About a month ago I posted a brief update on the transition out of the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, noting that there seemed to be a dead lull in public spaces around the turn of the year. Well, that has since passed, and we're back on track into the restless warm-up phase. Maybe people really just were going through one last chrysalis stage before emerging anew.
Teenage or 20-something cuties continue to brush against me in public places, although no more catcalling so far since the end of last year (I did say it's rare even when it's in the air). That was unlike the previous 5 years, when everyone was in a refractory phase.
Another update to the social weather report: I've noticed strangers saying "Hi" first, or at least responding with "Hi" when I initiate, at the public park that I sometimes go for a long stroll around. The rate has been pretty high, with only a few anti-social killjoys, and this has been true even when it's dark and you'd think they might be nervous talking to strangers. But nope: friendly neighborly behavior is back.
Was it ever gone? Absolutely: I wrote about it during the last time it was still somewhat in the air, in the summer of 2015. (I focused on the generational divides, but was still picking up on a change in the social weather conditions.) That's the same summer I pointed to in the other posts, as the last time I had been brushed against or cat-called by hormonal honies in public places where there's no expectation of a sexually charged atmosphere.
No matter what aspect of the social weather conditions you use, they all return the same picture -- the beginning of feeling over-sensitive to social stimuli had begun sometime in 2015. It did not vanish completely overnight, so I still noticed these social behaviors that we associate with the warm-up or manic phases, but they were not common enough as before, showing that the vulnerable phase was transitioning in. And I can't think of any such examples from 2016 through most of 2019 at all.
The example of strangers from the same neighborhood saying "Hi" shows that it's not just the return of sexually charged interactions between males and females. It generalizes to all forms of social stimuli, whether the other person is too old for you to be attracted to, whether they're the same sex, or whatever else.
To make a prediction, I think people will start chatting more with cashiers in the early 2020s. I've noticed a steady decline in my own willingness to chat with them over the past 5 years, despite being on friendly, talkative first-name terms with them back during the manic phase of the early 2010s (in a different city back then -- not that I've ghosted them since!). And I haven't seen many other people chatting it up with them either, not like I observed in the early 2010s anyway.
Looking further forward, I think the most reliable hallmark of the manic phase will hit, during the late 2020s, when people feel comfortable talking to strangers at length in public places, to the point where they become regular conversation partners. They'll be flying high, feeling invincible, nothing could go wrong.
The last time I took that social leap was in 2012, and made a regular realtalk buddy at the Starbucks I used to hang out at. A real eccentric conspiracy-minded Boomer, someone to blow off steam with, make observations about what was going on around us, and other typical barfly stuff.
I haven't even bothered "hanging out" in such places over the past 5 years -- I can see from outside that it's totally dead inside, where everyone is hunched over a screen of some kind, in total isolation from one another, like some spergy computer lab. There was already a heavy amount of that during the last manic phase, but there were enough exceptions to liven the place up.
On a final speculative note, maybe it's just me, but I've found myself singing out loud in public again for the first time in what seems like forever. Tonight I was in a good mood and "Listen Like Thieves" came on in the supermarket. A week or so ago, it was "What Makes You Beautiful" (one of the younger girls who works there got a kick out of that). Around that time, the thrift store was playing new wave b-sides and deep cuts all night (first time I remember getting to sing along to "Hot in the City" or "Feels Like Heaven" in public).
I've just lost that emo feeling that everyone had in public during the late 2010s -- it's not just how I myself felt, but my reaction to others. Even if I'd felt in the mood, knowing that everyone else was in an emo funk and therefore not receptive, would've kept me quiet.
When was the last time I felt so uninhibited in public? Definitely during the last manic phase, when it seemed like Trader Joe's had a new wave playlist running every night. Sometimes I stopped by just to sing along and get into the groove. As for a year? I don't know, 2014 or '15, at least at the degree of regularity that I find myself doing it now. The peak was 2013, as with so much else during that phase...
Any other suggestions for behaviors and changes to be on the look-out for, let us know in the comments.