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Old 02-09-2020, 12:09 PM
Marcus Flavius is offline
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Why does it feel like society is becoming ever more grim and joyless?


Whenever I go out, I can't help but feel the heavy, almost crushing weight of despondency in the air. I live in the heart of flyover America, and you can see it in the landscape: the vacant main streets, the neighborhoods full of decrepit housing, vacant, burnout factories, derelict farms with barns falling down, and parasitic Walmarts and other national chain stores on the edge of every town. The opioid epidemic is just a reflection of the unspeakably empty and purposeless times we're living in. In the foreseeable future I think society will only become more grim, more joyless, more isolated, more controlled and hypermanaged, and more censurious. Despite the jubilations of the "utopian-progressives" ie Steven Pinker and his ilk, it seems that people today are as depressed, anxious, and fearful as they've ever been.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:32 PM
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Because it is.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:41 PM
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Because it is.
I don't know what the US is really like. Soon after the collapse of communism, my brother went to America, graduated university, and became a happy family man in Tennessee. He talks as though the US were heaven on earth.

My cable TV teems with American reality shows in which I am often surprised to get the feel the OP mentions. I'm sure the US is doing just fine. It just may be that the American dream is defunct at the moment.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:36 PM
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You know I kind of get what you're saying I spent a weekend in Peoria, IL about a year ago and it was incredible, it literally felt like the city was crumbling around me. That was my first and so far only opportunity to see the urban decay that I've read so much about.

I don't have a solution but I don't see how people stay there I was glad to get back to the West. I haven't seen that kind of thing in my travels in the South or Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina area of the East Coast. The only place I've been that felt similar was Lousiana and that more feels like the swamp is taking back land stolen from it.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:04 PM
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You know I kind of get what you're saying I spent a weekend in Peoria, IL about a year ago and it was incredible, it literally felt like the city was crumbling around me. That was my first and so far only opportunity to see the urban decay that I've read so much about.
I spent 24 hours in Peoria, about 18 years ago. Honestly, it felt that way to me then.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:06 PM
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You know I kind of get what you're saying I spent a weekend in Peoria, IL about a year ago and it was incredible, it literally felt like the city was crumbling around me. That was my first and so far only opportunity to see the urban decay that I've read so much about.

I don't have a solution but I don't see how people stay there I was glad to get back to the West. I haven't seen that kind of thing in my travels in the South or Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina area of the East Coast. The only place I've been that felt similar was Lousiana and that more feels like the swamp is taking back land stolen from it.
Yeah, I don't think "society" or "the times" or "people today" are any particular way. Some places are grim and joyless, sure. It's also the case that, depending on how old you are, when you're comparing today with the past, you're either comparing it with an imaginary, idealized version of the past that you never experienced yourself, or a past that you did experience back when you were younger and more optimistic, so a lot of the grim parts either didn't register or you've forgotten about them.

This is not to say that there are not real and serious problems facing us today, but every era in history has felt uniquely grim and apocalyptic to the people living in it, at least those who are temperamentally disposed to feel that way about the world.
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Old 02-09-2020, 10:26 PM
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Yeah, I don't think "society" or "the times" or "people today" are any particular way. Some places are grim and joyless, sure. It's also the case that, depending on how old you are, when you're comparing today with the past, you're either comparing it with an imaginary, idealized version of the past that you never experienced yourself, or a past that you did experience back when you were younger and more optimistic, so a lot of the grim parts either didn't register or you've forgotten about them.

This is not to say that there are not real and serious problems facing us today, but every era in history has felt uniquely grim and apocalyptic to the people living in it, at least those who are temperamentally disposed to feel that way about the world.
I think that's often true when people get carried away (to me anyway) with gloom and doom. Also as to particular places that are supposedly grim the Bronx in 1970's was mentioned, but NY (the city) as a whole, movies based on a dystopian NY back then were a sub genre. That's changed pretty dramatically. Of course people have happy/sad lives in NY and there are particular social and economic issues to be addressed, as always and everywhere but not only various hard facts (violent crime down on the order of 80-90% from the 90's when it got higher than 70's) as well as just not being the predominant easy, lazy kind of story to write anymore.

