February 19, 2020

Strangers saying "Hi" again, as vulnerable phase of excitement cycle ends, and further changes in social weather conditions

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.


  1. Dieting and weight loss more likely to take place in the warmup and manic phases, since those things require energy. Anorexia more likely to happen in the manic phase - when behaviors are taken to the extreme.

    For instance, Karen Carpenter died from anorexia-complications in 1983. The actress Brittany Murphy, who was more full-figured in the early 90s movie "Clueless", died from possibly anorexia-complications in December 2009, after becoming rail thin.

    Scarlett Johansson is another example of an actress who was more full-figured in the early-to-mid 2000s, but started yo-yo dieting in the early 2010s.

  2. Wikipedia has a list of celebrity deaths from anorexia. As you can see, none take place in the early 2000s or late 80s, or late 2010s for that matter, though interestingly most seem to take place in the warmup phase:

    "1983: Karen Carpenter (American singer, drummer The Carpenters) – died aged 32 from complications caused by anorexia.[1]
    1994: Christy Henrich (American gymnast) – died in July 1994, aged 22, from complications caused by anorexia.[2]
    1997: Heidi Guenther (American ballerina) – died aged 22, from complications caused by anorexia.[3]
    1997: Michael Krasnow (American author) died October 1997, aged 28, author of My Life as a Male Anorexic.[4]
    2006: Luisel Ramos – 2 August 2006, fashion model (22)
    2006: Ana Carolina Reston (Brazilian model) – died 14 November 2006, aged 21, from complications caused by anorexia.[5]
    2007: Eliana Ramos – 13 February 2007, fashion model (18). Older sister Luisel also died of anorexia.
    2007: Hila Elmalich – 14 November 2007, fashion model (33)
    2010: Isabelle Caro – 17 November 2010, fashion model, anorexia activist, and actress (28)
    2018: Javiera Muñoz - 16 January 2018,[6][7] singer (40)"


  3. I was thinking of weightlifting, too, on the guys' side. I remember that being a thing in high school (late '90s), and only again in the late 2000s and esp the early 2010s. Do not remember such a thing during college (early 2000s). And it seems to have cratered during the late 2010s.

    The Schwarzenegger craze was the late '70s and early '80s, not so much the late '80s.

    In the late 2000s / early 2010s, the main cultural figure -- and death by extreme fitness -- was Zyzz. I wasn't into the Misc. forum, which was big back then, but I knew people who were, and its events spread beyond their own little corner of the culture.

    And Nassim Taleb asking people how much they can deadlift, lol.

    It's become a pretty niche culture during the late 2010s, with only the most hardcore people still into it. But that may change during the 2020s.

    I know I've started lifting weights regularly for the first time since -- when else? -- the summer of 2015. I never get out of shape, so don't rely on them for health and fitness. It's more of an energy-level thing.

    During an emo phase, you just don't feel like it -- it's one of the canonical activities where you go on an energy spike and crash. Hard to commit to regularly when you're already in a refractory phase. But when your excitement levels restore to baseline, you'll feel more in the mood.

  4. The movie "Vision Quest"(Matthew Modine), about a high school athlete obsessed with losing 20 pounds and making the wrestling team, was released in 1985 - bleed over from the early 80s manic phase that lasted a little longer than usual.


    This opens up a whole new topic - sports movies being more popular in the manic phase. On wrestling, I can remember the more serious drama "Win Win" being released in 2011 - that movie was also about conflicts between declining WASPs and Italian-Americans(you can see the movie poster of a blonde athlete sitting next to Paul Giamatti). Good movie.


    Per the topic of anorexia, and why anorexic deaths were more common in 2006-2007: the crime rate also rose from 2003-2006/2007, and that probably also makes anorexia and dieting more common.

  5. "The Schwarzenegger craze was the late '70s and early '80s, not so much the late '80s."

    His persona changed. Hollywood producers envisioned "Conan" as the perfect role for him as early as 1976 (in the moody early 70's, he barely got any work at all), and "Pumping Iron", the two Conan movies, and "The Terminator" from 1977-1984 didn't rely on (or didn't feature at all) his charisma. But starting with "Commando" (1985), his physique was increasingly slimmed down and his charm/sense of humor was played up. Really, in hindsight it's almost hard to believe the audience bought him as a charming hero in 1985 after he had just played, literally, a machine villain in 1984. But that's how quick the zeitgeist changes.

    Also during that time frame, in 1984 Friday the 13th part 4, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Silent Night Deadly Night (all slashers filmed in 1983 and/or early 1984) all opened quite successfully. Then in 1985, Nightmare part 2 did pretty well (but featured a girly emo dude as the main character, who later came out as an HIV positive homosexual in real life) but that was it for slasher movies. 1986 had no hit slasher movies at all, then 1987 and 1988 had two more Elm Street hits (although again, they bore little resemblance to the original film released in the New Wave era of pop music, fashion, heavy metal, and horror/fantasy films of the early 80's).

