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Ask HN: Why Is Everything Declining?
483 points by maerF0x0 on Jan 28, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 791 comments
Is anyone else noticing that for several 5 year blocks (pentad) the world just seems to get markedly worse? It's like no body seems to give a shit about anyone except themselves anymore. Whats the cause of this? What's the solution?

A bunch of things I've noticed:

* Landlords seem extremely greedy and do terrible rent seeking tactics like fees upon fees (250 admin fee to rent here, $75 to apply, $300 non refundable pet deposit, $25 a month pet rent, $12.50 community fee, $15 trash valet, $5 online payment fee, $100 a month community internet (for the $50 a month package), going Month to month after a lease ends is 2x the annual price. And then they use RealPage to collude to make prices higher[1]

* People are noisy as fuck and dont seem to give a shit. Seems like every night there's someone with loud as exhaust on "sportish" car ripping around the neihborhood. For months this guy would start up his loud car at 7am and no one care when I complained.

* General worker apathy is endemic everywhere I go people seem aggravated I would dare to check my order and point out they didn't put in the ketchup i asked for, or the napkins, or whatever. Or when I dine in the tables are dirty. Or the gym is filthy, the cleaner just drags the mop around looking busy but accomplishing nothing. But in many instances they keep asking for more tips.

* Software seems to be overrun by a mentality that any future cost is worth it to save even 1 minute of development time today. And this one I think I've observed the root, it seems that people get promoted away from their problems so they're not the ones to solve them. And those who do write good software (albeit slightly slower) are not promotable beacuse they're "under performing" their peers. Why does it seem management (and many thusly incentivized engineers) have abandoned decades of experience showing how to create reliable, robust, reusable code that is both great the customer, fast to iterate on, and only a tiny tiny bit slower to write.

* Seems like everything is subscription model and you have to pay N times to access something thats only worth 1-3x . Eg: I Netflix for a couple hours a month. At the price for 4k access I can almost go out to a theatre. Video games are all trending to subscription models. I just learned the other day that the PS4 games I got with my subcription to PSN all are locked because I stopped subscribing (nearly 50 games) . So I paid them like $125 for access to these games for 24 months, and now I cannot play any of them? At least I still own NES/SNES/N64 Game cartridges that will never lock me out.

* Police seem to not give a shit anymore. I've noticed what seems to be total lawlessness going on in my world. Folks stealing shit. People driving absurdly dangerously in cars that are not designed to travel like that. (tailgating, lane switch, accelerating at the fastest I've ever seen a beat up Sentra do...) . I never see cops hit lights and sirens at them. And every year our taxes (their paycheck) and our insurance goes up (a consequence of poor driving habits). And at the same time, we get these cases where a dude like Tyre, at least as I see the body cam, seems to be basically complying and the police freak out on him, he basically complies, and they taze and pepper spay him, no wonder he ran away -- what is someone supposed to think when they say "on the ground" and you get on the ground and then just keep getting more and more aggressive. Like are you gonna just lay on your face while they potentially pull their gun and just shoot you in the back of the head? How do you know what's going on unless you can face and see them? How can you trust they wont, cause even if it's 99.999999% they wont, you only get 1 one chance and if you get it wrong you're dead without any coming back.

* Over and over again we keep hearing stories of fake people becoming the top paid, respected, or otherwise status people in society. Elizabeth Holmes, Frank/JP Morgan scam for $175M[2], fraudulent crypto schemes

* And there's a ton of little things too like the water is poison, the air is poison, the food system is poison or crashing etc.

I'm aware of pinker's general argument that many numbers are getting better. But it seems like people just treat eachother like shit these days.

Anyone else have other examples? I am I way off base here?

[1]: https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/26/23479034/doj-investigating-rent-setting-software-company-realpage

[2]: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/21/business/jpmorgan-chase-charlie-javice-fraud.html

I think you're way off base. It's called rosy retrospection, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosy_retrospection. As you already mentioned in your comments, you're judging the past disproportionately more positive that the present.

If you really want to know if everything is declining, try measure it everyday for the next five years. For example, every day, rate your personal well being, track how (un)happy you are with the current software, how much you pay to your landlords and subscriptions, how many mistakes the police makes, the weather, everything, ... After 5 years you'll have a good idea if things actually got worse than they are now. Sure, some things will get worse, but definitely not everything, and some things will even be better than they are now.

This is just personal but anytime I feel similar to the OP, I watch something by Hans Rosling [1] or Anna Rosling [2]. Although 10 and 5 years old respectively, I feel the general sentiment is still true - that human progress is slow, in the background and might be ebbing and flowing in your specific sub-population.

And when compared to the present, media narrative driven present its hard to see the improvements happening across the global population.

It helps me put stuff in perspective - of course mileage may var (and maybe it's just helping me delude myself into getting out a funk but it works!).

[1] Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

[2] See how the rest of the world lives, organized by income - Anna Rosling Rönnlund https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4L130DkdOw

Rosling's work is fantastic, and I too occasionally watch 'How Not to be Wrong About the World' to keep my spirits up, too.

But. The past 5+ years have not been kind to the general arc of progress, particularly in already-developed countries in the West, and the US most of all. There has been genuine, real backsliding across the board on a variety of measures. And it's important to acknowledge that, too.

> [2] See how the rest of the world lives, organized by income - Anna Rosling Rönnlund

Here's the link to view the photos by income:


The photos are CC BY.[1] Chronophoto, a game of guess the years of these photos, is currently on the front page.[2] So how about a similar game of guess the incomes?

Compared with historical photos, the narrower scope of dollar-street photos might be less fun? Or not - it's a richly textured image set. Deep linking the dollar-tree site could give richer follow-up context. Perhaps paired guesses of income and location, might quickly teach their relative salience?

[1] https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street/about? [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34559867

Reminds me of this tweet by Derek Thompson (writer at The Atlantic):

In 2022, we:

- Reversed organ death in pigs

- Made the first embryo from stem cells

- Made a pan-influenza vaccine

- Saw the beginning of time

- Got best-ever results from cancer & obesity therapy trials

- Maybe cracked the case of multiple sclerosis

From: https://twitter.com/DKThomp/status/1600864770751860737 (https://archive.is/pi95L)

Without looking deeper at any of these, most of the similar stuff from past years has ultimately been humbug, if technically correct. For example, first headlines I found from ’net-positive fusion energy achieved’ were from 2013 or so.

Researchers want to slightly oversell their discoveries, and the media wants to misunderstand to oversell them even more. Humbug 9 times out of 10.

That one is painful, since I wouldn't even call it technically correct, and even an undergrad should have been able to notice the error :


So a order of magnitude larger output power promised... except when you count total input power and reasonable heat engine efficiencies (if installing one had been planned), it's unlikely they would even get more power out than in !

But then, the very same month I was also made aware of SP(ARC), which is revolutionary because it can (in theory) afford to be so much smaller than ITER (which is ridiculously large and therefore expensive in a super linear way) :


> ’net-positive fusion energy achieved’ were from 2013 or so.

Yep, and they were clear that this was not ignition.

And yet, we only get 15 minutes with our primary care doctors. No one doubts the progress of technology: it is the quality of human interaction that's plummeted.

I’ve often had this thought. It seems that people are forgetting they are interacting with other people, rather than machines. The irony isn’t lost on me, as an engineer.

Yes. It’s a shame that more people than ever can’t afford the medical insurance to appreciate these advances.

Yeah and we developed the most efficient graphene nanotube batteries that never degrade!!

Sorry, I'm not buying it anymore. More than likely, none of that is going to help me or anyone I know from struggling just a little more each year.

I hear what you're saying. Things are improving, but what share do I have in it?

Another angle is if I struggle and work hard, what rewards accrue to others, and what do I get in return? The ROI on effort seems to be dwindling cause fakes are crowding out the real hard workers. And the buyers (ie wealthy investors) cant seem to tell the difference between expertise and bald faced lies. (I blame social media and rise of influencers for this, a bunch of fancy graphics and a iphone and now you know the 1 real secret the life long scientists have been holding back to our fatloss/clear pores/million dollar a month business).. Then again it was the missteps of institutions that even gave influencers their chance (a little lack of integrity ruins it for all)

A mind shift (that might help) is to realize that if you have a 401K or IRA or pension - which if you are on HN you have at likely at least have some modicum amount likely - then you are an indirect beneficiary by these profit seeking moves.

From the distribution chart it seems most of the US stock market is owned via IRAs/401Ks/defined benefits and insurance versus individual accounts. [1]

Those evil corporate landlords that drive up rents? Well, likely they are acting on behalf of former hardworking teachers of Canada. Sure there is skimming involved but a bulk is going toward to teacher's retirement. [2]

Of course mileage may vary whether this helps how one feels.

[1] https://i.insider.com/5746013852bcd044008c527e?width=1200for...

[2] Why Canada’s Teachers Run an Investment Firm in Singapore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HXcT_xlLB0

That's also a good point. Boomers legislated themselves to a bunch of entitlements at my expense, whilst simultaneously cutting any sort of good for my (and subsequent) generations.

This makes 0 sense to me.

They are arguing that "the system" changing would be more helpful to them and their friends than "technological advancement".

As the meme goes, ¿Porque no lo dos?