The way 'forsaken flyover towns' has become. Again there are hard facts in particular places*, and also hard national facts like rising rate of 'deaths of despair' in certain demographics. But...there's also IMO a good deal of pile-on writing of easy lazy stories and oversimplifications. For example opioid abuse isn't just about bleak places, but also irresponsible marketing of the drugs to doctors and just bad practice of medicine.

And plenty of rural places are very nice places. I'm from NY multi-generation, but my daughter has lived in two rural towns one in Midwest and now in upstate NY (what people from the City consider 'upstate' anyway). The first had some symptoms of the rural malaise and backlash that's become a standard story (in MN, county with very high % Trump win in 2016, like the vast majority of the *geographic area* of MN, which went for Clinton fairly narrowly mainly based on the vote in the Minneapolis area). But basically a nice place, reasonably prosperous. The second fits even less well into that story. That area, Hudson Valley, has had poverty in the wake of deindustrialization for a *long* time, it wasn't new in 1970. But that's not really the predominant thing going on now.

As for partisan politics, 'politics is downstream of culture'. Public policies cumulatively over a long time help form or change the culture, but whoever is in office at a particular time is very likely much more a symptom than a cause of whatever the underlying problems are.

*I watched docuseries on the Flint MI police dept on Netflix, a so-so production overall but one telling stat was semi-accurately quoted: the real version being that median household income there was on order of $80k in 2019 $'s around 30 yrs ago, but is now it's in the mid $20's k. That's a real change you'd expect to have profound ramifications to the quality of life, and a reason the PD has get by with around 1/3 as many officers with only a slight decline in population (though I believe it's one of biggest household income drops anywhere in the US).
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:52 PM
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You know I kind of get what you're saying I spent a weekend in Peoria, IL about a year ago and it was incredible, it literally felt like the city was crumbling around me. That was my first and so far only opportunity to see the urban decay that I've read so much about.

I don't have a solution but I don't see how people stay there I was glad to get back to the West. I haven't seen that kind of thing in my travels in the South or Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina area of the East Coast. The only place I've been that felt similar was Lousiana and that more feels like the swamp is taking back land stolen from it.
The Midwest represents the real economy of the US ie farming and manufacturing. The fact that this party of the country is in such disrepair should concern us all.
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:33 PM
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As some have said above, everything is relative to your age and perspective. Young children, up to perhaps their late teens who have no perspective of how things where may think that our current era is the best thing ever. Children growing up in the depression era may have been aware of the hard times, but they were still gleefully playing their children's games without care. For some, things got worse, for others, things got better and for some, things stayed the same.

As we grow older and our knowledge, especially with the internet grows, we make a conscious and subconscious choice of how we choose to perceive the world. If I'm a successful entrepreneur, our times are great because I'm doing well. If I'm a struggling hourly worker without hope of advancement, my view is more pessimistic.

Every era has it's optimists and pessimists and regardless of which side of the fence you're on and how your choose to work with or against it, things will either get worse, get better or stay the same.
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Old 02-09-2020, 08:36 PM
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The Midwest represents the real economy of the US ie farming and manufacturing. The fact that this party of the country is in such disrepair should concern us all.
Putting aside environmental concerns, farming and manufacturing are doing just splendid. Farming and manufacturing aren’t in disrepair. The issue is that farming and manufacturing no longer requires large numbers of small farmers/farm owners or Unskilled/moderately skilled factory workers.

This shouldn’t be a concern. This should be Good for everyone. The problem is that political trends are interfering with a smooth transition.
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:14 PM
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The Midwest represents the real economy of the US ie farming and manufacturing. The fact that this party of the country is in such disrepair should concern us all.
I think my short answer is that most people with the means and wherewithal to do so would rather work lucrative jobs in finance, high tech, pharma, media, law or nearly anything else on the planet in busy, vibrant cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Philly or Pittsburgh rather than a farm, mill or factory in the Midwest (or anywhere).

And I'm not sure why you think agriculture and manufacturing are any more "real" than any other sector of the economy. They aren't even the largest:
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...ed-states.html
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:06 PM
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I think my short answer is that most people with the means and wherewithal to do so would rather work lucrative jobs in finance, high tech, pharma, media, law or nearly anything else on the planet in busy, vibrant cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Philly or Pittsburgh rather than a farm, mill or factory in the Midwest (or anywhere).

