January 22, 2021

Status contests over social distancing, but not among young people

Over the past month or so, I've noticed a disturbing relapse to the anti-social norms that governed public places about 10 years ago -- constant phone usage, not saying hello to strangers, and putting as much space as possible between themselves and others. Those trends had all but gone away by 2019-'20.

Hopefully this is just a temporary thing, perhaps caused by their anxiety over the instability of the national government -- when/if the dust settles, maybe they'll act more normally and less paranoid / cocooning.

Whatever the reason, they're really seizing on the coronavirus excuse to turn it into yet another tiresome status contest for aspiring or actual elites. Strivers can never stop striving.

First, it was the conspicuous wearing of masks in open-air spaces with few people around, like the walking path around a park. And not even in an otherwise densely packed neighborhood. Like, in the suburbs. Masks do nothing health-related in such a setting, but they do allow strivers to compete over something novel -- who can adopt the most paranoid mask-wearing norm? Almost no one was wearing masks around the park before a month or so ago, despite everyone complying while indoors at retail stores, etc., so this is a very new shift.

But now it's going beyond just the masks, which have a low ceiling for how far out of control the competition can spiral. Wear them indoors, in the outdoors, and maybe in your car -- and that's it, end of contest. However, "social distancing" only has a minimum, not a maximum -- you can always keep just a little bit further away from the polluting bodies clogging up the public space you've unfortunately found yourself in.

Again, this shift is very recent, within the past month. Before, two people walking towards each other on the path might not have veered at all, or at most they'd move to either border of the path. Now I'm seeing people veer all the way off the path to tread over the grass (or mud or snow). And it's become a contest, with some moving just off of the path, others moving several feet off the path, and others charting an alternate course altogether, like at a 45-degree angle, as though to escape a vortex that had suddenly opened up before them.

Naturally I do not reciprocate, and I veer as far toward them as possible while still staying on the path. They expect me to play the game and see which one of us can micro-dehumanize the other more, but homie don't play dat. I'd rather spook them if they're going to act so anti-socially in public. I should dry-cough on my way over to them, for bonus points.

A variation on this pattern is while you're walking down a sidewalk, and some other pedestrian or jogger takes a conspicuous detour to the street-level asphalt, or (less commonly) to the other side of the street. Not in a dense urban core, but in a suburban neighborhood where we're the only two people on the entire block. Get real, striver dork.

One very refreshing exception to the rule is young girls. It's primarily women in their 30s and older, or perhaps some in their late 20s who have just aged poorly and I can't tell, who are polluting the public atmosphere with their anti-social distancing behavior. And it's not just to compete over yet another aspect of daily life, but to convince themselves that they're still so desirable that the other pedestrians on the path that day are actually suitors hot on their trail.

In reality, as a random hot guy, I would be the one to veer away from them, but I'm not an anti-social striver retard, so I do not. It's always the plain ones past their prime who attempt to build up their self-esteem in this way -- imagining that attention exists, in order to reject it.

With younger girls who are still cute and at or near their prime, it's just the opposite. They're not sure whether or not I'll give them attention, so they're curious and put out their feelers. If I give them attention, they accept it gratefully -- omigosh, i'm not ugly or invisible after all, if random hot guy looked back at me!!!!

Like the older women, they too are suffering from depleted validation reserves under the lockdowns, but their response is pro-social rather than egotistical -- taking the risk of putting themselves out there in public, hoping to feel a mutual feeling with someone else.

This stark difference really hit me last night when I was walking around a park, and in the distance I saw a pack of bouncing pony-tails heading toward me. It was one of the high school girls sports teams out jogging laps. Based on young people's behavior in other places, I didn't expect them to act anti-social and veer off the path, and sure enough they kept right on track.

In fact, they were standing 3 abreast the whole time, not shrinking into a single file to put maximum distance between us. I didn't have anywhere to go toward or away from them on the path, so they all but brushed against me as they passed. As they got close, their voices started raising, and they got all smiley and giggly. I made eye-contact with as many as I could, maybe 2 or 3, but there must've been 10 of them total -- sorry I couldn't validate you all. (I sincerely mean that: I want to reward them for taking the risk, and not demotivate them.)

And of course none of them were wearing masks outdoors -- and hide their smooth, supple, glowing skin, or their lively curious expressions? Yeah right. They don't want their cuteness to go to waste.

I'm sure they're all taking part in other striver contests, but at that age it's mainly about getting into the highest-ranked college -- studying, doing extracurriculars (like sports), and so on. They're not in the same social environment as their parents, so they don't take part in the same status contests that they do. Really the only overlap is food -- teens and college kids learn how to complain about food, while their parents are leaving five-paragraph sub-par ratings on Yelp. Or taking pictures of their better-than-yours meal to upload to their Instagram feed.

It's impossible to teach small children to wash their hands, because they don't have a strong disgust sense at that point. That makes them vectors of disease. But even when they've adapted to hand-washing, it's impossible to teach teens and 20-somethings to anti-socially distance, since they have such a strong instinct to at least be near lots of other people, whether or not they're directly interacting with them. They can't stand being totally physically isolated. This nature is making them vectors of disease, with their age group showing the highest growth rates for coronavirus, and with zip codes in college campus areas showing the highest density of cases.

If your public health plan requires toddlers to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands, then the society is fucked. Likewise if it requires teens and 20-somethings to stay holed up in their room alone for years on end. Their human instincts are too strong to tame with lockdowns etc. It will have to be a top-level plan that protects those below, such as closing borders and rolling out a vaccine (if it would be effective).

So far, our parasitic and fractured elite class has largely failed to execute the only realistic solutions, so they will increasingly start to pass the blame onto those who are helpless at the bottom, and who cannot be relied upon to solve the nation's problems anyway. "Those selfish horny kids just can't keep it in their pants and skip house parties for their entire college years, and that's why their grandparents are dropping dead" -- not because the government refused to seal the borders shut during a pandemic, or roll out an effective vaccine on time.


  1. I don't think there will be a civil war between Dems and Republicans - the Reaganites have been successfully shoved out of power(remember, major Reaganite interest groups went over to Biden). The Republican guerilla fighters don't have enough financial backing anymore.

    The problem is that a degenerate faction of Dems has taken control, so what does that mean? Civil War only involving Democrats?

  2. What about young guys?

  3. Their behavior seems similar, although it's harder to say because they don't get out as much as their female peers (addicted to video games).


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