December 16, 2014

Have Millennials been insulated from competition or over-exposed?

Here is a post that tries to account for the blandness and weakness of the Millennial generation by pointing to their insulation from having to struggle for their goals (everybody gets a trophy), and being bombarded with egalitarian propaganda since they were children (everyone is a special little snowflake). Don't look to this generation for the ubermenschen of the future.

Only part of this explanation is correct, though — that they have been insulated from failure, from criticism, from skinned knees. But that doesn't mean they haven't been moved from one arena of mock-competition to another throughout their upbringing, and continued their competitiveness once they're relatively more in control of their lives.

Consider how pervasive it is for small kids to "take part" in a competitive activity, i.e. be shoved into it by sideline parents, whether football for fourth-graders or cheerleading for children. Their parents won't even let them rest on a family holiday like Thanksgiving, hauling them off to run a race instead, however friendly the Turkey Trot competition may be.

Pre-schoolers compete over getting into the "good schools," and high schoolers compete like never before to get into the "good colleges." All that resume-padding bullshit reveals how desperately competitive today's environment is for young people.

Participation rates in high school sports keep rising, and the number of sports keeps expanding. It's a fair cry from the old days, when a handful of natural athletes lettered in baseball, and all the other kids stayed out of the competitive arena.

These days, even geeky engineering activities like a robotics club has to be structured as a team preparing for a series of Lego robotics competitions against teams from other schools. You didn't see that competitive atmosphere among the shop class enthusiasts of the 1950s. The phrase "talk shop" suggests laid-back camaraderie, not intense Us vs. Them teamwork.

Schoolchildren have all sorts of progress charts and behavior charts that accumulate happy stickers for each micro-achievement. It's true that you still get a minimum number for doing nothing at all, but that doesn't keep the top-scorers from earning even more, and does not re-frame the environment as a non-competitive one. Only now, the winners and losers are those with 50 vs. 10 points instead of 40 vs. 0 points.

Just because there's a safety padding at the bottom doesn't mean that kids these days aren't being constantly ranked in one micro-competition after another. It's like mock-competition to prepare for a never-ending competition once they reach the grown-up world. If your parents didn't want to prepare you for such a competitive environment, they wouldn't put you through all the play-fight competitions when you're growing up.

Again, contrast this with the laid-back schools of the '50s, when teachers did not submit regular progress reports to parents with elaborate distributions of tick marks showing their child's measurement on multiple variables. And when parents didn't prepare their kids by making every one of their pastimes a (safety-padded) competition.

When given a little more freedom after childhood, what do the Millennials choose to do for fun? Invent a competition over anything at all, no matter how trivial or gay, and spend your free time checking back in to see where you stand in the rankings. Post your rig, post your stats, post your lifts, your outfit of the day, your coffee of the day, etc etc etc.

Gamerscores and leader boards in video games would have been alien to the arcade scene of the late '70s and early '80s. At most the games kept a list of "high scores," but they were only three characters long and thus effectively anonymous. Anybody trying to broadcast their high score outside of their immediate social circle would have not only been ostracized but beaten up for good measure. Video games back then were generally not player-vs.-player competitions either; if two players could play at the same time, it was usually cooperatively.

Noobs in all domains are hazed way more violently and humiliatingly than they were 50 years ago.

Fishing for compliments (likes, upvotes, re-tweets) from a vast crowd of strangers would have struck the laid-back youngsters of the '70s as appalling. It's not as though they didn't have access to cameras and mass media if they wanted to distribute them. "Who does this chick think she is? Marcia Brady?" And that little dorkmeister who managed to get his letter to the editor printed in no fewer than six local papers across the nation? "Woah dude, next stop — the White House! LOL."

For all the talk about how today's dogmatically PC climate is one of cutting the tall poppy down, the reality is just the opposite. Millennials do not ever speak up to cut down the grade-grubber, the curve-wrecker, and the know-it-all in the classroom. They may tweet a micro-aggression about it after class, but in any way that matters they are utter pussies who fail to enforce the supposed norm of tearing down the elite.

In fact, you have to go way back before the Millennial era to find widespread policing of individuals who threatened camaraderie by acting too big for their britches. High schoolers in the '70s would not have tolerated the constant hand-raiser. "Enough already, you fuckin' NERD!" Nor the over-glorified hall monitor types whose tattle-taling widened the gap, so to speak, between the goody two-shoes and those who got punished for having fun. "Thanks a lot, you fuckin' NARC!"