And I'm not sure why you think agriculture and manufacturing are any more "real" than any other sector of the economy. They aren't even the largest:
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...ed-states.html
There are professional careers in the less populated areas of the country, too. The financial upside is generally a little more limited. And lots of talented professionals are content in small town America, where one can trade off financial success and big city entertainment for less stress and a greater sense of community.

But to the larger issue of this thread, yeah, I've driven through lots of small towns recently which used to be a lot more self sufficient and now depend much more on bigger metro areas down the road apiece. Those might be less stressful places to live but the opportunities there are increasingly rare and the inconveniences growing. A lot of the decisions we make in 21st century life center around convenience.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:57 AM
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<snip>

But to the larger issue of this thread, yeah, I've driven through lots of small towns recently which used to be a lot more self sufficient and now depend much more on bigger metro areas down the road apiece. Those might be less stressful places to live but the opportunities there are increasingly rare and the inconveniences growing. A lot of the decisions we make in 21st century life center around convenience.
"Convenience" is such a perjorative word, as if modern people are incredibly lazy and soft compared to their forebears. But what I see and experience is not laziness, but technological/social changes which sweep everyone along willy nilly.

The cost of health care, the shame of the United States, drives many economic decisions these days. The reason many people are abandoning small towns and rural areas is because they are being driven out by economics, not because they are too lazy to make a go of it. Megacorporations have destroyed small farming, small businesses, and small towns, and there is almost nothing in government policies which mitigates this process (unlike in western Europe).

Another economic reality that shapes much of the social landscape in the modern era is the emancipation of women. There's a real case to be made that the single most significant modern invention is birth control. When women are not virtual slaves to men, and have no choice but to, unremunerated, bear children, raise children, and also care for the sick and elderly, an enormous, unprecedented shift happens. Not everything in that shift is of benefit to the general society, something that every conservative knows. We are still, I think, in the throes of it.

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Old 02-09-2020, 06:42 PM
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. .. The only place I've been that felt similar was Lousiana and that more feels like the swamp is taking back land stolen from it.
How I wish that were true. In fact, the marshland is disappearing at an alarming rate. Like, one football field each hour.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:38 PM
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:03 PM
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Because the media distorts things and focuses on the negative. The truth is that we're living in the most secure, safest, peaceful, prosperous time - by far - in human history. Wars are at an all-time low. Most people's lives are miles, miles better than even just merely half a century ago, thanks to technology. The U.S. economy, overall, is doing pretty well (although it might be a tax-cut sugar rush.) Sure, some people are suffering, but there'll always be some people suffering no matter what.
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:42 PM
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The truth is that we're living in the most secure, safest, peaceful, prosperous time - by far - in human history. Wars are at an all-time low. Most people's lives are miles, miles better than even just merely half a century ago, thanks to technology.
You have no idea how similar your words here are with the Communist propaganda I had to ingest as a child. Of course, they also mentioned "scientific planning."
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:46 PM
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You have no idea how similar your words here are with the Communist propaganda I had to ingest as a child. Of course, they also mentioned "scientific planning."
In threads like this, the progressive-utopians and techno-utopians always show up and expose themselves.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:03 PM
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In threads like this, the progressive-utopians and techno-utopians always show up and expose themselves.
Not to mention the fact that atheists are immune to mythical thinking.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:19 PM
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In threads like this, the progressive-utopians and techno-utopians always show up and expose themselves.
I would probably consider myself a techno utopian and its a common idea among the ones I know that the early/mid 21st century will be a very difficult transition.

Mass automation is going to lead to widespread unemployment and retransitioning, which will make radical political ideologies more acceptable. I wouldn't be surprised if the US gets close to true fascism within the next few decades because of it. It'll be easy to blame the lack of jobs on immigrants, the Chinese, liberal workers in California automating all the jobs, etc.

Also people are wealthy enough that they've lost any sense of community. Jobs disappear, people don't know their neighbors, people move away from family, etc. People have nobody they can count on.

