January 1, 2020

So long to the most emo 5-year phase ever, welcome back to baseline emotional levels

That's it -- the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year excitement cycle is finally over, having begun in 2015. We're not going backward to the manic phase of 2010-'14, but forward into the next restless, warm-up phase (akin to 2005-'09). The next manic phase will happen after that, starting in 2025.

This cyclical change in mood / energy levels is absolutely crucial to keep in mind when looking back on the year, or especially the decade. In a way, there is no such decade as the 2010s, because the first half was a manic phase of soaring energy levels, and the second half was a crash into a refractory state. You don't get any more stark of a contrast.

History does not proceed with "one damned thing after another," but goes through dynamics, which generally produce some kind of cyclical behavior. All of this doom-and-gloom emo bullshit of the past 5 years is not the continuation of the 5 years before that -- exactly the opposite. You can say the mood of '15-'19 was "the result of" the mood in '10-'14, in the sense that a climax leads mechanistically to a refractory state. But that's not what most people mean when they try to portray the trajectory of a decade, which is always done in a simple linear way.

The upcoming mood will not be such a stark contrast as between a climax and refractory phase. It's leaving the refractory state and returning to baseline levels. We'll notice that things aren't quite so heavily negative, painful, hysterical, and so on -- but it won't be the opposite either, which requires the sustained spike in energy levels during a manic phase. There will be some negative and some positive, some pain and some pleasure, some anxiety and some calm. In any case, we aren't going to be mired in the depressive, hysterical state of the past 5 years, and that's good enough for now.

Political junkies will be surprised at how little of the previous mood will carry over into 2020 -- despite it being such a major election year. The whole #MeToo thing is dead by now, no one cares about the 24-hour news cycle anymore, and no one's afraid of crypto-Nazi armies laying in wait under every bed in homes across America.

I've been saying that Trump will bow out before the nomination, but even in the off-chance that he remains the nominee, no one will think he's a fascist threat, that his supporters are the re-birth of Nazi legions, or whatever other crap the liberals could half-way get away with back in 2016. Even back then it wasn't enough to win -- it will fail all the more pathetically this time, since people won't be in the painful victimization mindset anymore.

When the GOP wins re-election, absolutely no one will care -- it will not be the most important election, signaling imminent doom, etc etc etc. That reaction comes from emo audiences (as there were on both sides in 2016), but they won't be in an emo mood by the end of 2020 and during inauguration in '21.

Nobody remembers anything, but if they wanted to, they could look back at the second W. Bush term -- that was mostly during a restless warm-up phase, not an emo phase, so the general public didn't react so negatively and hysterically and painfully to it. That was more his first term, which was during an emo phase (the first half of the 2000s). People were too busy re-connecting with one another during the late 2000s to give a shit about what Bush was doing. Even if they conceded it was all bad stuff, it didn't rise to the level of new coming of Hitler, so they put it mostly on the back burner until a few days before the next presidential election.

The hysteria phase of moral panics is going to collapse into the backlash phase. Some of that will be rational in tone, some will be irreverent, some will be in-your-face hostile. Political correctness, AKA wokeness, won't be taken seriously by normies any longer (not until the next vulnerable phase beginning in 2030). It'll be a return to the anarchic (not anarcho-) humor of the late '70s, early '90s, and late 2000s. As well as a revival of the rational skeptics using logic to rebut the claims of the woketards -- which they could have been doing for the past 5 years, but have not been in the proper mood themselves, or could not have found a large receptive audience that was in the right mood. Over the next 5 years, that will change, and they'll be back.

On the right, I also predict the decline of the groyper phenomenon. It was a kind of mellow hibernation, and now that people will start to stir awake and emerge from their winter dens, they won't find the same emotional appeal to living in a remote, isolated, cozy David the Gnome environment (that cartoon was from an emo phase as well, 1985). They may retain their avatars, but the ideal mood will change -- it won't be about cozy isolation any longer. More likely, the avatars will change to some wholly new creature to embody the shift in mood.

But before those large-scale changes take place, first people have to just snap out of it. That will take place over the current year. Key signposts along the way will be major pop songs that emphasize the themes of resilience and reckoning with your past. Until the new examples come out, here are two from those earlier surveys, both from 1990, the first year after the emo phase of the late '80s. Unlike the past several end-of-year transitions, this time it really is "a new year, a new you".


  1. If people obsess over the news during the defractory period, then they ignore major news events during the manic phase. This was true in the early 2000s - for instance, when ISIS took over Iraq. "What's ISIS?"

    It must be caused by individuals focusing more on their rapidly developing personal lives.

  2. It's not focusing on personal vs public, but feeling invincible vs. vulnerable. When people feel invincible during a manic phase, they don't feel like calling out to some deus ex machina to save the day and make them feel better.