Sure tech progress is cool, but it's hard to care when I feel more isolated from my community than ever, the world feels "angry", and in many important ways my life feels much worse off than just a few years ago.

The meme about "but living standards doubling every X years!" is little comfort when you can't feel any of those impacts - not to mention that the material is scarcely the only thing that matters for human happiness.

I think the challenge is that the doubling of life standards is happening for people at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (i.e. basic survival to a comfortable life).

Most of the HN audience is likely at self-actualization stage where its going to be hard for society to help double life standards when every one's such standard is decided in such a deeply personal way for each individual. [1] It's also going to be really hard to measure progress on this front at a societal level.

[1] The importance of Maslow's hierarchy of needs



It also very much feels like any advancements in tech for the future will also only be accessible to wealthy people... As living costs are skyrocketing daily at the whim of overpaid and callous executives everywhere worldwide.

To be clear I'm not suggesting that specific advancements aren't being made. It's more like things that matter are going away and the things we're getting do not affect most of us.

eg: something like 99.95% of the planet (all but 1-2 Million) have 0 or near 0 benefit from most of those findings (save for maybe the vaccine). But important things are going away -- treating people well, having happy lives, justice and being treated fairly. It's not a good tradeoff IMO.

> eg: something like 99.95% of the planet have 0 or near 0 benefit from most of those findings

This is not the right way to evaluate the benefits of science. This is the year those advancements start having an affect. The same thing was true about microchips the year they were invented, and about radioactivity, and even about the health benefits of washing hands and drinking clean water. All scientific discoveries are an investment in the future, and those four I just mentioned have at this point touched nearly every single person on the planet, just like the above list may well do in the future.

There isn’t strong evidence that the things you mentioned are actually going away, why do you believe it’s true? Women and minorities are getting more justice and fair treatment than they have in the past. People treating each other well is subjective, and it’s arguable how well they ever did in the past. But murder, violent crime, property crime and hate crime rates have all gone down for the past ~40 years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States Happiness is also subjective, but take a look at the Human Development Index and note how all 66 countries in the list on this page have a positive year-over-year growth rate. All of them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index

> treating people well, having happy lives, justice and being treated fairly.

I think that depends a lot on where you live and what you look like relative to those around you. I wouldn’t think black citizens in the US in the 1950s would agree with what you’re saying. An Asian coworker of mine said he always thought it would be interesting to go back in time and live for a little bit in the 1940s, but every time he thinks that he has to remind himself what they did to Asians in the 1940s here in the US.[0]

I do think that tech (particularly social media) has amplified a lot of the bad social behavior that people have always had. I don’t think there’s more of it, just that it’s gotten louder. Someone who could only be an asshole to the people around them can now go online and be an asshole to millions of people around the world at once.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_America...

I think the generations that were raised coddled, spoiled, and helicoptered are getting into the workforce and administration, and it shows. Police can do much less nowadays because of red tape. The bad apples can do less damage too, but the rest are less empowered as well and the productivity suffers.

Frankly the boomers were already super coddled. They have never known sacrifice, and raised us milenials in an even more hedonistic fashion. No one has the stomach to make sacrifices anymore, of any scale. Even convenience wins out over necessity.

A bunch of claims that cannot be easily verified and may never pay off even if they are true and viable.

Why can't we do something about the genocide of young black men that is being committed by young black men, for example?

We cant fix that because our economic system is rigged against black people. They are kicked down and are forced to fight each other for scraps. The same rigging benefits you (probably) and thus you cannot think of a solution. This rigging starts very early. It's the looks they get in the supermarket. It's how educators think these kids are less smart and give them less chances. Their parents dont educate them in smartness-indicators like the use of certain words or the non-use of others. The parents dont educate them in these indicators because they feel these indicators are from "white people". They are proud of their own culture because they are rejected by the elites (mostly white/Asian). The elites in turn reject them for their "lower class"(read black) behavior. I bet you even do this. After that the easy way is to blame the black people for their upbringing/culture. That closes the loop and blames them for their own failure. But the cause and effects are the other way around.

Blacks had their families destroyed by slavery and now again by social programs that reward women for being single mothers.

genocide of young black men

Are you talking about a specific country in Africa? If so, what do you propose? Should we send US military to force a regime change? Because that worked so well in Afghanistan, right?

To be honest, the regime change in Afghanistan was kind of working, at least that's what it looked to me when I was there in 2010. Then the western world lost interest and withdrew

How long were we supposed to enforce the regime change there?

The right thing is let every country run in their way. Don't interfere. It is wise for U.S. army to withdraw from Afghanistan.

I resent the Taliban for depriving of the right of women to receive eductaion, but that doesn't mean I support meddling in other countries' internal affairs. Believe in Afghanistan will generate an enlightened regime in the future.

We've probably only spent 1/10 on it of what we sent to Ukraine last year since the beginning.

Right here in the USA.

Our crime statistics show the greatest threat to a young black male is another young black male. Look at the Chicago shooting stats every weekend.

Dig deep into gun deaths and you will see that is young men if color shooting andurdering each other in gang and criminal contexts that accounts for most of the deaths.

And yet the media can only rise to care about gun deaths when it is white children being murdered. That shows their real values.

> the greatest threat to a young black male is another young black male

And the greatest threat to a young white male is another young white male. Does that mean that there's a genocide of white men by white men?

Yes, but the murder rate of young white men does not approach that of black men.

More black men are murdered than white men as an absolute count, which is horrific considering that whites outnumber blacks by at least 4:1.

Is it more racist to not talk about black on black violence, or to address it directly? Refusing to acknowledge the issue so we can tailor policy to save black lives is white privilege exemplified.


Black people are people.

Murder is bad.

If black people are murdered out of proportion to all other races, by a wide margin, that's something that needs to be investigated.

Down vote me racists.

I wouldn’t use the word “genocide” in this context, unless you think what happens to young black men in US is similar to what happened in Rwanda.

What do you call a murder rate of 81.7/100000 for black men aged 15-24?


To me, a murder rate of 94000/100000 is a genocide, and 81.7/100000 is not.

More black men are murdered in the US than white men. But whites outnumber blacks by at least 4:1.

Call it whatever you like, but acknowledge that this is horrific.


Some young men face a tough choice - work at McDonalds for $8/hr, or work for a local gang selling drugs on the streets. Yes, this choice in US is forced by society upon overwhelmingly black or latino men. But it is still a choice, and not every black man born in a poor neighborhood chooses a violent life of a gang member.

I have zero sympathy for criminals who're killing each other. Have you tried comparing murder rates of innocent non-violent civilians across different races?

Just wanted to say I watched them both and the Anna one was really helpful. Thanks.

I’m always a little stunned when this (and many sibling comments) is almost always the first response to something like this. It’s probably generally true, and an appropriate response to the most dire decline narratives or things easily disproven by stats . . . But like also: really? None of this resonates with you on a personal level? If yes are you that distrustful of your own anecdata? If no: I hypothesize that you got significantly wealthier over the last decade and spent accordingly to choose/manage your surroundings, and/or live in a blessed location with a healthy friend/family group and a healthy relationship to social media. I think all of these are outliers to majority experience. It sometimes feels like there’s a Panglossian Gaslighting Society operating in threads like this.

>If yes are you that distrustful of your own anecdata?

Hackernews is approaching the topic in a very characteristic way but depression is an important phenomenon that manifests to the individual as, among other things, worsening negative appraisals of everything. So do the consequences of poor fiscal and monetary policy. Funny how we use the same word for both.

    None of this resonates with you on a personal level?
Honestly? Not really, no. I think the world has gotten a lot better over the past few decades. My gripes are that, mostly due to short sighted and avoidable decisions, things could have been even better. But if you asked me, "Okay quanticle, I can take you back in a time machine and strand you twenty-five years in the past, would you prefer that?" my answer would be an instant, "Are you kidding? Get outta here."

Just personally, when my family and I came over from India, roughly twenty-five years ago, we could only afford to call our relatives in the home country once every other month, for five to ten minutes at a time. And, on half of those phone calls, the line would be too noisy to actually hear or make out anything from the other end. Today, my mom (in the US) and my grandmother (in India) speak for anywhere between ten minutes and two hours, every day, in high resolution video. No, things haven't gotten worse. We might not have gotten flying cars, but we did get videophones, and that's pretty cool.

My experience has been that the more time people spend on social media and/or consuming the "news" (such as FOX/CNN), the more they have these feelings of impending doom.

That being said, some things are far better now and other things have gotten worse. Our social isolation and self-imposed echo chambers are the primary cause from what I can tell.

Social media and mainstream media is pretty much cancer for the mind. I've been unplugged from all the garbage since around 2015, which is around when people seemed to totally start losing their minds. I still get current event updates from friends as they are all still plugged into the hive mind and basically talk about the same things like clockwork.

I've noticed the doomsday type of rhetoric as well. I really just don't see how people can keep eating this stuff up and not get tired of it.

> None of this resonates with you on a personal level?

Not really, no.

Don't get me wrong, 5 years ago I was in the UK, I moved to Berlin towards the end of 2018. Visiting the UK again last December… it felt very broken.

But it was the same kind of broken that I saw in Portsmouth when I was a child. And Berlin still feels as good as it did on my first visit.

