the part where you hate women.

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The term originates from a website called The Involuntary Celibacy Project which was itself created by a woman in the late 90s. It's obviously taken on a life of its own but I'd hazard to guess there are still more than a few self-identified incels out there that don't hate women and there might even still be some women out there that identify as incels (though I'll admit that group is probably infinitesimally small at this point).

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I was trying to search for this, thanks for beating me to it. If I had to hazard my own guess, the leading demographic for incels in the true root meaning might be middle aged women. Whereas incels as the term is commonly used for now are better described as Maurits Pino did upthread: really voluntary because they only want a relationship on their own narrow terms.

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I believe incels are a specific online group who have taken "the black pill" and decided that relationships are never in their future (supposedly because they aren't attractive) and they basically hate women because of it. Someone can theoretically be a virgin their whole lives and still not be an incel so long as they don't adopt the toxic philosophy.

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It seems to me that the whole "incel" idea is not just about involuntary celibacy. I mean, these crazies that go on a rampage for being thirty year old virgins normally have had the occasion to buy sex (probably legally) and find out. What seems to be the problem is that the incels believe they have the right to a sex or to a submissive girl friend, wife or whatever and it drives the nuts finding out that the world doesn't work like that.

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I think one of the biggest reckonings coming for fans of autonomy and all its brainchildren (liberalism, capitalism, freedom, whatever) is with the fact that our preferences aren't stable throughout time, and that leaves us all consistently exploitable

A great many of our first-world problems center around this fact. You eat the pringles, then you regret the pringles. You binge the TV show, then you regret the time spent on the couch. You want to read a couple chapters of that fascinating book, but instead you scroll twitter for an hour.

And there's a fistful of dollars for any entity that manages to break your will on this. Meta and Kellogs and Netflix and whoever make the big bucks, in large part, by acting as our adversaries.

I have no solutions. I fall for this shit all the time. But that's how it is.

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The challenge is not with the liberal to prove that the individual knows with perfect rationality and consistency exactly what they want at all times. Rather the onus is on the paternalist to find some other agent that could possibly know that individual's preferences better than the individual knows them himself.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

The onus is on all of us to solve our problems; calling yourself a liberal doesn't make them your problems any less. And I don't think either of the things you've described above sound likely or like helpful framings

(edit to say though that on the latter, if you take less grand a scope than the whole of someone's preferences, the whole point here is that in particular cases it's actually really easy--the fact that we predictably make choices we regret is exactly what's up)

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Right, yes, I agree that people make bad choices and we should help them make better choices. That involves (a) informing the public and (b) regulating predatory business practices.

But I disagree that this is an inherently anti-liberal position. Enabling people to make better decisions isn't the same as making those decisions on their behalf.

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Wouldn't decreeing certain business practices "predatory" and regulating them still be making decisions on behalf of the people choosing to transact with those businesses?

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In the short run, yes. But in the long run, various forms of addiction utterly destroy one's decision-making capabilities, so I believe that this is sometimes necessary to maximise individual agency overall.

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Maaaybe it's necessary, but it still seems anti-liberal to me. At least relative to a much more liberal solution of developing tools and technologies that either make people immune to addiction or that enable people to painlessly break the addictions they'd like to get rid of.

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(If only we could have been exponential time-discounters like all the economists liked to pretend.)

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To me, it seems like the longer a society stays relatively prosperous and stable...the harder it ia for it to stay motivated and manage it's own expectations...

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This is exactly the kind of view that I think turns out to be deeply flawed. The problem, I'm saying, is that it turns out that our preferences are such that we choose the short-term in ways we rapidly come to regret (because we time-discount hyperbolically). "It's up to everyone to choose" is not appealing when people are innately prone to choosing in ways that they'll tell you shortly after were wrong, unless you're unbothered by a world permeated with regret.

Some people are, and they say "hey, it's fine, we're all dying but it's by our own swords"... but when I learn we all have inherent quirks that make our swords look oh-so-snuggly when we get too close, well, I want a new policy on swords.

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You make a good point that there are times when people can be self-aware enough to say, Please tie me to the mast so I don't make an impulsive short-term decision I regret. (Societally, at a larger scale, that's essentially what constitutionalism is -- a way of tying ourselves to the mast so we don't impulsively pass laws that feel good in the moment but we believe will have bad long-term consequences.)

