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Young people in U.S. dying at high rates (axios.com)
121 points by JumpCrisscross 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments





Here's the paper with a less sensationalized title, "Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017": https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2756187

The paper concludes as follows:

> US life expectancy increased for most of the past 60 years, but the rate of increase slowed over time and life expectancy decreased after 2014. A major contributor has been an increase in mortality from specific causes (eg, drug overdoses, suicides, organ system diseases) among young and middle-aged adults of all racial groups, with an onset as early as the 1990s and with the largest relative increases occurring in the Ohio Valley and New England. The implications for public health and the economy are substantial, making it vital to understand the underlying causes.


The paper might have a less sensational title, but that does not make the content any less news-worthy. I don't think the author is wrong at raising alarm about this.

2 different titles:

"The rate of life expectancy increase slowed over time and life expectancy decreased after 2014"

vs

"Young people in U.S. dying at high rates"

Which one seems sensationalist to you?


This:

> life expectancy decreased after 2014

is explained by this:

> "Young people in U.S. dying at high rates"

Unless something terrible happened, lowered life expectancy for 3 years in a row should be unacceptable and warrant sensationalism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/theres-something-terri...

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/921858

https://www.healio.com/primary-care/practice-management/news...


This is not what my comment is about. I am saying that irrespective of the less sensational paper title, the conclusion of the paper is worth sensationalizing.

The one that is based on a scientific paper is less sensationalist.

[flagged]


> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

People will disagree, and some will downvote as a result. It's all meaningless internet points anyway, so why does it matter so much?

sachdevap 8 days ago [flagged]

It actually does matter to visibility of comments when you're trying to engage in discussions. If you'll read my comment, I'm not really craving internet points in anyway. Downvoting for disagreement is just a poor way of having a discussion. In the comment that was downvoted, there was no name-calling, nothing uncivil. A lot of subreddits, surprisingly unlike HN, do actually discourage downvoting.

And if I was craving internet points I'd probably not comment about voting cause clearly that's unpopular too.

My arguments notwithstanding, I don't intend to comment on voting again.


So... how reliable is the census data from the early part of that sample? It used to be extremely common for people to overreport their age, so they could fight in wars, claim rights and benefits they’d otherwise have missed out on, and in the days of loosely connected paper records, something like your age was easily changed.

In addition, suicide or drug use was not typically recorded as a cause of death - you would be listed as an accident, or death by misadventure, or pneumonia.

I’m not saying the paper is wrong, but I’m querying whether things have really got that dramatically worse, or if our data has got better. It’s certainly easy to believe that matters have got that much worse... which is why I’m querying it. If something seems obviously true there’s usually something missing.


This is a problem of a culture that is lost in the woods. We are incredibly divided, you're probably not going to know or have much in common with your neighbors. The world seems small, and you're just holding on. We are functionally going down the same cultural road as Russia, with a "fuck it" sort of cynical attitude that leads to excess seeking of dissociation and alcoholism. I have many friends who do absolutely nothing but work, play games and drink.

There are many countries where people have to work with their hands to put food on the table, who are quite happier with their lives individually than people in the US are. There's plenty of ways to look at the problem and actually study the differences from culture to culture - I'd love to see a few of them. My hypothesis is one of the causes is a lack of dynamism caused by economic insecurity. There's n ot a whole lot thats new because there's little appetite for risk. We still have the same 8 restaurants in malls that we've had since the 90s because incumbents make it too difficult to succeed. This is super rambly I admit, but in the US its so fucking depressing.


I don't want your salient comment to fall to the bottom in a discussion about food trucks and mall food. Your point is far more important than that stuff. I really do think that America is turning into Russia (oligarch control of mass media , hopelessness, alcoholism/drug abuse, propaganda everywhere, instability and un- and under-employment), and that Russia is turning into America (inheriting the worst aspects: mass consumer culture, little public participation in civil society, obsessed with social media, media conglomerates complicit with the government, money over everything else. The only other person I've seen make that argument is Max Keiser, whose show, ironically, is broadcast on RT.

I agree with your hypothesis is that lack of dynamism in society is caused by economic insecurity. And I, too, have many friends who do nothing but work, play games, and drink (not that I don't do these things myself). I don't know where this is all going, but I don't like it.


Part of the reason I seize on malls and food is it seems like the place where people should be going out to, rather than sitting at home with a bag of fast food every day. Past other activities, everyone has to eat, and eating is a huge part of thriving cultures.

> you're probably not going to know or have much in common with your neighbors.

Almost all people have a surprising amount in common. The human experience is pretty predictable.

It's just that we perceive that our neighbors are different from us.

One of the best ways around that is to put yourself in a situation where you actually bump into your neighbors. Basically that just means being out in public at "third places".


I do agree, but there’s a giant shade of mistrust to get over. There does need to be more third places - suburbs are specifically lacking in those. The cultural identity most of the time is “independent” rather than “community focused”.

>incumbents make it too difficult to succeed

Or people like the familiar? Restaurants are constantly opening and closing.


People don't like the familiar that much. See the popularity of food trucks. Part of that is our restaurant culture (and food regulations) has made for very few "small" operations, and it raises the risk to try things (because well, once you're in a restaurant you can only have that food). If you go to asia there will be food courts in malls with 20, 30 stalls each with a different person cooking different food, all with big photos. PLUS all the big restaurants. We get... panda express and taco bell. On every corner. Its almost dystopian.

The success of chain restaurants clearly shows people like the familiar. Food trucks are popular in a few cities in areas with young people, and maybe they will grow in popularity, but I don't see them outside of areas with high density of young people.

Restaurants don't have a high barrier to entry, but they are low margin businesses with high risk and low quality of life. You need a certain population density of restaurant-going population (younger people usually) to sustain a variety of restaurants.

Population density of Asia isn't comparable to most of the US, plus the US has stricter food regulations, plus people in the US have better options than working at a restaurant, so the labor is costlier, hence the food is costlier, hence eating out as often as Asia might not be possible.

My original point, however, was to dispute the claim that chain restaurants make it harder for others to compete. I can't think of a single thing chain restaurants do or can do to prevent competition, except maybe with liquor licenses, but there's no one stopping small Asian style shops from opening up other than higher costs of doing business in the US and insufficient demand.


Are food trucks not "the familiar"? In my experience, if there's a food truck, I can find it in the same place at the same time, either daily or weekly, all year round (unless it's seasonal, i.e. catering to college students or not something people want much of in winter).

I currently go to a food truck once a week or so because it provides a hot lunch, of reliably decent quality, both faster and cheaper than nearby sandwich places. Other food trucks I've seen at other places and other times of my life have followed similar patterns, and if I've gone to them it's for similar reasons.


Anectodal comment here: n=1.

I stopped actively viewing news in all formats around 4 years ago. I actively shunned TV news, newspapers, radio, and I block all ads online.

Some still got through, making me more determined to avoid them: leaving the room when the news came on for example (my wife switching the channel over!).

But it made me angry because I couldn't escape it. I literally could not get away from it.

When I enter the supermarket, the newspapers are right in front of the damn door! I actually look away from them. Look past them. Whatever it takes.

I've now resigned myself to absorbing some of it passively but I have developed a kind of shield. I almost internally say "meh, so what!".

Almost none of it directly affects me or if it does I am in no position to do ANYTHING about it.

Almost. Some still gets through and pisses me off expecially since every news broadcast or story has a politician in it.

But it was depressing. I actually think that before I stopped I was depressed. Not just feeling down. Clinically depressed.

I am a different person now. I talk to other entrepreneurs: by definition, the successful ones are quite positive people.

I honestly think the constant depressing and negative news was what made me depressed.

The sooner you get rid of it, the better you'll feel.


"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off."

-- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club


>Death rates among young and middle-age adults stemmed mostly from suicide, drug overdose, obesity and liver disease.

These are mostly deaths of despair. When people feel like they have no way out of crappy circumstances, and time marches on. And when the only treatment is completely unaffordable, or worse, results in gigantic bills, it can seem almost logical to turn to suicide or alcohol abuse (what a teacher in my 7th-grade "life skills" class called 'slow-motion suicide').


Exactly. Look at what these kids are being handed for a future and tell me they don't have the right to be in life-threatening levels of despair.

I just don't understand these kinds of comments. On every measurable metric, there has literally never been a better time to be alive and living in America. It seems to me that people's expectations are outpacing our relatively abundant affluence. That may still be a problem, but it has little to do with "what we're being handed for a future." My suspicion is that hit has more to do with the rise in social media and the fact that we're constantly comparing our lives to other people's highlight reels.

