April 29, 2015

Cocooning still continuing through new General Social Survey data

Now that the 2014 data for the General Social Survey have been released, we can see if recent social trends are continuing or reversing. I'll be focusing on those that relate to the cocooning-and-crime cycle, which plays out on the local and interpersonal level, where we typically only have impressions rather than hard data.

Here is an earlier post that lays out the dynamics of crime and cocooning behavior. Briefly, when people come out of their shells and let their guard down, it makes them more vulnerable to manipulation or predation by criminals and con artists. An outgoing social mood leads to rising crime rates. As crime rates get higher and higher, people begin to worry more about who they can trust. Rising crime slows down trust.

Ultimately they figure it's not worth the risk to be socially open around strangers and begin to close themselves off. That leaves slim pickings for criminals, so that cocooning causes falling crime rates. With the environment becoming so safe, people reassess how necessary it is to cocoon themselves from seemingly non-existent danger. Ultimately, low crime rates lead people to re-emerge from their cocoons, which begins the cycle all over again.

Violent and property crime rates have been falling since a peak around 1992. They fell dramatically during the '90s, looked like they would bottom out during the 2000s, but have continued a steady descent over the past five or so years.

That should have been enabled by the continuing of the cocooning trend, and indeed the new GSS data show no reversal in any of the key signals of people closing themselves off to others.

The main psychological trait here is trust, and it continues to fall. The GSS asks if other people can generally be trusted, or if you can't be too careful. A high was reached in the late '80s, with around 40-45% of Americans trusting strangers. After a decline, it appeared to hold steady at 32% from 2006 onward. In the 2014 survey, though, it took an extra dip down to only 30%.

This withdrawal of trust cuts across every demographic group, so I'm not controlling for any of them. Race, sex, age, education, class, marital status, region, size of local population, political orientation -- everyone is noticeably less trusting of strangers than they were 25 years ago.

One of the most dramatic drops I noticed was among young people. The only age group that is about as trusting as it used to be is 60-somethings. Every other group shows the decline, but the drop is steeper the younger the group. Among people aged 18-24, trusting others dropped from 35% to 14% from the early '90s to 2014. But even among 40-somethings, trust levels fell from 48% to 28% during the same period (that's the same size of a decline, but relatively smaller compared to how high it began).

I interpret that as younger people being more susceptible to cocooning because not trusting strangers and wanting to just play by yourself is a natural part of immaturity. Young people being as socially open as they were back in the '80s was more of a radical departure from what you'd expect based on their age, so it snapped back harder once cocooning set in (regression toward the mean).

You may be thinking, "Well, there's still at least 30% of Americans who trust others -- they're a minority, but it isn't like they're non-existent. And the maximum was only 40-45% before. How big of a change can that be?"

The difference is that trust is not part of isolated, individual behavior -- it relates to interactions among pairs of individuals, or larger groups still. Pick two people at random, throw them together, and see if both of them are trusting. If so, they can sustain a getting-to-know-you interaction. If only one is trusting, the interaction will sputter out. If neither one is trusting, it won't even be initiated.

The chance that two randomly chosen people are both trusting is proportional to the square of their fraction in the population. (Pick one, pick another, multiply the probabilities.) Squaring a fraction makes it much smaller, so looking at just the trust level among individuals is underestimating how fragmented society has become.

In a world where 45% are trusting, the chance that any two strangers who run into each other will both be trusting is 20%. In a world where only 30% are trusting, those two strangers have only a 9% chance of both being trusting.

Thus, even though a trusting disposition has "only" fallen by one-third, from 45% to 30%, trust-based interactions between a pair of strangers have fallen by half, from 20% to 9%.

It's even worse for those youngsters. When their trust levels fall from 35% to 14%, successful interactions between a pair of strangers who run into each other fall from 12% to just 2%. Of course, folks can make small talk without having to trust each other, but I'm talking about the ability of people who haven't met before to open up and connect with each other right off the bat. It may have been difficult before, but it's nearly impossible now. They might as well be toddlers who think everyone other than mommy and daddy are dangerous, or who are at least not worth trusting to share their toys with.

If you've wondered why you never see young people letting it all hang out and feeding off each other's energy, that's why. They simply don't trust anyone.

Going out to a bar on a somewhat frequent basis is also less common than it was back in the '80s. It's most pronounced among younger age groups, and only those who are 55 and older are more likely to go out to a bar or nightclub than their counterparts used to be. That's the Boomers refusing to age gracefully, and not really a sign of an outgoing disposition. They're there to engage in a contest of "who's still got it?" rather than to open up and have fun.

Spending an evening with a neighbor is still declining since a peak in the late '80s.

Both men and women continue to have less frequent sex. Doing it only once a month, or less frequently, afflicted nearly 40% of women in the early '90s, but nearly 50% in 2014. For men, infrequent sex rose from around 30% to around 40%.

Those questions establish that people are still cocooning. What about gradually realizing that the world isn't so dangerous anymore? Fear of walking around your neighborhood at night tracks the crime rate, lagging behind it by a few years (just to be safe). In 1994, 45% of Americans were afraid, and in 2014 it continued to drop, down to 31%.

Predicting how long this period of cocooning and falling crime will last is not an exact science. The last time, it was about 25 years, from a peak of crime in 1933 to a bottom in 1958. Keeping tabs on the social mood is more important: once we see a steady rise in trust and open behavior, we can expect crime rates to start rising shortly after. So far, though, that doesn't appear to be around the corner.

GSS variables: year, trust, socbar, socommun, sexfreq, fear

51 comments:

  1. Socbar is one where race and region can matter (although region shouldn't change year on year trends very much)

    The South and Mountain region drink less than others - http://i.imgur.com/Uw6igT7.png (and go to bars less because they don't drink).
    Whites compared to non-Whites, aged 20-30 http://i.imgur.com/cwWvkcq.png. Some of the Whites in younger groups may be Hispanic Whites.