Even the professional victim activists back in the '50s only sought desegregation, rather than an escalating contest of whose rights had been more violated, and who had "earned" as many victimhood merit badges than who else, as you see among today's SJWs. Rosa Parks didn't make a special stink about being a black woman, only a black person. Any homos in the desegregation movement didn't limp out over how worse off they had it than the mere black heterosexuals.

Thus, it is over- rather than under-exposure to competition that explains why the Millennials are so messed up. When every social interaction their parents and teachers have placed them in has been a contest whose ranking is public knowledge — notwithstanding the fact that it has a safety padded landing for the losers — they fail to experience camaraderie while growing up, and they will remain antagonistic into adulthood. The top-ranked remain poor winners with no real friends and only hangers-on, while the bottom-ranked remain sore losers whose resentfulness alienates the others.

Over-exposure to competition may also explain their tendency to melt down over seemingly trivial trials. If they don't enjoy rest periods, as it were, between episodes of competitiveness, their minds don't get to recover and become stronger. The competitive lobe of their brain becomes fatigued from chronic hyper-extension.

If it were merely a case of having no experience with competition, and facing it for the first time, their reactions would have a heavy coloring of surprise and shock at the novelty of it all, the way a weakling would react when he tried to move a sofa. He would feel inadequate and embarrassed, rather than stressed out and ready to ragequit.

But Millennial melt-downs tend to be colored more by fatigue and being "over it," as though the competitive framework is not only familiar to them but has been ever present in their lives, all the way back to being dragged out of the house at six years old to race in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

This shows up elsewhere in their distant relationship with their parents, even when they grow up in an intact and non-abusive family. By being drafted into so many micro-competitions, and judged by so many different progress charts in childhood, they don't sense how else they could matter to their parents other than by getting good marks in some activity, which they hope will please their parents and make them proud. The most frequent expression of affection from their parents is "awesome job!" — based on their performance in some micro-trial (setting the silverware correctly, not getting any "red lights" from the teacher all week, and so on).

I doubt that the Millennials feel that their parents love them unconditionally, or that their parents are concerned for their welfare just because they're their own flesh and blood, and not because the parent acts like some genetically unrelated coach who wants his little players to win against the other team in the big game of life. That doesn't mean they feel their parents despise them, are callous toward them, or whatever — only that they feel more like their own parents are more like foster parents, albeit foster parents who are thoughtful and kindhearted.

I'm not sure how else to describe it, but it's a strange aspect of Millennials' relationships with their parents — even kids from stable, two-parent families are likely to behave as though their relationship were that of a benevolent patron and a grateful client who just happened to find their way into the household, instead of kin members tied by the special bond of blood.

In any case, whatever has gone wrong in recent decades cannot be the result of declining levels of competition, since they have only escalated. And we should not confuse superficially egalitarian dogma with real-world practices that have turned every social interaction into a status contest, however trivial.

28 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I participated in the performing arts (music and dance) during my middle and high school years and that was bad. You're always around people, but you're really alone.

    In music you have to practice alone, and then you take lessons alone. For the musical instrument I played we didn't even have recitals. Then you have to audition for band/orchestra in school and are assigned a chair. People who are serious about music are also serious about school. So they usually have a packed honors class schedule. Besides the school orchestra/band, you can participate in the more prestigious orchestras which draw people from the entire school district or the entire state. If you participate in these orchestras, you'll know just the handful of people from your school. People sometimes study during rehearsal breaks at these places.

    I remember there was a rule that you had to participate in your school music program in order to participate in the prestige orchestras because otherwise people would just drop out of their school program.

    I never played anything for fun in those days or played with other people in a band. Because everyone is really busy or not interested in doing something just for fun. No one I knew was just in a band. After high school, I lot of these people quit even if they are very good. A small number will continue with recitals.

    Same story with dance. Even with folk dance, it gets turned into performance folk dance with an audience.