Landlords being greedy? Sure. That's one of the things Marx and (from what little I've read of him) Adam Smith agreed on.

People are loud? I'm remembering a neighbour in my mid-terrace place in Sheffield in 2009-10, the husband and wife yelled at each other every night loud enough I could hear the words. I'm remembering a biker housemate in Cambridge who openly discussed the motorcycles with illegal loud exhausts. I'm remembering the stories in my childhood about illegal raves being shut down.

Worker apathy, that's hard to gauge. Could therefore believe it if it came with evidence stronger than an anecdote.

Software development looks like it's much the same combination of fads, technical debt, and Peter Principles as it ever was. But that's anecdotes, the proof is in the pudding, and everything is more stable and less crashy than I remember — while I think that Apple's UI peaked a decade ago, that's mainly because I am deeply nostalgic for skeuomorphic UI.

Subscription models: well, if you don't like them, don't get them. We're getting Netflix for one month of the year because that's enough to watch what we want, and there's plenty of others with different stuff we can watch later.

I'm not going to get a Photoshop subscription, but I did buy Pixelmator, and if that hadn't existed I'd have used GIMP.

The police? BLM started in 2013, the word "woke" originated in 1938 in the lyrics to a song about racial injustice in the legal system.

I have become very cynical about the legal system as a whole, but for very different reasons: if you were fully enforce all the traffic laws the only people who would be allowed to drive would be people like me who don't, if you fully enforced the drug laws you'd bankrupt whichever country you were in, and so on. But none of this is new, as evidenced by Sir Patrick Stewart's stories about his father.

For rich grifters, I suggest Robert Maxwell. He's… mostly forgotten. Fraudsters often are, so the question should be: what's the fraud rate in your country?

Everything is poison? I grew up with acid rain (solved), a hole in the ozone layer (getting better), indoor public smoking (banned in the UK, doesn't seem to be here in Berlin), asbestos (banned), and leaded petrol (banned).

Do we still have problems? I assume so! But they don't appear to be worse, rather they appear to be milder.

> everything is more stable and less crashy than I remember

I can't begin to believe you're not trolling here. Seriously. "Everything" is more stable ?

Pick a random every-day operation ("rent an hotel", "book a flight", "pay your taxes", "order a pizza", etc...). We'll go to the first website that will come out of a google search, and try to follow the process from start to finish using a modern browser on a modern OS of a modern computer.

I bet we'll get at least 3 to 5 bugs (either in page loading, some server crashing, some page layout issue, some text display, some translation, some form field validation, some form submission, some confirmation email not being sent, etc...)

The most charitable view I can have is that software is "as bad as it ever was, but there is now new kind of bad software that lets you badly do things that were not possible in the past". But claiming an "improvement", especially in stability, seems like a stretch.

There was a distant time where those operations were done by calling a human being on the phone. Those were awkward conversations to have, and there were "bugs" in those too - but human interactions had had a few thousand years to iron out those bugs.

As a software engineer bringing my own set of (hopefully not too buggy and moderately useful) software into the world - I seriously miss those days.

> ("rent an hotel", "book a flight", "pay your taxes", "order a pizza", etc...).

I have literally never had any of those crash, which is what I was writing about.

> some page layout issue, some text display, some translation

Almost certainly on some of them, but that's not what I was talking about.

I have, 4.5 years ago, had an airline not understand how a + before the @ works in an email address. But it didn't crash.

And Ryanair's app and website sucks, but it didn't crash on me.

Booking hotels is reliable enough I've done a 1000 km cycle ride where I booked each hotel en route 2-3 hours before arriving because I didn't know which village or city I would reach before that point.

Taxes I can no longer do online because the UK won't let me do their bit online now I live abroad and I don't trust my understanding of German tax terminology for the other bit so I have an agent, but that's a legal issue not a website limit, and I can't remember ever having had a problem with HMRC online.

Likewise, the biggest problem I've ever had with buying a travel pass digitally was 5.5 years ago, because BVG didn't support iPad (not a typo, my phone was a Blackberry and I had an iPad).

I grew up with "System Error Type 11 (Restart)" on a weekly basis; nothing like that happens any more.

> I grew up with "System Error Type 11 (Restart)" on a weekly basis; nothing like that happens any more.

This probably explains why we don't understand each other.

I grew up with fairly crashy stuff too, don't get me wrong. I ordered stuff on a Minitel, for heck sake.

However, I suspect the fact we're old timers makes it even harder to sympathize with "normal people" confronted with unstable systems.

Because, a page not displaying properly on your phone, a form not liking your first name because it has a hyphen, a website suddenly switching to Spanish for half its content, a email that says "you'll soon receive " before not receiving anything, the message received in batch of 10 explaining that your subscription will now be "${sub}€", etc... All those things (that I literally encountered _this weekend_, on systems developped by big corporations and / or public service platforms): we hackers call them "annoyances" ; fancy people call them "bugs".

Real people call them "stuff that does not work".

And when your are forced, by law, to use stuff that does not work because the software got all the funding, and people are too expensive, then, some real people call it "barbary".

It's "death by a thousand cuts", for sure, in a world where so many die by actual bullets. So maybe it does not warrant a violent uprising.

But you'd be surprised how much I hear it contributing to the overall anger - being the rich "computer guy" trying to help the real people navigating this.

“ Everything is poison? I grew up with acid rain (solved), a hole in the ozone layer (getting better), indoor public smoking (banned in the UK, doesn't seem to be here in Berlin), asbestos (banned), and leaded petrol (banned).”

But now you have to worry about plastics in your food, leaching of chemicals from batteries that power new technology, depression and suicide, resulting from social media (especially amongst young children and teens), loss of privacy due to technological devices, dangerous side effects from new drugs that are pushed and marketed onto the public, dangerous chemicals and metals found in modern vaping devices, reduced quality of life due to income stagnation and exorbitant real estate prices, etc

Grew up vegetarian because my mum was worried about mad cow disease. The batteries were also toxic when I was a kid. So were more of the lightbulbs. Suicide rate is significantly lower in the UK today then when I was born.

Loss of privacy concerns me. Most people seem happy to over-share, presumably because the thing also allows more connections with more niche interests than most people can name.

Dangerous side effects of drugs? I remember seeing thalidomide victims in my local mall. We're a lot more cautious these days because of things like that.

Vaping is an odd thing to have a moral panic about, as the alternative for many people is to set fire to a tube of things known to produce carcinogenic smoke, and stick it in their mouth.

Stagnant quality of life is by definition not getting worse.

Exorbitant real estate prices are the only thing where I agree with you they're a genuine concern for the average Millennial and post-Millennial.

In US, suicide rates increased 36% between 2000-2018 and declined 5% between 2018-2020. Overall, a huge increase and we still have covid years to add to the mix.


“A "vape," or electronic cigarette, is a device that heats up a liquid to create a vapor you inhale.”


What liquid? I know what tobacco is, but I don’t know what a “liquid” is. It could be anything and many of them contain dangerous metals, fragrances, and other mysterious chemicals. Hardly an improvement over cigarettes.

Stagnant wages over time, while they may have the same numeric value, result in far less purchasing power due to inflation.

Ridiculous real estate values are a concern for every generation.

Why did you describe what vaping is? This isn't a weird obscure practice, and the point was reduced harm relative to putting a burning cancer stick in your mouth, not a claim that that vaping is completely harmless.

> What liquid? I know what tobacco is, but I don’t know what a “liquid” is. It could be anything and many of them contain dangerous metals, fragrances, and other mysterious chemicals. Hardly an improvement over cigarettes.

Do you really know what tobacco is? Or do you take the mental shortcut that most people necessarily have to take with organic chemistry and mentally categorise "tobacco" as one single monolithic thing?

"""Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.

Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer.""" - https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/t...


> In US, suicide rates increased 36% between 2000-2018 and declined 5% between 2018-2020


> Stagnant wages over time, while they may have the same numeric value, result in far less purchasing power due to inflation.

Yields some combination of:

There was significant nominal growth in incomes in that group (USA) in those period (both 2000-2018 and -2020, only a brief dip in 2020 and more growth since then but that's beyond the scope of what I'm responding to here), it was only stagnant after compensating for inflation — and then mostly in the poorer half (which I'd say is really bad because I'm European and therefore so left-wing I think the Democrats are dangerously right-wing).


The worldwide suicide rate didn't follow the USA's, and is down by about a third in that period: https://ourworldindata.org/suicide — This graph also doesn't support the CDC percentages you quoted, because it's saying USA +10% over the same period they're saying +36%. (I wonder what the difference is?)


Worldwide income per capita, at purchasing power parity, almost doubled from 7.954 PPP dollars in 2000 to 17.038 PPP dollars in 2020.


The CPI inflation index also account for housing costs.

There are some pretty clear indications that the derivative of civilization is strongly negative at the moment, particularly if you live in Europe.

Actually, the fact that people are supposed to pretend things are OK, while everyone over there is possibly a few steps away from being drafted into war, is another sign that things have headed in the wrong direction in exactly the manner OP is suggesting.

“Everyone” in Europe is definitely not a few steps from being drafted into war. This is ridiculous polemics.

Also, what a fun draft that would be. What Western Europe country could realistically support and train a large uptick in reluctant new recruits?

