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This is such a great article, and timely. We actually moved to a different city and state largely for cultural reasons and I can't stress the difference it has made in our lives. Our former location was an upscale neighborhood of a blue city. Very suburban and great for kids. Parks, trails and such but also a very planned community. Kids were tightly controlled.

I remember my daughter doing a messy craft project with one of her 10 year old friends on the porch one day while I was in the kitchen making a meal. Her friend lived across the street and ran home to get something. I received an apoplectic call from the girl's mother as she had "crossed the street unsupervised". This was the same 10 year old girl whom my husband had taken to a skating rink with our kids and he had to buckle the girl into her seat in the car because apparently her parents were still doing that for her and she didn't know how. She was also an only child to older parents. This was common in that neighborhood. The neighborhood was full of kids but you never saw them. No kids in the streets. Nobody riding their bikes. Nobody for my kids to play with without my arranging a play date in advance and coordinating every second of their time or the other parent wouldn't green light it.

So we moved. We moved to a lake community in a red city in a red state. There aren't even sidewalks in our older and heavily wooded area and the streets are filled with kids. Packs of boys on bikes, girls zipping around on scooters, teenagers walking down the street holding hands, kids walking dogs, you name it. Kids stop by randomly asking if my kids can come out to play. Most families here have many children. Only children are rare.

My 10 year old and her sister use their phone to coordinate meet-ups in the neighborhood but neither are on social media. None of their friends are either. They head out after school and they come home for dinner or by dark, whichever comes first There's a lake park, dozens of friends, a small soda and snack stand near the golf course, and a wooded creek area where they built a fort all within a two mile radius of my house. My kids do love technology but they aren't hooked to their phones. They like watching gaming channels on YouTube and Fail Army videos. My oldest is an avid gamer and likes challenges with her friends. They often come over to the house and they game together.

I love our community. We are outside a lot and spend our summers on the lake. There are block parties. Karenesque mothers exist but they are rare and they are mocked. As are teens who preen on Instagram. They are seen as shallow and everyone wonders why they aren't with the other kids jumping off of the pier in the summers.

Where you choose to live makes a huge difference. We couldn't have done this in our last community. There just wasn't the support. You cannot make a culture on your own.

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author

Pinning this because it's so on point.

Your previous domicile wasn't great for kids, it was "great for kids", meaning "neurotically safety-focused". Children raised in such an environment remain emotionally dependent and acquire the neurosis of the surrounding culture.

The only child to older parents plays a role in this. All their eggs in one basket, so they become hyper-prorective. I expect many if not most of those lineages will disappear after a generation - only children raised to be terrified shut-ins are destined to be cat moms.

As you say, you cannot make a culture alone. It's a classic collective action problem. The place you moved to is actually great for kids, without the scare quotes.

Good on your kids for staying off of social media and using tech as its really meant to be used: a facilitator for offline, in-person interactions.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

Amen to all of this. I have two daughters 10 and 16. My older daughter has wisely avoided all social media though she likes to play games anonymously as a usually male avatar. She has complained that some online games try to force her to sign up for a Facebook account to use them. She is the psychologist amongst all of her friends and seems to be the most well adjusted I could imagine in this current dystopian era. I don't think regulations are going to be necessary per say, as I think a perfect storm is brewing that will slice through the digital panopticon: first, safe and effective is already meeting safety first, and the sudden, unexplained dropping dead of even a small portion of young, invincible, never dies of friends, peers, celebrities can ultimately move the needle on what looks risky, especially if it really happened within the family. Second I agree that the technology was too new at first to really be evaluated and that is not the case anymore. Both of my girls are well aware of the potential for internet stalkers but also the more immediate threat of everyone knowing what they say and do at every moment. They are sensitive to issues of internet bullying, hacking data and deepfakes in ways that even I am sometimes impressed by. They may have a better intuitive sense of what is real on the internet than even I do, and they question it all. Third I think the very things that underpin the digital dystopia: that being reliable electricity and internet, are going to become increasingly wonky and unreliable, forcing alternate choices for even the most diehard zombie user. We shall see!

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I think I've mentioned here before that I work as a tutor. I recently had a very interesting chat with one of my students about wokeness. If he is at all representative, the kids get it. He has figured out that the people he want to hang around with are the people who go to the gym. He has decided that reading books is a good idea. He believes in biological sex, not fluid gender. He understands that as a straight white man the world hates him. Most importantly, he understands that authority figures like his principal are cowards because they don't stand up to the social justice mob.

And this kid lives in *California*! This is what rebellion looks like in 2023.