    The trust variable does go down and does peak in 1984, but setting 1984 aside, it looks like the 80s are part of the negative correlation - http://i.imgur.com/Ozd4Uku.png - probably only very slightly. I don't think there's a major difference between the 1980s as a whole vs 1970s as a whole though, and 1984 plays a part.

    Within a population trust is very variable with intellectual ability - at Wordsum 0 you'll find the larger majority 90% saying you cannot trust, at Wordsum 10, only 20% of people say you cannot trust (although that is across the sample - the gap doesn't really change, while everyone gets lower trust) - http://i.imgur.com/QcXiFus.png. Trust also increases with education, within Wordsum categories (if you use one as a control, where there's a decent sample size, more educated are more trusting).

    The relationships of trust with the socialisation variables are much more slight (spending time with friends seems to have the most substantial relationship, but still quite low) - http://i.imgur.com/CqtonzJ.png

    Life satisfaction stuff doesn't change a great deal over time http://i.imgur.com/XgD1D78.png (these aren't so related with intelligence, have some small connection to socialisation and trust).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Peter Turchin predicts an eruption around 2020. Do you see that happening?

    People will need to let down their guard before they can trust each other enough to form a sustained revolt That doesn't seem to have happened yet. Is America going to change enough in the next five years to enable this?



    ReplyDelete
  3. "That's the Boomers refusing to age gracefully, and not really a sign of an outgoing disposition"

    There's been some bar closings in my area over the last 5 years or so. As Boomers die, get locked up, or finally decide to settle down, areas that don't have a lot of kids who wanna get trashed aren't going to need many bars. Of course, if cocconing lifts I suppose we'll see a need for more bars.

    I think bike helmets would be a good milestone for whether people have lives or not. Most kids born after about 1988 were subjected to that paranoid and infantile trend. The 3 neighborhoods I grew up had no mid 80's born kids wearing the stupid things.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "There's been some bar closings in my area over the last 5 years or so."

    Don't forget that college students typically go to college bars. There's been a huge rise in college amenities, like coffee shops and snack bars, in recent decades, and part of that has been a rise in bars on college campuses. The college I went to, and small liberal arts school, had three bars almost adjacent to campus, and two dance clubs adjacent also.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The older you get the more trusting you get so says a new survey http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/03/11/1948550615574301. I think this is true in my life and so naturally I suspect it is true with other people. Are smarter people more trusting? Perhaps, but maybe they have so many things going for them that they don't have to worry about the loss of a few pennies here and there. The poor people I know seem very trusting in the sense that they don't seem to be saving up for a rainy day or retirement but seem to be confident that a safety net or prosperity will always be there. I'm a saver which I think is prudent but maybe I just don't think people individually or collectively will give a damn about me in the future. Look for a rise in labor activism and then you will see a society changing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know what "micro-aggression" is other than a pure form of non-trust. Granted it is probably controlled by a small group of bad actors looking to destroy/control society, but that so many ignorant people get swept up in it seems to be the result of their lack of trust. If I don't trust somebody then I will naturally perceive everything they say as being duplicitous. In the best case scenario you are ignorant of me, and that ignorance is offensive. Here is a list of 15 things you should never say/ask of the type of person I am, but you can't judge me based on that type, because we are all unique snowflakes.

    That we are starting to see some honest pushback against this type of attitude is a good sign. But I still think that movement has yet to achieve its high point yet.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The micro-aggressions crowd is easy to make fun of, but they're only the highest degree of the fundamental Millennial type, which feels that everyone, everything, and every place is creepy, sketchy, weird, gross, rape-y, awkward, and problematic.

    When every little spec of dust is out to get you, you might as well hole up indoors all day long, and only venture out in public while donning your psychological hazmat suit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "The older you get the more trusting you get so says a new survey"

    That's true, but the decline in trust levels affects just about all age groups. Even though 40-somethings are more trusting than 20-somethings, both groups are less trusting than their counterparts were in the '80s.

    It makes it hard to see the decline in trust if you only look at yourself and your peers, since as you get older, you've grown more trusting. Without looking at other generations, you don't see that the folks your age 30 years ago were a lot more trusting than you are today, and that the kids these days are even less trusting than when you were a wary youngster.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Back in the '80s, young adults (18-24) were as trusting as 50-somethings are in 2014.

    People matured fast back then. Cocooning is a form of infantilization for younger adults, or regression for the middle-aged. Everyone outside the family is a danger, and I don't want to play with anyone else.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Peter Turchin predicts an eruption around 2020. Do you see that happening?"

    He's looking at the status-striving and inequality cycle, which is separate from crime and cocooning. There does seem to be a 50-year period in collective upheaval and violence -- circa 1870, 1920, and 1970.

    In 1965, things didn't look like they'd blow up five years later. The top 20 TV shows included the Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, and My Three Sons. The top 20 songs for the year included "Downtown," "My Girl," and "Help Me, Rhonda". The biggest movie was The Sound of Music. Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act, etc., all looked pretty nice and peaceful.

    When violence is collective and spreads by social contagion, it grows exponentially fast, like an epidemic disease. It's hard to see coming, unless you have historical data suggesting another regular wave.

    By the same token, it also dies down very quickly after the peak intensity. Already by the late '70s, it was disco rather than youth lib music, Grease rather than The Graduate, and Three's Company rather than All in the Family.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A.B. Prosper4/30/15, 1:26 PM

    Technology plays a big part, no need to go out when you can talk to people online. No need to bother with public events even watching the same TV shows with the internet either. People certainly could cocoon in earlier eras but its much simpler now . I would think this should extend the natural cycle. I know it has for me.

    More importantly blame it on diversity. Adding 50 million new immigrants basically destroyed much social comity not only by eroding the common culture but by breaking what little trust remained in the institutions. Remember that the most populous American states are often highly diverse and the differences in culture, race and language can make communication beyond small talk impossible. I speak at least some Spanish for example but the cultural gap between myself and the Mexican neighbors is so great we have less than nothing in common and have no reason to communicate even to the level of hello. Why bother?

    The "leaders" of the country seem actively hostile to the American people .The heavy emphasis on surveillance, infiltration and espionage also erodes trust in general.

