May 26, 2020

Teenagers coming out of their shells in public places, as restless zeitgeist resumes its course

At the end of last year, I wrote two social weather reports (here and here) about signs that the social mood was shifting out of the vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle, and into the restless warm-up phase.

The telltale signs were teenage and 20-something girls starting to openly brush against me in public retail stores, as well as catcalling me from their car. It hadn't happened since the summer of 2015, which is the year the vulnerable phase began. And that had been standard stuff going back to 2005, when the last restless warm-up phase began. It was far less common during the early 2000s when I was in college (probably the lamest and most frustrating time to be there, other than the late 2010s). But it did happen during the '90s when I was in middle and high school.

So it rises and falls according to the excitement cycle -- getting warmed up during the warm-up phase, lasting through the manic phase, then falling off a cliff during the vulnerable phase.

I assumed these behaviors would continue throughout this year, although the initial coronavirus lockdown seemed to put a halt to the cycle's plans. They're less willing to brush against you when the norm is social distancing.

Still, the fact that people are so restless under quarantine only proves that we are in fact in the restless phase, and out of the vulnerable phase. Otherwise we'd be happy to burrow away in our snug little cocoons indefinitely, where no one could socially and emotionally over-stimulate us and cause us pain. We're now craving that social stimulation, and we don't want to stay holed up forever where no one can interact with us.

Young people more than others seem especially eager to get back outside. And I don't mean "back" as in returning to their behavior of last year or the year before, when they were in the emo phase like everyone else. I mean for the first time in five years to really be out and about.

And sure enough, after a few months of lockdown mentality, they're chafing at the social isolation and have resumed their flirtatious behavior in public places. Not in retail stores anymore -- those are mostly closed, and on the few occasions I've gone to a grocery store, there were mainly old people around. But they're making the best of their circumstances, and taking their restless behavior to streets, sidewalks, and parks -- walking, riding bikes, roller-blading, skateboarding, and so on.

To keep from going stir-crazy, I go out for a drive a few times a week, always with the windows down so it doesn't feel like another enclosed space, and to pick up everyone's mood with the music streaming out. Pedestrians react friendly rather than annoyed, confirming my pre-corona report that strangers had begun saying "Hi" in the park again for the first time in five years.

But in the past week or so, perhaps driven by the warm weather, I've noticed the girls giving more forward signs than just a friendly smile. Today as I slowed to a red light -- "Cars" playing on the radio -- a cute teenager walking by turned her head, gave me a nervous double-take look through over-sized sunglasses, and started involuntarily petting her hair.

Omigosh, is that a random hot guy? Finally, a chance to restore my validation reserves!!!

Who am I to harm her self-esteem by denying her? Nothing wrong with some steady confident eye-contact for several moments at a red light. It must've been the first contact she'd had in a long time.

I do take those situations seriously -- she's willing to put herself out there on multiple levels. She's going through adolescence, she's coming out of the vulnerable-phase cocoon, and she's trying to stay normal under the quarantine. She deserves a reward for taking the risk, and if she wants to claim that validation reward from me rather than someone else, that's just the duty I'll have to fulfill in order to help keep society whole rather than fragmented. Especially when she's just indulging in some wholesome flirtation, and not anything slutty or crazy.

The week before, I came to a red light with "Rock and Roll High School" on the CD player. Two high school girls were riding bikes in the other direction, and I noticed the usual look on their faces. I put on my left turn signal while waiting, and they then decided to turn right on red, heading the same direction but making me chase them a little after the light turned green. They'd been at the red light first, and could've turned right before I even got there; only when I put on my left signal did they decide to go down there.

After driving around them, I turned left at the next stop sign, and not long after noticed that they'd made the same turn again to follow me. It's an unusual path in the neighborhood -- I was taking a scenic route while cruising around aimlessly -- and all the other walkers, joggers, bike riders, and dog walkers just move along that first street that we were both on. For them to take two unusual turns is not exactly subtle -- but then their brains are too soaked in hormones to practice less conspicuous tailing behavior.

