Sunday, December 24, 2023

Bucking the Decline of Twitter and Surviving the End of Western Civilization

A friend asked how I'm finding the experience on Twitter as it notoriously declines. I told him that I stay in the fishbowl of my self-curated "Must-Read" list (curated to merge "centrists, moderate Dems, and anti-Trump Reps + smart nonpartisans"), so for me it's as good as ever.

It helps, too, that I once spent an hour blocking 200 ad accounts, and now need to block 15 or so new accounts per day to disappear all ads (which is why Musk's toying with removing the "block" function). So I almost never view raw Twitter, and am completely removed from the stuff that upsets so many people.

Here's our conversation about this, lightly edited to simulate coherence at 5a.m.:

Me: Like Chowhound, it’s what you make of it. People are too passive with social media.

Imagine if Chowhound had a block feature. And the ability to curate user and topic lists

Friend: The problem is that it requires effort. With great rewards come great effort!

Me: People don’t do things.

Friend: Yeah. They also don’t plan even when they want to do something. I force every student to plan in the lab before they start experiments. It's not easy.

Me: The problem is that we're all Aristocrats. A peasant in 1598 would understand all our behavioral ills quite keenly. They knew what aristocrats were like. We lost that understanding as we became ones.

Friend: Yup. No need to do stuff for survival

Me: Pampered, self-important, and self sufficient. Everyone special

Friend: The complacent, passive ones tended to die young. So there was survivor bias

Me: But that’s the outer extreme. Even those with easier lives needed to really work to keep up. There were plenty of layers between paupers and aristocrats. Bourgeois, et al.

Friend: Yup

Me: We’re now one or two clicks away from Universal Basic Income, when people will be paid not to work. Be very, very glad you’ll be dead.

Friend: Heh

Me: Not joking in the slightest. It will be the end of us. The endgame of mega-addled aristocracy, where all bad things go asymptotic.

It will be like the decadence of late Rome, but with all the fevered frizzy insanity cranked up to "11". As I once wrote:
Scientists keep trying to explain the Fermi Paradox - the absence of evidence of advanced civilization in the Universe. What is the X Factor obliterating civilizations before they can build Dyson Spheres, capturing the totality of a star's energy, or find a way to communicate over the void with brutes like us?

Comfort and wealth, baby. That's the perilous X Factor. Comfort and wealth.

I wrote last year about deciding when to pick up and split. Like many/most/all Jews, I've got a strong visceral drive to avoid the complacency of German Jews circa 1933. Having divined the end game (it doesn't require frickin' Nostradamus), I'm already gone.

But if you're youngish, or know someone youngish, here's some shrewd advice for pulling that trigger: when anything like Universal Basic Income becomes a reality, go to the Third World, where people will remain people for a while. Not for atmosphere, but for safety.

If you've been reading here for some time, you know I'm the opposite of an alarmist (I'm the only fervent anti-Trumper I know who rated him a "5.5" in 2019 - he's dropped some, of course, since then - and it certainly wasn't that I liked any damned thing about him). So you can take this prediction to the bank (hopefully to withdraw all your money and get the hell out of Dodge at the suggested moment).

"Universal Basic Income" is very much like Mars Colonization. It's a superficially fun and noble-sounding endeavor that could only be envisioned by people with no clue whatsoever about real live human beings. It's yet another in a long line of preposterous, ruinous Egghead Utopias (as coined in the most-read Slog posting, "How I Outgrew Libertarianism").

The positive flip-side of all this is very very very positive indeed: "We Are Enjoying Peak Humanity Right Now"

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