In the long run, quality of life will improve just as it has more or less kept improving for the last few hundred years. But the phase we're in now is not good. Our government, economy and society isn't even remotely prepared for whats about to come.

The true techno utopia won't arrive until probably the 22nd century with radical advances in AI and neuroscience.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:48 PM
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I would probably consider myself a techno utopian and its a common idea among the ones I know that the early/mid 21st century will be a very difficult transition.

Mass automation is going to lead to widespread unemployment and retransitioning, which will make radical political ideologies more acceptable. I wouldn't be surprised if the US gets close to true fascism within the next few decades because of it. It'll be easy to blame the lack of jobs on immigrants, the Chinese, liberal workers in California automating all the jobs, etc.

Also people are wealthy enough that they've lost any sense of community. Jobs disappear, people don't know their neighbors, people move away from family, etc. People have nobody they can count on.

In the long run, quality of life will improve just as it has more or less kept improving for the last few hundred years. But the phase we're in now is not good. Our government, economy and society isn't even remotely prepared for whats about to come.

The true techno utopia won't arrive until probably the 22nd century with radical advances in AI and neuroscience.
I don't think we'll ever reach a techno-utopia. I don't think our destiny is that of an ultra high tech society of super-abundance. I think our destiny is to go medieval.

Imagine a reduced population toiling the long abused land to be able to eke enough out of it too survive through the winter. Consider a world where the electricity runs intermittently, and perhaps even not at all. Imagine a world where men and women once again function in different modes of labor and different social spaces. Imagine a world where ideologies such as feminism, Modern liberalism, etc are no longer viable. I think this world is far more likely than what the techno-fantasists have dreamed up for us.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:09 PM
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You have no idea how similar your words here are with the Communist propaganda I had to ingest as a child. Of course, they also mentioned "scientific planning."
But it's truer though. 2020 is different than 1970.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:20 PM
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But it's truer though. 2020 is different than 1970.
2020 is different from 1970 all over the world. But the question is why things seem to be a bit off in the USA these days?
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:27 PM
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2020 is different from 1970 all over the world. But the question is why things seem to be a bit off in the USA these days?
OK, if just the past few years:
  • Media thrives on negativity, hate, despair and grief - it keeps the media pulse humming, drives up the ratings
  • Trump makes everyone's emotions intense - regardless of whether you love him or hate him
  • Now, every shooting, crime, etc. can be published nationwide within minutes and everyone gets a steady dose of school shootings, atrocity this, ridiculous story that, "Florida Man,"
  • Trump's presidency has essentially been a 24/7/365 nonstop scandal train
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:32 PM
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2020 is different from 1970 all over the world. But the question is why things seem to be a bit off in the USA these days?
They aren't. This is entirely in your (and the OP's) head.

Of course there are bleak areas. But I'm old enough to remember driving through dying Northeast towns like Hartford in the 70's, not to mention the decay that was NYC. Industrial bleakness is as old as industry and certainly isn't limited to the US. It gave Dickens his career.

There is something off in the US politically, as our democracy is dying (Trump is a symptom of this, not the cause) But as far as general social life goes, it's the same as it ever was, for better or worse.

Fuck, at least the OP lives here, and isn't getting his impressions from shitty "reality" TV, which is less realistic than Star Trek.
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:46 PM
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Because the media distorts things and focuses on the negative. The truth is that we're living in the most secure, safest, peaceful, prosperous time - by far - in human history. Wars are at an all-time low. Most people's lives are miles, miles better than even just merely half a century ago, thanks to technology. The U.S. economy, overall, is doing pretty well (although it might be a tax-cut sugar rush.) Sure, some people are suffering, but there'll always be some people suffering no matter what.
It's not the suffering the OP is talking about, it's the unhappiness.
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:36 PM
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Because the media distorts things and focuses on the negative. The truth is that we're living in the most secure, safest, peaceful, prosperous time - by far - in human history. Wars are at an all-time low. Most people's lives are miles, miles better than even just merely half a century ago, thanks to technology. The U.S. economy, overall, is doing pretty well (although it might be a tax-cut sugar rush.) Sure, some people are suffering, but there'll always be some people suffering no matter what.
Pure rationalization. I'm not on the spot in the USA to do a field study, but why are there so many reports about crumbling infrastructure, abandoned buildings, many homeless, and people desperate to keep their jobs that do not pay more over time. I'm sure some parts of the USA are fine, bur evidently there is a shadow side.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:01 PM
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Our family doesn't watch news or shows that focus on negative aspects. I was referring to shows like the one in which people buy beach houses. The beaches where people buy their houses (in various locations, of course) are often deserted while the houses that they afford don't look too great. "Catfish" also comes to mind, where there are no people in the parks, city blocks lack activity, and the suburbs look strangely empty. In restaurants and cafes, most tables are empty. I may be highly subjective, but I think for a European this mood is at least slightly unsettling. I have traveled (by car) to many European countries, and at any time of the day places teem with people, customers, tourists, students, passersby, etc. In Catfish, the only places where you can see real activity is the highway and the airport. Shows focusing on restaurants and street food are the only ones where you can see happy people having a good time in their natural environment.