Remember most of us on Hacker News make well over the national average. The annual median personal income is about 31k a year. This means that there are a lot of people working mind numbing, dead end, minimum wage jobs (likely retail, service industry, or warehouse jobs with no benefits or bad benefits), barely struggling to survive paycheck to paycheck. They don't feel like "there has literally never been a better time to be alive and living in America".

Social media is bad, but it's not the cause. Our society is seriously suffering, and the gap between those of us who are privileged and those of us who have nothing is just getting wider.


I get tired of people blaming social media for societies ills.

Most of these ills existed long before Facebook. Facebook just makes it more apparent. Common people are on twitter, on reddit, on all the big networking sites directly pointing out that "everything is far from okay" and for a certain segment of the successful population of the world, they almost take that as an insult to them personally, because they're doing well and they assumed everyone else was too.

The reality is there are huge segments of the global and even American population that are being largely left behind by our new shiny future.


I keep hearing that there's growing fraction of impoverished people in the US, but the data tell a very different story. See figure 1 and 2 here: https://www3.nd.edu/~jsulliv4/2017%20Consumption%20Poverty%2...

Eh I disagree for a multitude of reasons, first is that I really don't agree with the government assumed line of "what is poverty" and I seriously doubt that is the first thing that jumps into everyone's mind when they say people around them are "impoverished". Strictly speaking for 2018, 13064 is the official poverty line for an individual with no dependents below the age of 65. You can easily make above the poverty line working those jobs above, but working minimum wage is quite frankly poverty level in my mind, even 50% more would be pushing it.

Secondly there are additional items that are necessary for this next generation that I don't believe are really accounted for. A lack of good internet access in the form of a smartphone or pc is a literal handicap, if someone can't justify affording that, I would very much consider them impoverished. Time is literal money and denying the most advanced tool in our day and age that will save you large amounts of time/money is poor from my perspective.

Yes I realize this measures something else, but it is rather opaque, and it fails to account for other things like debt.


Look at a graph of inflation in rent prices and cost of living compared to the official poverty line over the years. Basically the government is keeping the poverty line number low even as the cost of living skyrockets.

The result is that that there are a lot of people who are officially in the government's eyes "above the poverty line" but who in reality can barely pay rent and afford groceries.


I guess if you can convince someone they were only successful because of their privileged it's easy to see depression as inevitable.

Of course depression is inevitable.

At my current job I work really hard, but I feel incredibly lucky that what I do is valued such that I am able to put about $3k per month extra money into a Vanguard mutual fund that has about 7% return. This money will continue to accumulate and grow with compound interest. I literally get more free money for already having money. That is privilege.

Meanwhile for many other people it's the exact opposite. They work equally hard (arguably perhaps even harder than I do) but the work they do isn't valued so they get paid almost nothing. After they pay their bills they don't have any extra money to invest. In fact they might have a small shortfall which over time turns into credit card debt. Now their net worth is compounding in the opposite direction.... down instead of up.

Someone in the second group has every right to feel depressed. I'd argue they probably even have every right to be mad as hell. They say that depression is just anger internalized. Some people are reacting to their situation by getting angry at the billionaires and super rich in our society. Others are experiencing that internalized anger that turns into depression that causes them to suicide slowly with drugs or alcohol.


>On every measurable metric, there has literally never been a better time to be alive and living in America.

Not sure there has ever been a time so many people are in debt with no possibility of being able to repay. Consider 1M student loans go into default every year. That's 1M a year, mostly young people, who will have these loan debts for the rest of their lives with no way out.

That's just 1 area of debt to highlight, but more of these young people will never buy a house, probably not own a car, likely not have families, and die younger than their parents.

To tell these people there has literally never been a better time to be alive is an insult, any time in history was relatively good so long as you had wealth, the same is true today.


I guess, but every quintile is either improving or staying flat.[1] No quintile is declining. And poverty is declining too.[2] As a society, things are improving, though admittedly faster for some than others. [1] https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2019/11/2... [2] https://www3.nd.edu/~jsulliv4/2017%20Consumption%20Poverty%2...

Poverty rate has improved in since the recession, but the improvement is to get back to basically the same rate as the 1970s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States


That's true only if you don't account for transfer payments (e.g., food stamps, state health care, etc.). I would refer you again to the second document I linked above.

That document claims that accounting for transfers not in income (eg. SNAP payments) are a better measure of "consumption poverty rate", yet food insecurity rates are barely returning to 1995 levels. So to me it's really not clear that this other "consumption poverty rate" is an improved measure.

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/fo...


Young people with college degrees and debt will never own a car, never have a family? This seems like a gross exaggeration. I know many people with student debt and they all manage to have a car and relationships/families.

It's not impossible but it shouldn't be this fuckin hard. I'm struggling personally in an in-demand industry with a competitive job, and I don't even have children. I own a home but it's in no small part thanks to family helping me out.

>I know many people with student debt and they all manage to have a car and relationships/families.

How many have defaulted on their loans? Again 1M default every year...how many do you know?

Home ownership, car ownership and marriage are all down with this demographic and millennials overall.


"On every measurable metric, there has literally never been a better time to be alive and living in America."

I mean, we have a measurable metric right now- young people dying in high rates, suicide is up, average life expectancy is down?


If this were Reddit, I would like to wave away parent's argument with an "OK, Boomer" meme. I think it's simply propaganda that "things are better now then they ever were before! wee!" The statistics shown here and highlighted by other posters make this clear: we have many problems.

And things are always better in the developed world, that doesn't inherently mean people fortunate enough to live here instead of say, rural Africa, have nothing to fucking complain about. First world problems are still problems afterall. Yeah the people living in isolated hunter-gatherer societies most assuredly have it worse, but just because you're in America with a car you can barely afford and are eating a steady diet of boiled rice in a studio apartment with no furniture in it, and are thusly compared with that hunter gatherer person doing okay, doesn't mean you have no right to complain that your boss, Jeff Bezos has over TWENTY homes all worth more than you'll ever make in a LIFETIME.

Your argument fails spectacularly. Mark Twain covers it better than I could:

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period,' just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

The wealth of people like Bazos, Gates, Buffet, Greenspan, etc turn the suffering of entire generations into rounding errors.


> On every measurable metric, there has literally never been a better time to be alive and living in America.

I love how the common HN statement of, "if there's a metric, it will be gamed," never makes it's way into concerns of societies ills. The United States is an incredibly lonely and alienated place and, while GDP may be going up or whatever gamey mechanism you want to measure does the "right " thing, it does nothing to affect the very real material concerns of the average person: the ever-increasing precarious nature of work, healthcare concerns, student loan debt, increasing rent, and it just gets worse every time you wake up.


I think this is a result of looking at the mean vs. the median. While the average GDP continues to rise, the median remains stagnant -- only up 2.8% since 1999[0]!

The saying "never cross a river that is 4 feet deep on average" is applicable -- the skewness is a critical factor.

[0]: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEHOINUSA672N


GDP has little to no indication as to whether people have a life worth living.

The fact that it's mentioned at all in a discussion like this is a testament to how effective corporate media has been in convincing people to pursue economic growth at the cost of everything else.

Who cares if the planets burning and suicides are up!? Don't worry about financial security and medical expenses! The NASDAQ thing went up! That's all that matters afterall, as long as the made up fuckin numbers are nice and big, have a party!


You're right, a lot of these metrics are improving.

Some demographics that should be doing fine perceive the world as worse than it is [1].

Even though the demographic's metrics are improving, the perception of their metrics might not be improving.

[1] https://amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/413140/


This was a fascinating article. Thanks for sharing.

No problem, glad it was interesting. Some friends grew up in an environment like this, I know it first hand.

We also have politicians in the USA saying that civilization is going to end in 12 years becaue of climate change. Savvy people and organizations are taking advantage of outrage culture to influence viewpoints, but if someone doesn't have the energy to be outraged, they'll probably end up depressed instead.

This metric was recently posted on HN, but received little comment. The Jobs Quality Index shows that the available jobs for Americans have been declining in quality (despite rising classical metrics like GDP).

https://qz.com/1752676/the-job-quality-index-is-the-economic...


>On every measurable metric

Life expectancy has dropped for three years running.

Don't blame it on social media. It's bigger and deeper rooted than that.


Life expectancy is going down every year. These are good times for a few privileged elite, everyone else is moving backwards.

The data tell a different story. I've offered them in a another comment, but see increasing household income for every quintile here [1] and decreasing poverty here [2]. While income inequality is increasing, that doesn't mean quality of life is decreasing or "moving backwards." [1] https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2019/11/2... [2] https://www3.nd.edu/~jsulliv4/2017%20Consumption%20Poverty%2...

Poor people are literally dying younger, and you're trying to argue that they are somehow better off? This is some Monty Burns level of delusion.