You need a backbone of experienced military professional and infrastructure to do that ( eg : France used to have a lot of military center to host / train people. Those have been abandoned in the late 90s )

> everyone over there is possibly a few steps away from being drafted into war

Why do you think so? Might be different in Eastern Europe, but as a Central European I think it’s quite unlikely that a direct conflict is going to happen.

There already is a direct conflict. Wake up and get your head out of the sand.

There was a huge negative spike around the invasion, but the bigger effect has been the rapid rise in fuel prices. Russia are now clearly losing and Russia is in less of a position to threaten.

Nobody in UK discourse is talking about conscription. Mind you, UK political discourse has gone increasingly off the rails with trying not to deal with corruption and incompetence of Tories.

Is Russia clearly loosing? I hope so. But I'm not so sure. They didn't win immediately like they thought they would. But long term they might have better chance than Ukraine to win a war of attrition. (If murdering 100000s people and conquering ruined cities can be called "winning".)

Read [1] recently and it paints an bleaker picture than some other analyses.


This might be of interest to you :


It's a video essay on ammunition stockpiles on Ukraine and Russia by the youtuber Perun. It doesn't paint a rosy picture per se, but it does directly refute at least a few of the points made by the author of the RM blog you linked.

Uh, no? This is definitely an outside perspective.

What are these clear indications (beside the potential draft point)?

People are getting less social, probably because of social media.

That's not something you can do away with seeing the past in a more rosy way. Because in the past people had to interact to get through life.

Social media might play a part but I'd argue it's not the biggest one. It's urban sprawl, car dependency and now remote work. People are being isolated in boxes out in the suburbs surrounded by no points of interest or areas to hang around.

The most important thing for socialization is to just have physical proximity to other people in shared spaces, be that a park, office, school, club, etc. If anything, social media is just enabling people to sit in their boxes longer while still getting some form of socialization.

When faced with a sinusoid, humans seem to extrapolate exponentials in both directions. Take the business cycle, where the good times appear to approach a "new paradigm!" just before a large correction, and the bad times seem like they'll never end.

Exactly this, and this is a general pattern.

This is reminiscent of my previous struggles with cyclothymia[1], for example. Furthermore, the perception of impending calamity was contributing to the stress and worsened the symptoms further. (I wonder if there is an analogy to be drawn here as well, but I suspect this part is much less generalizable.)

At the same time, it makes sense for people to have heightened awareness of "the bad times": each cycle represents added stress to the system, and with a heightened probability of calamity (eg. becoming insolvent / suffering a mental health emergency).

[1] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17788-cycloth...

The business cycle is not a sinusoid. It’s a fractal. It’s chaotic and oddly correlated. Also, sinusoids are exponentials. ;)

Oh! could you elaborate on this? To me even the name "business cycle" hints towards a cyclical/periodical movement. Sinusoids are not exponentials, sinusoids are periodical. They seem exponential for a short while though. The growthfactor also declines at some point. Could you elaborate on why you think its fractal?

It's a joke, sinusoids are sums of exponentials when you're talking about complex functions [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euler%27s_formula#Relationship...

There is a danger to assigning this term blindly, as it is almost a form of 'rosy ignorance'. We are certainly in an extreme period of societal volatility, and it is absolutely appropriate to examine the causes.

The world has been very dependent on tech for a long time now. We've had many companies that dominated tech and now they have a stranglehold on pretty much every aspect of life and business.

I think a major component to societal decline can be linked to the effects of social media and ill willed corporate and consumerist influence on everything around us, coupled with the on-going social and economic conflicts (war etc) being driven by egotistical personalities that have also been an enduring problem worldwide.

As the Internet grows, greed and ego are consuming resources that were previously share across many prior... There is only the illusion of success played out by people (many of them are trust-fund-driven nepo-babies), as web sites. social and dating apps. and many other prominent online schemes are now simply lottery games that rarely pay out even after years of careful participation. Our ability to climb economically is under great threat by greed of far more wealthy people than us.

The future looks grim as long as we keep letting the wrong greedy personalities win... We really need to stop giving that a pass.

I agree with the OP over the last 5 years. I think he/she's right and it is not an effect of being depressed or what.

Over the last 5 years, wealth distribution, general wellness, world order, SW reliability have all declined. There are data points for some of those items but no all of course.

For SW reliability, I include: buggy websites, product requiring cloud access making them intrinsically less reliable and less trustworthy, the services needlessly requiring authentication making credential theft wide spread and spam/scam campaigns more likely to succeed, companies pulling the rug under paying customers feet, dark patterns...

This reminds of a classic Late Night with Conan O'Brien episode when Louis C.K. was the guest. He is very right. We adopt to the new normal so fast. We need more people feeling gratitude. It is tough since modernity is focused on consumption.

The few minutes before the clip starts were great too, but sadly I've never been able to find them since I first watched them.

Just because a thing has a name doesn't mean it's true. In many ways the past was better than the present. For example in 1965 a single average wage earner could afford a 15 year mortgage for a nice house in a nice neighborhood.

And don't even get me started on architecture. There's no rosy colored glasses there. Contemporary five over ones are abominable.

For a very large chunk of the population, life is much better today than it was in 1965. Ask the average person in a 3rd world country which has now lifted out of poverty since then or someone who didn't live the straight white ideal 1965 scenario.

And even for people who did live the best possible situation of 1965, we are no longer poisoning everyone with lead and asbestos in the way we were back then. As well as many things we consider absolute requirements like air conditioning being considered an optional luxury back then.

> Ask the average person in a 3rd world country which has now lifted out of poverty

Who did the lifting?

If by "everyone" you mean white males.

Do you have some data that says this is off base besides some general Wikipedia concept? The OP reported direct observations.

>Seems like everything is subscription model and you have to pay N times to access something thats only worth 1-3x . Eg: I Netflix for a couple hours a month. At the price for 4k access I can almost go out to a theatre. Video games are all trending to subscription models. I just learned the other day that the PS4 games I got with my subcription to PSN all are locked because I stopped subscribing (nearly 50 games) . So I paid them like $125 for access to these games for 24 months, and now I cannot play any of them? At least I still own NES/SNES/N64 Game cartridges that will never lock me out

This one is wrong. If this were the SNES era to play 50 games the best you could do is rent for $3 to play for a couple nights. That's $150 (more like $300 in today's dollars) which is more than they paid for unlimited access to the games. To match that they'd have not much choice other than retail for $50 a pop, $2,500 for all of them, or $5,000 in today's dollars. Used for maybe half that with effort.

HBO was more expensive when it launched in the 80s and that doesn't count the base cable subscription fee. I pay much less for the 2-3 streaming services that I use than my parents paid for cable when I was growing up. That alone is undeniably better. Plus you can do things like buy any Disney DVD used for $2 pop plus a flat $3 shipping on ebay. No way that happens in the VCR days. Not to mention that used DVD players are practically free vs a couple hundred for a vcr player.

Interesting points. I do remember FF3 selling for nearly $100 Canadian.

I guess I feel shafted paying $5 a month to get b list games for only so long as I keep paying $5 a month in perpetuity. The eventual sum of this is approaching infinity or something like 1500-2000 for my remaining life expectancy.

Versus on steam you can sometimes buy great games for $10-20, albeit your betting steam will exist in the future to distribute the game to you.

Direct observations? It seemed like anecdotes to me! Crime can certainly increase in some areas but I think overall we are down from decades ago

There are obvious examples in history where it really is getting worse and then things get better. How do you know that Rosy Retrospection applies in this case?

Pick an actual measure and look at real data vs vague feelings. Or like they pointed out, at least compare feelings recorded at the time vs current feelings vs memories of past feelings.

And how does that help the feeling the poster has now? Of course in hindsight it will be known if things are as bad as the poster thinks. Why state the obvious that in the future it will be known if this present time was as bad as some thought? And the question I asked remains unanswered: How does noud know that rosy retrospection is what the poster is experiencing?

I actually read a religious based book on anxiety once that said (secularized) "look at all the hard situations you've gone through and how you felt about them vs how you actually fared. Perhaps you could temper your current mood about the present in light of the difference between how things felt vs how they turned out."

It's not absolutely most rational point, survivor bias and all, but it does have a point about not being excessively negative/anxious.

Everyone claims stuff like this. Or they say that "kids these days" and quote archimedes or plato or something...

But just seriously watch leave it to beaver and then watch any modern tv show and compare the "disrespect". Even if people have been saying "kids these days" for 1000 years, that does NOT mean things haven't been changing for 1000 years for the worse.

Counter-example: A significant subset of people on HN agree that Google search is deteriorating.

Great idea - I can tell you mine personally is 25% better over the last year because of my migraine medicine. I have one extra day a week to be among the living. Sure I have some days where I’m a little bit off but I still remember just how bad it was. Also I can drink and experience a hangover like a normal person. Hangovers are easy no big deal just kind of off days.

> It's called rosy retrospection

Explain this then: https://www.thelocal.se/20230127/ten-terrifying-stats-about-...

Numbers talk. At least here in sweden rich are richer and everyone else is poorer.

Sure, there are dozens of metrics by which the world is getting objectively worse in ways that have very real human and ecological costs. But OP didn't cite any of those. They did, however, complain that the minimum wage worker who made their burger didn't express remorse for forgetting the ketchup.