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Old 02-09-2020, 03:11 PM
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Our family doesn't watch news or shows that focus on negative aspects. I was referring to shows like the one in which people buy beach houses. The beaches where people buy their houses (in various locations, of course) are often deserted while the houses that they afford don't look too great. "Catfish" also comes to mind, where there are no people in the parks, city blocks lack activity, and the suburbs look strangely empty. In restaurants and cafes, most tables are empty. I may be highly subjective, but I think for a European this mood is at least slightly unsettling. I have traveled (by car) to many European countries, and at any time of the day places teem with people, customers, tourists, students, passersby, etc. In Catfish, the only places where you can see real activity is the highway and the airport. Shows focusing on restaurants and street food are the only ones where you can see happy people having a good time in their natural environment.
You know TV isn't real, right?
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:18 PM
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You know TV isn't real, right?
Right, they staged the deserted beaches and the empty parks.

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Old 02-09-2020, 03:23 PM
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Right, they staged the deserted beaches and the empty parks.
No, they filmed during off hours, when there wouldn't be random people cluttering the beaches and parks. Or they blocked off an area for shooting. I don't know, and I'm not going to watch a lot of shitty TV to find out, but I can't believe you are naive enough to believe what you see on TV.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:35 PM
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No, they filmed during off hours, when there wouldn't be random people cluttering the beaches and parks. Or they blocked off an area for shooting. I don't know, and I'm not going to watch a lot of shitty TV to find out, but I can't believe you are naive enough to believe what you see on TV.
There is a reason why people say a picture is worth a thousand words. Regarding the reliability of the images I invoke, well, there is a lot of urban landscape visible through the windshield of the car used in the show I refer to. There are dozens of situations in various locations. I think it is naive to believe that every image seen on TV is fake.
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:33 PM
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Our family doesn't watch news or shows that focus on negative aspects. I was referring to shows like the one in which people buy beach houses. The beaches where people buy their houses (in various locations, of course) are often deserted while the houses that they afford don't look too great. "Catfish" also comes to mind, where there are no people in the parks, city blocks lack activity, and the suburbs look strangely empty. In restaurants and cafes, most tables are empty. I may be highly subjective, but I think for a European this mood is at least slightly unsettling. I have traveled (by car) to many European countries, and at any time of the day places teem with people, customers, tourists, students, passersby, etc. In Catfish, the only places where you can see real activity is the highway and the airport. Shows focusing on restaurants and street food are the only ones where you can see happy people having a good time in their natural environment.
I had a month long road trip across Western Europe last year and was shocked at just how many small towns in France and Europe looked just like shitty American towns. Small houses with old couches decaying by their front door, shops with absolutely nobody in them despite it being tourist season, I went through an entire German town, had lunch and walked around the monuments for an hour at noon and didn't see a single other soul besides the guy who served me at the restaurant and people just driving through.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:05 PM
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It isn't just the midwest, by the way. Although the coasts are filled with capitalist hustle and boom, if you ask people, they feel a lot more anxious about everything, even the successful ones.