Other modern nations have just as much social media - why then is this a pronounced US phenomenon?

On nearly every metric we’re better except hope. Its quite possible to talk yourself into despair and I think your seeing that in action.

This!

Children are born with optimism for life even in the face of daunting circumstances, I see this in my kids all the time and I'm raising them to understand that life has its challenges but that they have opportunities to be productive and impactful as members of society. We do a disservice and a wrong to our children when all we speak to them is despair and apocalyptic outcomes, we destroy their hope in life and value of fellow humans..

Or maybe because they are being frightened endlessly by fear mongering news and social media, which favors outrage and gives an unbalanced view of reality. Things to be optimistic about[1] don't get much attention.

The future you're fearing may or may not happen.

But endless pessimism is a killer regardless. It's a self-fulfilling, terrible strategy if we want things to improve.

1. https://informationisbeautiful.net/beautifulnews/


Cherry picking positive news is literally no different than what you're accusing the mainstream news of doing. It's just the other direction.

I'm glad diseases are being stamped out in Africa. Here in America the anti-vax movement is bringing them back, and I have friends shelling out hundreds of dollars for generic epipens that cost pennies to make.

Automating naivety with an algorithm doesn't change what it is.


I'm currently in high school and yes we are very angry about what is being handed to us. Bad job prospects, vilifying success, socialism, over priced college, loss of privacy, increased racial divide in society etc.

I am determined though to persevere and change the world for the better.


Compared to what? The dark ages, WW-I, WW-II, cold war with a real prospect of annihilation, slavery, the big depression, recession, colonialization, wars, communism..... Shall I go on?

Every generation faces this, it just seems that this generation feels a little bit more entitled than previous generations.

Edit: to quote from The Komensky Method It hurts to be human. It hurts like hell. And all the exploring in the world doesn’t make that hurt go away. Because being human and being hurt are the same damn thing.


There are more than purely-internal personality factors that cause suicides. Hell, even personality is influenced by what you grow up in and experience daily. If we're making a society that makes more people kill themselves than in the past, we're fucking up.

Is it "entitlement" to not want to live in a world where the culture and stimuli aren't so negative? How do you think kids would entitle themeselves, anway? The world they grow up in is the world we create. So if the kids are fucked, we done fucked them up.

It's not a fact of nature, either. My generation had it pretty easy, and I'm assuming yours did too, since the US had been a pretty idyllic environment for several decades there post-WWII for most demographics. But hey, kids today have iPads, who cares if they're far more lonely and fed a constraint stream of depressing stimuli!


That is a fair point. But how do you reconcile it with the rise of the gig economy and more and more people not interested in holding permanent jobs, unlike previous generations.

I'm not sure how the two are connected, exactly. If you're a software engineer you should be very familiar with the reason why people switch jobs instead of holding down one for longer, and it has nothing to do with the people.

It has to do with companies not compensating people, offering career tracks, training etc. Employees are no longer treated as part of the company and valuable to train but instead disposable. The rise of the gig economy is just that logic taken to the extreme.


Where do you get the idea people aren’t interested in holding permanent jobs?

From what I’ve seen, employers are not able to offer them, either due to needing cheaper labor in other countries. And employers themselves are subject to more volatility, so they can’t offer “permanent” jobs even if they wanted to. Of course, permanent jobs here means jobs that have decent pay.


What makes you think that events you mention did not made people angry, suicidal, violent and so on?

I don't know. However, I doubt it was at the scale we're hearing now.

I wonder if news and social media are partly to blame.


I think you make a great point. Every generation has their own unique struggles.

For example, one comparison is the millennial generation owns about half the wealth at age 35 then the boomer generation did at the same age.

Bad job prospects compared to what? We had youth unemployment of about 25% in the early eighties in Western Europe ( NL ).

How bad are your prospects exactly?


>increased racial divide in society

Please explain this one


I see increasingly that people are pitted against each other based on race. We should all be treated the same.

Yeah, for a example currently on TV watch the most recent episode of Watchmen. The racial divide has closed wildly since the 1960s, and simply because tech gives alt-right a platform doesn't make them any bigger than they were on their Oregon compounds decades ago.

> socialism

That... is not it.


What do you mean by socialism? How is that a threat?

Going too far to the right or left is definitely a threat. The great thing about the US imo is that we are a nation of moderates.

The entire 20th century was a case study on the dangers of far right and far left wing political systems.


To give you some perspective. What counts as moderate in the US is, at best, center-right in Europe. Heck, a lot of Democrats would be considered center right over here. People like Bernie and Warren would count as moderate with, maybe, a tendency to the left. So your standard left wing politics in Europe would probably count as extremist in the US. Just as an example from the German capital: nationalization of residential buildings to prevent further rent increases. Or one, agreeably rather extreme, proposition from the youth wing of Germanies center left SPD was the nationalization of certain public companies to better share out profits to workers.

Don't forget climate change. Probably a bigger worry than socialism or "vilifying success".

Honestly climate change doesn't seem like that much of an issue. We have many of the smartest people in the world working on this problem and are making great strides in technology.

I think we will figure out the solutions and avert any serious consequences. Humanity always seems to find a way to prevail.


Upvoted you for you being rather young, so benefit of doubt all that.

Just one thing, expensive college is a purely US thing, except some MBA programs most universities in Europe are practically free. So, that thing about socialism. Free, public healthcare as well as education are what some in the US might consider "socialism". So there you might have an issue with your reasoning.


I don't think college should be free. It is a business after all. But the price of college in the US is definitely inflated. People used to be able to pay for the tuition by taking a summer job or going one semester on, and one semester working. I just think college should be priced affordably for middle class people and that there should be more merit based aid for lower class people.

I have some friends I play video games with online who have went to college and they have all said that it really wasn't that useful as far as education is concerned, but does get you into the 'club' to apply for better jobs.


For me college is not a business, same as basic health care. Education is not a business. But then I guess I am used to that way.

But let's stick to college as business. You say tuition is to expensive. A college needs professors, equipment, buildings, employees. All that costs a ton of money. If they are not government owned, they have to cover that plus profits. And they cannot decrease tuition fees. So as long as college are businesses they have to be expensive. Your average studies in Germany run somewhere around 100k Euro if memory serves well, stuff med school and engineering tend to be higher.

In my opinion, a society can only benefit from making education as accessable as possible for everyone. The one thing nobody can take away from you is your knowledge, so the more you have the better yptu are off. That also means there is no such thing as "useless" knowledge. That you only need part of what you learn in school in your future professional life is true. Still nobody knows where you will end up when you are an adult. So the younger you are the broader your education has to be. As you progress, education becomes more specialized up to a point. From there on it is experience and dedicated training on the job.


Part of the reason for the recent protests in Paris was because the government wanted to add fees (though comparatively small) to university tuition. This was viewed as another slap in the face of lawmakers (many of whom went to university for free) wanting to pull the ladder up behind them.

True, Germany got rid of tuition fees after a short period. Still a far cry from the US, so.

Can you explain what you mean by vilifying success? If anything I'd say the problem is the we praise the wrong success, i.e. the Mark Zuckerberg and Kim Kardashians of the world.

For example, I have been closely following the elections, since this will be the first time I can vote, people that make a lot of money are considered enemies of the common person I think this is wrong.

By what metrics?

Are you talking about Global Nuclear War?

I mean it's pretty much a race between nuclear war, nationalist authoritarians gaining power, backwards social policies, concentration of wealth among the 0.1%, climate change, financial crashes...

There's so many things getting worse seemingly all the time it's hard to really keep track of it.

Edit: The various surveillance states, re-emboldening of nazi's, the looming threat of Civil War in the United States, a handful of corporations attempting to own and monetize every aspect of life...


Why is the "zombie apocalypse" so popular? because we have a surfeit of ways the world will likely die, and zombies are less likely than the insect/animal extinction, climate catastrophe or tweets launching nukes, so it's almost comforting in an escapist way.

It's incredibly comforting. I can do something about a zombie. I can't do something about the orange doofus tweeting war on North Korea and burning the planet.

Through what dark lens is the unrelenting social progress we've made warped to such dystopic proportions? uwu

But the war, climate change, and economic inequality stuff, big true.

Also, increasingly digital society is moving the average person into the world of physically isolated sexless hydrogen that people like me have been in the whole time, which must be difficult. x3 Look to Japan; the future!


With how much housing and healthcare costs just living makes you feel guilty.

I know, right? If I can leave the house these days without spending $20 dollars, I'm _relieved_.

And yet somehow people still claim that the rise in depression is down to us 'having awareness'.