Not at all. Many problems pointed out are real in some areas, but the never ending techo-optimism of HN cannot handle that.

Pick up the book "Knockemstiff" for a good perspective on how bad things used to be. Things are better then they have ever been, but we all have a responsibility to continue improvement instead of tearing it down to rebuild it (worse).

* Also people like to argue the validity of other's view for the sake of projecting truth-knowing with cursory wisdome like if there was one truth. Spiced with life path couching on own initiative as an extra.

Stop doom scrolling. Find the things that actually matter to you and take steps you can to improve them. Have the wisdom to accept what you can't change.


You need to read up on the definition of gaslighting. That is a nasty accusation and inaccurate.

Telling people that the reality is not what they see and they imagine things, is - so to speak - the definition of gaslighting. Gaslighting might be hyperbole and surely I made it a bit more pointed, however I see how his post can be seen as gaslighting.

Gaslighting by definition requires ill intent or manipulation and you are conveniently ignoring that.

In your version pretty much any internet disagreement is gaslighting.

> Gaslighting by definition requires ill intent or manipulation and you are conveniently ignoring that.

You cannot determine or know ill intent, so it's not really helpful as a property.

> In your version pretty much any internet disagreement is gaslighting.

Disagreement alone does not suffice. You need to tell the other person that what they see is not real and/or that they imagine things. But as I said, it's a bit exaggerated, however it's not so farfetched either.

>You cannot determine or know ill intent, so it's not really helpful as a property.

You're clearly still trying to change the definition and are still ignoring that gaslighting itself requires negative manipulation. From wikipedia, these actions are easy to identify:

>Obfuscation: deliberately muddying or overcomplicating an issue.

>Withholding: pretending not to understand the victim.

>Countering: vehemently calling into question a victim's memory despite the victim having remembered things correctly.

>Blocking and diverting: diverting a conversation from the subject matter to questioning the victim's thoughts and controlling the conversation.

>Trivializing: making the victim believe his or her thoughts or needs are unimportant.

>Forgetting and denial: pretending to forget things that have really occurred. The abuser may deny or delay things like promises that are important to the victim. Although anyone can deny or delay, the gaslighter does it regularly in the absence of real external limitations. The gaslighter may make up or create artificial barriers to allow themselves to deny or delay that which is important to the victim.

Telling someone who asked for feedback, in earnest that you think their perceptions are wrong is not in any way gaslighting.

Damn. I wish there was general unflag. GP wasn't far off the mark and there was a conversation worth having :(

There's no controlling spouse using these tactics to make their partner doubt their own sanity. Okay.

Gaslighting probably isn't an exact answer, but it's dismissive enough to be close. Hand-waving it as "rosy retrospection". Telling OP to measure things they actually do seem to be measuring.

There could be a name for this exact sort of "You're not really paying attention to everything you're obviously really paying attention to" dismissiveness, and if the churn of language lands on "gaslighting, definition c", I don't have much argument against it.


No it's completely right, it's called "outsider perspective". It's hard for OP to realize they are not making an accurate observation. If you want to really work out if things are in decline, instead of finding some vague feeling of what it used to be like vs now, actually measure something?

Loud motorbikes weren't invented last year, and crime isn't higher today than it was 20 years ago.

I think it's harder for other people to accept that certain things can and will decline, or that history has ebbs and flows for any dimension you care to measure, and is not just linearly getting better.

"You're just imagining it bro" is a rationalisation that lets people cling on to the Eternal Progress narrative.

What in their comment was manipulation?

They responded to "Here's some things I've noticed" with "You're old and you're imagining it".

That's not manipulation and they didn't say either of those things. It does not appear that you are responding in good faith.


It's quite possible not to be able to answer "did x happen" but to still be interested in the question "will x happen".

People don't usually get rate limited for opinions. It's usually for breaking the rules, personal attacks, intentionally trolling and that kind of stuff. If you're not doing any of that or are willing to change you could email him and work it out.

I don't know your age but I'm going to guess 30+. This is just happens when you get old. When you were younger you probably noticed that all the older people you knew pined for some earlier time (say the 1970s or 1950s). And you probably thought they were being silly. Well, now you've become one of those people.

The fact is the world always seems better when you are younger, not because the world necessarily better, but because it's just more pleasant to be young. The future is full of promise, you haven't made any huge mistakes yet, and your body hasn't started the inexorable march towards decay and death.

Most of your points are subjective, reflecting people's mentality or thoughts. I can't really argue against this because it's your own perception. But I would say you should be a bit skeptical that people's behavior can really change that much over such a short period. It's much more likely that you interpret it differently than you use to. Scams have been prevalent throughout human history. Perhaps you are just paying more attention to the news lately?

Some of the things you bring up are valid objective things. For example it's true that many more things are subscription based now. But on the other hands, those are things that weren't even available before. You can still buy and play all the same non-subscription games that used to exist (I still play HOMM3 for example). If you prefer cable TV that still exists as well. So I find it misleading to argue that because we have more choice that it's somehow worse when the previous options haven't been taken away.

I'm 21 and I think everything's going to shit as well... is it doomerism or reality? Politicians appear increasingly corrupt and selfish. Geopolitics are becoming less stable. Innovation is coming to a standstill. The average person just wants a decent job, a nice place to live, and maybe a family. All of these are becoming more and more difficult to achieve. Is it any wonder kids are checking out of life en masse?

Those are a bunch of statements that angry people with agree with, but you haven't presented any evidence for your claims, and I think they're mostly backward.

We're in the longest period of peace in thousands of years. Check out this cool graphic that puts in perspective: http://www.fallen.io/ww2/

People are mad about politics, but I don't think it's any worse than the cold-war, kennedy assassination, mcarthyism, being drafted to Nam. Reagan was a movie-star who became president.

Innovation is the fastest its ever been.

It's hard to say how corruption is changing, and whether accountability is greater or lesser now.

People are upset about the environment now, but consider stuff from the last 100 years (leaded gasoline, the banned-pesticides, radioactive toothpaste, etc etc).

Not to sound adversarial, but you’re not presenting any evidence either. Where do you get that innovation is the fastest it’s ever been?

You’re not wrong, but THAT is the item you want evidence on? Especially here. This seems disingenuous.

Innovation in narrow fields is not representive of the greater whole. Sure, generative AI is booming, but mobile phones and computers haven’t evolved practically at all in the last 5 years. The general rate of innovation can be somewhat gauged in the increase of living standards, and to my understanding there has been little the past 10 years (in the West in general).

>but mobile phones and computers haven’t evolved practically at all in the last 5 years.

Lets do a fact check on this, that time span is the iphone X to iphone 14 Pro. Taking one metric, the geekbench score has gone from 2156 to 5383. So in that time phones have become more twice as fast. It released with ios 11, I wont even bother to list all the major improvements between 11 and 16 because it's a huge list.

There is so much more to expand on this but when even the most obvious stats show dramatic improvement, there isn't any point detailing the differences in camera, connectivity, features, etc.

Some people will argue that's simply incrementation and not innovation, even though there's serious innovation needed to jump from 10nm to 5nm architecture.

Even at that, if you want to simply do 'novel innovation' in things that are truly new or change your process...you can get phones with folding screens these days, that's pretty cool and wild to think about.

exactly. what more can do you with it? You can't watch more shows or play twice as many games of chess or something.

Yes the jump from 240p to 4K is enjoyable, but Marvel movies in 4k are still vacuous compared to something with meaning in 720p.

You can take better photos, have a longer lasting battery, send emergency sms via satellite. Scan objects and rooms with LiDAR, generate ai images locally with the massively improved SoC. Just to mention a few things off the top of my head. Just because _you_ aren’t doing anything interesting with the new tech, doesn’t mean innovation hasn’t been happening.

I agree innovation is happening, what I mean is that meaningful life change isn't happening. Yes I'll be thankful to be rescued if the emergency SMS works.

Phone benchmarks getting bigger arbitrary numbers as an example of innovation has to be a joke right? Fundamentals like the existence of mobile internet is HUGE. My phone giving more or less the same access to video, messaging, and webpages as it did in 2013 is stagnation.

What do you see as a genuine new feature?

In the past you could have centuries without any changes that weren’t social/political.

The fact we can even see quantifiable change in our lifetimes is completely new and limited to the last 200 or so years.

And nowadays we can see significant change from decade to decade.

It’s like looking in a mirror. You see it everyday so of course it doesn’t seem like anything’s changing. You need to look at the bigger context and look at the forest instead of trees. Try Hans Roslings 200 years in 2 minutes talk.

> phones and computers

I sometimes end the day with 50% or more left on my phone battery. That didn't happen before my last upgrade.

10GbE is finally starting to filter down to consumer-level things.

Cloud stuff is starting to have Arm systems as a standard offering.

I can run an SSD as my only disk, rather than as an expensive small cache in front of a platter drive.

Risc-5 seems to be really starting to become a thing, even if it's hasn't fully just yet.

Of course everything's a good bit faster, but that's kind of a given.

These are all neat things, but I think i'm looking at it on another layer than these kinds of technological things.

I had always thought it was George Carlin, but maybe this was actually penned by a pastor in the 90s?

"The paradox of our time"

(first paragraph) " We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgement; more experts, yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much; smoke too much; spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast; get too angry quickly; stay up too late; get up too tired; read too seldom; watch TV too much and pray too seldom."