    I guess it's different from communal/social/folk music and dance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was a hand-raiser, grade-grubber, curve-wrecker, know-it-all. I also paid compliments. But I also remember getting slapped down hard when I did that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Equality doesn't mean that society is non-competitive or that the 'tall reed gets cut down" Afterall, it was in the 1920s that Lindbergh became the first man to fly over the Atlantic by himself. Its more fair competition.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh I forgot. If you participate in performing arts, you don't get to choose what kind of music or dance you perform. You also spend time attending performances by professionals.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sorry, I meant to say I remember complimenting myself and getting shot down immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Must read article about the sequel/franchise insanity that's gripped the movie industry: http://grantland.com/features/2014-hollywood-blockbusters-franchises-box-office/

    I'm glad that the author points the finger at adults not growing up while also noting that Hollywood players increasingly have absolutely no artistic background of any kind.

    He also actually did some research instead of just regurgitating Star Wars ruined everything propaganda. He points out that as late as 1999, just a handful of top movies were franchise based.

    Unsurprisingly the mid century also was plagued by endless serialized rehashing of tired ideas:
    "For a decade beginning in 1937, the Andy Hardy series was a profit machine for MGM, and between 1941 and 1955, Abbott and Costello churned out 27 movies for Universal"

    In periods of cocooning, openness to new ideas, spontaneity, and creativity seem to intensify to the point that studios are unwilling to greenlight too much originality. Part of the problem also is a timid audience reluctant to deal with new ideas. Also, as I've noted several times before the modern audience has such a non existant life that they don't want self contained stories; they want an ongoing story to vicariously live through.

    Read it and weep:
    "The term “comic-book movie” is convenient shorthand for the films on that list, but perhaps its time has passed. It suggests there is a bright line separating DC and Marvel films from most of the rest of what you will see between now and 2020. In fact, these 34 films are on a continuum with five Star Wars movies (a trilogy and two stand-alones), three Avatar sequels, three (more) Terminator films, three (more) Lego movies, and a trilogy of movies based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book by J.K. Rowling that is 42 pages long. Here is a list of sequels and franchise installments — 70 of them at current count, although the actual number will, of course, be much higher, probably more than 150 if the 2015 lineup is any indication — that are set to open over the next six years."

    This also fits into Agnostic's idea about cocooners excessive planning and regimentation that sucks the joy and excitement out of everything; these studio's are planning to release installments a half decade from now.

    In the 70's/80's studios/producers were more likely to take an unptretentious, casual approach to things. Hell, at least one positive thing about the alterna 90's was that some people were still willing to be a little bold and take a tough shot.

    My gut's telling me that the time is right to take a shot on this script or this director, so what if it's not proven? Maybe it won't work out some of the time, but if it does then the risk was worth it and I'll have contributed something to the culture besides a cynical rehash.

    That mentality has gotten less and less common because nobody really takes itupon themselves to go off script or be more free thinking/independent anymore. As we've talked about before the most depressing example of this is the way Mom and Pop businesses were swiftly squashed by Big Box mania in the 90's.

    ReplyDelete
  7. In periods of cocooning, openness to new ideas, spontaneity, and creativity seem to intensify

    I meant to say resistance to new ideas, spontaneity, and creativity in cocooning periods. Whoops.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree, cocooning seems to promote mediocrity.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With regard to competition, I think that the post 1980 winner take all atmosphere that's seeped into everything has become accepted as the norm. To the point that most people are not consciously aware of the fact that the average person these days is far more ruthless and callous than the average person of say, 1975.

    This callous disregard for others leads to demeaning of others in general but moreso to whoever is lower on the status totem pole. In an egalitarian period there is sincere concern for your fellow man, not ridicule and contempt. So nowadays we get glib 'explanations' and bitterness instead of compassion for Millennials who have disagreeable personalities thanks to poor socialization by a misguided decadent society.

    Parents also naively push their kids into ostensibly healthy activities that in fact often become vehicles for status conscious parents who avoid guilt by acting like it's great for their kids.

    I do think that bitching about Millennials is often pot & kettle type stuff. The anxiety, aloofness, pettiness, and insecurity we associate with them has really infected everybody to some degree. Maybe we'll all eventually relax at some point in the future when these excesses finally go away.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "But Millennial melt-downs tend to be colored more by fatigue and being "over it," as though the competitive framework is not only familiar to them but has been ever present in their lives,"

    Right, anybody with half a brain knows that it's Boomers who have the most volcanic tempers. The Boomers came of age in a time of unprecedented prosperity and self-determination while being under the delusion that they 'earned' such luxuries.