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Didn't see the original comment, but I am happy to see people finally seeing China in a proper light. They are not the same as the US, though Americans overwhelmingly tend to approach their views of the rest of the world from an ethnocentric point of view.

Having served in a war zone I will say that our country is far from perfect, but I know there are much worse places one could be. It does not mean we should stop striving to advance, but there is no shame in appreciating what we currently have.


Trade policies and immigration decimated the United States middle class. The rich got rich. It’s pretty simple

The rich are always going to have an advantage towards staying rich. Heck, the people that voted for candidates who talked about trade policies and immigration cheered a massive corporate tax cut.

True, we will always have the rich in our society. HOWEVER, the rich got richer at stupendous rate in the last few decades, while the rest got poorer at increasing rate.

I wonder how the charts look if you graph them on a log scale. Wealth concentration is exponential by nature.

There was research work that showed a causation between smart phones/social media and increased loneliness and depression rates.

I wonder how we can increase awareness and ethical decision making around our industries actions.


So I am an older dude living in a coastal city with a high cost of living, and not a teenager who's easily impressionable.

And I cut the cord years ago so most of my screen entertainment is from youtube videos. And I don't even watch the `trending` videos that youtube pushes. I simply watch documentaries, old TV/movie shows, highlights of soccer/baseball (since I don't have cable TV), some game playing videos, and vlogs.

It was the vlogs that got me feel depressed even more. I don't watch vlogs of the pop stars but of normal people who are just going about their life. Like sailing with family, working on their big houses and cars, flying to places in airliners, flying around in private planes for work/pleasure.

These are completely normal/awesome people who I would love to have as friends. But as I watched the vlogs, I realized that I did/do/will NOT have what they have. Yes yes, it's shallow of me to think this way, of material goods.

With scripted TV shows/movies, you knew the nice houses/cars/toys were fantasies. But with vlogs, you know they are real people. It's true that they are often showing just better part of their lives, but still these houses/cars/toys are real in real people's lives.

Watching these youtube videos inevitably lead to introspection.

The other part of internet that get me down is real estate websites. Before internet, you really had to go out of your way to see inside of expensive houses. Now, with a browser, you can see how the others live. As someone who is paying $$ for dumpy/small space in an increasingly expensive coastal city, it surely does depress me. I initially started viewing the sites to look for my own house possibly to buy, and it inevitably leads to viewing more and more expensive houses. Soon enough, you wonder, what have I done with my life.

I've started cutting out vlogs/real estate websites. But I cannot unsee what I have seen.

For anyone who will see this as rantings of a materialistic person, I am pretty sure I am not. I can fit what I use/need in daily life into a suitcase, except for my 24" monitor. What really gets me is I can't provide for my family.

Oh well, maybe I AM a shallow materialistic dude who just doesn't admit to it.

>>> I wonder how we can increase awareness and ethical decision making around our industries actions.

Frankly, not sure what our tech industry can do to address the complaints I laid out...


My local newspaper has started to write articles about the fancy homes in the area. It's harder to avoid these kinds of things.

Some of this comes down to ethics. Am I making something that will hurt people? When I took engineering classes in college I was required to take an ethics class where we talked about thinking these things through. I know not everyone has been taught this.

I wonder how we can add this to our culture as creators. To think about the repercussions of our actions.


Source? Was it really causation, or just correlation?

Hopefully this is just coincidence; a few bad years so to say. However, based on my own experiences and having a few friends die due to drug overdose I can say I think not. I wouldn't even know where to start when it comes to placing blame or if it would even help.

I am 33 now and if I have noticed anything in my lifetime it's that people seem so much more divided now than in previous generations. I look at my mothers generation and all the amazing things people accomplished with civil rights, women's rights and environmental action/protection here in the US... that I can't help but feel like we have dropped the ball.

Perhaps the media has simply poisoned my mind s/t I feel a need to absorb blame. Perhaps our generation simply has more complex and overwhelming problems than previous generations. Either way, I feel as though we have all disconnected from one another despite the fact that our generation is more connected now (smart phones, tech, social media) than ever before.


Most of this thread seems like it belongs on reddit/r/thanksimcured.

The first 3 cited: suicide, drug overdose, obesity.

In my opinion (having been born 50+ years ago to a large family without a lot of money), life is a lot easier now than it was then. We have a lot more technology to help us with all sorts of things.

I think it's easy to lose your sense of purpose today. Not having a strong reason to get out and work to improve things can affect the mindset, and I suspect that can lead to all 3 of the cited causes of death.


"Young people" and then they provide some broad data on "age groups" as if the entire U.S. were some homogeneous blob.

From a report linked in the article.

>China surpassed the U.S. for healthy life expectancy for the first time in 2016.

Ouch.


Without intending to disagree, is there a link to that you could provide? China notoriously hides/doctors/doesn't publish public data like this.

Here is the link: https://www.axios.com/life-expectancy-every-country-world-b3...

According to the chart the growth of life expectancy in China is pretty much inline with growth in India, so it looks legitimate.

While in the US the trend for life expectancy correlates more with Venezuela.

It's a long span (16 years) and only two data points per country. But still...


Can it really be a surprise? This system is so filled with mixed values that any moral compass at all becomes a burden like a cross borne. The most immediate example that comes to me is the Logan Paul/KSI drama, plastered in unison across the front pages of the internet. Hyper-sensationalized celebrities who exemplify everything that would've been considered immoral in bygone eras. Logan's business acumen is honed, it seems, or at least looking on the bright side he's successful in his endeavors, creating a self-sanctifying brand. But his character is that of a stupid and inconsiderate miscreant, and yet, he's represented as a valuable contributor to society, as evidenced by his vindication and wealth.

Movies that portray unrealistic human interaction across the spectrum while arresting disbelief create worldviews that are equally disruptive. Our stupid ape brains absorb it, regardless of the divisions our higher processes might place on it. It's why horror movies can elicit their jump scares, why sad moments play the heart strings, and fictionalized steam triggers sexual response. It's all in there, and while we might deride it as fiction, and while that might detract from cross comparison to reality, it still possesses a weighted influence on each and every person's conception of reality, and they adjust their expectations accordingly.

And likewise, even in the landscape of reality, people are altering and editing their social personas with social media. Diligently rehearsed and masterfully placed. Photographs of perfection and all the words that follow, flawless relationships and airbrushed skin. Exotic vacations, and cars, with all the invisible debt that follows. All the trauma that comes alongside maintaining the smoke and mirrors of an expertly crafted life designed to erect some caricature of what we're supposed to be. How we're supposed to live.

Peers, parents, and our internal selves. Society at large. There is no union between a value system any more, and while I believe in diversity for the sake of evolutionary pressure there is no reason to except such a catastrophic schism from blame in matters like this. I won't play at the idea we need religion to survive, but I will say this: at least we had a value system that could machinistically produce a reasonably predictable environment. In the here and now everything comes with some unreasonably tumultuous hurtles, unpredictable even in the best of circumstances. Even were we to crawl back into the trenches of religion, the church is just as confused. It seems now status is god, in the church of fame.

Politics incite vitriol and divide us, first by wont and then by class. The binds of unified labor were dissolved decades ago. The poor and the middle class draw closer and closer as the ascension of the wealthy create an insurmountable gap. A continuum of exposure to the extremes of the world, the best in class in product and producer. Athletes and artists paraded around the facets of the internet, and where, and who is one left to compare themselves to? Everyone must aspire to the apex, don't you know? You're either a saint or a sinner, but there is no holy man in between. And even seditious breaths whisper at the foot of sainthood.

And everyone caught in between all this has only enough control to pound their fists, or a bottle, or a needle, or a bowl.


Drug overdoses and suicides are probably two sides of the same coin. The feeling of "despair" and "hopelessness" that young people often speak of are surely exacerbating things and causing some of these deaths.

And while I can empathize, having been the demographic in question until last year, and having experienced exactly those feelings; I think despair and hopelessness is not so much "real" as it is "manufactured".

The media of 2019 is partly to blame. I'm not talking about a specific publication, but the state of "journalism" in general. It's doom and gloom, 24x7 piped to our eyeballs from dozens of sources. Sensationalism and outrage are the goals, and they've gotten very very good at it.

Smartphones and social media are another part of the issue. Zombie scrolling through instagram looking at fake lives and photoshopped images, all the while yearning for the things those people have. Or getting worked up over some post on Facebook or some hot take on Twitter.

I quit reading media, and eliminated all social media from my life, and I've never been happier. I don't feel that sense of dread and despair I used to. I have more time to create, more time to exercise, and I sleep better at night.

Things are actually amazing in 2019 if you think about it. There are endless possibilities for people who want to get out and actually do something.