[1]: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-paradox-of-our-time/

Love George Carlin, and love that quote.

- Taller buildings, shorter tempers: Yes, unclear (I think the average person today gets in fewer physical fights)

- Wider freeways, narrower viewpoints: Yes, unclear (I think in many ways we were even more narrow-minded 20 years ago. Do you remember the "Nuke Iraq" mentality?)

- We buy more but enjoy it less: Unclear, unclear

- we have bigger houses and smaller families: Yes, Yes

- more conveniences, yet less time: Yes, Unclear

gosh there's a lot of these.

You're also missing the point that "innovation" in software does _not_ translate to "improvement" for a large part of the population.

You can use an app on your pocket-supercomputer to get a less-than-minimum-wage "independant contractor"/slave to bring you junk food at 10:00pm ? Sure, "Innovation". Is it "progress" ? Does it improve your life ?

There's way less trust in our society than they have been in many years. This is something that's been studied with evidence to back it up. You can see this in the week it took to elect a speaker of the house, something that hasn't happened (at that scale) since the 19th century.

Globally, nations that become more economically developed shift towards individualism and selfishness.

This trust thing is true, but it doesn’t mean that institutions are lest trustworthy. It seems more that we have the tools (institutional, cultural, technological) to actually understand many systems better and see how untrustworthy they are. Basically, our vision is better, the situation isn’t worse.

Individualism is something I do half agree with. I’m not sure it’s a time-based thing tho, and I’m agnostic to whether it is good or bad. Collectivism in the past could be incredibly stifling and coercive. Hyper individualism can be alienating.

There is some middle ground and I actually believe we are in the process of moving towards it. Because if you talk to anyone, they KNOW there is a problem with how individualistic consumerism causes us problems, and they KNOW alienation is a problem. We are learning to balance our new-ish freedoms, prosperity, and individual flourishing with our deep need for community and solidarity. It will take time, but we will figure it out.

This is actually what you’d expect from practically any system where wealth and power centralize as a function of time. The pressure will grow until it eventually might pop.

Could you elaborate on the 'longest period of peace'? I've read that before but where is the peace? How many wars are going on right now? I live in Europe, your references sound like you're from the states. There is a war in EU right now. USA has troops in many countries, news of them bombing shit weekly. Other parts of the world are not much better (wars in Africa, South America, different parts of Asia, genocides happening right now).

So what is this peace? Does it just mean we don't have world superpowers going at each other with full force?

Try turning off the news, avoiding social media sites (Reddit, Twitter, HN, anywhere people share bad stories), and getting more in person interaction.

You don’t need to be invested in the finer details of global politics or stories of violence hundreds of miles a way. Disconnect and recharge. Reconnect with people around you and enjoy the world as it exists, not for some representation of all the terrible things on news media.

>Try turning off the news, avoiding social media sites (Reddit, Twitter, HN, anywhere people share bad stories),

300% this.

I heard on several occasions long ago how newspapers aren't worth reading and news programs aren't worth watching. At the time I didn't understand why and thought it was bad advice, young and naive greenhorn that I was: The news is there to inform us! Being informed is a good thing!

Now that I'm approaching my mid 30s and have some wisdom under my belt (still need to accrue more!), I can properly understand and appreciate the value behind that sagely advice to ignore the news.

The news, and more aptly the media at large including social media, isn't about informing us. It's about angering us, about baiting us into feelings of sensationalism. The vast majority of the bullshit we see on the news is negative because negative stories are very effective at tugging at our heart strings. The vast majority of the content on social media is far fetched from reality because reality is fairly mundane.

It's a patent waste of time to be concerned about things that don't concern you or that you can do nothing about (eg: things happening on the other side of the continent or the fucking planet). Turn off all that bullshit, time is finite and there are much better things that time could be spent on.

Big +1 , I've been off the news for about 5 years now (minus a stint for a few months around March 2020).

I always recommend people read "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Niel Postman. Sums up the news cycle perfectly (and frankly the social media cycle too, even though the book is from the 80s).

> and getting more in person interaction.

I think this is key though. From my experience:

If you just switch off the news and put that time into more productive personal pursuits - like I did - you don't actually lose the news/social media mindset. The next time you see someone pull out Instagram during lunch or parrot political babble at dinner they could only have heard on the news, your brain immediately returns to the sensationalist, triggering and combative frame that you've been trying hard to avoid.

You need to create spaces _with other people_ where you're all disengaged from the cycle.

It's getting harder. Particularly if you consider TikTok now part of the cycle.

What is "the news"?

I'm also in my 3rd decade, and wisdom tells me there is much to gain from good news sources: NPR (there are others) teaches me something every day: People outside my socio-economic bubble their triumphs, their struggles.

Do you ever think how the divisions in this country are not because of divisive news, but the lack of learning about and empathizing with people different than us?

>Do you ever think how the divisions in this country are not because of divisive news, but the lack of learning about and empathizing with people different than us?

No, the divisive problems we face today stem in vast majority from the media publishing divisive narratives to keep us sensationalized and distracted from greater things.

The world appears divisive because the media wants us to believe the world is divisive.

>No, the divisive problems we face today stem in vast majority from the media publishing divisive narratives to keep us sensationalized and distracted from greater things.

>The world appears divisive because the media wants us to believe the world is divisive

The Taibbi argument is this coincides when news media switched from being a for-all source of information (where it was biased but still for all audiences) to a bifurcated model where stories that infuriates one side or another of the political aisle were focused on. Starting with Fox News which was wildly successful, the same thing becomes replicated with MSNBC, CNN, and such. The numbers show it: 90+ percent watchers of the former are Republican, similar or higher are Democrats with the latter two. Now with online ad sales and clickbait, the situation continues. Echo chambers form on social media, themselves cycling in to one or another of the news medias they orbit around.

The point is not to talk about politics, but the idea that the division has a rationally profit-driven motive. And yes it's horrific.

I'm in my 30s and couldn't agree more with ya. Sober from social media since 2015 and couldn't be happier. I didn't really understand how effective the hive mind (social media) was until I was completely out of it. Now I'll get the same "have you heard about this?!" from different people within hours of one another. It's disturbing at times how there seems to be an invisible force cast over the majority of the population, with the ability to cause outrage or panic at a moments notice.

You need something to read on the train, or at the bar. It's hard to go through a Kindle book on probability on your phone when you're just hanging out someplace, it's easier to scroll mindlessly through comments. This is what I'm demonstrating right now at a bar at 11. It doesn't obviate social interactions, but sometimes there's downtime.

This is braille to me as I've put some complex puzzle pieces together regarding automated equity trading heavily dependent on statistical data in the middle of some chaotic places, including a bar/restaurant. I'm not special; just determined, very anti social media, and also have the ability to tune stuff out. On the train thing, fortunately I'm blessed enough to not have to ride a train or some other horrible form of transportation to and from my job, or I'd probably want to kill myself.

On the other end of the spectrum, a wonderful family member of mine is one of the most productive people I've ever known and makes a lot of money for it, but they will scroll through social media anytime they aren't walking like it's their full-time job. This person is absolutely addicted though, so take that for what it is.

Aaron Swartz learned this when he was very young: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews

I used to watch the local news in the morning and then get on reddit for more news and you end up feeling like everything is falling apart. Quit watching the news and left reddit entirely. Now I'm focusing on going to in person events and meeting up with friends. Your whole life turns around and all the doom just vanishes. Turns out you don't actually need to know about the latest scandal in the UK. Sure, you should be somewhat in tune with your local politics, but it's hard to get the bits that matter without the useless crap that comes with it.

>You don’t need to be invested in the finer details of global politics

Unless of course part of the majority of the world's population who actually lives in it. I had more than a few friends who were doing their software engineering jobs from a bunker last summer. Missiles in Kaliningrad are about 10 minutes travel time out from my parents home.

Whenever I see these kind of "the news isn't real" takes I'm like 99% sure this is coming from some suburb in Colorado. Believe me the news is real, it's just not at your door yet. But when even Americans are increasingly starting to feel the craziness settle in you know it isn't going to well.

I have a problem with reading too much news, you're right. However, switching it off doesn't lessen the impact on daily life. Fuel doesn't become cheaper because I stopped reading the BBC News reports about the Russo-Ukrainian war. I don't pay less tax because I chose not to read about the government increasing VAT.

How much of that resentment towards fuel prices stems from being told to be resentful about fuel prices?

When we're able to make our own judgments about the goings on in our life instead of being programmed how to feel by the media, life stops feeling like it's all hell.

This is a big one. In a less dramatic way, it's easier to enjoy video games when you don't read the reddit threads whinging about them. It's easy to feel like a game is unplayable garbage when you read a list of every single complaint people have, while playing and experiencing it yourself, you just don't notice this stuff and get to simply enjoy the content.

It does, actually. It’s the difference between struggling and being preoccupied with struggle. Anxiety doesn’t make fuel cheaper, end war, or racism; anxiety is not a virtue.

I want to call out that at least in the US, politicians actually appear way less corrupt than they used to be. Any reading of specific political histories, e.g Robert Caro, you can quickly get a feel for just how insanely corrupt politicians have been throughout history. If you compare them to today, it’s actually some relief. They are still corrupt today but really it’s child’s play compared to most of US history and pretty much all of world history.