    Never facing any serious hardships or responsibilities in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood thanks to benevolent mid century America meant that the Boomers would never learn the value of patience, modesty, or teamwork. Accustoming to having so much for having done so little, Boomers developed a habit of going beserk with indignation for no damn good reason.

    Meanwhile Gen X-ers and Millennials have been humbled and brutalized from day one by a toxic cutthroat culture which disgusts them. So unlike conceited sneering Boomers who created the present system they don't launch as much shrapnel at the people around them when things don't go their way.

    ReplyDelete
  11. With classroom disruption today aimed at smart kids who participate and answer questions, I'd associate it with assertive, outgoing, cool kids who don't like competing on something they're not good at. It's much more "Don't take my spotlight" or "Don't show me up" than "You're out for yourself". That's the prototypical popular classroom bully, with enough superficial style not to get hated on. Status concerned basically. If you're not a dork, and you're preening and status and attention seeking, then it would be good for you to move attention and status away from those traits.

    Did tearing down the geek happen in the '50s? If the '50s was more of a "F*** you poindexter!" time than the 1980s, we could say the motive relates attitudes seeking greater equality .

    If however, the ingroup is the 1950s and today being different to the 1980s, tearing down the smart kid is probably related much more to showboating styles of competition in high inequality times.

    Likewise, was 1980s a time for tearing down students who raised themselves up through being a good dancer or good athlete or charming? If it was, then a motive for tearing down good students then might have been anti-competition. If not, it's just a different focus for competition.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Re: movie franchising, I expect a lot of that happened in the Midcentury due to low creativity and high risk aversion.

    Picture I have now is:

    The long 1950s up to 1963 : Twilight of the studio system - Low status striving, cautious public behaviour, pre-Baby Boom zeitgeist. The end of the studio system. Iconic movies are epic scaled, broadly inclusive of society as a whole, bombastic, dignified, stiff. Their epics tend to be based on historically formative events in the American nation and Western history broadly - the Civil War, Ancient Rome and the Bible. Westerns were big. Emotionality varies from kabuki esque to stoic.

    1963 - 1970 : New Hollywood and the Baby Boomers - Increasingly status striving Baby Boomers and Silents overthrow the old Hollywood system built by Jewish businessmen of the older 1930s-1950s sort (which was far too low in status striving to defend itself). They promote and watch Me Generation films about themselves, contemporary settings and their coming of age and sanctimonious social issues films. In amongst this, growing criminality also leads to much more visceral true crime dramas. In their defense, they have a fun loving, spontaneous, open, natural and youthful attitude, which the Boomers began to bring (along with their self obsession and sanctimony) in the early part of the decade.

    1970s : American Hustle and Exploitation - As the taboos against striving and inhibitions come down in parallel you see the continued rise and rise of New Hollywood, who are free to make increasingly pretentious films and a marked rise of the entrepreneur. This leads to the rise of exploitation in cinema - exploitation films become common and George Lucas begins the trend of consciously designing blockbuster cinema with merchandising in mind. This rise of the exploitative entrepreneur, film maker cum hustler and hustler cum film maker, willing to sell out big, will continue with the 1980s, the zenith of the independent, before corporatisation (agnostic has described how independent movies peaked in the 1980s). But by the 1970s, exploitation was limited to making generic movies that cashed in on a phenomenon, no attempts were made to set up milkable franchises. (cont)

    ReplyDelete
  13. (cont) 1980s : Zenith of the entrepreneur, creeping corporatisation - Descendants of the violent exploitation and sensationalistic films of the 1970s, backed by entrepreneurs leaping on imaginative but often superficial "high concepts", rather than a stodgy studio system, continued to replace mainstream cinema to a greater extent. The trend here, as noted by any cinematic history of the 1980s, though, is sequalisation. Rather than making a string of unrelated exploitation films along a similar theme, or planning out a franchise, you see more sequels milking movies for all they were worth. How many damned Police Academies can you make?