    Upside for the elite at least is a lower chance of a revolt. Downside when it happens, well it will be far less reconciliation and more likely something worse

    My guess is that the cocooning phase will end sometime after the US either reboots or goes into a civil war mode . It will be within a decade or two from a reboot (I regard this as a low probability event) two or three decades from a civil war , once communities are forcibly homogeneous and people no longer have to assume people are trying to kill them.

    If it just continues to erode, we can reasonably assume that people will stay buttoned up with a caveat. It will very a bit based on culture, Hispanics and Blacks are more outgoing than Whites ,Southern Europeans more than other Europeans and Eastern Europeans (and we've had quite a few immigrants from there) from low trust cultures are more like Asians . You may also see tendencies to more folkish and clannish behavior among some groups where they are friendly and outgoing with a few people, are willing to give a small chance to those like them and trust no one else.

    A broader "open" White culture though will only happen some decades after the US demography shifts to younger and Whiter and the general culture gets healthy. This could happen though it will more likely be a smaller US landmass if such a thing is possible,

    A last bit, if the US has an economic recovery and there is significant assimilation into some kind of monoculture , you could have a naturally more outgoing culture as well.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I predict another rise in the crime rate around 2020, for separate reasons. The last decline was around 25 years, and the most recent peak was 1992. Will today's decline last as long as the last one? Both of the rising-crime phases lasted the same length -- circa 1900 to the early 30s, and circa 1960 to the early '90s. The falling-crime periods probably will as well.

    The interaction between the two cycles is interesting to study. Collective violence in 1970 was only 10 years into a rising-crime period, whereas the upheaval around 1920 was 20 years into a rising-crime period, much more outgoing. Sure enough, the riots around 1920 left those of 1970 in the dust.

    This time around, individual-level crime may only just be starting to rise, or perhaps will be bottoming out, and folks will only start to be coming out of their shells, if at all.

    That ought to provide less fuel for the fire of collective violence.

    Black people these days are far more withdrawn, holed-up, and sheltered than they were 20 to 30 years ago. And especially since you're relying on young people to lead the charge, look at the prospects for Millennial blacks who are geeky and socially awkward.

    It's a large difference from the days when blacks were just hanging out on the porch or stoop at all hours, waiting for the opportunity to present itself.

    In the 2020 upheaval, I expect the participant-to-spectator ratio to be much lower than in 1970 or especially 1920.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I don't think there's a major difference between the 1980s as a whole vs 1970s as a whole though, and 1984 plays a part."

    The '70s and '80s saw fluctuations up and down, but the steady decline doesn't begin until the '90s.

    Trust is related to other variables within a slice of time. But I'm talking about their trends over time: for any demographic group, their trust levels have fallen since the '90s. Dim, average, or bright. Black, white, other. Male, female. Young, middle-aged, elderly.

    The only difference is how steep the decline has been. In fact, the brightest whites have fallen even faster than the dim or average whites.

    They're the ones who are the most paranoid about another parent at the playground actually being a crypto-kiddie-snatcher, the ones who are the most insistent on Netflix or something at-home rather than going to a theater, and the ones most likely to be staring at a screen in public, despite dim and average people having phones these days too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Technology does not make people use it one way or another, or to a greater degree or lesser degree. It's there to be used however people feel like using it.

    "no need to go out when you can talk to people online."

    Back in the '80s, kids had phones in their homes. Did that mean they didn't need to leave the house? Why meet up when you can talk over the phone? Toward the end of the decade, middle-class teenagers might have had a phone in their room (more privacy), and if they were really spoiled, they would have had their own phone *line* (no eavesdropping).

    But that didn't keep them from spending most of their free time in the presence of their peers, mostly outside the home.

    "More importantly blame it on diversity."

    Where diversity exists, it's made cocooning worse. But there are large areas of America where white people don't have Mexican neighbors. Or black neighbors, for that matter.

    That could be large-scale geographical differences, like the Midwest vs. the West Coast, or it could be small-scale class differences, like wealthy white Bethesda MD vs. middling diverse Gaithersburg MD.

    Do these sanctuaries of homogeneity look and feel just like the '80s? No. Their cocooning behaviors are not as intense as someone who chose to live near the Mexican border, but they are still more closed-off, guarded, and holed-up than their counterparts 20-30 years ago.

    I'm not just talking about people in a rich all-white neighborhood avoiding the poorer diverse neighborhoods. They don't even socialize with one another, nor do they let their kids play unsupervised around their own all-white neighborhood.

    That's not caused by diversity, which is non-existent for them at the neighborhood level. It's just continuing the falling-trust trend that began over 20 years ago as a response to the rising-crime trend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. A.B. Prosper4/30/15, 2:51 PM

    As a kid of the 80's I can tell you the Internet is a vastly different experience than the phone. Now I play D&D which is a social hobby and many of my players are younger than me, Gen Y and I've noticed that they have poor verbal communications skills on the phone compared to D&D players my own age and they won't use them (with one exception) if they don't have too. They do text when needed and are quite comfy online and communicating there, JMO the Internet amplified cocooning

    RE: the cocooning as a general trends even more homogeneous neighborhoods , I agree

    Speaking broadly its a numbers game , there are many more White people in diverse areas than in non diverse ones. Take Southern California . The population there is about 40% non Hispanic White and accounting for L.A. and such, its more than 4x that of Kansas !

    This is certainly going an have an effect on the local culture and its seems to be having an effect on the broader one as well.

    Also I do agree there is a strong correlation between crime rates cocooning but in reality there isn't less crime. There is less street crime and is physically safer so you don't see the Death Wish type crime but drug abuse, theft and fraud are actually far more common. The actual "dishonest" behavior rate is probably far higher and its common to have to for example to change ones credit cards 4x a year or more. The erodes trust since simply, there is less reason to trust.