I think a big problem is that people don’t read or watch real history, they are only familiar with abstract, high-level, or hyper-biased history. In basically every aspect imaginable, excepting maybe some things resembling spirituality (which do matter but are much trickier to pin down and understand) the world is so so much better than it has ever been, petty much everywhere

If anything, the problem with modern-day politics is that politicians are too committed to their ideological beliefs and are not corrupt enough to be bribed into cooperation.

> Innovation is coming to a standstill

Machine learning is getting significantly more powerful by the month, nuclear fusion technology has been advancing at a much faster pace recently (not even counting the NIF's breakthrough), though shrouded in scams and misrepresentation the technology behind cryptocurrency is extremely impressive, the cost and efficiency of green technology just keeps improving, the cost and efficiency of going into space has improved dramatically, pills which can cure obesity, cancer wins, longer lifespans than ever before, I could go on.

I imagine one of the reasons you think innovation is stagnating is because the industry which has innovated at an incredible rate for the past 50 years, where you spend most of your life and time, is finally maturing. This was always going to happen. It was just a matter of time.

> though shrouded in scams and misrepresentation the technology behind cryptocurrency is extremely impressive

Can someone explain in layman’s terms what the impressive parts are? The mania surrounding NFTs left a bad taste in my mouth. I’d like to keep an open mind about the technology.

Likewise. Here's the most convincing video I've seen trying to explain that, but even this explanation doesn't feel great: https://youtu.be/qBAOsB6ETrY

It's from the Computerphile channel, so I trust it more than random YouTube.

Even the stuff that has had ages to mature still seems to be rocketing forward. The M1 Macbook upended the whole market, one day we suddenly had a thin laptop with no fan that outperformed chunky brick laptops and did it with outstanding battery life. The rest of the market is catching up now but I don't think we should ignore how remarkably fast this all changed.

Others already said this is wrong on basically every point, but I haven't seen this one commented yet:

> Is it any wonder kids are checking out of life en masse?

It's the smallest, easiest, most concrete thing. Dictionary, en masse, "as a whole". Sure, hyperbole, so let's say... how about a bit more than half, 51%? But you're talking about suicide (presumably), we all know that isn't 50% of the population, but I don't know the figure. "En masse" really, even as a hyperbole, sounds to me like it ought to be at least a few percent.

Wikipedia -> search 'suicide rate' -> redirects to article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_r...

The worst country in the world has a suicide rate below 0.1%. Kids I couldn't quickly find a global rate for but in the USA (https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html) it's at 0.002%.

"En masse" is not even close to reality.

Every individual instance is horrendous for those involved, that's probably why you hear about it and why it seems so bad, but keep things in perspective when considering what the world as a whole is like.

That phrase doesn't necessarily mean suicide. It generally means "giving up" - for example, burying themselves in things like video games or social media instead of school or friends.

I felt like that when I was 21 as well! I had very strong political beliefs as a reaction to these, with an angry desire for change. That's entirely common at that age.

The nihilism seems more pronounced in the 20somethings of today, but when I was that age music also reflected that same nihilism, so who knows if it's worse now experientially.

You’re wrong on pretty much every measure here.

Please keep the low quality comments to Reddit. Thanks.

I think you should consider backing those assertions up a little bit more.

> Politicians appear increasingly corrupt and selfish. Geopolitics are becoming less stable. Innovation is coming to a standstill. The average person just wants a decent job, a nice place to live, and maybe a family. All of these are becoming more and more difficult to achieve. Is it any wonder kids are checking out of life en masse?

1 is definitely not true given patronage doesn't exist like the early 1900s. 2 doesn't seem terribly true given the state of the world for most of the 20th's century, including two world wars followed by the threat of nuclear annihilation - meanwhile, today the "bear" is being beat with donated hand-me-downs. Innovation doesn't seem to be coming to a standstill, we are seeing rapid advancements in ML just this year, not to mention in energy (fusion research, battery research, wind+solar deployments) and biotech (MRNA). Housing is more expensive, yes, but the easy solution remains just having a longer commute like people in the 2000's dealt with. More people got married in 2022 than in "Morning in America" 1984, so there's no real decline in family formation either.

I don't think kids are checking out of life either. I really can't see any statement here that's particularly justified.

> 2 doesn't seem terribly true given the state of the world for most of the 20th's century, including two world wars followed by the threat of nuclear annihilation - meanwhile, today the "bear" is being beat with donated hand-me-downs.

Alright, fair, conflicts like the one in Ukraine aren't anything new, with what's going on in Palestine, Iran, Egypt, Rwanda, probably countless others I can't name. But EVEN IF you were referring to how 'mundane' and indicative of stability such conflicts are, I'd refer you the Doomsday Clock which was recently set to 90 seconds to midnight. I don't really know much about the geopolitical state of the world, but I'd trust a group of scientists who have direct interest in the matter to make those sorts of calls for me.

> I don't think kids are checking out of life either

Kids were checking out of life when I was in high school ~5 years ago. Hell even I was. So if you've got any updates on that situation please feel free to educate us.

> More people got married in 2022 than in "Morning in America" 1984

Can you supply the percentages please? Because otherwise this is pretty meaningless

ah yes, the 10k€/m2 studio is probably my imagination.

I recently learned here on HN that you're probably just looking in the wrong place for a studio: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34528025#34528779

For sure you could buy a land for 3 month of salary in the campaign. Where nobody can employ you.

> The fact is the world always seems better when you are younger, not because the world necessarily better, but because it's just more pleasant to be young.

I would also mention that when you're young, you're readily learning and accepting new ideas, and that capability/willingness shrinks with age (at least on average).

As a result, the world seems increasingly a foreign place for you as you age - you understand less - partially on the cognitive level, partially on the value judgment level. It's the world of your youth which seems like your home, where your values align with the trend, where you understand what's happening.

I'm 22 and I'm worried about high interest rates and how the cost of food has doubled. Getting a house is out of the question right now because I want a stable job rather than starting a business. Mind you I have more prospects than most; I'm at a top XX school's CS program.

In high school I worked at a car wash and I met people who'd worked there for twenty odd years. Well not 'there' as they usually bounced from place to place, but at other car washes, fast food, what have you. These people have no clue about starting businesses, arbitrage trading, SaaS whatever.

So if I'm thinking to myself that the future is kind of shaky, I might have to wait for a new house, then hundreds of people are thinking the future is kind of shaky, I might have to skip dinner for a couple days.

I think you are stunting your growth and forgetting to live life. The world works on a Benjamin Button sort of deal where the best you will ever be physically is when you are the most financially destitute and vice versa. Thus your risk adverseness is also reversed where the time to be risky with wealth and job and life in general is your youth and the least when your in retirement age.

The best thing you should worry about right now is figuring out a budget that allows for constant savings into bellwether stocks or savings bonds THAT YOU DON'T DESTROY ON A WHIM to tap the power of COMPOUND INTEREST. Heed Warren Buffett's advice and get into the habit of saving money early along with the discipline of not touching it for any reason until you have sufficient resources to readjust the performance of whatever it was invested into.

If you don't have money working for you by collecting interest or grown by investment whether by wall street or a main street business, it will not keep up with inflation - that was learned by many in the 1980's when deregulation began eroding the financial industry.

But the real point is that you should be young and take risks now as when you are older, you won't have the time or possibly the freedom to do it without other factors being in play (job,family,responsibilities for young and old, etc..)

> But the real point is that you should be young and take risks now as when you are older, you won't have the time or possibly the freedom to do it without other factors being in play (job,family,responsibilities for young and old, etc..)

I hear this all the time but I question how universal this strategy is. There's this statistic about the average age of the entrepreneur (42) and how successful businesses are started by the older side of that curve. Personally, I know I can't start a business anytime in my 'youth' because I'm still learning to manage my ADHD and lifestyle, let alone actual real world shit.

My plan is to start stacking as many practical skills as early as I can so when the time comes, I can compete with industry and put my weight behind something that's not just lucky. Until I have the self confidence required to do that sort of thing, the idea of business responsibilities just makes me nervous.

> This is just happens when you get old. When you were younger you probably noticed that all the older people you knew pined for some earlier time (say the 1970s or 1950s).

Not really. What I picked up from them is the 90s were some sort of high period.

I would say that was due to mostly shock and the brainwashing our parents gotten which delayed the wokeness as the hippies were quietly finding out about Cocaine and becoming Capitalists. Disco never died, it was just the precursor to EDM. Attitudes about people didn't change, they were just relabeled from Geek to Nerd and back to Geek once they became millionaires and "cool". Politics are still the same however - if not worse due to the herd mechanisms and failed idealism.

I'm one year shy of my big 50 now and have been online most all of my life in one form or another so I feel I'm pretty hip to both sides of the culture/counterculture that connectedness brought forward. I've learned and confirmed that usually when it comes to personal/family wealth that it's better to have a republican in office (as long as you have financial understanding on what you can control in your life) but that comes at the expense of perhaps personal safety or religious separation as usually what happens is that democrats will not only add more social programs but will also put more people in prisons due to the concept of being "tough" on crime.

