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Culture War Roundup for the week of May 13, 2024

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Whither the way of the Boomer; or, Where Hydro rants about the Gosh-durned millenials

The dominant trend of the new generations is to replace the boomer's functioning social technology with actual technology that doesn't work and then justify it with orgiastic doomerist neuroticism.

Downstream in the thread- literally the first topic this week- there's discussions of modern dating and the social technology around it. The point I made was that the loss of meeting people in real life didn't happen because of the sexual revolution, because for 40-50 years after the sexual revolution people met in real life. The loss of meeting people in real life happened because of the apps. And of course the apps displaced meeting people in person, and it kinda seems like everyone who actually wants to have a relationship and not just a hookup would rather meet people in person. But the justification for nobody meeting in person anymore was #metoo when people defended the apps, and 'well it would be kind of awkward' sometimes. Usually the latter explanation is male, and when you drill into it with 'the worst she can say is no, why don't you give it a whirl' the explanation is 'because then I won't be able to speak to anyone she knows ever again'. Sorry, rejections just aren't that awkward. And of course #metoo is in its usual formulation also delusionally neurotic.

But I want to talk about jobs. It's time for a nice change of pace. Back in the day, to get a blue collar job you walked in, physically, to a blue collar workplace and asked for one. It's true; ask the old men and they will tell you. And you can in fact still do this; I reckon any one of you can find a job within biking distance of your house if not walking distance by asking around enough, in maybe an afternoon's effort- granted, probably a job as, like, a dishwasher, but the boomers don't regale you with stories of walking into a job as CEO of the company. No, they found jobs as janitors and cashiers and, yes, dishwashers and they got their positions as lawyers and accountants through classified ads. The point is, the zoomers have the same opportunities as boomers to go find employment, at least if you use a big enough scale(Detroit has fewer opportunities than in 1955). No, not as computer programmers, but well-remunerated white collar work has never worked like that. My grandfather(RIP) used to tell the story of how when he first started college he could find a job in an afternoon for his spending money, and can anyone do that anymore? I did it in the 2010's. And it seems to be that the now-hiring signs adorning many stores and restaurants are there with this expectation, elsewise why would they exist? It's just that zoomers won't apply, as any restaurant manager will tell you. Instead there's online applications of the sort that are notoriously shitty when as anyone who's gotten that sort of low-level job recently can tell you, HR just filters it out for not having ten years experience and a masters degree in washing dishes when the store manager would've happily hired you after a handshake. I listen to restaurant managers complain about it all the time, usually in rather different language. It's not hard to draw the connection to millennial dating woes above; if you're too scared to ask a girl out due to paranoid imaginings you're probably also too scared to just go talk to the manager and ask for a job.

Downthread also, there's discussion of 'why do women give up the tradlife when it delivers the things they say are important to them' to the answer of 'because they believe most men will horrifically abuse them as soon as they can get away with it, even though that belief isn't true'. Likewise, this is the same quality of orgiastic doomerist neuroticism. In the fifties, when a large majority of women were totally dependent on their husbands, my great-grandmother was considered singularly unlucky because her second husband beat on her and was an alcoholic. Obviously, these two sets of implied numbers don't match up.

In the breeding of hunting dogs, there is this quality of just going for it which is referred to as grit. It seems our society is sorely lacking in grit. Safetyism is a dominant component of our culture, and this gets used to justify throwing out social technology that just makes things work.

I think you have your causality backwards. It's not that people don't bother asking people out in person anymore because they'd rather use the apps: it's that Western society has become massively atomised as a result of technological progress, which is a void that the apps have stepped in to inexpertly fill.

In the past, where would you typically ask out a girl in person? Common examples included i) a nice girl you met at church; ii) a colleague at work; iii) a classmate; or iv) a friend of a friend. Why i) is no longer viable is self-explanatory. Why ii) no longer works is explicable by the same dynamics Scott complained about in "Untitled": yes, workplace sexual harassment policies are written in an extremely sweeping fashion, and yes, men who are charming and socially adept and who are interested in one of their colleagues will probably just ask her out, without worrying about whether it's technically in violation of the policy or not. But conscientious socially awkward men will worry about this, as well they should given that they're the only men likely to be reported for violating it. (Yes I'm trotting out this meme again, I don't care: I was effectively shunned from an entire community and industry for the crime of politely asking a girl if she wanted to get coffee sometime and I'm still mad about it - anyone saying "just ask her bro, the worst she can say is no" is full of shit.) Regarding iii), some of the same dynamics as ii) apply, and you also run into the problem of a paucity of available women - if you're a socially awkward man in college, odds are good that you're pursuing a degree which is highly sex-segregated (computer science, engineering etc.).

That leaves iv). It's impossible to ask a friend of a friend on a date if a) you don't have any friends, or all of your friends are online friends; or b) all of your friends are people you met through an extremely sex-segregated common interest (Warhammer, D&D, coding, esports, rationalist-adjacent subreddit spinoffs etc.) - something that the internet and social media facilitates far too easily. (People self-segregrating into ideological echo chambers is only the tip of the iceberg: self-segregrating into echo chambers of people who like Obscure Hobby X or want to fuck toasters is the major underlying cause of the demise of any shared monoculture and the enshittification of Western society. I and everyone reading this are guilty of it.)