    This is backed up by imprisonment rates which are vastly higher per capita now than in the past.

    so before the system springs back even in homogeneous areas, the actual crime rate would gave to drop. The non homogeneous ones will spring back even slower if at all

    ReplyDelete
  16. A.B. Prosper raises good points. Furthermore, diversity isn't just racial diversity. White transplants represent a form of diversity also. Many of those SWPL bastions are less homogenous than they seem at first glance, having sometimes received many recent newcomers, often those who are upwardly mobile from the working class.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Different white people can have radically different social sensibilities and personalities. This also probably tracks according to political orientation - and white conservatives and liberals tend to be jammed within the same small towns these days.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I second A.B. Prosper's point about technology. A corded landline in the kitchen is not even in the same realm as internet communication methods. Phones are one to one, texting, Facebook, blogs, etc. are group activities. In high school during the 80s, our main phone was in the kitchen (the other one was in my dad's den, off limits). I would stretch the phone cord as far as possible to reach about 2/3 up the stairs, where I would have hushed and furtive conversations with girlfriends all while my mom, dad and brothers would be walking by. Holy crap did I want to get out of the house. If I had a cellphone back then? I would have been holed up in my room and in constant contact with friends like teenagers today.

    Technology absolutely affects how people behave.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "There is less street crime and is physically safer so you don't see the Death Wish type crime but drug abuse, theft and fraud are actually far more common. "

    "Black people these days are far more withdrawn, holed-up, and sheltered than they were 20 to 30 years ago. And especially since you're relying on young people to lead the charge, look at the prospects for Millennial blacks who are geeky and socially awkward."

    Theft? I dunno. When menacing blacks lurked and Boomer whites raised hell in the 60's-early 90's, you were much more likely to have your property or person affronted by vandals, thieves, robbers, killers, rapists etc.

    Fraud in some ways has gone up as measured by:

    - Elite profiteering (brutal loans, business "ethics", constant jewing of customers, competitors, and "partners")

    - Shameless scapegoating/ass covering by so many rather than ever taking responsibility for mistakes

    - The sheer number of rackets being run like widely promoted gambling, the financial market maelstrom etc.

    - The non-existent "family" becoming an even bigger joke than was thought possible in the Me Gen's 70's/80's/90's salad days. A women can do anything to a nearly literal degree. In Canada a women who kills her infant cannot be charged with 1st degree murder. Were it not for the remnants of hillbilly culture in the US we would've passed such laws.

    There have been numerous cases of Marxist judges ordering men to pay child support for babies who were fathered by other men. Of course people can initiate divorces for any or no reason at all. Almost always, women are awarded custody and men are hounded for child support regardless of how lazy and dishonest the mother is. Then there's alimony.

    - A "news" media, a government, "think" tanks, and "higher" ed shamelessly deceiving, degrading, and exploiting the masses as any concern for integrity and fair play are cast out so to accelerate the careers and line the pockets of "journalists", "professors", "public" servants, and "intellectuals" whose capacity for creative, independent, and objective thought mysteriously dries up when it threatens the ever growing octopus and it's insatiable appetite for blood.

    With huge levels of striving, a lack of harmony and unity borne out of too much diversity of race, of language, of origin, of values, people become more cynical. When you can rationalize that it's every man for himself, that no one has any scruples, it becomes easier to want in on the take.

    Like Curtis pointed out, the relatively homogenous Germans were able to "take on" the Jews when a lack of striving gave Germans a collective sense of having a common and noble purpose.

    Who would "we" take on? And why?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I forgot to deal with drug issues. Drinking and "recreational" drug use peaked, by far, with the Boomers. More mundane "prescription" drugs have certainly become more common since the 90's.

    I'd have to say though that the damage wrought by drug addled Boomers is much greater than that which has been done by Gen X-ers and Millennials. I'm sure that if you looked at most measures of extreme dysfunction (which highly correlate with high/drunk assholes) that things were a lot worse in the 70's-90's when the Boomers were younger.

    For one thing, I've read that road fatalities have been getting less and less common per capita over the last 10-20 years. Young(ish) Boomers often spectacularly took themselves out of the gene pool.

    Last but not least, the Boomers own temperament makes them a menace even without chemicals further distorting their judgement. How often was callous Boomer arrogance and wildness excused with "I guess he just had too much to drink" Really?

    ReplyDelete
  21. As a teenager of the '90s, I can tell you that cocooning among young people began way before everyone had a cell phone, when there were no smart phones, no social media, no online video games (except among hardcore nerds), and no text exchanges with your friends and peers over the internet -- neither by piling into the same chat room, emailing each other, or "texting" back and forth over Instant Messenger.

    It may be hard to remember, but all of those things belong to the 2000s and 2010s. Especially interacting with real-life acquaintances over the internet -- did not happen in the '90s. Trust levels had been falling for a decade or more by the 21st century, and people young and old had begun to close themselves off, put up their guard, and prefer to stay home alone rather than go out in a group.

    ReplyDelete
  22. To put it the other way around, the rise of the internet as the great mediator of a person's real-life relationships in the 21st century was an outgrowth of the falling trust and cocooning behavior among young people that had been taking place during the '90s.

    Young cocooners wanted some kind of interaction, without having to, y'know, interact. Thus the sudden popularity of MySpace, text messaging over phones, online multiplayer video games, Hot or Not, Match.com, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "There is less street crime and is physically safer so you don't see the Death Wish type crime but drug abuse, theft and fraud are actually far more common."

    I said "Violent and property crime rates" -- not white-collar crime, drug use, etc. Violent and property crimes are the ones that people leave themselves open to when they are more trusting ("why bother locking the door?").

    White-collar crime is related to the status-striving and inequality cycle, and is indeed still soaring. It's not what makes you afraid at night, though, and won't make you cocoon.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "This is backed up by imprisonment rates which are vastly higher per capita now than in the past."

    The incarceration rate does not reflect crime rates. If you plot them against crime rates, they're not related one way or the other. Rising incarceration rates are neither a response to rising crime rates (they would have stopped and turned down sometime during the past 20 years), nor do they act as a cause of falling crime rates (crime fell during the Midcentury when incarceration rates were steady / falling, and there was no War on Crime; incarceration rates also began rising during the '70s, yet crime rates didn't start falling until the mid-'90s).

