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.

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