Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Anti-Social Age

            There are so many ways to stay entertained in the modern world. If you like food, you can eat whatever you want. If you want attention, there are near limitless forms of social media to express yourself and pass your days getting validation. If you have a proclivity for promiscuity, you can hop on an app, go on a college town bar, or find a hooker online within minutes of searching, not to mention self-stimulation via pornography. Life is not a struggle for people who crave these sorts of experiences, but rather a never-ending carnival of delights. This may sound like a good thing, but because moderation is something that is both needed and uncommon, it is a nightmare for the majority of people. Whatever vices you have -- whether food, drugs, or sex -- those vices are always a few clicks away.

            Because base gratification is near-instant for the majority of neurotypicals, genuine introspection has suffered. If you have the normal urges and proclivities that caused the previous generations to work steady jobs and go out into the world to make something of themselves, you are now at a serious disadvantage. The barrier or rather friction between humans and pleasure that used to exist has been eroded at an increasingly exponential rate, turning motivations into perverse mechanisms that remove the need to be productive in order to be content in the short-term. This can easily be observed by looking around at the average individual in most modernized countries, a slovenly, lazy, unaware, and quite frankly stupid creature who is not able to comprehend cause and effect on a time-frame longer than a few days or months.

            Even though the majority of people have suffered because of this environment, there are those who have actually benefited: the genuinely anti-social. Imagine not having the same compulsions as most of the people around you, responding in a more muted manner to what brings the majority positive feelings. In the past, this sort of person would generally underperform as they were not responding properly (in the context of their environment) to incentives that drove those around them into working hard and achieving a good start to life and then a white picket fence, a beautiful wife, and happy, healthy kids. Now, these people are the ones who are doing well.

            The anti-social are those who are increasingly benefiting from social media and technology in general, because they are the ones who are not as caught up in the skinner box of dopamine flooding and social accolades. Their internal disconnect from communities, a disconnect that was once a severe disadvantage, has now become an advantage, because they are not as distracted by the insane amount of noise and toys that normal people are self-harming with. While others are taking cues from what they see as general consensus that are really just distorted and dishonest echo chambers, the anti-social with personal motivations are more easily able to discern truth from fiction and be less swayed by the number of shares or retweets generated by some opinion piece or news story.

           This is not to say that the anti-social are the √úbermensch, but rather that the technologically integrated system that we find ourselves in is increasingly being optimized into a cage that preys upon the majority of people, the pro-social.

Because this system is not designed to take advantage of psychological flaws of the anti-social, but still accessible to the anti-social, this system is now functionally a lever for the anti-social to manipulate the pro-social in ways and at scales that weren’t possible in the past. The people who used to be outcasts, because of their lack of natural motivation rather than some personality flaw or physical deformity, are now the people who increasingly wield social and monetary influence. You can see this in effect especially well with regards to most successful tech CEOs, people who generally have some sort of abnormal wiring in the brain. They understand how normal people act even though they don’t act that way themselves, and are now enabled to interact with and take advantage of hundreds of thousands or millions of normal people with normal internal motivations.

            Where is all this headed? In the short-term (the next few generations), those who are anti-social are – and will continue to be -- experiencing a gold-rush of sorts. Because the anti-social used to be much less successful than the pro-social, there are very few anti-social individuals as compared to pro-social individuals. In the past, the pro-social individuals were those who would have good careers and get social accolades for “following the rules” and “fitting in”, and thus they were the ones more likely to breed and pass their internal dispositions onto offspring. For every anti-social individual who succeeded evolutionary and passed on their genes, there were many more pro-social individuals who succeeded and passed on their genes. Up until recently, the anti-social was a maladaption for first world environments where cooperation and group loyalty were highly beneficial. The incentive structure to life has changed dramatically and thus winners and losers have essentially been inverted from the “ideal” (what was conducive to success in the past) to the looked down upon (what is now conducive to success.)

            Eventually, some form of equilibrium to our reshuffled value system will be found. Much like over-fishing causes problems for fishers, the new predatory capabilities of the anti-social will eventually be nerfed in the form of the anti-social winners making up the majority of the population while the new pro-social losers make up a smaller, lower caste group of victims that are still taken advantage of, but not in the all-you-can eat buffet style that will be the norm for the foreseeable future. At that point, the anti-social individuals who make up the upper half (or more) of society will be forced to start designing systems and tools to take advantage of each other. A small taste of this in action can be observed with regards to “Social Media Experts” selling PDFs, seminars, and courses to other would-be “Social Media Experts”, which is generally (but not always) a tacit admission that the “Social Media Expert” in question is not actually good at social media, but rather taking advantage of would be predators who are also anti-social in nature. The parallel to this in the pro-social domain would be motivational speakers who do nothing but sell motivational speeches and don’t have anything to show for their motivational speeches except for getting people to pay for motivational speeches and fall under the category of a pro-social (usually) predator preying on pro-social individuals, knowingly or not.