    Instead they reflect the inequality cycle: rising incarceration with rising inequality, and falling with falling. In a period of rising inequality and status-striving, the norm is "every man for himself" -- no pity, mercy, or desire to re-incorporate an offender back into society (also no interest to learn if he actually committed the crime he was convicted of).

    When inequality and competitiveness are falling, the norm is accommodating others and societal harmony. Rehabilitation becomes the norm in the criminal justice system -- right through the end of the Great Compression during the '70s. By the end of the '70s, it switched to punitive only.

    You saw the same thing in the Victorian era (growing inequality), with debtors' prisons and getting thrown in the workhouse -- something beyond a mere prison. Prisoners today also work for peanuts, another form of cheap labor like mass immigration to depress the wages of working-class people and widen inequality.

    ReplyDelete
  25. A.B. Prosper4/30/15, 9:56 PM

    Mea Culpa on the crime issue , you were correct about street crime vs other crime back at 7:13 . I'll consider the inequality cycle idea before I comment on it further though.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "It may be hard to remember, but all of those things belong to the 2000s and 2010s."

    Indeed, i can remember as a Junior Higher that teen culture was still more outgoing and active at that time, but also tame. for instance, instead of going to parties, I remember taking the bus to the movie theater with my friends. Internet use exploded in the early 2000s.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm struck by how little people remember about the nature of the internet in the '90s. It was a totally new thing, you think it would've left an impression for how primitive it was -- like black & white TV with only 3 channels of wholesome programming that went off the air every night.

    Everything that people blame the internet for didn't show up until the 2000s, but they project them back 10-15 years to try to rationalize the warped direction that social behavior was heading in during the '90s.

    Same with cell phones -- so rare in the '90s that the running joke in Clueless was, "OMG these teenagers are so rich they *all* have cellular telephones!" Even if you did have one back then, there was no texting.

    The first wave of cell phone popularity in the early 2000s was largely a talking phenomenon -- a common complaint was that cell phones led to self-important idiots blabbing their private conversations to the general public, who couldn't have cared less.

    Texting didn't hit it big until the mid-2000s -- that's when the complaints shifted to kids diddling their phones underneath their desk instead of paying attention to the teacher, and maybe 5-10 years after that, the complaint about young people walking around with their heads slumped downward as they text and swipe for hours on end.

    Internet porn gets blamed a lot for the distance between boys and girls, and increasingly men and women, but video clips weren't really available until the early 2000s either.

    Yet the decline in young people socializing in mixed-sex groups, dating, and having sex began by the early '90s (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey). That wasn't caused by young guys retreating to the safe, rejection-free echo chamber of internet porn videos, which were non-existent. What they had available was the occasional nudie mag that someone's friend swiped from his older brother or father, or the Victoria's Secret catalog that came in the mail.

    As in the other cases, the technological change was driven by an earlier social change (not vice versa). After young people in the '90s had grown increasingly distant, guarded, and risk-averse romantically and sexually, internet porn videos became a profitable substitute or palliative during the 2000s.

    ReplyDelete
  28. something I've been wondering for awhile now, is what will happen to the Internet once people stop cocooning? is it possible to integrate it, but use it much less drastically?

    crime rose temporarily in the early 2000s, yet Internet use was also rising during this time.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Fair point Agnostic but cable started slicing into society in the 90'S(OJ 1994). More channels, more porn and more reasons to stay home with or without the internet. What I remember and what seemed strange to me at the time and today was how people would buy movies at the store. I rarely ever want to see any movie twice. Personally, I like a somewhat rowdy crowd in the theater. What makes people laugh, cry or yawn interests me. I am in the minority as people seem to think now that they don't have to go to the theater or stadium why should they. Yes, I agree with you about the internet but there were other technical changes happening that foreshadowed the internet and were changing society. Like your blog and am sympathetic to your general theory but life in 1994 watching the OJ trial was much different then 1984 or 1974.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "Fair point Agnostic but cable started slicing into society in the 90'S(OJ 1994). More channels, more porn and more reasons to stay home with or without the internet. What I remember and what seemed strange to me at the time and today was how people would buy movies at the store. "

    Movies were better in the 70's and early to mid 80's. Which would explain why theater going dropped. Also, the initial signs of cocooning were already apparent around 1990:

    - Clothes were getting baggier eventually leading to way too many people looking like clowns by the late 90's.

    - A trend for black and white photography as seen in some trendy commercials/music videos. By 1994 Clerks (shot in B&W) would get widely released. Were any contemp. black and white movies widely released in the mid 70's-mid 80's?

    - Several popular songs with highly repetitive rhythms, dull instrumentation, and flat vocals went up the charts in late 1988/1989. "Pure" rap was virtually non existent on the charts before 1988.

    With regard to the OJ saga, wasn't it around 1990 or so that the culture became interested in following trashy scandals voraciously? The notable incidents/scandals that caused a stir in the 70's/80's (Jim Jones, The Manson Family, Ted Bundy etc.) tended to be spectacularly gruesome and people generally didn't follow this stuff obsessively. It's not the tech aspect; the 80's actually had just as much scandalous stuff happening but people were too busy working, socializing, listening to good music, playing pickup basketball or whatever to spur cable news ratings sky high.

    In other words, had OJ gone on a spree in the early-mid 80's it would've received attention. But not the level of mania that it ended up having since it happened in the 90's.

    Trashy day time talk (on broadcast TV mind you) and wall to wall scandal coverage by cable news exploded in the 90's. But that's because people were withdrawing from the outside world and getting dorkier, not because people did more outrageous things to justify the voyeurism of the 90's and beyond.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm struck by how little people remember about the nature of the internet in the '90s. It was a totally new thing, you think it would've left an impression for how primitive it was -- like black & white TV with only 3 channels of wholesome programming that went off the air every night.

    How many people remember anything accurately about the 90's? Or anything at all about the period? You've said that the decade was like the bitter divorce after the (relatively) happy union of the 80's. It was an awkward, confused time that most people (probably subconsciously) would rather just not think about anymore.