And besides, their point was not to creepily stalk me -- it was to play "tag, you're it!" After some initial eye-contact to tag me, they made me follow behind and beside them, then once I'd carefully passed them on the narrow street, I had effectively tagged them back, and they began chasing me to tag me back again.

It was cute! But I wasn't going to egg them on too much, so I picked up a little speed and made a few more turns so they wouldn't be so hot on my tail. They'd gotten enough of a reward for taking their pro-social risk in a public place like that.

I get followed around in retail stores by those girls, but this was the first occasion where they had upped the ante to vehicular pursuit. It's probably only a matter of time before the roller-bladers and skater girls pull up to my bumper, grab on, and ask me to please carry them along for a ride...


  1. relevant:

  2. You can't do *that* over the internet. The parasocial bubble popped when the vulnerable phase ended, and now young people are itching to reconnect with the real world.

    Technology does not manipulate people -- people choose to use technology one way or another to match their mood and serve their current needs.

    When the mood was a social refractory state, everyone retreated into social media and clung to the personas who are most visible there. That behavior just did not exist in the early 2010s, or the late 2000s -- despite MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, etc. having been around that entire time.

    "Well, that just shows it's a gradual process, and will only get worse going forward". Bzzt, wrong! It means there was a 5-year phase of the excitement cycle when it was in demand, and now that we're in a different phase where it will be plummeting in demand, young people will wean themselves off of that form of social media usage.

    Already the Tik Tok phenomenon shows how little young people care about personas -- there's no persona, backstory, narrative, dramatic arc, other recurring characters in their lives, and so on and so forth. It's just jumping onto a dance trend, making quick sight gags, etc. You're not invested in them at all as personas or characters or pseudo-friends.

    It's just like the early days of YouTube, which shows that this is a cyclical thing, not a gradual inexorable march in one direction.

    I'm sure Zoomers and Millennials will continue to use internet technology, they're not going to go off the cyber-grid or anything. But they'll use it to supplement their real lives, or get a quick hit of stimulation or motivation before venturing out into the real world, or to enjoy a relaxing laugh after coming back in from the real world.

    It won't be a replacement for the real world, like it has been for the past 5 years.

  3. One bold kiss IRL vs. 1000 likes on a selfie -- there's no contest for validation. You think that girl's ever had a spellbound reaction after any level of social media "engagement"? Even if she had a post go viral, how long would the feeling last? Only the most cerebral shut-in could possibly feel better existing primarily in cyberspace.

    There's no risk online -- either from the guy clicking "like" or the girl uploading her selfie. Because she knows that the guys aren't really risking anything to smash that like button, it doesn't boost her ego that much. And the guys don't feel their confidence pumped up because they didn't take a risk to click "follow" or "like".

    Approaching a girl IRL, howling like a wolf out of your car window, pressing your bodies together in a dance club -- those are all risks you take, and if they pay off, you actually feel it. The guy's T levels shoot up, the girl's juices start flowing. Even above the neck, they feel a heady rush.

    This difference b/w online and IRL did not go away during the vulnerable phase. The fact that women fled the real world and into a parasocial media bubble shows that they did *not* want social and emotional validation -- they had gotten enough, maybe too much, during the preceding restless and manic phases from 2005 to 2014. They crashed into a refractory state, and didn't want to receive validation, since that would have overloaded their brains and caused them pain.

    That was the "post-horny" and "sad girl" phenomenon.

    But now the refractory state is over, and they're thirsting for validation that they haven't felt -- or even desired to feel -- in over 5 years. They know they can't feel it online, no matter how many followers, likes, paypig bux, or whatever else they might get.

    They're going to show off their bodies in public places so they can get checked out, approached, talked to, and touched. Once the pandemic is largely over, just watch how much the dance clubs fill back up like it's the late 2000s or early '90s all over again.

  4. Given how we are going into an outgoing phase (2018-51) and a warm-up phase (2020-24), I have preemptively labeled this decade "The Wild Twenties" (Climate change and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will also make it a "wild" decade).