IDK, I'm pretty depressed about the environment, China, ICE, and private oligarchies. Sure 2019 is better that the Middle Ages, but let's be honest. Things are not "actually amazing".

Don't you see? This is what I'm talking about. What does China have to do with you? How does ICE affect your day to day? Sure there are bad things in the world, but unless you're willing to spend your time and resources fighting them, getting involved at a meaningful level, you are better off focusing on other things. Things you can control.

"How does ICE affect your day to day?"

I'm a child of immigrants and am in n immigrant family! ICE is terrifying whenever we travel, whenever my family tries to advocate that they deserve to stay with each other, etc.

I worry every day if I can raise my two younger siblings by myself should my parents ever be deported!


Are your parents here with legal status? My parents have been legal permanent residents for half a century. Their only worry over the years has been if they were ever detained "back home" would they be able to somehow get back to the United States. If your parents have legal status, not sure why ICE would be relevant to their lives or yours.

Because time and time ICE has shown it has a remarkable ability to define “legal status” as it sees fit. Consider the fake college ICE[0] used to arrest and deport immigrants; they were granted Student Visas and believed they were here legally. What would your advice be to them?

Your position seems to start from an assumption that these institutions are acting in good faith, and so it’s illogical to decry an institution if it doesn’t directly impact you. I pray you look at the gamut of evidence available that shows this simply isn’t the case.

[0] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/ar...


> "Their true intent could not be clearer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo earlier this month. "While 'enrolled' at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the University would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services."


This must be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.

Imagine the cost of setting all that up, and going through the process with each student to get their visas. Only to tell them on arrival they’ve been tricked.

What exactly were they trying to accomplish with that?


ICE has captured and held nearly 1500 American citizens for varying durations, one man for nearly 1300 days. That's life ruining.

Source?

Still working on the first part, but here's a source for the second: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/01/540903038...

Edit: This appears further down that article:

> "Those data show that from 2007 through July of last year, 693 U.S. citizens were held in local jails on federal detainers — in other words, at the request of immigration officials. And 818 more Americans were held in immigration detention centers during that same time frame, according to data obtained through a separate FOIA request by Northwestern University professor Jacqueline Stevens and analyzed by NPR."

693 + 818 = 1,511


From 2007 through 2017. 1511 people, or 151 person per year. And they were just detained, not shot dead or sent to gulags forever.

Now, honest question, no sarcasm.

~100 people die EACH DAY in car crashes in USA. 25 people die annually due to lightning strikes.

Is there any chance to not being depressed with all of that stats? I mean, if 150 detentions per year in nation of 327 million people (0.000045%) make you depressed and terrified, what are your chance to feel yourself content and happy?


> And they were just detained, not shot dead or sent to gulags forever.

They might've just lost their jobs, ended up late on rent, or going without medicine, but they were "only just detained."

> Is there any chance to not being depressed with all of that stats?

These are deaths of effectively random chance, not of systematic persecution riding on the back of nationalism waving a fasces. Each one of these detentions is a policy failure and, as we live in at least nominally Democracy, there is culpability on every American unless they take any action. This weight is what bears down on people, but it seems that you are, rather worryingly, insulated or alienated from this violence.

> what are your chance to feel yourself content and happy?

Why are so eager to change this to a subjective matter when this directly deals with objective violence?


>They might've just lost their jobs, ended up late on rent, or going without medicine, but they were "only just detained."

Yes, and again, how many people default on their student debts each year? Probably x100 times more? And the outcome is more or less the same? And still ICE is the problem?

Honestly, I just don't understand the priorities here, and again, zero sarcasm. Student debt is 1.4 TRILLION dollars, if you dont repay it you end up late on rent, go without medicine, have your wage garnished, but let's revolt around 151 people each year being detained for some time.

Honestly, if I was looking for systematic persecution, I would rather look at student debt crisis, if I correctly understand what "systematic" and "policy failure" means. (English is my second language).

EDIT: "7.5 million student loan borrowers in default and nearly 2 million others seriously behind on their payments", source NYT. Surely 1511 beat 7 500 000 as "systematic" and "policy failure".

EDIT2: And if we speak frankly, "Young people in U.S. dying at high rates" is the reason their crippling 1.4T debt or their crippling fear of being detained by ICE?


Your argument essentially boils down to whataboutism. That we can't be concerned about an agency abusing it's power and reach to lock up American citizens because there are other issues to care about.

I'm not sure we should ignore flagrant disregard for the law just because more people die in car accidents but that's just me.


I think my argument boils down to realism.

In a country of 300M people, you will never, ever get rid of some injustice and tragedy. You will always have some rapes, some orphans, people wrongfully jailed, stuff like that. That's just a harsh truth of human existence and I accept it as a mere mortal.

But let's be concerned about an agency abusing it's power and harming 151 people per year. Student loan industry makes millions of people miserable each year, and contribute to "young people in US dying at high rates", but since it's all within the law and said industry not abusing it's power at all, we can just disregard it.

Honestly, it's just a crazy talk to me. Let's abolish ICE and death rate for young adults in US will improve instantly, right? Or maybe let's fix that 1.5T of debt which literally kills mostly young adults?


>we live in at least nominally Democracy, there is culpability on every American unless they take any action. This weight is what bears down on people, but it seems that you are, rather worryingly, insulated or alienated from this violence.

Constantly exposing yourself to and decidedly feeling immense personal guilt for all the violence perpetrated in a country of 300+ million and/or a world of 7+ billion is hopelessly naive and self sabotaging, unless you fancy yourself a God who is out to save the world.

>when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you. -Nietzsche

>There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. -Epictetus


The difference is that one of those is the result of accidents and natural phenomenon, the other is the result of a government secret police detaining people indefinitely and going against the founding principles of this country.

Those are the numbers they were willing to give up, too. I assume you don't see the problem with the government choosing to just pull American citizens off the street?


> ICE is terrifying whenever we travel

As a child of immigrants and proud American, I’m not sure “terrifying” is a fair response. It’s certainly uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t be enough to push one (here legally) into depression to the point of suicide or drug use.


"I'm not sure it's fair that you're terrified."

This is probably the darkest distillation of 2019 neoliberal energy I've heard across many platforms.

"That shouldn't push one into depression to the point of suicide or drug use."

Please spend some effort in 2020 developing empathy for other humans.


It's truly deplorable what ICE is doing. Many people fret about what ICE is doing (including myself at times) to a degree that is absolutely debilitating. I think the point here — though OP has stated it in a deeply awkward and arguably insensitive manner — is that it is better to relieve oneself of crippling worry for things outside of their control, even if they are profoundly harmful. That is not to say that one should relieve oneself of profound and deep concern and compassion for those affected; and one, where is possible, should do all that they can to help in an authentic manner. A preponderance of crippling worry, however, seems to me to cause either (a) inaction due to despair (which in some cases may be as harmful as ignorance) (b) complete support of a harmful situation in question (e.g. the alt-right supporting profoundly cruel anti-immigration policies).

I agree with this, but I’m pointing out the examples provided are more than a lack of tact- it’s choosing disengagement and by disengaging assuming no one else has legitimate worries or lives a life different than them. It’s an apathy that’s the same side of the worry coin.

Obviously I was being rhetorical. I was speaking in strong certainties to elicit a response. Obviously in your case ICE is a concern. For 99% of the people who are paralyzed by thinking about it - they would be better served focusing on getting back to their life. (And voting for people who MIGHT do something about it)

For what it's worth, my circumstances agree with you. I've become much less stressed out on the day to day by ungluing my eyes from newsmedia.

Agreed.

Nobody "deserves" to stay in another country unless they are there legally.

Legal USA residents and citizens have been detained for months by ICE, JSYK. Believing your legal status protects you from having your rights stripped is leaving us all vulnerable.

Do you have a source for that?


I think people have a right to exist. If they are seeking asylum and they are not a threat, I think we should help each other out. Turning your backs on them because you don't like their race/religion goes against what America was supposed to be about. If we deport everyone who isn't legal knowing they'll either be killed or separated from their families, that speaks volumes about our country's morals and compassion. Deporting people because they don't "deserve" to be here is an extremely elitist attitude.

People have a right to exist in their own countries.

It would be unsustainable to let in everybody who wants to move to another country. That's why quotas, background checks, etc exist.

Entering a country illegally knowing that it will mean you'll be splitting your family in half speaks volumes about the morals and compassion of the person who does that.


I don't think it has anything to do with race or religion. There's not a country in the world with open borders. Most first world countries are actually harder to get into than the US.

It's odd to me that people started worrying about ICE en mass when Trump became president. It's an organization that has existed since 2003. In addition nearly every country in the world has similar or more stringent policies. Yet no one talks about that and they act as if ICE is unique in some capacity. It's hard to see that as anything other than politically motivated or misguided by media propaganda.