    I think that things gradually shifted throughout the decade which make it harder to make summaries/generalizations of the time. Also, the 90's was the decade where it became very obvious that due to:
    -Striving
    - Idiotic social policy subsidizing blacks/browns
    - The disintegration of the family
    - Growing betrayal of any sort of tradition or standards

    We were never going to fulfill the Reagan promise of bring America back to full strength. The election of wild Bill Clinton, he of the inimitable smarm, was a defiant rejection of what progress had been made in the 80's.

    But people for the most part weren't really hip to what was driving anything. Things were sorta changing but it's not like anyone was cheerleading (except some know it all Boomers I guess). People were more bemused, more detached. We just didn't quite know what to make of a lot of it.

    Grunge does come up when you mention the 90's, but this isn't that surprising when you realize that Grunge was one of the last remnants of soul and sincerity in the early 90's. But nobody talks about the boring mid-late 90's except for some TV (Seinfeld, the show about "nothing" e.g whiny Jews, the paranoia of X-files, the zany Gen X-ers of Friends)

    ReplyDelete
  32. "Movies were better in the 70's and early to mid 80's. Which would explain why theater going dropped."

    You don't think the VCR and HBO had any effect on theater attendance?

    "By 1994 Clerks (shot in B&W) would get widely released. Were any contemp. black and white movies widely released in the mid 70's-mid 80's?"

    Yes. Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show to name two off the top of my head. Both classics and quite popular at the time. I'm sure there are more.

    "With regard to the OJ saga, wasn't it around 1990 or so that the culture became interested in following trashy scandals voraciously?"

    Uh, no. People have followed scandals since, forever. Look up the history of Confidential magazine from the 50s, for starters.

    "In other words, had OJ gone on a spree in the early-mid 80's it would've received attention. But not the level of mania that it ended up having since it happened in the 90's."

    If CNN and other 24 hour news networks were around in the 80s, it sure would have. And anyway, there were quite a few scandals I distinctly remember getting major coverage in the 80s. The Iran-Contra Affair, Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker, Gary Hart and Donna Rice. They were covered and watched as much as the technology of the time allowed.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Uh, no. People have followed scandals since, forever. Look up the history of Confidential magazine from the 50s, for starters."

    Sleazy tabloids were more popular in the mid century (40's-early 60's) than they were in the late 60's-80's when people had lives. Go figure that when people started cocooning again in the 90's that tabloid culture had a huge resurgence. When people grow apart from each other it creates a void that people desperately try to fill with shallow junk culture. But it's not going to work because there is no substitute for the joy and camaraderie that comes from a culture which makes everything as social as possible.

    Of course wall to wall consumption of "social" media, texting, binge watching TV and so on will be common when people are afraid of each other. CNN didn't have anything to do with:
    - art getting worse, why do you think MTV showed less and less videos after 1992?
    - clothes getting baggier
    - women styling hair so that it hung in their eyes
    - make-up getting less visible
    - facial hair becoming trendier,
    - Crew cuts and fully bald heads being much more popular since 1997 than they were in the late 60's-80's. How much fun can somebody people when they have a dehumanizing haircut?

    Let's face it, people got dorkier in the 90's.

    Also, in the later 60's-80's movies relied on word of mouth to sell. '89's Batman, a shallow and mediocre comic book movie, is widely seen as a movie whose overhyped marketing techniques were so successful that it became a blueprint for Hollywood. As art quality declines studios have to resort to months and months of hype to build interest in a movie because the studios know that the product isn't good enough to sell itself.

    Note also that the subject matter of movies and songs is much more juvenile in the post 1992 era than it was in the 70's/80's. Campy cartoons and musicals were a lot more popular in the mid century than they were in the 70's/80's.People obviously are autistic dorks when they don't even want to watch human beings on the screen. There were virtually no hit cartoon movies in the 80's. Disney nearly died at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anonymous: You don't think the VCR and HBO had any effect on theater attendance?

    On the large time scale scale, in the US, tickets per capita dropped dramatically in the 1950s to 1960s though, then held steady by comparison (although there are fluctuations). TV seems like it had much bigger effects than the VCR. Culturally going to the movies was most common in the "Golden Age of Hollywood" era, like you'd expect from the social history and just talking to people who lived in the 60s-80s era vs the Midcentury, and just how prominent cinema and Hollywood were in culture then. Cable TV doesn't seem to have had much of an effect that TV didn't already have.

    On TV viewing, the US GSS shows a mild decrease in TVhours per day from 1975 to 2014, samples sizes are about a thousand individuals each year, so I think it's pretty robust.

    http://i.imgur.com/etntqaJ.png

    Magnitude of change over time (to less TV watching) is a lot larger within the 20-30 years old category, and within any age category, as there seems like a distribution where people begin watching a lot more TV from age 50 onwards. Within Whites aged 20-30, goes on a linear decrease from 3 hours a day in 1975 to 2 hours per day in 2010 (2012 and 2014 give a slight spike though, so maybe that's the HBO effect, a resurgence driven by decent quality serials).

    With a lot of the technological changes with the internet, I don't see much difference in use between the countries that were rising violence all the way through the 1990s and to some extent into the 2000s (South America, UK based on homicide rates - http://www.visionofhumanity.org/pdf/ukpi/UK_Peace_Index_report_2013.pdf) so I don't know if any social trend connected to rising or falling violence would link up to the new tech very much.

    I'm sure people would use it a little differently, but you'd have the same basic services.

    Regarding net porn specifically the idea that it has a link to growing sexual frustration is probably wrong.