But there's still a difference between externally/paternalistically imposed constraints and self-imposed constraints.

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Personally that's why I find the problem so difficult! I wouldn't want to endorse paternalist/coercive measures, but I also think liberalism is kidding itself to think that people are always better off by their own lights when they make x decision at time t according to whatever preference.

Though when I say "better off" - better compared to what? Maybe compared to having a friend swoop in and remind them rather forcefully of their long term interest. Or more theoretically, compared to the decision a future variant of them would make for their past self.

I think a lot of the fear around full embrace of liberalism/capitalism, other than negative aggregation effects, is ultimately borne of worries that individual autonomy doesn't actually lead us to live our most flourishing lives. But that also doesn't mean there's a way of organizing society that would do better. It's hard and kinda demoralizing!

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People regrets *are* predictable in a certain direction, that's the whole point here. It's empirically pretty well-attested at this point. You can go check out the econ literature on time discounting to see for yourself.

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Even if true, it's not clear why we should treat regrets as the true preference which society should be bent towards minimizing.

The kid who plays video games instead of doing their homework and the same kid who regrets not doing their homework when they get an F and the same kid all grown up who can't identify any long term impact from getting an F or playing video games all have valid perspectives. Who are we to play favorites?

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I used to be an avid reader. I still am as far as online news and opinion, but recreationally I’m addicted to audio books. Specifically low brow science fiction.

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Full house lifestyle is what the country needs

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“ I’m really not so sure that there is that much more to life than family and friends and work combined.”

A lot of food for thought on a Monday. Reminds me of some of David Foster Wallace’s essays about tv, as well as some recent writing about friendship.

It seems like, during my adult life, people’s worlds have become increasingly narrow if they don’t consciously choose to push back on that. It takes effort to maintain friendships, and not everyone seems to want to put in the effort. Maybe home-based entertainment is easier, or maybe they’re driving their kids to travel sports every weekend. But the pre-vax portion of the pandemic, with its isolation (and my temporary move to a rural area), really drove home to me how much I value friendship, especially in person.

This might be a minority opinion but for me even the best streaming is a poor substitute for human interaction. And online communication can be really fun, even a lifeline. But again, to me, it’s not the same. About a week ago I was able to spend some time with a friend in another city who has a recurrence of cancer, with a not-great prognosis. We had been in touch virtually, but not in person since Covid started. Huge difference, and it reinforced my desire to prioritize time with people.

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Best line in the article, and, maybe, that MY has written in quite a while.

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Gesundheit ist die Fähigkeit lieben und arbeiten zu können.

"Healthiness is the capacity to be able to love and to work." S. Freud.

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Freud would say this whenever someone sneezed, but most people today know only the abbreviated version and have lost sight of his original message.

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During hay fever season, people would avoid hanging out with him just so as not to have to hear the entire nine-word mantra every time. No wonder others shortened it!

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This article got me thinking. About all the reality tv my wife watches. She’s just passing the time or whatever but I imagine 10 years ago she’d run out of trash to watch and id run out of really slow artsy movies and we’d meet in the middle for some romcom that appeals a little to men or an action movie with an actress she likes. But there’s just so. Much. Content. We never run out so we never meet in the middle.

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It was this summation that made me want to tease him about yimby, though. Why do we even need all these places for people to live independently since their isn’t much more to life than work, friends, and family? Moving out on your own is clearly moving backward from this perspective.

I think more honestly work, friends, and family sum up to like 2/3 of waking life and 1/3 is being by yourself, having things your own way, masturbating, doing art no one else really likes, etc. maybe this split is not right for everyone but it shouldn’t be ignored either. We do seek autonomy as well as social bonds and it seems wrong to assign it so little value.

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Aug 22, 2022·edited Aug 22, 2022

Your living space is a tool to enable your work, friends, family, etc. If you’re paying too much and don’t have much choice of your living space, then all these things will suffer, even if you have more random roommates of convenience.

Also, the YIMBY movement is likely to result in *more* dense housing and less scattered single family homes, which should be helpful for having nearby friends, family, and work.