Are your parents in the US illegally?

Hmmmm, I believe I "am" making some meaningful difference. Even if it's just yelling at the fucked up shit. I will not go quietly into the night.

Then it seems you'll stay in this depressed state for a while longer. I agree 100% with what OP said, having experienced the benefits for myself. I never actually 'quit fb' or whatever, I just lost interest after realizing how constantly bombarded I am with stuff that has absolutely no relevance to my _actual_ life.

I wish you all the best and brighter days in the future.

EDIT: oh, btw your comment resonated with me because of the 'scream into the night' thing. That's also how I felt when I was a teenager who was into punkrock. There's this sense that your suffering somehow accomplishes a sort of martyrdom. But it really doesn't and it only helps to further one's negative thoughts.


Hey man, did you hear Rage Against the Machine is making a comeback?

Just because I'm depressed about these things doesn't mean I'm depressed. Or at least not usually. Life's weird.


I don't even know how to respond to this. Do you really believe "yelling at the fucked up shit" will do anything positive? There is no change without actual action. If anything whining in to the wind will just exhaust and alienate people.

Charismatic yelling is empowering, otherwise it's just whining I suppose.

It matters so much how we define the world for ourselves. I can't make much difference in the world if I define the world as all of humanity. If I change my perspective and see my world as my family, friends, coworkers, and community I can suddenly see so many incredible opportunities to make a difference.

Look around and find the things that you can pick up and improve.


By that logic if you lived in a nice countyside vila in Poland during WW2 you should not have been worried at all about what was going on around you.

> the environment, China, ICE, and private oligarchies

This is just a list of current media narratives.

The solution is to stop letting the media do your thinking for you and instead find something productive and fulfilling to do with your time and attention.


> The solution is to stop letting the media do your thinking for you and find something productive to do with your time and attention.

While your response is incredibly callous and privileged, it's beautifully on point in regards to the feeling of many people: you're so incredibly alienated from the political process, why not go do something _productive_ because you better commodify every waking moment.


I agree this attitude does come from privilege, but so what? If someone is fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of not having to burden themselves with worry about things they can't control, why should they?

Also, there are many ways to improve the world and human society outside of the political process. If more people did what GP did and focused on their own personal well being and strengthening local/community/familial ties outside and apart of any political motivations, I think our culture and society would be the better for it.


Pick one big problem to care about, then commit to at least weekly action. Leave the other problems to other people.

Personally, I only have 3 weekday-hours outside of work/sleep/cooking, plus weekends. Half is spent socializing or relaxing, the other half I channel environmental concerns into volunteering in science activism (education, campaigning, networking, and donating to PACs).

Outside of climate and science, I don't really follow other news above local politics. My reps are aligned with me on Trump. China/Hong Kong, same, plus I already boycott Chinese goods. Staying current on all is depressing... but individually acting on one thing is meaningful and motivating.


Well, it’s all relative. Do you have a time period in mind that you would want to live instead of now?

Late 80's and early 90's as a teenager? Look, you can visit live gigs of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Shotgun Messiah, Bad Religion and such, make some modest money and buy a couple of SF properties? What's not to like about that?

Maybe we should talk about Rawl’s veil of ignorance [1]. If you did not know where you would be born or in what socio-economic class, what time period would you want to live in? Because it’s clear to me living in a 3rd world country (and, formerly, America), that the best time to be alive is now, in aggregate. If you could decide, maybe it would be great to be a king in the Middle Ages, or whatever. But if you didn’t have that choice and instead you randomly became someone, I think most people would agree that today is the best it’s ever been. Empirical statistics back this up as well.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance


idk man? I explicitly specified the country and time frame? From what I know, if we talk about USA in 1985-1990 (and not USSR in 1935), there were no genocide, no mass poverty or concentration camps. Just education and housing were affordable and music was good.

You had a good chance of getting almost any college degree, good job and ride the happy 90's without student debt and paying off your mortgage for a property that will increase in price at least x2 next decade.


How do you keep in touch with people, then? I've also cut out social media and started spending more time outside and around cities. And sure, I don't encounter much frustration, outrage, or extreme dysphoria anymore. I also have lots of time to do and see exciting and fulfilling things, which I enjoy.

But I can't share the experiences or talk to anyone about them. It seems like there's no way to meet people without social media, bevause a quick introduction or "hello" by someone outside of a pre-approved friends list is universally treated as an aggressive imposition these days, even in group settings where people ostensibly share interests. And none of my friends from when I had Facebook / etc were willing to stay in touch through other means.

So this is obviously very anecdotal, but I still deal with crippling loneliness and will probably join the cohort that this study is looking at soon, since it's clear that there is no hope for any of this to change in the near future. But I can hardly blame other people or the media for "manufacturing" those feelings, so I'm not convinced that avoiding toxic screen time is going to be a workable solution for many people.


Personally, I think the idea of completely cutting off from social media isn't something that most people can (or even should) do. Rather, it's important to moderate your interaction with it.

For example, while I've excised most social media from my life, I find Reddit to be generally positive so I keep it. Facebook, Twitter, etc. not so much, so I hardly go there. Now, am I missing out on things? Of course, but I've decided that, for me, those things aren't important enough to deal with the rest of what comes with them (privacy concerns wrt Facebook, for example).

I also forbid social media on my phone - which can go a long way to breaking cycle of swiping/scrolling. I generally forbid myself from going on Reddit while at work, restricting myself to only Hacker News.

For you, that calculus may be different. Maybe most of your friend group interacts via Facebook and that's what they're most comfortable with. In your case, it may be best to stick with Facebook to keep your social circle intact. You just have to moderate your usage. For example, maybe all you really need is Facebook Messenger, so you never actually have to go on Facebook proper. Avoid the parts that drag you down while keeping the parts that maintain your sanity. Maybe only have messenger on your phone so you're not tempted to go to the Facebook site.

It's not easy, which is why a lot of people (myself included) choose to simply throw them away; it's not worth the trouble for us, but it may be for you.


>Personally, I think the idea of completely cutting off from social media isn't something that most people can (or even should) do

Incoming anecdotes...

I'm not so sure. I think the only solution is total cut-off.

Remember that the goal of social media is to get you hopelessly addicted and to give away as much information as possible so that THEY can make vast sums of money off your content. They employ thousands of brilliant minds who's sole job is to break down your will power with dark patterns and deep psychological tricks to keep you clicking and scrolling.

No one posts their fuckups, or their bad side, or the boring stuff like doing the ironing or cutting the grass or being stuck in traffic: the normal, everyday things. All you see is edited highlights.

You only see aspirational things that most people will never achieve. That they haven't even achieved.

In fact, I know a guy, a model, who has shunned social media now but still has friends on there who constantly lie and do stuff like buy a bunch of Calvin Klein clothes and pay for their own photoshoot with them wearing it saying things like "Big thanks to Calvin Klein for the gear" etc.

It's utter bullshit from one end to the other.

It's an addiction we have as a nation and the cure is abstinence.

Edit: used the word "stuff" a bit much :)


Agreed. Repeating your anecdotal disclaimer, I too have completely severed from social media (and almost all "infotainment" sites, such as Reddit) and have only been the happier for it.

Obviously this depends wildly on each person's individual situation, but I haven't found that it seriously affects the relationships I care about. I no longer know the minor details about the lives of acquaintances from college or high school, but so what?


> and will probably join the cohort that this study is looking at soon

I can't claim to understand you fully and I hope to never be where you are but I have one true friend in this life. The kind that I'd take a bullet for. I'm 45.

In your case I'd join a meetup. Something you are interested in. Anything you may even be remotely interested in. If you can't find one. Start one. There may be another "you" out there too.

The fact you're here says you're a tech in some fashion so I'd bet there are meetups somewhere you could go nearby.

I am not sure this message comes across well (and I apologise if it's preachy) but I read your message and thought I had to say something quickly.

Try a meetup. You might just find that someone else at that meetup is the same.

I hope to never find out you're one of these statistics.


I've tried a lot of meetups ranging from things like board games to hiking to organized sports, and while they're nice ways to find activities, in my experience most people show up in groups and it is vanishingly rare to see the same people more than a few times.

Volunteering and local community events seem more promising, but they have the same general issue: at least in the past few years that I've been attending them in search of community, you rarely see the same people more than once or twice.

Thanks for taking the time to offer advice, though.


I'll pitch mine in--if you're actually completely un-attached, move! Find a city known for being a more inviting place. Move there. Attend church. Get a remote job, spend your time out in public. Become a regular at some places (coffee shop, gym, etc.). Make friends with the people who work there. In general, invest in people by doing genuinely nice things for them. Serve others, and be honest about how you feel when it's appropriate.