  5. I'm not sure we're in an outgoing vs. cocooning phase just yet. It'll take some time to see. But it should happen sooner rather than later.

    The key data will be rising crime rates -- perhaps not the huge wave of the '60s - '80s, since there is not a similar baby boom to swell the ranks of hotheaded youngsters. Still, rising for the first time in long time.

    That would make it like the early '60s -- shift from the cocooning Midcentury into the outgoing '60s - '80s period (and rising crime), and shift from vulnerable emo phase of the late '50s into the restless phase of the early '60s.

    Obviously different in other respects -- status-striving is soaring now, vs. falling during the '60s. And thus, inequality was falling then, rising now.

  6. As for the MILFy age bracket, I haven't noticed them out and about. The only time was back in early April, after the warnings and lockdowns had taken effect for weeks, and people were desperate to get out at all.

    That was back when generic outdoors activities were still absent, no one was driving anywhere. Roads deserted.

    It was in the grocery store, just after the advisory to wear masks in public. It was so surreal walking around a supposedly ordinary place, and seeing everyone in highly unusual face coverings. The social distancing norm was generally 1 person per aisle, and circle back around later if someone's already there.

    I'd never seen so many women wearing leggings with short tops, showing their entire lower body from the waist down as one continuous curvy figure. Only a few weeks in, and they were already starved for validation.

    When masks were utterly new, the atmosphere was like a masquerade ball -- where else do you wear these unusual face coverings while gathered in public? The horniness of the attention-starved late 20 and 30-somethings only added to the feeling of being in a night club. I heard "Flesh For Fantasy" playing in my mind, at 8am on a Monday morning.

    Despite the "1 per aisle" norm, once the MILFies caught sight of the first random hot guy they'd seen IRL for weeks, two of them closed in on me. One was speeding perpendicularly across the end of the aisle, did a double-take, and turned on a dime. She was so thicc, and tall too. And another one pursuing from behind.

    The imminent end of the world as we know it, the masquerade ball and overall carnivalesque atmosphere -- I felt like just saying fuck it all and grab the tall thicc one while face to face, make her walk backwards into the shelf, pressed against it while random items begin falling off around her and rolling along the floor towards who knows where.

    But that was too early to be part of the backlash against quarantine. We still thought we'd die just by walking next to someone. Perhaps some other time during the summer, when attitudes get more relaxed, and the hot weather amps up everyone's horny levels.

  7. Wow, Nagle referencing Turchin on WL pod

  8. If that is true this early in the warm-up cycle, I imagine by 2028, the average American female will be like Madeline Smith in this ad!:

  9. Or re-creating the '90s Herbal Essences ads on Tik Tok. ("A totally organic experience")

    Also sets up the possibility for ironic versions where they're bored and sitting around, numbly lip-syncing the "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

  10. somewhat ot: Is do you think rioting is connected to the excitement cycle? There were a bunch of relatively minor riots from 2014-16 then they stopped between 2017 and 2019 now they seem to be starting up again. On other thing about tonight's riot is that Minneapolis on of the more integrated cities and the riot is happening in an lower middle class integrated area.

  11. Here's a list from Wikipedia not sure how complete it is for example it ignores an early 1950s riots in Cicero IL.

  12. Sorry for doing this but one thing about the riots looking at the video in addition to the blacks rioting there were Hispanics and even normal looking white people looting. I wonder how much of it is political and how much of it is people sick of being locked up in quarantine.

  13. Public validation-seeking seems greater in the suburbs / less dense parts of a city.

    I went driving further away yesterday, and noticed far fewer babes out strutting their stuff in the denser areas closer to the urban center. The few who were out were accompanied by their bf / husband.

    On the other hand, way too many dudes out riding bikes. Total sausage-fest, and not even in a gay neighborhood.

    Just one more example of density leading to atomized, dehumanized pod existence, where people are afraid to come out when others are already leading the way. Suburbanites are already feeling their blood pumping. Sad!

  14. So three nights of riots and it looks like there are crowds rioting a majority white. These are not classic race riots.


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