So you're left with cold approaches: going up to girls in bars or nightclubs. Again, not a problem for charming and socially adept men; big problem for the socially awkward millennials/zoomers you're criticising. Hard to blame them for making a beeline for the apps instead.

Of course it's easy to criticise Millennial and Gen Z adult men for not taking proactive steps to organically encounter single women in real life. Obviously talking to strangers halfway across the globe is not a great way to get laid in real life; nor is spending every day in your local Games Workshop. But the thing is, they didn't make this decision as adults: they made it when their parents gave them a smartphone as teenagers, and all the years of adolescence they should have spent ironing out the kinks in their patter have been squandered watching YouTube and Twitch instead. Gen Z boys are starting college barely more acquainted with the rules of social interaction IRL than Gen X 13-year-olds were, for reasons that are not entirely their fault: no one here thinks someone's life should be ruined because of a stupid decision they made when they were 12, a decision which directly harms only themselves and no one else (but indirectly harms society as a whole, obviously).

And your assumption that dating apps killed traditional courtship hinges on the questionable presumption that Millennial/Gen Z women are exactly as receptive to a stranger asking them out as Gen X women were in their youth. But I don't think they are, and I think the fact that they aren't is part of the problem. See this great article:

I mentioned to several of the people I interviewed for this piece that I’d met my husband in an elevator, in 2001. (We worked on different floors of the same institution, and over the months that followed struck up many more conversations—in the elevator, in the break room, on the walk to the subway.) I was fascinated by the extent to which this prompted other women to sigh and say that they’d just love to meet someone that way. And yet quite a few of them suggested that if a random guy started talking to them in an elevator, they would be weirded out. “Creeper! Get away from me,” one woman imagined thinking. “Anytime we’re in silence, we look at our phones,” explained her friend, nodding. Another woman fantasized to me about what it would be like to have a man hit on her in a bookstore. (She’d be holding a copy of her favorite book. “What’s that book?” he’d say.) But then she seemed to snap out of her reverie, and changed the subject to Sex and the City reruns and how hopelessly dated they seem. “Miranda meets Steve at a bar,” she said, in a tone suggesting that the scenario might as well be out of a Jane Austen novel, for all the relevance it had to her life.

See also (coming back to "Untitled" above) innumerable feminist comics about how it's creepy for men to ask a woman out in a coffee shop or in a library or in college or on the third moon of Venus or whatever. There are plenty of women who are far less receptive to being asked out by strangers than their mothers were, and make no secret of that fact. Obviously the women writing these comics don't represent all women, but the men reading and internalising these comics don't necessarily know that, and everyone ends up poorer for it. If you are demanding that men not interact with you, and the only men reading (or caring about) that demand are men who care about respecting your boundaries - it should come as no surprise when the only men who interact with you are men who don't care about respecting your boundaries. The typical "if you're reading it, it's not for you" dynamic.

I think the main thing that boomers and even elder Millenials might be missing is that literally EVERYTHING in Zoomer culture is in a constant state of molochian hypercompetition/red queen races thanks to the influence of social media and algorithmic ranking of every aspect of their performance in life.

I mean this literally. If you grew up playing video games, you probably remember online multiplayer as a casual fun thing to do, where the level of competition varied depending on the server you loaded into.

At some point in the past 15 years, the concept of RANKED MODE was introduced, and now every single player can be aware of their skill level relative to every other player at all times. So if you care about skill level at all, you have to play your hardest at all times to keep your rating up. Casual play is still allowed but you don't get the luxury of just hopping to a different server that's more your speed. People will judge you for your ranking constantly.

Or if you're a streamer, you are fully aware of how many viewers you're attracting at all times. So is everyone else. Only the top 1% break more than a hundred at a time.

Dating with the Apps makes things easy for that top 10-20% of males, and throws challenges to the rest of the men. A man now is judged against every male in a 20 mile radius rather than just the guys in his high school.

Top paying jobs draw applicants from across the entire planet, which means they get Extremely selective and have every more stringent criteria in terms of the degrees, experience, and candidates they accept.

These are sometimes gated by degree requirements, which brings me to the competition to get into these schools.

And of course the rampant cheating and adderal abuse that occurs for those trying to maintain high ranks.

If you go to a good school and get good grades you can walk into one of those top-tier jobs, but this is only applicable to the tippy-top, and everyone is generally aware of their status well before they graduate. If they get the right degree or know the right people they can be basically guaranteed access to elite social circles. Otherwise... may as well resign yourself to lifelong mediocrity.

Power law distributions rule EVERYTHING around you if you're younger and haven't had decades of time to cement your status and build a pile of wealth. And yes, this has almost always been true, but now its simply a known fact of life for the Zoomers. Its the air they breathe, the water they swim in. Every activity they could possibly participate in is subject to a panopticon of algorithms that will rank their performance and often publish it for easy observation, and they are surrounded by peers who are competing as hard as possible to not be left behind.

So perhaps the reason they decline to throw themselves at jobs or dating or developing GRIT is because the entire social environment is simply not conducive to chasing these endeavors unless you are one of those PSYCHOPATHS who doesn't mind abusing stimulants, exploiting every social loophole you can find, committing light fraud, and otherwise sacrificing health and happiness to actually compete for the most desirable positions out there.