            While we are now in the anti-social age, not all anti-social individuals will end up “winning” at life. As alluded to earlier, anti-social people are not perfect. In fact, because being anti-social was a losing strategy for most environments up until the very recent past, anti-social people generally have more self-destructive and mentally ill problems than those who are pro-social. As a result, you can see how there are many anti-social people who seem to do really well in the short term under our new reality, then implode due to some sort of fatal character flaw that makes them expend their energy in fatal manners. What is going to happen is that the anti-social people who are not deranged will succeed long term, while the anti-social people who have serious problems will succumb to those problems and remain losers like their ancestors, and most likely die out or end up only slightly better than their fathers and grandfathers did, despite the new opportunity for success.

            An important distinction that must be made is the reality of pro-social people who may seem anti-social at first. These are the people who are clinical narcissists, sociopaths, and those with bipolar disorder. While they struggle to be pro-social, they are ultimately not anti-social. They just tend to suck at what they want to do, and live a life full of misery and disappointment, no matter their material victories. Truly anti-social people do not have the urges that these people have, and though they may behave in a similar manner at times (distant, aloof, uncaring, unempathetic, shallow, and manipulative), the internal motivations of the genuinely anti-social are different (and lacking in that form of distress) than the internal motivations of the mentally ill pro-social. Where this group of mentally ill pro-social people will end up remains to be seen, but it will most likely be above the mentally healthy pro-social but well below the genuinely anti-social who do not suffer from self-destructive environmental maladaptation. This won’t matter much though, because these individuals will exist in a form of neurotic misery much like the current pro-social upper middle-class does, where they are constantly striving to be like their betters, and unable to do so, being that they are not wired in the same manner and do not truly understand the game that is being played or the internal motivations of those playing the game better than them.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Differences in Effort for Consumption and Production Part 1: Consumption

The effort required for an activity is generally a good indicator of the type of person who is engaged in said activity. This indicator can either be positive or negative, depending on whether the activity in question is by its nature consumptive or productive. The reason for this is that the more effort required for any particular activity, the less normal people will have a desire to break stasis to engage in it, and thus the activity will select for increasingly abnormal sorts of individuals.

This dichotomy of effort is most easily seen online, where there are large social experiments everywhere you look. For example, take twitter, a website that is ostensibly built for pro-social communication, which sounds like a productive activity but is really a consumptive activity for most people, since there are generally only a few leaders who are creating something in any social circle. For the vast majority of people on twitter, communication via social media is a purely consumptive activity.

What is the generalized behavior on twitter? The vast majority of individuals on twitter are not very active users. These people may follow sports teams, media figures, or comedy meme pages, but they barely interact with any accounts or get into arguments. Because these people are not putting in any effort, the fact that twitter is a consumptive activity for them is not very negative. For these people, twitter is just a mild timewaster that is enjoyable albeit not productive.

As we head towards the increasingly active fringes of twitter, we can observe how this subset has a different average user than the one we described. True, the activity being engaged in is still consumptive, but these people put in time and effort into whatever “twitter community” they have found themselves in. These people are consuming, but they’re passionate about consuming. Whether it is media gossip, news, politics, video games, anime, or any other niche interest, you’ll find that as you view increasingly passionate consumers, you’ll view increasing amounts of mental illness.

Let’s take a look at voice chat platforms. Currently, the most popular service is called Discord. Individuals can set up private servers and text chat as well as voice chat with anybody they invite to these servers. All of this sounds rather pleasant and unassuming, but anybody who has spent a decent amount of time on Discord can inform you that it is home to a very disproportionate amount of mentally ill individuals as well as deviants.

What is the selection process that is causing a voice chat platform like Discord to have a reputation for child groomers? Once again, the amount of effort required for engaging in this activity. Since communication is consumptive for 99% of people, voice chatting is a consumptive activity. Unlike twitter or text based platforms, voice chatting has a higher barrier of entry. You need to be in an area where you can talk and listen, be comfortable with others knowing what your voice sounds like, and the transfer of interpersonal information happens in real-time rather than the flexible asynchronous manner in which written communication. These requirements and limitations mean that the people engaged in voice chat on any regular basis are generally socially isolated enough in real life that they’re willing to invest time and energy into an activity that requires a ton of effort to engage in. People with real life friends and responsibilities don’t have time to be active on voice chats with strangers, nor do most of them have the desire to jump through the hoops required to do such a thing. Much like heavily active twitter users, discord users trend towards being individuals who have something wrong with them and are ostracized from real world communities.