I have a wife and 4 kids and I get lonely surprisingly often. Having lots of ways to combat the low feelings is important. I just happen to live in a pretty friendly place (Jacksonville, FL), which also helps.

Wish ya the best!


Then start your own meetup for people that just want to chat :) No agenda, just chatting to each other.

I bet you'll be fighting them off... the thought that you would be oversubscribed is both great and slightly depressing at the same time.

Ask at a local bar on a Tuesday night (or any other quiet night) if they can keep a section aside for you. They will jump at the chance of a few more patrons.

Make it cheap, perhaps £1. Something that shows commitment but won't put people off. Make it a donation of £1 to your local Samaritans instead.

I'll get off my soapbox now but this idea just jumped into my head :)


I like this idea.

If you're in the PNW, I'd hang out with you.

Thank you! Unfortunately I'm not, though - I gave up on the PNW in despair a few months ago, and I'm just wandering now. At least the backcountry of the US is a pretty place to wait for death.

Go to clubs, do drugs, etc. i’ve met tons of people at festivals or clubs or whatever. Another option is to talk to homeless people, almost all of them love talking to people. Being treated like trash constantly creates a deep sense of isolation. Moreover, talking to homeless people is really interesting, I’ve learned a lot from them. Some of the most memorable and impactful conversations I’ve ever had has been with the homeless. Also, volunteering or even just hanging out at shelters has been very interesting.

Maybe you could find some local groups that do things. My city their are walking groups, motorcycle riding groups, knitting/quilting groups, bowling teams, various other sports teams. There are countless volunteer options as well. I took up motorcycle riding this year and you meet people on the road at stops as you ride. It is very rewarding and there is a huge sense of comradery. Can I ask where about in the world are you located?

That's funny, I also took up motorcycling this year, and it does seem like the sort of people who frequent forests and camping areas are more friendly and outgoing than I'm used to. But it seems like a lot of that friendliness stems from the comfortable certainty that you'll never see each other again - it feels more like fleeting empathy than comradery. I appreciate having met most of the people who I see on the road, but it doesn't seem like a good way to make friends; I've never seen any of them a second time. I'm glad that it's working out for you, though.

The best I can do for location is, "somewhere in the USA". It's gotten so bad that I recently gave up hope of ever finding a sense of acceptance or belonging, so I gave up on city life to explore national parks and forests. I might emigrate eventually, but I'm honestly hoping that I'll just die before I have to worry about a job or career again, and backcountry exploring is dangerous enough that I might get lucky. It's not that I think that running away from my problems will do anything to fix them, but given how impossible it is to meet people in cities, I figure that this is a more peaceful and calm way to wait for the same lonely death.


Well, I did most of my "meeting people" before I turned 30, when you have school and work pools to pull from. Now that I'm in my 30s I mostly just communicate with people I already know (though that is not strictly true, as I continue to meet new people all the time)

I use text messages, phone calls and emails primarily. People I continue to keep in touch with are neighbors, family, high school buddies, college buddies, co-workers etc. And I meet new people at the gym, in local music meet ups, etc.

I dunno where you live or who you're interacting with, but I have not had the experience you speak of.


Yeah - that's what I tend to hear from almost everyone. "I did all of my meeting people years ago."

Well, I'm happy that that worked for you.


I don't remember having met someone meaningful in my life over social media only. Unless you count instant messaging.

Yes, the usual places are school, university and work. Church and other similar voluntary-non-religious activities are great too. I also used to attend open source conferences regulary and have several meaningful friends from those conferences, and we keep in touch mainly through instant messaging, not through facebook or instagram. Does that count?


I facilitate local friendships. I organize group events, like indoor climbing, board games, group dinners, movies, etc.

If you get people bringing friends of friends, you can get a larger group of people to draw on and it becomes lower effort and "whoever wants to come can join" and there's lower pressure on everyone.

My girlfriend has movie watching nights / DnD nights over Discord to keep up with her friends from out-of-state. I've just accepted that the remote friends I really care about can keep in touch via email / text, and the others I can handle losing.


I've found that most people are friendly enough to engage in light conversation. I agree that going any deeper than that has become much more difficult due to people becoming used to the barriers social media provides. In my experience though, I have to be willing to be authentic, and in a way vulnerable, before anybody else will open up. That is the only way to create real relationships IMO.

>How do you keep in touch with people, then?

I use Instagram. My entire feed is just my friends. No celebrities or corporations or anything. Also, nobody reposts political garbage, even though the very same people do on Facebook all the time. And I've yet to see a sponsored story. It's just my friends showing off what they're up to.


> I think despair and hopelessness is not so much "real" as it is "manufactured".

When I was younger, we had Reagan and Bush and Clinton with his BJ and lying about it, and then the war in Iraq, which all had some low points...

But now there's a guy trying to cheat to win the next election, who basically believes he's above the law, and half the country is lining up behind him.

That's our democracy at stake. I feel quite a sense of despair, and I'm old enough to have seen a lot of back-and-forth in politics.

But despair can't lead to inaction. I've been doing more than I ever have to try and make a difference.


Most of the stuff I see on tv is nonsense. Missing person 2,000 miles away. The weather in Canada. Police shootout 1,000 miles away. None of this stuff has any bearing on my life at all. I just watch c-span now.

C-SPAN is great. I also really enjoy PBS Newshour. It's so strikingly different from the other mainstream news that is feels comforting and fresh.

Social media and sensationalized news is definitely not helping. But I think the bigger issue is lack of community and close social bonds.

Americans have significantly fewer close friends than previous generations[1]. They're much less likely to know their next-door neighbors[2]. Church attendance (which has traditionally been a major source of social capital) is way down, especially among young people[3]. Membership in civic organizations like the Masons and League of Women Voters has virtually disappeared among young people[4]. Adult sports leagues have sharply declining participation[5]. Even family reunions are disappearing[6].

These trends all started in the 1980s, well before social media and clickbait headlines. Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone in 2000. In a lot of ways I think modern Internet culture is a reaction, not a cause, of our social atomization and anomie. People are lonely and searching for human interaction in any form, even if it's just culture war bickering with strangers on the web.

Of course the problem is its a poor substitution for real-life relationships. Online interaction offers a temporarily relief of loneliness without conferring any of the long-term mental health benefits of actual social interaction.

[1] https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=550938... [2] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/daily-digit-americans-dont-kn... [3] https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christ... [4] https://prospect.org/infrastructure/strange-disappearance-ci... [5] https://www.athleticbusiness.com/Recreation/slow-pitch-softb... [6] https://www.wyso.org/post/family-reunions-tradition-decline


This all strikes me as pretty compelling. Unfortunately, I struggle to identify an elegant solution. It seems to be a global phenomenon. https://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2150720/asias-lonely-youth...

> There are endless possibilities for people who want to get out and actually do something.

Yes, there are. Today. But I believe some of the doom and gloom stems from real concern over what will be here when they are older, when children and grandchildren are older. For us who are already old, we may see some change in our lives. For people who are 20 today, the worst case scenarios over the next 50 years are quite bad. Hopefully the world doesn't go to the worst case scenarios. I would love it if all predictions are wrong, and the world continues improving. But I can understand the anxiety over looking out over 80 years of a unknown personal future.


Eh, the threat of global nuclear war annihilating humanity hung over everyone since the 50's, though it never came to pass, and worrying about it was useless.

Worrying about our future is not useless. As people worry about things, and as they grow older and become our leaders in government and business, they can push to improve our world. We didn't get to where we are today by people just relaxing and not worrying. Thinking about the future, and worrying about problems, is what drives us to a better place.

Some anxiety, therefore, is a good thing. But when there is too much, it overwhelms people, it is a real problem.


I find the mental model of "circle of concern vs. circle of control" immensely helpful.

The only appropriate things to worry about are things within your circle of control. Otherwise, let it go.


I agree. But people draw that circle far more narrowly than they have to. Clearly you have control over your direct life, but even looking at larger, broader issues... You can vote. You can talk to people about problems and solutions. You can talk to your local and congressional leaders about wide-ranging problems. You can be an activist. You can write about the concerns and have your articles read worldwide thanks to the internet.

There is so much you can do about so many things... hence the phrase, "If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Draw that "circle of control" widely in your life, and you'll be amazed how much change you can invoke in your world.


The worst case scenario has always been quite bad. So what. In the 14th century the Black Plague killed half the population of Europe. But people didn't stop having children.

I quit media and social media and almost don't use my phone anymore. It worked for a while but after a job change and a move I feel more isolated than I ever have. The existential dread of how the world is doesn't help. I feel hopeless and terrible and it's effecting the relationships I do have and my work. I'm seeing a therapist and started working out and cooking for myself more and it seems to just be getting worse.