    These are still mainly opportunistic though - fast buck entrepreneurs trying to get what they can out of a movie by franchises and sequels, with no planning to try and prevent the sequels getting stale (which is why 80s sequels tend to be so bad compared to the originals and tend to be boring rehashes, far inferior to the original, no "arc"). Producers who are fast moving independent chancers feel like the culture's too fast moving to plan a franchise out years in advance (and they're right).

    Then as now, the most cynical excesses of franchising and sequalisation were found in the most exploitative genre of cinema, horror, the genre most beloved of movie makers with tendencies towards pimpage and audience manipulation and the genre most beloved by neurotic viewers looking for cheap thrills - compare the severe pimping of Nightmare on Elm Street, the Exorcist and Friday the 13th (8 films in 9 years in the 1980s!) to the whoring out of the Scream and Saw franchises. Of course, the 80s and 70s series were better, but the pimp hand was strong in them.

    Emotions in the 1980s varied from histrionic to naturalistic.

    1990s and beyond : The studios strike back - We all know what cinema is like today. Unlike the 1980s, franchises are planned out in advance for milking - see the year on year milking of Marvel properties, the planned triologies and stretched out book adaptations like the Hobbit. We're in an era where, unlike the 50s with its ethos of unimaginative stoic dignity or the 80s with its ethos of spontaneity and opportunistic exploitation, stodgy corporate strivers plan out franchises to exploit audiences year on year. Cinema "products" are slick and emotions in them vary from the histrionic to the kabuki like. The grand scale epics we get aren't intended to foster a sense of belonging to the same nation and cultural history but to exploit the audience's fantasist and separatist tendencies for all they're worth.

    ReplyDelete
  14. GenX-ers are a bridge between the normal America they remember from their childhood and teenage years and the post-America that began with the kulturkampfs of the early 90s.

    It's not just their direct experience, but also contact with pre-boomer grandparents and other older folk.

    One way to define GenX's relationship with society is that we lost our future upon entering adulthood. Anti-White/PC messages everywhere, out with panty raids and in with date rape, and confusion as our women showed no intereest in family formation. Interracial dating exploded, which in effect was the sight of white girls dating blacks. A degenerate president took office and immigration started heating up.

    This accounts for the famous cynicism of that generation.

    Millennials never had a normal country. No anchor of normalcy, at least until the advent of alt-Right blogging which demolished the official "pretty lies".

    To be a Millennial is to walk around with a spray-painted smile of Hope and Change on your face.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "How many damned Police Academies can you make?"

    " Nightmare on Elm Street, the Exorcist and Friday the 13th (8 films in 9 years in the 1980s!"

    At least Police Academy was an original idea with original characters. Ditto for virtually all of the horror franchises of the late 70's-early 90's. In contrast, since the late 90's we've been getting more and more over budgeted nonsense based on characters that have existed for decades and sometimes for centuries.

    "1970s : American Hustle and Exploitation - As the taboos against striving and inhibitions come down in parallel you see the continued rise and rise of New Hollywood, who are free to make increasingly pretentious films and a marked rise of the entrepreneur. This leads to the rise of exploitation in cinema - exploitation films become common and George Lucas begins the trend of consciously designing blockbuster cinema with merchandising in mind."

    Much art of the 70's was pretty exploitive/pretentious but it also was sometimes done with intellect, heart, and a purpose. William Friedkin, George Romero, and David Cronenberg made incredibly violent taboo shattering movies but they had something to say about society and the human condition.

    I just got a book called Horror movies of the 70's by John Muir. While there's a little too much liberal crap in some of the reviews, he does a good job of explaining why some of the era's horror movies were so effective. He seems to imply that when people are complacent and slow to rile (as they were in the mid century and as they've been since the 90's) they lose their taste for art that reminds them of their vulnerabilities and follies.

    Also, sequels weren't unheard of in the 70's. The James Bond series was very popular especially The Spy who Loved Me and Moonraker. That series was getting derivative already during Sean Connery's later movies. What was the one he did in Japan? The later Roger Moore movies were unpretentious enough to do well with the well adjusted, agreeable audience of the late 70's/80's.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I detailed the prevalence of sequels and adaptations in *popular* movies here, covering 1936 to 2011:

    http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2012/07/sequels-and-adaptations-in-popular.html

    Unoriginal material becomes more common in cocooning periods, while outgoing periods create more original stories. It's part of the broader pattern of lowered cultural risk-taking when people want to just keep to themselves. You need to be connected to others if you want to stick your neck out on the creative side, which makes it feel less prohibitively risky if it's shared among the group. And more to the point, audiences need to be in more of a novelty-seeking mindset for it to catch on.