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I think there’s lots of ways to increase development that would be consistent with communal living, etc. which is why I was ‘teasing’. but this is not why people want to move out when they are living with family or true friends—and generally folks do want to move out. And they aren’t making a pringles mistake either, even if it might be some kind of mistake. What I’m saying is, autonomy needs to be on the list. There’s actually a fair amount more to life than work, family, and friends.

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I just listened to the Ezra Klein podcast (that didn’t actually have him) about remote work and work from home. One thing that was an interesting click for me there - I’ve known for a long time that there’s a problem in the United States of health insurance being tied to work, but in recent decades we’ve also made our social life tied to work. As a result, when work becomes remote, we suddenly lose all that remains of our social lives. We have to figure out how to rebuild a non-work-related social life, which probably involves understanding why each other part of it died.

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This is certainly true for me. After two-plus years of working alone in my garage, I've started to really miss the social aspect of working in an office and making friends at work. I still have a social life, but many of the friends I've made over the past decade have been co-workers/former co-workers. I even met my wife at work.

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I found the guests response to that line of inquiry pretty disappointing. They basically just said “it’s not work’s job to fix that.” And on some level yes obviously, but on another level if everything social has already deteriorated, why would we let the last domino fall (if that is indeed what is happening)?

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This, basically. The response to seeing that a column is load bearing shouldn't be "that wasn't our plan, time to destroy it" out of naive hope that some other pillar will magically appear to catch the falling floor.

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Interesting. In Utah (and _perhaps_ the west US) one's social life isn't so much tied to work. But, yeah could totally see that going away with the remote work trend.

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Utah and the western Midwest are the socially healthiest places in the country on most metrics, they're a bit unusual. But as a native western Midwesterner the general attitude towards work there does seem much healthier than it is in New York, where I live now. I'm sure a lot of it is the centrality of religious institutions--where I'm from, being a regular churchgoer (and ideally a member of the vestry or w/e) is still an expected responsibility of being a professional-class adult, even a young one.

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Aug 26, 2022·edited Aug 26, 2022

Fascinating. What states are west Midwest?

In UT that was the case in decades past, but with the rise of tech, rising in the professional class brings no religious expectation. In migration and remote work have also driven this secular shift.

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Yes, but that's easier said than done. I was disappointed that EK got the guests to admit the adverse effect of remote work on social capital several times, but then repeatedly let them off the hook with hand-wavey solutions.

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The neo-nationalists love to project these issues on millennials, but this is another thing that probably effects boomers more. I can see in my own environment how several of them just don’t leave the house at all anymore now that they took early retirement.

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This is a big reason why I asked the retirement question that Matt answered on Friday! My father was an introvert and once he lost the structure and forced interaction of work, he spent most of his time sitting around at home watching tv. It was terrible for him (and for my mother, who ended up living a mostly separate life with her friends).

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Never thought about the fact that maybe retirement is worse for introverts? Sounds plausible my dad is doing great but he is literally forcing people to do stuff with him. My mom is so introverted so she gets way less social stuff.

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The 'retired and turned into a mushroom' thing is/was definitely a thing among my silent generation grandparents, but honestly...there is a big societal impact difference between young people wasting their lives, and retired people wasti g what remains of their lives.

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Correct. Fifty years ago, half of those retirees would have died before their default mode of interaction became screaming at Fox News. There’s an entire ecosystem of Fox adjacent transactions which is basically a big barnacle on the economy, it’s eaten up some productivity gains, but it’s quite sustainable

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Well, yes there is. I mean I mostly don't think it's young people who spent so much time hanging around with idiots on the internet that they convinced themselves somebody called 'Q' was telling them they needed to overthrow the government.

There's one societal impact difference right there.

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I thought the demographics of the Q nonsense was in the older-but-not-quite-retired group.

Older folks actually seem to like Biden pretty well.

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The Q people seem to be the right-leaning equivalent of the post-scarcity nutjob politics of the most extreme woke left.

Disproportionately small business owners or professionals, and thus rich enough to have no real material cares and not give a damn about policy:..

So they latch onto a series of (even more absurd than the lefties) "elite conceptions" of reality that allow them to feel like they're in a super-secret treasure-hunting club that's actually a Marvel comic storyline in which they all save the world.

Whereas the wokeists want to feel like they're in an indie concert for a band that will take off in two years' time, whereupon they'll immediately go find something else while claiming credit for liking them before they were cool.