The best advice one can possibly give is to start attending a regularly scheduled event that involves a lot of people.

Whether that is season tickets to a sporting event, attending church, a weekly tech meetup, volunteering on a regular schedule, a weekly open mic night, going to the same bar that has your favorite team playing, frequently attending art openings in town etc, all that matters is that people are partly there to socialize and it happens with the same group of people regularly.

Then, once you start going and seeing a few people more frequently, often you will naturally exchange phone numbers and/or get invited to another event and friendship will blossom.

And on that, seriously pay attention to your appearance. This means nice fitting clean clothing and shoes etc. Really make an effort to look good. Nothing fancy or expensive, just don't look like you just rolled out of bed. Even if you aren't in great shape, simply looking well put together helps 1000% in meeting new people.

Keep an open mind and avoid pushing your beliefs on others.

Don't give up my friend, there are so maybe people who feel just the same way that would love to hang out with you and become friends.


Thank you. That's pretty good advice. I recently got a small warehouse space to use as an art studio and I've been thinking about starting a community gardening meetup or maybe one related to neighborhood mesh networking in the space. Maybe both. I also reached out to a local homelessness charity to see about volunteer work.

I've struggled with depression my entire adult life. This current one is familiar to one of my worst periods. The hardest part is the loss of interest in anything. I need to get out and see people and maintain routine which is hard when everything feels like I'm watching a black and white live stream of my life.

One foot in front of the other and hopefully I'll get myself back.


> The best advice one can possibly give is to start attending a regularly scheduled event that involves a lot of people.

Every Sunday (or Friday or ..)


I don't know what you mean by this? Are you suggesting church? Not that I'm a militant atheist anymore or anything, but it's a weird way to try to bring that up and an even weirder forum.

We've seen that suicide rates in very poor countries tend to be quite a bit lower. This leads some, my self included, to hypothesize that it is the cliff that one can fall off of in society that causes more of these issues.

In the US, a person can go from making an upper middle class salary to barely being able to feed and house themselves in less than a year.

If a person has a criminal record(even a misdemeanor) and no college degree, their odds of any type of success plummet.

With high divorce rates and custody issues, many people find themselves unable to regroup social and spend the rest of their lives essentially alone.

As we have a more and more polarized society of winners and losers, we will see drug use and suicide continue to increase as people lose hope for improving their situation or cannot cope with significant, and likely permanent, regressions in their quality of life.


This downturn is a uniquely US situation vs stable nations that are both poor and rich. I my opinion it is basically the effects of inequality causing regressions in living quality advancements writ large across the population.

Correct, the US is unique in developed nations in that it does not have much of a safety net so most people tend to fall much harder and faster than they would in another high wealth country.

> There are endless possibilities for people who want to get out and actually do something.

If you're wealthy...


Oh please. You have an axe and you want to grind it. You can make professional level music with a few hundred dollars of software. Less than the cost of a smartphone, and everyone has one of those. The same can be said of visual arts. Last I checked writing was free. So was the public library, and your property taxes pay for parks and other things.

If you're "not doing things" because you think only the wealthy can, then you are the problem.


Life for those in the 25-35 demographic is extremely shitty when compared to the four generations that came before. Millenials entered into an economy where Boomers had accumulated the majority of all assets at bargain basement prices, and have been working non-stop to inflate those prices. Boomers have consistently enacted policies which have caused the price of their assets to skyrocket, locking out younger generations from the same opportunities Boomers had. With the market cornered and controlled, Boomers collect massively overinflated rent from Millennials that massively subsidizes their unsustainable lifestyles.

Millennials as a whole have effectively become an indentured servant class that exist primarily to subsidize rent seeking Boomers who continue to take far more share than any generation in history.

Even for the healthiest sectors of the economy, like tech, it turns out that a huge amount of the wealth being generated by the tech industry is just being captured by Boomer land lords sitting on their asses doing nothing productive. I've heard estimates that around 40% of the money put into the tech industry just passes through to land lords. A sickening amount to go to a group whose main quality is that they were just born in the right place at the right time.

Life is cut throat for Millenials. The margin for error is narrow than its been in almost 100 years, and that is extremely stressful. The unprecedented levels of drug abuse among Millenials is testament to just how high stress levels are on average for Millenials. Many choose to self medicate, and it doesn't end well for them.

Millenials have it really bad, and there's good reason for the feelings of "despair" and "hopelessness".


At least now we have Russian Doomer music to help us cope! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgjguiFxtps

/s


All of the world's wealth goes to those who were conceived in the right place at the right time. Think of the injustice!

Social media has very, very little to do with it.

The fact is that no, things are not amazing in 2019 and there are not endless possibilities for people. You've traded social media for being blind to the woes that the poor face every day. People are dying because death is better than saddling your family with generational medical debt, the stress of losing everything if you get sick once pushes people beyond the limits they can handle and the lack of social opportunities due to working 24/7 to live piles on top.

I've had this discussion with my parents before, where they've straight up mentioned that they'd sooner die than potentially saddle me with debt if they ever get cancer or some other debilitating condition. What kind of fucking life is that to live?


You aren't liable for your parents' debt unless you voluntarily sign on as a guarantor.

That's objectively wrong, considering there are states with filial responsibility laws that can pass down medical debt from the parent to the child.

That also ignores that when a family member is sick even on Medicaid they're going to require assistance from the family, which can mean losing your job or benefits in order to support them. As someone that works out of state from the rest of my family, if my parents were to get sick or injured that would lead to the loss of my job if I chose to prioritize them over my career.


> I quit reading media, and eliminated all social media from my life, and I've never been happier.

Staggering numbers of people are dying from opioid overdoses, many of them from opiates that doctors were incentivized to push onto their patients by drug companies, or that were illegally distributed from pharmacies who looked the other way when there were enough pills going out the door to kill the entire population of the town they were in. It's bad enough that someone might even finally be held criminally liable for it.

It isn't the media's fault that any of that happened, and it's largely because of media attention that anyone is being held accountable for it. Blaming the media for accurately reporting on the state of the world is always the last refuge of the person who's run out of real arguments.

The argument from people who would rather not engage with the state of the world for a long time has been that anyone who complains about the state of the world is just watching the news too much, because "the data" always show that the world is getting inexorably better, all the time. That was always a specious argument, and now that life expectancy in America has been declining for three years in a row, that argument should finally be laid to rest entirely. But here you're reviving it, by blaming the decrease in life expectancy itself on the media. It's very innovative! But it's just as wrong.


> Blaming the media for accurately reporting on the state of the world is always the last refuge of the person who's run out of real arguments.

If you really believe the media, any media, is reporting things accurately in 2019 you are not thinking critically or actively searching for the truth.

> The argument from people who would rather not engage with the state of the world for a long time has been that anyone who complains about the state of the world is just watching the news too much

How much of your own time and money have you spent fighting the opioid epidemic? If you are willing to get ACTIVELY involved in an issue then by all means, consume media on the subject.


> If you really believe the media, any media, is reporting things accurately in 2019 you are not thinking critically or actively searching for the truth.

Please tell me which media source you consume that's telling you the other media sources are lying to you.


[flagged]


Would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments and rants like this one and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21650999? You've done it repeatedly, and it's not what this site is for.

I took a look at the data, and the OP was upvoted from /newest in the normal way.


It's not trending. It was posted 20 minutes ago.

There's a difference between:

https://news.ycombinator.com/news - These ones are fairly stationary, and if I recall only change through popularity, please correct my if I do not understand the site's news algorithm.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newest - These ones are rank by most recently published.


Its trending on all news outlets today (radio tv etc). The status of a story on HN isnt relevant to that point.

[flagged]


Sorry, I don't understand. Are you saying some group paid for bot upvotes on this HN post? Or they only paid for tending on other sites, but HN's upvotes are organic?

And what would be the point of paying for trending on this article? Is there some sort of political gain that could happen by this being shared? Previously you mentioned ad revenue. Usually it would be a losing venture to pay for tending on an article then try to recoup that money via ads on that article.


What specifically are you not clear on what I said? I am not answering the presumptuous questions you stated, if you can identify what specifically you didn't understand from my statements I made, we can continue the conversation.

I don't really understand any of what you said. With that complete lack of understanding, the best I can do is try to guess what you mean, but you consider that type of guessing presumptuous.

If you want some more specific questions here are some:

> Excellent well I can see that this PAID for "TRENDING" (tm) on all platforms works very well.

What thing became trending through payment? Is HN part of "all platforms"? By "works well" it seems you think some goal was accomplished, what goal do you think was accomplished?




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