    On the GSS if you use the "Seen X rated movie in last year", a variable going back to 1989, and plot it against either frequency of sex (sexfreq) or number of sexual partners in last year, the ones who watch more porn tend to also have more partners and higher sexual frequency.

    http://i.imgur.com/S1qXDek.png
    http://i.imgur.com/pJhGmx7.png

    If you use the web use questions on porn (porn30) you get exactly the same result against partners (more partners, more web porn use) while sexual frequency is not related.

    http://i.imgur.com/MeKEpxl.png

    Web porn use is connected to greater promiscuity and sexual activity in all the samples, so its probably one of those things that would've been even more huge in the past promiscuous era and has succeeded in the modern era *despite* trends being against it. Makes sense, right? More sexually interested people will use more porn, and that is on average a greater effect than any frustration linked effect.

    These above are men and women, trends are stronger only in men.

    The no porn guys seem a little happier on both questions though.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "Sleazy tabloids were more popular in the mid century (40's-early 60's) than they were in the late 60's-80's when people had lives."

    Star Magazine, National Enquirer, People Magazine, Us Magazine, etc., all had their heyday in the 80s. Hugely popular rags.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Feryl: People obviously are autistic dorks when they don't even want to watch human beings on the screen. There were virtually no hit cartoon movies in the 80's. Disney nearly died at the time.

    I do think a lot of people who are into animation aren't into observing people. That's why Japanese animation for instance, has got so bad since its 1980s to 1990s heydays, when they actually commonly (not always) depicted people with human behaviour and warmth rather than mere "fan service" stereotypes.

    But decline of cartoons at the movies, in the US, after the "Golden Age" stuff, probably has some link to the decline of the studio system and New Hollywood.
    Un the late 1940s through the 1950s there was this huge fall in ticket sales, which would lead to a major fall in the amount of money Hollywood could throw at movies. (Basically because of television and this is the driver of a lot of the gimmicks like 3D movies and larger scaled epics).

    The late Silents and then the young Baby Boomer, in the late 1960s to early 1970s took over a lot of the industry that was left, first as the audience, fed by their numbers, then as film schooled entrepreneurs (they're a striving generation).

    They didn't really have either the money (from their backers, or from movie revenues) or expertise to produce animation, which is very expensive and difficult to do half decently, compared to doing something the kind of clever but small and visceral films they were trying to do in the late 1960s and 1970s.

    At the same time, most of the Baby Boomers were teenagers by around 1960 at least. So the period from that on was peak teenager, and not peak parent and child, adding another effect on to why that period was not a "Family Values" period, as relatively fewer people were parents with young kids, and of course they were less helicoptery as well. And animation is generally used more for childish media (generally for good reason.)

    (The "Echo Boom" of the early Millennial period was a return to relatively larger numbers of older adults and their kids and that's why you started seeing a lot of the doofy parent and child sitcoms and stuff from the late 1980s on, on top of whatever cocooning effect there is.)

    ReplyDelete
  37. "They didn't really have either the money (from their backers, or from movie revenues) or expertise to produce animation, which is very expensive and difficult to do half decently, compared to doing something the kind of clever but small and visceral films they were trying to do in the late 1960s and 1970s."

    Perhaps you would consider them to be unusual for the time, but Spielberg and Lucas had the vision, the work ethic, and the ingenuity to pursue highly difficult/elaborate special FX in the 70's. They easily could have applied themselves to full animation if they felt so inclined (and if they felt there was a market). Indeed, actual animation was used for FX in some live action movies of the 70's/80's.

    Ralph Bakshi famously (and mostly in vain) made a number of cartoon features in the 70's and 80's that were treated as D.O.A. by the public. His 2 million budget '77 fantasy movie Wizards barely got released while the live-action Star Wars (a higher budget movie, but not that high in budget) was a massive hit. And these were the days when word of mouth got movies success, not wall to wall marketing and ridiculous budgets. Disney had numerous high profile cartoon flops in the 70's, such that a new guy was brought who developed a series of live action movies (like Tron) and more "mature" cartoons (like the black Cauldron) which flopped. Disney licked their wounds until cocooning began to kick in around 1990 so Beauty and the Beast became a sensation (didn't it get nominated for Oscars?). One could argue that late Boomers/Gen X-ers considered Disney to be such a Dad brand that they avoided it like the plague.

    And maybe studios were reluctant to sink tons of money into cartoons because they knew the audience considered them a mid century relic. And a lot of that audience was kids and young teens. In the 70's and 80's, there still were plenty of family films for that demographic but they were mostly live action. Especially the ones that did well. I mean, young adults liked Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters but so did the under 15 demo as well.

    Kids didn't want cartoons in the 70's and 80's. And there were enough kids for studios to make quite a few movies for them (heck the end of the Baby Boom was 1965, so in 1972 the last wave of Boomers was around 8 years old).

    ReplyDelete
  38. By the way, M. Not sure when/how you grew up, but in my neighborhood in the early 90's it was a rite of passage for 8-12 year old kids to watch violent action and horror movies. And to try and glimpse naked girls in 80's comedy movies. People were less uptight about maturation back then. You had to learn about sex and death at some point, right?

    The fact that people born from about 1987-2005 have had to deal with their parents dragging them to one cartoon after another says a lot about how wimpy Millennials are and how sad the parents are. If a kid sees a movie like Star Wars, he should feel awed. And parents shouldn't feel embarrassed watching a movie like SW either.

    Kids in the 80's/early 90's got excited talking about the Terminator and Luke Skywalker. Later Millennials? Uhh, Harry Potter?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Amending my point about 80's kids and cartoons: Kids did watch cartoons on TV. But it was adults and teens who went to the movies.

    Back in the 80's, parents went to movies for mature people sans their children. They had their own entertainment that often didn't involve dragging the kids along. And hey, maybe it wasn't so bad that people born from about 1960-1985 got to deal with so much on their own.

    It's kinda funny; I don't really remember ever going to the theaters to see a "kid's movie" with my parents or even a babysitter. It may have happened but I know we got them on VHS and that was about it. The earliest movie I consciously remember seeing was Mortal Kombat ('95) when I was 10 with my 1 1/2 year older brother and some of our acquaintances. A mediocre movie, yes, but it still was a live-action movie with adult actors and violence.

    I know Agnostic seems to think that '85 was the first outright year for Millennials. But Mortal Kombat was a very Gen X phenomena and I was totally there for it. I played it a lot and remember what a controversy it was.