Between the rise of fascism and all its horrors everywhere, the accelerating damage to the fabric of the planet that even the willfully oblivious are getting an inkling of at long last, the burden of overwhelming debt that young people at least in the US stagger under, probably for the rest of their lives, there's a lot to be angry and depressed about. And there's plenty more, those are just some of the largest ones.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:34 PM
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It isn't just the midwest, by the way. Although the coasts are filled with capitalist hustle and boom, if you ask people, they feel a lot more anxious about everything, even the successful ones.

Between the rise of fascism and all its horrors everywhere, the accelerating damage to the fabric of the planet that even the willfully oblivious are getting an inkling of at long last, the burden of overwhelming debt that young people at least in the US stagger under, probably for the rest of their lives, there's a lot to be angry and depressed about. And there's plenty more, those are just some of the largest ones.
The insurmountable ever increasing debt burden caused by central banks, reckless governments, and debased fiat currencies, is a big one. The progressive-utopians are always quick to point out that we're allegedly more prosperous than people in the past. No, due to the mountains of unpayable debt, we're far poorer.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:37 PM
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I agree that everything seems to be getting more grim and joyless too. Marcus Flavius summarizes my sense well. I'd aslo agree with Ulfreida's additions. While many aspects of life are demonstrably better than they were, say, 50 years ago, it still feels overall that we're getting more isolated, hunkered down in front of our computers while our leaders turn us against each other, global partnerships fall apart, everything is commoditized and ugly, and the planet breaks another temperature record every day.

I don't how to quantify this. Maybe it's just my biased perspective as a mediocre middle aged guy looking back to a time that never existed. To some extent, I'm probably projecting my own existential anxiety on the world I see. But between the rise of nationalist politicians and climate change and a precarious economy, I'm deeply distressed about the future.
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:02 PM
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For some reason, group activities and social outings have decreased over the past couple of decades. Many golf courses around my area have closed, and a couple bowling alleys within a 20 miles of me have closed within the last 5 years.

We seem to have become more isolated. Why? Is it because of technology?

I heard one explanation (from someone who keeps track of these things) that group activities started to decline after 9/11. Their reasoning was that 9/11 permanently changed us and took some joy out of our society. Not sure if I agree with that.

My theory: in the U.S., at least, a lot of people live in fear of messing up and getting arrested. Much more so that when I was young.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:47 PM
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For some reason, group activities and social outings have decreased over the past couple of decades. Many golf courses around my area have closed, and a couple bowling alleys within a 20 miles of me have closed within the last 5 years.
FWIW, a big factor in golf courses closing is that the sport boomed in the 1990s and 2000s, during Tiger Woods' heyday; his popularity is believed to be largely responsible for the boom, and the US golf course market very likely got overbuilt during that time. Tiger's fall from grace in 2009 more-or-less coincided with the 2008 recession, and a lot of courses (and courses under construction) went bankrupt. It also doesn't help that the sport isn't as popular among younger people as it was with their parents.

Bowling has been in decline in the US since around 1980, so that's not any new news.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 02-09-2020 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:55 PM
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Stop watching so much TV, it'll rot your brain.
:shrugs:

If you'd rather be miserable, no one can stop you.

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Old 02-09-2020, 04:05 PM
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:shrugs:

If you'd rather be miserable, no one can stop you.

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Is the stuff one can read on this forum more reliable than TV in general?

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  #41  
Old 02-09-2020, 04:36 PM
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Is the stuff one can read on this forum more reliable than TV in general?
Probably not. And most of the same skills in discernment are necessary on the SDMB as for TV, or social media in general.

Always, TV is trying to sell you something. It might be a view of the world, it might just be the stuff in the commercials, but everything you see is presented to you for a reason. That doesn't mean it's necessarily false, but it doesn't mean it's automatically true either.

I don't ask other people if I should be happy. That's a waste of time.

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Old 02-09-2020, 04:02 PM
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We are on the cusp of monumental change in many ways—environmentally, societally, politically—many people are recoiling in fear rather than embracing it. It’s kind of predictable.

Among other things—We are seeing the advent of a jobless society. That should be good for all of us. But because of the backlash, we are failing to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition, which will result in tremendous unnecessary suffering.

Societal assumptions are breaking down regarding things like work, gender roles, sexism, racism, religion, capitalism, the value of labor, family structure, etc. All this should be liberating. Instead, fear is causing panic.