    In the last cocooning period, though, the unoriginal movies were more likely to be adaptations of an existing work in another medium (novel, play) than a sequel to an existing film.

    I emphasize "popular" movies because that's a general weakness in studying the history of any kind of culture -- how representative was it of its time? One way to be certain is how well it sold at the time, assuming such data are available. Luckily they are for movies (year-end box office revenues), pop music (year-end Billboard charts), novels (Publishers Weekly year-end sales), and so on.

    Art De Vany gets the credit, btw, for looking at the popularity of independently made movies (from his book Hollywood Economics).

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Vermifuge12/17/14, 10:25 AM

    There are a lot of good points in this post to think about and weigh. It cuts through the layers of how strange it is to be always looking for ways to get ahead—(as though life should be about the competition, while the journey is secondary)—and begging for attention to check the validity of relationships, because, afraid of vulnerability, no one opens up unless it’s through the coldness of a screen and the worthlessness of a virtual thumbs-up.

    And, since the competition has been sanitized, requiring teams and clubs and organizations, minds have become brittle to the slightest changes in a schedule. The rigidity, then, creates an inability to adapt. For example, instead of playing sandlot games of baseball or other sports, there are leagues for the youngest ages; therefore, rather than learning how to play for fun and competing without anything important on the line (maybe pride, maybe bragging rights, maybe childhood wagers), they’re learning to compete in a structured environment without the need for innovation, spontaneity, or improvisation. Thus, without the ability to relax, making every small thing a competition leads to a constant low-level worry about outsiders watching; and, because the pressure remains turned on, it can lead to a nervous breakdown, so, I suppose, it’s no wonder that the usage of mood stabilizers is high.

    The conversation about movies is also interesting. There has been an utter lack of novel films, and Hollywood has been milking established characters and squeezing audiences that aren’t adventurous, that no longer seek unique experiences, and that want safe, known worlds. Also, perhaps there’s something to be said about how the western genre has moved from “singing cowboys” and John Wayne to spaghetti westerns, before becoming a stranger, besides for the occasional draw like Dances with Wolves, Unforgiven, or Tombstone.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "I do think that bitching about Millennials is often pot & kettle type stuff. The anxiety, aloofness, pettiness, and insecurity we associate with them has really infected everybody to some degree."

    It seems to be ingrained in Millennials, though. X-ers were not stereotyped that way in the '80s or the 21st century. Anxious and aloof in the grunge-y phase of the '90s, perhaps, but not petty and insecure.

    The basic trait that others complain about the Millennials having is brattiness. Gen X has always been stereotyped as growing up too fast -- troubled teens doing drugs, getting pregnant, and running away in the '80s, then world-weary cynicism when they were only in the 20s during the '90s.

    Millennials should accept that if literally everyone has the same view of you guys, it's literally probably true. Now that you all are finally interacting with the outside world in your mid-late 20s, you're starting to pick up these reality checks.

    I would attribute most of the Millennial weirdness to helicopter parents, whether they're the engaged / vigilant type or the negligent / absentee type of over-protective parent.

    How else did an entire generation get closed off from all social contact with the outside world, including their own extended families? Such profound social deprivation for more or less the entire developmental window is bound to mess a person up.

    And who else kept making everything the generation did into a contest, task, or trial with winners, losers, rankings, and/or individual performance metrics?

    And drugging your developing brains on anti-depressants and ADD meds?

    You might want to partially excuse the parents since they were only expressing the overarching zeitgeist of cocooning and competitiveness -- preparing their kids for that kind of world.

    But parents are supposed to stabilize their children against disruptive outside forces, whereas the Millennials' parents went above and beyond the general level of adopting a cocooning and competitive way of thinking and behaving.

    They have been way more psychotic about everybody keeping to themselves, because they feel like any outside influence is guaranteed to melt away all their years of tireless clay-shaping.

    And they have been way more fanatic about pushing everyone into some kind of competition (cheer moms, sideline dads). The cheer mom / dance mom is the worst -- how can anyone look at 8 year-old children wearing full Jezebel make-up, skimpy suit, and prancing around on stage for attention, and conclude that the parents are trying to minimize the impact of hyper-competitiveness on their children? They are driving the trend even worse than childless strivers.