    I think that there's a transition phase between generations so people born then will be a composite of two generations. So 1961-1965 people will be a cross between Gen X and Boomer. And I think 1982-1986 people are a cross between Gen X and Millennial.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "Kids didn't want cartoons in the 70's and 80's."

    This kid wanted cartoons back then. I couldn't wait for Saturday morning, which was pretty much the only chance to see cartoons back then. If, in 1976 when I was 8, there was something of the quality of Toy Story in theaters, I would have crapped my pants. Instead, we had Scooby Doo and Warner Bros. reruns (which are still the gold standard for cartoons, in my book).

    The reason, I think, that studios didn't do cartoons much in those years was twofold: it was a lot of time and effort and rather expensive, and people were still milking the old Disney formula and people were tired of that. There was some innovative stuff going on in animation meant for adults, like Bakshi, as you mentioned. But for kids, nobody had latched onto to something new and exciting. Beauty and Beast worked because the songs were great, but it was mostly adults in the seats for that. The first big hit with kids in the 90s was the Lion King. That had the whole package: great songs, a standard hero's journey story, top-notch animation, and actual kid voice actors. And it wasn't the classic Disney fairytale formula.

    That flick made so much money that studios started pumping out animation. And you're right, things did change from there, but I think it was due more to the studios' decision to focus on animation more than people actually changing. Suddenly there was a glut of feature length animation, something kids from any decade would be excited to see. And so they did, and so studios kept making them, and extremely talented folks were tapped and given lavish budgets. And also, computer processing power was at the point where it could produce astonishing (and very new) results.

    That's my take on it.

    ReplyDelete
  41. "It's kinda funny; I don't really remember ever going to the theaters to see a "kid's movie" with my parents or even a babysitter."

    One of my first movie memories is of my parents, my brothers and I at the drive-in in Oakland, CA where they took us to see the Apple Dumpling Gang. On the screen behind us, they were showing Jaws. We kept turning around to watch Jaws while my mom would yell at us to knock it off. Ha. Anyway, there were kids movies before the 90s that parents took their kids to see. See also: Pete's Dragon. Ah man, now you got me walking down memory lane...

    ReplyDelete
  42. "If, in 1976 when I was 8, there was something of the quality of Toy Story in theaters, I would have crapped my pants. Instead, we had Scooby Doo and Warner Bros. reruns (which are still the gold standard for cartoons, in my book)."

    Hated Toy Story. And I was about 11 or so when the merch. started popping up. It just seemed camp and self conciously retro. I know the Ernest guy did a voice. But after seeing him as a physical actor, it was pretty lame hearing him in this faggy ass Disney crap.

    I mean seriously, Snake Eyes/Cheetara/Optimus Prime or uhh, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Really? Getting some kind of hard on for Toy Story marks you either as a later Millennial or a Gen X parent slumming it big time.

    Tim Allen is a closet case, by the way. I really hope that the voice actors I grew up with don't turn out to be fairies. Can you imagine He-Man or something voiced by a homo?

    Let's face it, most post '92 culture is a big joke pulled on us by the Jews and fags (but I repeat myself) as they laugh their way to the bank (and more gay sex/meth parties). Do you really think Walt Disney would stand for all the degenerate crap that Disney's pulled since the kikes invaded any last remnant of gentile culture?

    ReplyDelete
  43. "Hated Toy Story."

    Fair enough. If there's an animated movie you like from the 90s, you can substitute for that. If you don't like any animated movies from that time period, I guess it's just not your thing. I do wonder, though, how tired are you at the end of the day after trying to keep track of every popular artist's sexuality?

    ReplyDelete
  44. "Back in the 80's, parents went to movies for mature people sans their children."

    They sure did. On top of taking their kids to movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, E.T., The Goonies, Karate Kid, Something Wicked This Way Comes (one of my favorites), etc. Just like my wife and I nowadays go see our arty shit in addition to taking our kids to the latest blockbuster.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Contrary to this author's opinion, millenials' sex lives are unsurprisingly different from their parents:

    https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/millennials-sex-lives-are-surprisingly-118363889022.html

    ReplyDelete
  46. "Contrary to this author's opinion, millenials' sex lives are unsurprisingly different from their parents:"

    Interesting, but it doesn't seem to me that 2 less partners on average than Gen X really constitutes a shift in attitude. And I wonder how much online dating has to do with that, giving Millennials the ability to weed out potential sex partners before actually have sex with them.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Millenials' rate is only 2/3 that of the Boomers. And online dating itself is a major sign of cocooning.

    ReplyDelete
  48. "And online dating itself is a major sign of cocooning."

    It's also a major sign of the technology being available. People have been trying to hack the dating process for decades. Since the internet became available in the 90s, people naturally gravitated towards it.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Yes, but that isn't to say the overall online dating experience is good or healthy.

    ReplyDelete
  50. "Yes, but that isn't to say the overall online dating experience is good or healthy.

    It's not inherently unhealthy either. Literally every one of my friends who got married past the age of 30 met their spouse through online dating. They all seem to be doing well. Online dating is simply a buffer system, not unlike ones cultures have had in place for centuries. The mechanism has simply moved online, where now people can screen potential partners and not have to meet them (or have sex with them) until they know something about them. Is it better or worse to meet someone cold in a bar or at a concert? I don't think it's either.

    ReplyDelete
  51. "After decades of a downward trend in crime, residents in some large U.S. cities wonder if a reversal is coming.

    If you live in Baltimore, you know that May, with 43 homicides, was the deadliest month since 1972. Or if you are a Houstonian, you've probably heard that murders were up 45% through April compared to the same period in 2014.

    The latest statistics in Milwaukee show a 103% spike in murders year-to-date compared with a year ago.

    The spike in killings in these major cities would be troubling in itself at any time, but it is especially troubling now, when policing practices, race and social policies are regularly in the news. "

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/02/us/crime-in-america/index.html
    little insight, but at the same time the media is talking about the crime rate again.

    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."