    There's a trend of increased stimulation and energy from circa 1975-1984, that abruptly becomes emo frenetic (e.g. late 80's MTV or Stock Aitkin Waterman) or dissipates altogether (in the late 80's, wimp ballads or toothless "rock" by Bon Jovi, Winger, Warrant and even sudden sell outs like Motley Crue and Whitesnake totally replacing the fist pumping early 80's anthems of Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, and Ozzy).

  6. Speaking of emo crap, the latest Star Wars movies totally blow ass, in large part because the 1999-2005* trilogy and the 2015-2019 trilogy didn't get made entirely outside of an emo era. The originals from 1977-1983 all capitalized on the audiences' growing level of appetite for stimulation and bold adventure.

    Back to the topic of fitness crazes, running guru Jim Fixx became a sensation in the late 70's, then after dying from an undiagnosed heart condition he became a punch line during the late 80's stand up comedy boom (when gay snark or utter apathy displaced the more earnest tone of the late 70's and early 80's**).

    *Hayden Christensen's entire career was vaporized by the hissy fits he had to perform as "young" Darth Vader in the early 2000's. It's not surprising that the two most hated Star Wars movies were both released in the middle of an emo half-decade: 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2017's the Last Jedi. Ihaven't seen "Clones" more than one time I still haven't seen "Last Jedi".

    **It's more the cultural elites/strivers/mascots and toadies thereof who have a big gay-off in emo eras, probably because they know that the low energy public is less likely to get up off it's ass and stuff the snarkers into the (actual or proverbial) lockers. In hindsight a lot of the late 80's stand up kings were kinda lame (like Sam Kinison who literally screamed non-stop in the late 80's, I mean could you get more emo?), and stand up was seen as kinda stale and annoying by the mid-1990's (Dennis Leary, Andrew Dice Clay, Tim Allen, George Carlin, etc. either played to diminishing audiences or transitioned to "full time" actors or talk show hosts by 1994). Another theory is that comedians are the only ones willing to clown and show off during an emo period, which the public admires in those phases. As we get close to a manic phase, however, everybody is showing off in a increasingly carefree way so comedians seem self indulgent and smarmy at those points. I just remembered that Dave Chappelle hit his peak in the early 2000's, then had some sort of mid-life crisis in the late 2000's and disappeared. Evidently Chappelle got tired of....Himself, before the public had a chance to say "this is getting old dude, get lost for a while". Interestingly, Chapelle got his career back going in the late 2010's emo phase. Go figure.

  7. Do body based performers/personas (models, porn stars, athletes, body builders etc.) find it easiest to attain fame outside of emo phases? I mean, we know why Schwarzenegger got famous in circa 1977 rather than in 1972, why Micheal Jordan merchandising took off into the stratosphere circa 1990 rather than 1987 (and top NBA players and merch as a whole were HUGE in the 1990's), and why every hetero guy in the late 90's knew who Jenna Jameson was and didn't deny it. while there's no early 2000's equivalent in the low brow sex icon market. Manic phases are replete with "trashy" sex culture; the early 80's had thousands of sex comedy films (even the early Friday the 13th movies are arguably quasi sex comedies/partying teenager movies) , and late 1990's WWE even had a porn star wrestler (!). It's only in the ensuing emo phase that people act embarrassed about rampaging horniness; there's little awarness of it being "creepy" or "excessive" .during the manic phase. Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld hit their peak of cultural relevance in the late 90's, with both shows dripping with low brow sexuality almost non-stop (and The E network aired a video version of Stern's show in the late 90's, while Jerry's ratings peaked during that time. The peak of both shows also featured lots of physical stunts (fighting, in Jerry's case).

  8. I meant Jerry Springer, duh.

  9. Speaking of iconic 80s action heroes, what about the evolution of the 'Rocky' movies? In 'Rocky 5'(1990), Rocky Balboa develops Parkinson's disease and struggles to ward off dementia, while being betrayed by his protege(Tommy Gunn). Depressing-as-fuck - and look at this speech when he is visited by the spirit of 'Mickey', his old trainer:


    Still, though, in the end he wins a street fight against Tommy, so it might be more warmup era 'resilience after a period of suffering'.

    The first Rocky movie, 1974, was also depressing, and in the original script Stallone had Rocky get knocked out during the first round, lol. Talk about an emo zeitgeist...

  10. What I believe is that most movies are about the transition from one emotional state to another, rather than being only about one phase.

    That's why something like "Rocky V", like I pointed out, starts off in the depressing defractory phase, then transitions to the warmup phase by the end of the movie.

    As you pointed out, the "manic pixie girl" genre is also about transitioning from the vulnerable emotional state to a restless one.


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