    Parents are also in a position to change the direction that society is heading in, by trying to bring up the next generation different. Again, if anything they have tried to accelerate the anti-social trend just so their own special snowflake will get ahead, rather than cooperate and coordinate to dampen down the parents' competitive tendencies.

    Now, once you guys are out on your own, it'll sound less and less convincing to shift the blame toward your parents. Not that their effects aren't somewhat permanent, especially considering how wide-ranging and long-lasting they had been during development. But people are resilient and adaptable, too, so you'll just have to make the best of it once you're out of the house, and look at it as a challenge or opportunity to improve yourself.

    Everybody who isn't a helicopter parent, hates helicopter parents, so putting the focus on them for awhile won't alienate the audience who is trying to understand how messed up these previously invisible Millennials are.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "And who else kept making everything the generation did into a contest, task, or trial with winners, losers, rankings, and/or individual performance metrics?

    ...But parents are supposed to stabilize their children against disruptive outside forces, whereas the Millennials' parents went above and beyond the general level of adopting a cocooning and competitive way of thinking and behaving."

    My parents aren't pushy. People (both organizers and participants) in certain kinds of activities tend to be solitary and competitive.

    I think some parents assume that friendship happens naturally whereas learning the arts or sports doesn't.

    But creating an environment which is conducive to friendship does in fact take a lot of work.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Over-exposure to competition may also explain their tendency to melt down over seemingly trivial trials. If they don't enjoy rest periods, as it were, between episodes of competitiveness, their minds don't get to recover and become stronger. The competitive lobe of their brain becomes fatigued from chronic hyper-extension."


    If you're in a competitive environment and you do something wrong or you make mistakes, it seems like a serious setback. Because there are probably people around you who do not make mistakes or fail or commit any wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  21. There's also a certain confluence of the bad.

    I dislike women doctors. I think it has to do with the personality of the women who becomes doctors. The children of women doctors are the worst. Though I am not familiar with lady lawyers or lady bankers.

    I think whether your Mom was a real professional or just a housewife has a major impact.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The world at the moment is an extremely competitive place and because of this, any extracurricular activity undertaken by your child is likely to let them have an edge in their lives above the rest hence the reason to enable them to take the appropriate kids dance classes. Mentioned previously, competition is fierce so choosing the right place in places you will enrol them is of paramount importance.

    The initial thing that you need to establish is the exact type of dance that you might want to enrol them into in the event which they cannot already choose independently. This choice is not just one that you stumble upon and opt to enrol into worthless kids dance classes. Research the types of dance existent, and whatever they teach your child. As an example, common knowledge would tell you that ballet dancing will teach your youngster discipline and systematic thinking as well as organisation.


    http://kidsdanceclassesinfo.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  23. agnostic You need to be connected to others if you want to stick your neck out on the creative side

    On this, from another angle, I remember an article earlier this year on "why hipsters all look the same"

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/hipster-style-mathematical-equation-makes-all-hipsters-look-alike-310064

    Essentially all trying to look different from the mainstream, while getting all the same information from the mainstream and not enough information from one another (because what other hipsters are doing is less accessible relative to the mainstream) the math idea is they end up all moving in the same direction.

    The idea is this is mathematically inaccessible to a degree, because of the limits of the speed of social information propagation, which will never be fast enough to inhibit the effect.

    But you wonder (at least I wonder) whether in more socially connected societies people who want to do something different from the mainstream without just doing something random have an easier time being aware of what one another are doing and so not retreading over the same ground. And in societies where people are guided by a particular ideal rather than simply being different from the mainstream (competitive differentiation from the average) they are more likely to move in different directions without simply being random.

    Whether or not this holds true or not, in reality, I don't know.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Studying social-cultural trends as though they arose from mostly random processes is off-base. Today's hipsters not only appear so similar to each other, they also look incredibly similar to the hipsters of the Gilded Age -- facial hair being the most obvious trait. Nietzschean doom-and-gloom nihilism is back, so is affecting a persona of being an intellectual or aesthete but really just being some lame emo poser who wears all black.