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author

That's very encouraging. I've run into kids like that too, and I have a sense that as much as many are getting pulled under, many others are being given a strong impetus to break free. There's a group of high school boys I showed how to deadlift a few weeks ago, and they were telling me that the gym fills up after school with their bros. I didn't discuss political issues with them, once must be careful about such topics, but I would not be surprised to learn that they get it.

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It's hard to deadlift and be woke at the same time. Deadlifts force you to confront reality. You can't "identify" your way to another plate.

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author

Bingo.

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My husband was one of those crazy adolescents - dove off cliffs, road his bike to the mall in East LA, learned to snowboard by just getting on the craziest slope he could find, etc. I asked his mom once how she handled it. She said, “I always told him that I don’t want to know about it. Just don’t even tell me. But come home in one piece.”

She’s somewhat of a genius, my mother-in-law.

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author

This is the correct attitude. What they don't know can't hurt them. Knowing too much isn't good for anyone.

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His other amazing story is that he decided to go to college in Hawaii, because surfing was as important (or more) than school to him. He got to his school and was there for almost six weeks before even calling his mom. She had to call the dorm and leave a message for someone to go find him and tell him to at least check in with the parents. That story still amazes me. 😂

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author

I'm not remotely surprised by this. For a young guy fresh out of the home, calling his mom should be the last thing on his mind. It's the ones who feel the need to check in every day I worry about.

Then again I come from an emotionally distant WASP background, so.

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

We need to get bullying back into schools. It is no coincidence that all of this transgender fantasy role playing contagion has followed massive campaigns to end bullying in schools. The mechanism for peer groups to police their own acceptable social behaviors has been neutered.

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author

I've been meaning to write a post specifically on the subject of bullying. I agree with your sentiment.

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Feb 25, 2023Liked by John Carter

I don't know how bullying works in the first world but I suffered it badly as a kid in my country. It bordered other type of abuse. Teachers made a blind eye. It left my angry, scarred and more socially inept. Please don't support it.

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author

My support is highly conditional. There's good bullying, and bad bullying. If it scarred you like that it was almost certainly the bad kind.

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A great synopsis and suggestions. I am deeply grateful I grew up outdoors and free to roam, most of my free time. I hope more kids recover and embrace that. We need to adapt, and part of that is getting back to some core things that make us strong, while using technology to our best advantage.

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author

I also grew up outdoors, although rather isolated which slowed my social development. The ideal I think is being free to roam with one's friends.

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I had a pack of four brothers near my age to roam with. We hunted frogs, snakes and turtles (catching them to put in cages and then let go), played Rambo in the woods, swam in the lakes and played sports in their front lawn. Good days.

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author

Sounds idyllic. I had two little sisters who liked to play with dolls, so for me the woods were not much more than a place to ramble.

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It was idyllic. I still roam those woods...though I see no one else there, and the four brothers all do not roam woods anymore, and all struggle with alcohol.

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author

That's sad. Time comes for us all, and none of us are immune from the depredations of a sick culture.

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I had 2 brothers and this was our life too and our parents were fine with it. We lived in a remote northern community so we never new the trends. Our town was small enough to really be a "community" but big enough that we were able to learn how to be decent social beings. My heart breaks for the bleak existence of children now.

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author

That sounds like a great way to grow up.

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I HATE THE LONGHOUSE I HATE THE LONGHOUSE GIVE ME MY CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE BACK

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author

"We're the daughters of the witches you didn't burn," they said.

"We're the sons of the chariot riders who burned down your accursed longhouses the first time," we replied.

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

Children of Men meets Idiocracy: The Sequel: How it Happened Fast and We Got Family Styled and Shit

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Feb 25, 2023Liked by John Carter

Have you ever heard about the "other" hypothesis of where this linear timetable can take the world?

The Great Simplification is the theory that all this Panopticon super city surveillance feminisation can not last because of Energy Requirements. That we broke the supply chains ⛓️, that ESG etc shall cripple the West & that there ain't enuf batteries to power fisting our world.

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founding

ESG is not breaking anybody who counts in big business. It is only breaking the competition and disciplining the workforce. Business as usual.

As for supply chains...inter-state competition is still short of the relevant parties playing truly hard ball against one another. Energy still flows. The number one buyer of US Treasury bills (Japan) is still buying Russian oil. China continues to purchase Australian iron ore. The US declined to include processed uranium in the sanctions against Russia. And NASA still relies on close co-operation to keep the US astronauts alive on the international space station. Complicated but true.

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author

I'm not so sure that ESG isn't having a deleterious effect on the power structure. Take Hollywood. Entertainment is a primary vector of GAE cultural power, but this relies to a very large degree on the quality of that entertainment. Audience response to the wokified movies and TV series produced by studios optimizing their ESG scores has been less than enthusiastic. Financially, this doesn't matter much to the studios in the short term - they get those ESG dollars so they're good. But long term it degrades the utility of Hollywood for propaganda, which in turn weakens the regime's power base.