Fucking rich-adjacent people, man. I am one, but fuck if I know what motivates the rest of these idiots.

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The rich-adjacent seem especially vulnerable to "post-scarcity" distractions, but from the middle-class up in the American economic spectrum there's a fascinating inability to translate huge-by-historical-standards resource access into actual-shaping-of-reality.

Ultra-rich: Apart from Elon and Bezos, very few rich people have unusual hobbies that cost even a fraction of their wealth. No new public libraries, no massive statues, no attempts to communicate with whales.

Rich: Same thing, but scaled down. Local philanthropy is dead even though America has ?hundreds of thousands? of people who could snap their fingers and fund beautiful new things in their local community.

Rich-adjacent: Post-scarcity entertainment instead of using their near-riches to do previously impossible things like hang-gliding, taking a month to hike a desert, writing a book on a 2 month break from work, etc

Middle-class: Very few people living like the 1950's but with international vacations every year, among other lifestyles not adopted.

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QAnon is (was) concentrated on the fringes of the evangelical movement.

https://religioninpublic.blog/2021/09/17/what-is-happening-with-qanon-beliefs-post-trump/

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Yep. Most older adults I know have a less healthy relationship with technology than younger people. The amount of time my older relatives spend watching Fox News and lurking on Facebook is wild.

I have one 60 something relative who is different. Him and his wife proactively moved to an area with a bunch of people his age that have a lot of fun activities (organized sports, nightlife, etc) so his life is different - in a good way.

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I think that they are less adapted (maladapted?) to the technological landscape, but since they weren't raised with it they weren't warped by it at a young age, and so can live effectively without it.

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This article reminds me of my “theory of air conditioning.”

80 years ago, after dinner in the middle of the summer, people would escape their hotbox houses to go for a walk or sit on their front porch. They talked to neighbors. They got exercise. They fed their heads and their hearts while escaping the heat.

After the widespread adoption of air conditioning, that “after dinner jaunt” largely ceased, resulting in increased isolation in favor of the siren song of cool, clean sheets.

ToAC: delightful tech, like everything else, has deleterious effects on us as humans, and we must honestly and creatively interrogate the consequences of our adoption of the tech and adjust our behavior accordingly.

I am not a Luddite! I write this wearing a synthetic/cotton blend shirt, about to have breakfast including mass-produced almond milk, on my phone, wearing my glasses and with the benefit of electric lights and air conditioning. I take prescription medicines that allow me to live a modern life expectancy following cancer surgery… know that I share the world’s love of modern conveniences.

Yet! We humans do not naturally know how to make ourselves joyful. We are optimized for short term gains orthogonal to long term gains. Learning *how* to pursue joy is a lifelong task. I’d love to know how folks in 100 years will look back on our time: which of our adoptions of technologies will make them scratch their heads akin to our looking back at medieval medicine’s embrace of bloodletting or Victorians’ of medical arsenic.

So, agreed! Maybe call a friend (with your cell phone, *ahem*) over for dinner with your family followed by Netflix? Adoption of lovely new tech requires intention and practice.

It is HARD to be (*sigh*) *mindful.* We are faced with a heady bounty of tech that improves some aspects of our lives beyond the wildest dreams of the most narcissistic kings of yore. How to keep our heads?

Striving towards thoughtful adoption of new technologies is a worthy challenge for all of us (me more than many) as life becomes more and more “convenient” to the incremental loss of our shared humanity.

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For what it's worth, your theory of air conditioning is appealing but probably wrong.

I live in Vietnam. A tropical country where air conditioning is not especially widespread.

Yet life doesn't really resemble your theorised life. People don't really sit on their porch or go for walks to escape their hotbox houses.

So I don't think air conditioning is the main issue.

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Ha!

Certainly, I agree, it is an unproven theory!

I formed it playfully when responding to my Indian FiL, who lamented that no one in our neighborhoods in the US sat on their front porches or went for evening walks after dinner. He felt isolated and yearned for broad adoption of the habits that may have simply been familial and not cultural.

Still, I am not looking to get bogged down on the specifics of the example, but hoping to focus on the more general problem: new seductive tech delivers immediate gratification, but the downstream consequences are often yet to unfold, and it behooves us to adopt tech with open eyes.

(Again, typing on my cell having already driven my car, etc.)

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