    The author framed his project as using hipsters only as a metaphor -- like what if there was a group that all tried to behave differently from the mainstream? They'd still end up highly similar to each other.

    But most people's choices about how to present themselves, and how to build their identity, aren't random. There are forces that they're constrained by, and you get convergent evolution rather than accidental similarity.

    I'm glad to see people applying dynamic systems theory to human group behavior, though. Or to any domain, for that matter. Differential equations were big up through the '70s and kind of into the '80s, but with the status-striving trend taking off then, everyone had to be doing something different from the received methods (and have begun their own silly fashion cycles in methodology, theory, etc.).

    As in so many other ways, I've unconsciously always been drawn to the superior '70s vintage way of doing things. The math models I use for social science are almost all differential equations, phase plane analysis, and the like. No fancy fashionable crap that's built for planned obsolescence ("that approach is so ten years ago"). Look at how instantly obsolescent graph theory became. Why bother learning methods that are made to be flashy rather than productive?

    ReplyDelete
  25. "The world at the moment is an extremely competitive place and because of this, any extracurricular activity undertaken by your child is likely to let them have an edge in their lives"

    Pay us for dance lessons, and your child too can edge their way into the door of the debtors' prison. Don't delay, operators are standing by.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "One way to define GenX's relationship with society is that we lost our future upon entering adulthood."

    This may be why Gen X is way more likely to realtalk about the Really Big Problems (insert John Rocker quote here), rather than token culture war "issues" that the Boomers are more fond of.

    If you remember the old America, but are already old, you may feel like it's too late to bother raising a fuss. Silents and Boomers don't like the changing face of America, but they won't pipe up personally and won't vote for change via the government. Just keep on with the same ol' same ol', and hope it doesn't get too bad before you croak.

    If that loss struck during adolescence, though, you're more likely to feel like fighting to repair it -- you still have so much more of your life ahead of you, and you'll be damned if you're going to let it slide further and further toward oblivion in the meantime.

    Millennials don't feel the loss personally since they grew up once the major changes had been made. But they're going to get shafted even harder by current trends -- something as simple as finding peers of the same ethnic group to make friends with -- and have even longer left to live than the X-ers.

    I think the task ahead is to convey what the old America was like to the Millennials, and hope that acquired knowledge will make a good-enough substitute for personal experience in getting them angry at what has been lost. Some of them are already aware, judging from those memes about Old Economy Steve. (Basically, how easy their parents had it before the higher ed bubble, mass immigration, and the like made it hard for the average person to make a decent living.)

    Boomers are not really in a position to do the teaching, even if they have more personal experience with the Old Economy. They're too willing to give current trends a pass (despite not welcoming them), and when they get worked up, it is usually by way of proposing a libertarian solution -- more of what got us here since the '80s. They imprinted on libertarianism when it was the hip new thing back in the '70s, and can't let go of it without massive cognitive dissonance and guilt over betraying their generation's weltanschauung.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "Silents and Boomers don't like the changing face of America, but they won't pipe up personally and won't vote for change via the government. Just keep on with the same ol' same ol', and hope it doesn't get too bad before you croak."

    Another factor may be that, having spent so much time in the pleasant 40's-70's and being able to have relative comfort even into the 90's and beyond they feel more inherently optimistic. So many things went right for them even if they're clueless as to why they went their way. Newsflash: they were spoiled at the beginning then in the process of building themselves up as adults they stole from future generations.

    Silents/Boomers can also be assured that they are reasonably well represented in the power centers of cutlure; think tanks, the courts, politics, the media etc. Meanwhile younger Americans are disgruntled by by being totally shut out of it (unless they're gay....)

    People take action when they're cheated, cold, hungry, voiceless etc. I don't think the Silents and Boomers have been in enough discomfort to take action.

    ReplyDelete
  28. We've all heard about brain plasticity and the way it declines with age, right?

    Perhaps senile Silents/borderline senile Boomers have brains that simply haven't fully processed the fact that America has drastically changed.

    It doesn't help either that the me 1st-ism of those generations means that they are less capable of processing the pain that's been inflicted by greed and multiculturalism on America esp. to those who grew up in in the long dark shadow of the 60's.

    ReplyDelete

You MUST enter a nickname with the "Name/URL" option if you're not signed in. We can't follow who is saying what if everyone is "Anonymous."