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founding

ESG is certainly having a deleterious effect on Hollywood. The studio chiefs hate it. All the professionals do. But Hollywood is about $s (money laundering especially) and you can't make serious $s in defiance of the powers that be. No need for a horse's head in anyone's bed.

There is a degree of variance in the impact of ESG across industries and there are costs. So far the costs are transferable downwards. But the rewards for those gathering them have been colossal. As a means of extracting wealth and directing people, it has been successful.

ESG will be reformed, perhaps even ditched, but only after its potential as a means of control is fully established, when it has reached the Clausewtizian Kulminationspunkt or culminating point.

We are probably not too far from that point. Peak Green may be within view. I am not making predictions. With a population that is dumbing down faster than the scandals are rolling in the villains can still stay out in front for a very long time.

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author

I always get cautious when Peak X is invoked. "Surely it can't get worse, this must be the bottom, people are waking up!" And yet it continues. The imminent collapse of the enemy is always an attractive prospect, and we should therefore always be on guard against wishful thinking.

Your characterization of the effects of ESG as a resource gathering operation with profoundly negative effects on everyone not on the cash-flow receiving end could of course be extended to the entire FIRE economy. In a sense ESG is simply the latest iteration of the symbol manipulators' general strategy for capturing value without creating it.

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founding

Rent collection is the main game because the productive side of things has been running down for so long. Taken to extremes (as it is) the system feeds on itself.

The FIRE economy is a necessary consequence of empire. Finance is derivative of production, but it is integral to trade. Once the US established itself as a great exporter it set itself on the path to becoming an equally great financial hub as well. The synergies established by that have taken on a life of its own.

The US is now financed by foreign dollars and the investments and savings are flowing into real estate, insurance etc. destabilising everything and complicating the task of righting the productive economy.

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author

Not only the US. The UK and Canada have also become FIRE economies sustained largely by urban real estate bubbles.

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Less bad social media is on the way. Private message me to learn more.

But there are other factors..

1. It's at least partly chemical. I was noticing changes back in the 1990s: girls "developing" earlier and guys maturing later, if not at all.

2. To leave virtual space, we need a better meat space. For example, where I live, the parks close at sunset. Given how long school bus routes are, this means nearly zero time for kids to use the parks in the winter. Set up cop stations in the parks and keep them open until bedtime, or even later. Hire more school bus drivers and smaller busses and get the kids home in time.

Iceland once had a terrible teenage drinking problem. They fixed the problem by giving their teens something else to do.

3. Finally, stop trying to cram too much academics into little kids! Most preschoolers should be focusing on learning basic social skills and exploring their physical world. Learning how to read at such an early age is suitable for freaks only. It is far less abusive to wield paddles to impose education when the children are older and harder to intimidate than to cram too much while the kids are small.

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author

1. Strongly agree.

2. Also agree, but with modifications. One thing that struck me about parks in particular, in countries like Japan, as well as much of Europe, is that they're far more open - used by the whole populace. I think this is at least partly because those countries allow outdoor alcohol use, meaning that young adults will go there to party. In the West, alcohol bans in practice mean that parks are used only by mothers and small children (during the day) and homeless drug addicts (at night). No one else much wants to go because, what are you going to do there?

3. There should be less homework, I agree. At the same time school hours should be used productively. Comparison of the curriculum of a century ago to the one now is just depressing. The problem isn't so much that kids are being made to work, it's that they aren't - the 'work' is all pointless busywork that just wastes their time and leaves them no more knowledgeable or capable than they were before. Cargo cult education by midwits isn't working well.

As to literacy, thanks to my mother's efforts I was reading before I started kindergarten. Then again my sisters weren't - I'm somewhat of a freak.

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2. I'd love to see more European style parks. I pity the urban poor in this country. They have no place to legally party. Bars are too expensive and small apartments are a bad place for large gatherings.

But I was writing about even such parks as those with tennis courts and basketball goals. Those could be decent hangouts if they weren't closed at 5.

3. I'm a freak too. Read my first word while sitting in a high chair. On the other hand, my grandfather read his first word at 7, and went on to become an engineer.

And the youngest ARE being made to work. Then things slack off since the kids become too hard to control due to adequate recess and real punishment for crossing the line.

With that said, I agree about the busywork. I'd go further and say that structured study should be only half the class time, if that. The rest should be student driven projects with teachers acting as mentors. Let kids focus on what they are currently interested in. Who says you have to master spelling before you write your first novel?

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I like to use the Burning Man slogan "Safety third." It isn't last, but it certainly isn't first or even second. I mean come on, the purpose of life isn't to survive it.