    It's only when people feel pain upon social-emotional contact that they get heavily invested in politics-as-therapy, which is what being addicted to the news cycle is all about. You aren't affected by any of it, you can't do anything to change it -- but you can use it to reinforce your refractory feelings, to demand that political figures make you feel better, or whatever.

    Politics-as-therapy depends upon consumers who are in a mindset of fetishizing victimhood and trauma.

    This is why the current leftist bubble (and rightist, for that matter) that began in 2015 will pop during the current year. It's happened before at the end of earlier vulnerable phases, most notably the anti-globalization movement of the early 2000s (whose political figure was Nader), the late '80s Rainbow Coalition (whose figure was Jesse Jackson), and the early '70s anti-war / boo-Nixon movement (whose figure was McGovern).


  3. is the goth revival over now?

  4. "Little Dark Age" and "tfw no big titty goth gf" were from 2018, two years ago already. I'm not into goth, so maybe there's been a little after that, but if I'm not aware of it, it couldn't have been that popular.

    It'll get absorbed into the neo-neo-neo-disco mood coming up, just like the electroclash of the early 2000s wound up in Katy Perry and Lady Gaga in the late 2000s. Now is a bridge phase, so they'll be open to goth-y sounds as long as they're matched with simple dance beats.

    "Heads Will Roll" is another good example from the late 2000s of a former emo-y / goth-ish band going disco.

  5. Im basically a boomer at this point so im not that sensitive to the shifts anymore. Wasn't it a neo-neo-neo disco mood in 2015, now that i think about it, with italo disco and synthwave? Man, electroclash, i cant even remember what that was, was it like Peaches and Uffie? I remember that Gavin Mcinness liked it.

  6. By "disco" I mean deliberately danceable music, aware of its use in clubs to get people to come out of their shells. Simple rhythms and paint-by-numbers dance steps if any, to make it easy for everyone to get into.

    The first post on the restless warm-up phase goes into more detail on proto-disco (early '60s dance mania), disco, neo-disco (early '90s, "Show Me Love"), and neo-neo-disco (late 2000s, Lady Gaga).


    As for electroclash, it was covered in this post on how dance music turns minor-key and uses stop-and-start rhythms to complicate the feel-good, easily-danceable tunes of the previous manic and warm-up phases:


    Music since 2015 hasn't been deliberately made to get you dancing, and used within a broader social context of everyone having dancing fever, pouring into dance clubs every weekend, and cutting loose on the dance floor. So, not disco.

  7. What about EDM? Maybe thats more fist pumping than dancing though?

    What do you think about music and drugs? That must be cyclical as well,are we going into a phase of raves and extacy again (which has had a revival in europe the last decade) instead of "lofi music to study/relax to" and weed?

  8. The groyper aesthetic may indeed be on its way out (in fact there was already discussion about moving on from it during the leadership summit in Florida) but I think the phenomenon itself is actually a part of the restless warmup phase you’re describing, and will continue to pick up steam over this year and the next.

    2017-2019 saw the alt right collapse into infighting and emodom. Right-leaning young people lost faith in their leaders and stopped trusting anyone. They stopped appearing in the public square, only mustering the courage to post the occasional anonymous note on a wall somewhere. They were driven off public forums like Twitter and retreated into private discussion groups on apps like Telegram.

    What characterizes the groypers, though? A return to the public scene. The confidence to agitate and spread their ideas again face-to-face, in front of crowds in fact. Mischievous humor at the expense of the establishment’s goons, rather than the bitter black comedy and escapist fantasies of the alt-right’s diehard remnants. Renewed trust in their leaders and in each other. Groyping TPUSA was a team effort, and it called for anons to get out of their rooms and do something for a change.

    The successes and the obvious fun that they had are going to lure more and more people to come out of their shells, stop moping around, and engage once again, both socially and publicly. Bronze Age Pervert and the other figures preaching doom and cautioning everyone to stay in hiding are going to lose serious clout over the next year as more and more of the zoomers tire of this helicopter parenting from the old guard.

    Whatever aesthetics they ultimately shift towards, I think the groypers actually got a head start at ushering in the new phase of the mood cycle, and I expect them to remain at the forefront of it on the political right.

  9. I mean as a social-cultural phenomenon, not political. The cult of cozy. If the people who've been escaping into their mellow Alpine chalet of the mind start to come out and get more rambunctious, they won't be groypers anymore. They'll be something different and new.

  10. You raise a good point - the transition from the manic phase to the defractory phase, is way more traumatic than the other two phase shifts. So what we're now going to experience, becoming more restless and baseline, is going to be less disorienting, and easier to cope with, than the year 2015.


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