There’s also the fact that rural and small town economics are inevitably changing. There will be no economic engine. That will kill a certain way of life. That’s a cause of fear too, and retreat to apocalyptic religion and tribalism.
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:11 PM
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  #44  
Old 02-09-2020, 04:39 PM
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I think it needs to be sad that places can look worse than they seem.

I just watched a fascinating documentary about the South Bronx during the late 1970s. Talk about a grim and joyless-looking place! There are few places in the US that have the kind of negative reputation that the South Bronx has. But it wasn't all bad even at its nadir. And because it wasn't all bad, we now have the force of nature called hip hop.

I think people in general are feeling less hopeful and rosy-eyed about the future. It is really hard to be hopeful and rosy-eyed nowadays. A lot of that can be blamed on the media, but I also think it is the inevitable result of people detaching from religious institutions and becoming more rational in their thinking. I also think a lot of people are going through shit, and it is harder to cope with shit now than it used to be in the past. You break your arm and might be out of pocket thousands of dollars even though you have insurance. Take one too many sick days from work and you might lose your job. Lose your job and your car might be repossessed. You might get evicted. You might become homeless. One little mistake or accident is enough to make the whole house of cards come tumbling down. Maybe we've always had such a precarious existence and we just didn't know it because we weren't exposed to all the cautionary tales out there. But I don't think it's always been this precarious.
  #45  
Old 02-09-2020, 05:04 PM
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Whenever I go out, I can't help but feel the heavy, almost crushing weight of despondency in the air. I live in the heart of flyover America, and you can see it in the landscape: the vacant main streets, the neighborhoods full of decrepit housing, vacant, burnout factories, derelict farms with barns falling down, and parasitic Walmarts and other national chain stores on the edge of every town. The opioid epidemic is just a reflection of the unspeakably empty and purposeless times we're living in. In the foreseeable future I think society will only become more grim, more joyless, more isolated, more controlled and hypermanaged, and more censurious. Despite the jubilations of the "utopian-progressives" ie Steven Pinker and his ilk, it seems that people today are as depressed, anxious, and fearful as they've ever been.
Chrissy Hynde, returning from the UK, noticed it already in 1984. Did it get worse, or is it all same old, same old?
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  #46  
Old 02-09-2020, 05:20 PM
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In general, people take too many things too seriously. If your spouse died yesterday, that's serious. If you can't play Fortnite in HD at your house, that's not serious. A lot of my acquaintances are stressing out because their investments aren't doing as well as they expected, or their grocery stopped carrying gluten-free rolls.
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:34 PM
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In general, people take too many things too seriously. If your spouse died yesterday, that's serious. If you can't play Fortnite in HD at your house, that's not serious. A lot of my acquaintances are stressing out because their investments aren't doing as well as they expected, or their grocery stopped carrying gluten-free rolls.
There's a lot in this, Compared to even 30 years ago we have so much more in our lives that we expect as a right and so much more that can fall slightly below those expectations, misery by a thousand annoyances.

(I'm actually not miserable, I remember the dark days of the 70's in the north-east of the UK, life is much, much better now)
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:53 PM
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Is that the world you hoping for? Are you a part of Moldbug's crew?

Last edited by Chingon; 02-09-2020 at 06:53 PM.
  #49  
Old 02-09-2020, 07:20 PM
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I lived in flyover country for many years. The economy is struggling there and has been for a very long time. But the idea these places are all joyless deserts is inaccurate. Go to a town's website and look at the calendar of events. Driving down Main Street isn't going to tell you much. People are still flocking to local ballgames, bazaars, charity runs, auctions, etc. What I DO see that's depressing is how many people are focused on their cell phones.

And it's also correct that people have long noticed this sense of desolation. There was a popular song in the Sixties called "Everyone's Gone to the Moon." In the Fifties and Sixties people decried the ugly TV antennas on every roof and families huddled around the flickering screen instead of sitting on the porch chatting with passing neighbors. And it's not like industrial towns back then were Norman Rockwell paintings.

I'm not claiming we live in wonderful times. We don't. But this sense of desertion, decay, and alienation is nothing new.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:40 PM
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I said the same thing a few months ago


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