I think however the obsession with safety (which drove much of the Covid hysteria) is as much a symptom as a cause of our current social decay. When a culture and particularly its men lose a sense of purpose, then what else is there to do but muddle through life? In absence of a mission beyond oneself, all that's left is oneself.

I appreciated the sense of futility that colored the sections of this article that attempted to say what we can do about it. I think the decay of society is so far advanced that there is nothing to be done, except to create what I call (borrowing from Ken Carey) "Islands of the future in an ocean of the past." Islands of health and sanity. The Nofap initiative is an example of that.

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Safety Last is sort of deliberately hyperbolic, as an emotional reaction against 'safety first'; actually I hadn't even heard of 'safety third' until after I wrote that essay. But of course, that's about where it should come. Foolhardiness is never wise, if only because it risks cutting our adventures here on Earth short for no good reason.

I think you're right about the lack of a sense of purpose, a grand ennui enveloping our civilization, as the source of this malaise. With nothing great to strive for, no goals over the horizon, nihilism, hedonism, and exhaustion set in. And of course, there's the need for control, so central to our way of life, which you've written on at length.

One of the reasons I focus on cultural, rather than legislative, solutions is that I don't believe there is much prospect of the former being achieved. Those islands of the future - seedbeds of what comes next - are really our best bet. They have the great advantage that they can be started at the individual level, and grow out from there, with no need to ask anyone's permission.

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Yeah, legislative "solutions" will come last, as the final stage of a vast cultural change (may it be so). Also, the whole pattern of looking to government action as a solution is one of the habits of authoritarianism. Instilled in school, when something is wrong we petitionteacher to fix it. ("We" not including present company, though I too carry some of these habits.)

(I got the deliberate hyperbole -- I just thought it was a good opportunity to invoke "safety third," which always makes me chuckle.)

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author

I quite like safety third. It has a delightful dismissiveness about it.

Much of our current educational system is oriented around a curriculum of implicit authoritarianism. It teaches us to be passive supplicants, to assume that nothing can be done unless we first receive permission, or convince the authorities to do it for us. This strips us of our free will, enslaving us in our own minds more effectively than mere chains ever could. And that is very much the point of it.

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"And that is very much the point of it."

Yup!

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Feb 26, 2023Liked by John Carter

Consider just a couple of recent articles on the Amish and technology.

https://www.bedlamfarm.com/2021/05/26/what-moise-and-the-amish-are-teaching-me-about-technology-they-saw-the-future-we-didnt/

https://www.wired.com/story/virtually-amish-hacking-innovation/

They looked at it from a tightly knit culture and community and debated its usefulness. We could have done that too, if we still had strong values and intact communities. Broken families, no morals or convictions, no values will leave you open to whatever comes along.

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author

The Amish are indeed an interesting model in regards to the proper relationship of a people to technology.

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Feb 25, 2023Liked by John Carter

The black mirror makes for an interesting Demiurge comparison. This being is symbolized by the black cube, lead is the material associated with Saturn (aka demiurge) and it has a 3D cube for it's 'crown' aka the storm. A three dimensional reality prison of despair (black is associated with deep negatives) for the hapless 'human' (a prison suit designed to chain the immortal spirit to the jail). It makes me wonder if we are imitating a false god, trapped within the black cube we decided to fashion our own artificial realities... fittingly viewed through a black cube.

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Feb 25, 2023Liked by John Carter

Re: Just F-ing Lift Bro: My dumbbells came in today.

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author

Most excellent.

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Alas, this resonates. Two of my kids are teenagers: a girl and a boy. The girl was banned from Insta and Tik-Tok etc (I read Haidt on this years ago) and in any case, she’s like me and hates taking selfies. But I think there is a general feeling of never knowing when the mob might turn, even if you don’t use such sites, and several friendships have been lost when girls of her acquaintance got sucked into the whole getting likes. The boy is doing better.

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author

Boys seem to be weathering this storm better than girls, in general. They have their own serious issues, but they don't seem to be as prone to getting sucked into the social media hole. At any rate, while they're more depressed than they were in the past, they haven't fared as badly as the girls.

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Which, sadly, is reflected in my kids. Made worse by lockdown in Melbourne.

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author

The lockdowns were a kick in the crotch to a generation that was already on the floor.

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This.

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

A-fucking-men!

The years we spent running around the city. Later, moved to the country, spent my best years on horseback, exploring the world, our bodies, our limits. God was I lucky!

The price for all this freedom? Lost one brother who got addicted to the adrenaline.

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author

There's always a price. The price of not paying that price is what we see around us now.

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Feb 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

🙌 I'm so sick of the pampered young being afraid of everything, everywhere, all the time.

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