It's too soon to say whether or not social/mental health programs will change the trend but one could say that the biggest changes come from social adoption towards better change. I hold up the 1950's where laws were passed to both codify and tear down major social issues and whet peoples attitudes for changing the world, after many of them went farther than any generation previous to them ever traveled - remember that most people rarely traveled more than 100 miles from the place they were born for any great length of time over the 175 years prior to this period.

You hopefully just saw some with BLM, Safe Places, Gender/Sexual Equality and also some retractions like Abortion Legalization (remember, the SCOTUS is just an equalizer - not a law maker which there was never formal legalization - just the prevention of non-legalization being enacted).

Billy Joel has a song called "We Didn't Start The Fire" for which is his least favorite song that lists off the highs and lows of the period. The only problem is that it stops at roughly 1990. It would take a whole other song to quantify what has happened since for which one could say that we still may have highs and lows but overall it's still getting better than before our great grandparents had to exist within.

> People are noisy as fuck and dont seem to give a shit. Seems like every night there's someone with loud as exhaust on "sportish" car ripping around the neihborhood. For months this guy would start up his loud car at 7am and no one care when I complained.

> Police seem to not give a shit anymore. I've noticed what seems to be total lawlessness going on in my world. Folks stealing shit. People driving absurdly dangerously in cars that are not designed to travel like that. (tailgating, lane switch, accelerating at the fastest I've ever seen a beat up Sentra do...) . I never see cops hit lights and sirens at them.

Both of these resonate with me. I perceive it as a general decline in the willingness to enforce any sort of standards of behavior by any means (social shaming or formal enforcement by law). Antisocial behavior like drag racing, speeding through neighborhoods, arguing and even fighting on airplanes, being a grown-ass adult in pajamas out in public, etc. You're likelier to get resistance for trying to enforce any sort of basic decency than to flout old (but not that old...) standards.

>being a grown-ass adult in pajamas out in public

I'm with you about all the other things but people wearing whatever clothes they want to affects you in literally no way shape or form.

A society is made up of people. The way people act, dress, talk, or do anything else has a pretty direct impact on other people in that society. Unless your definition of society is an extremely disconnected one, comprised of alienated individuals that have no interaction with each other, yes, it does affect other people.

It only affects people who care about what other people wear, and those people shouldn’t have any sort of societal influence because that’s stupid. Name literally one reason that wearing pajamas in public will cause another person actual harm and I’ll take back this statement.

There are a lot of things that don’t cause “actual harm” (which is itself a very narrow and short-sighted metric to exclusively focus on) but are probably important to worry about. Clearly people care about “cultural things” even if you personally don’t care.

That’s the thing, I do care. I care that people should have freedom of self expression. My daughters are 18 and 19. Some day soon I’ll be the parent their boyfriends will come home to meet. I hope they feel they have the freedom to wear what they’re comfortable in and that represents their genuine identity.

So yes of course context matters, we are social beings, but expectations of what is acceptable changes. I’ve seen it change in my lifetime, and that happens by people pushing the boundaries. Good luck to them.

Some day soon I’ll be the parent their boyfriends will come home to meet. I hope they feel they have the freedom to wear what they’re comfortable in and that represents their genuine identity.

Really? My hope is that I don't raise my daughter so poorly she ends up with a slob who wears pyjama in public.

Sure. Nothing I said implies I want them to have slobs for boyfriends, or would be happy if they did. I raised my girls to confidently exercise critical thinking and have decent values, but at this point they’re out in the world making their own decisions. It’s up to them now.

I raised my girls to confidently exercise critical thinking and have decent values, but at this point they’re out in the world making their own decisions.

Congratulations. I mean that.

I hope my son finds love and kindness with literally anyone he loves and enjoys, but that’s just me. Maybe other people don’t want their kids to be happy?

Maybe other people don’t want their kids to be happy?

Yeah you're just a better parent than everyone else. Congratulations, you can order yourself a "worlds best dad" mug and with you it won't even be a joke!

You can hope, but it’s nowhere within your circle of control.

Every non-parent says “my kid will never…”, which is comical.

The most surprising part of parenting to me was how wildly different each child’s personality and temperament are, and how little control I have to affect any of it.

My take on it is that there's no point using coercion to force kids to comply with your values and preferences. That will work while you have direct control over their lives as a parent, but the moment they're free adults living away from home, you have no further control and therefore no further say or influence in their lives.

I'm not saying you shouldn't exorcise control at all, as a parent you're responsible for their safety and behaviour. I just mean that coercion should be an emergency backstop that you use as little as possible.

The best approach is to explain why you are asking them to behave a certain way, and why you think certain choices in their lives are preferable, because you think they will lead to them having better lives. Drugs is a classic example, I tried weed when I was in my 20s but never anything stronger. I tried cigarettes. Ive been honest with my kids about it, and explained why I thought stronger drugs weren't for me, and how I saw them affect people I knew. I think that built a lot of trust. The objective is to give them the framing so that when I'm not there and they have an opportunity to try drugs, they will be able to make reasoned informed decisions that they take responsibility for. The same goes for sex, or dangerous sports, or any risk.

Sure, there's nature and nurture in play. But foregoing your responsibility to nurture because of the strength of nature is not a path I want to go down.

Like what? Name one thing that causes no physical or emotional harm to anyone but we should still care to ban it. If you can make three, I’ll (figuratively) eat my shoe.

Would you dress that way to meet your partner's parents for the first time? Or to see a friend you haven't seen in years? Or to represent your company at an event? What about going somewhere where you are expected to be a role model? Of course not. That's because you give a shit about the impression you give in those situations and understand the kind of atmosphere and impression it gives if you dress like a bum.

Now try having that same level of respect for your community, for your public spaces, for the people who share those public spaces with you. It's called living in a community.

What you call respect, I call conformity. If I'm representing my company at an event, I have to conform in my dress because I'm putting my personal identity aside to represent the company. If I'm meeting my partner's parents, I conform to show submission to the conservative dress code standards they grew up with.

Meeting an old friend? I'd wear something fun - maybe a nice dress, maybe fishnets and a choker. Depends on the friend.

I'd rather not go back to the 1920s where everyone had to wear suits. It's nice being able to express myself.

Love reading sentiments like this on Hacker News. Hackers are so well-known for their adherence to social norms on dressing up.

These days if you dress nicely you're not adhering to social norms. People feel uncomfortable.

Seriously like, programmers coming to work in their pajamas is the kind of thing you'd hear about in the late 90s.

I’m personally way more offended by people covered head to toe in gaudy all-over logo print “high end” sweatshop-made fashion that will end up on the racks in resale shops for decades because it’s so tacky, and probably made out of non-sustainable animal leather from mistreated animals too. This is without even getting into the climate impact of disposable fashion in general and leather in particular.

So if I get milk I sweatpants I'm degrading to social fabric of my community?

If the communities view is that you are then I guess you are

I sleep naked, so I doubt I would go out naked. I do wear Hawaiian aloha shirts to business meetings, even on the mainland, because I don’t care about conforming to the mainland ideal of business attire. I’ve definitely been treated differently just for aloha shirts, so I basically think you guys will complain about anything not “normal”.

Would you hang out in your pajamas with your best buds? Of course you would. Try having the same level of comfort with your community, with your public spaces, with the people who share those public spaces with you. It's called living a normal, happy life.

I wouldn't but that is purely because of the social expectation which is grounded in nothing. Moving away from expectations that are based on arbitrary status signaling is a good thing.

Are oversized billboards harmful? Do advertisements on every surface of public space cause physical harm? Is a yard full of non-toxic junk poisonous to its neighbors? Do parking lots lining every Main Street cause anyone direct physical harm? Is the person cutting the queue an assault? Does litter harm your being? Do gas powered leaf blowers? We’ll, probably, but that’s not why we hate them!

All these acts belie any notion that maintaining our shared spaces is a personal responsibility and that those spaces could hame some function beyond selling or maximizing immediate personal utility - whether that be inspiring wonder, awe, tranquility, community or contemplation. Consider the public spaces we actually choose to visit, or why we built them in the first place.

I don’t wish to enforce a dress code on anyone. All the same, wearing pajamas in public doesn’t read as a defiant act of personal expression to me.

There was a post a while ago about counter-signaling: When a CEO rides their bike to work, it's a "good" signal - they're being green, getting exercise, etc. When a teenager rides their bike to work, not so much - it probably means they can't afford a car. Basically that the same action can mean different things depending on context.

Pajamas in public is another of these, but has meaning for the community rather than the individual: It can mean either not caring, or it can mean that it's a safe, friendly community (like we had in the suburbs I grew up in). It depends on the larger context, and people are concerned it more likely than not has the first meaning. And plenty more bad stuff comes alongside not caring.

Maybe I have something to learn, but what load-bearing social foundation would public pajama-wearing endanger?

Respect for other people, general social norms, polite behavior, personal dignity, and in general just a respect for one's appearance and a desire to make "civilization" aesthetically appealing. People seem to enjoy living in beautiful buildings with green parks nearby, without pollution or noise, and yet somehow think dressing like a slob or putting zero effort into one's appearance is unimportant.

To be honest, if you don't find this obviously true, I'm not sure any argument is going to convince you. I'll also add that in many countries outside of America, it is just the default to care about your appearance when in public.

I try not to argue with strangers much on the internet, but I really disagree with you on this one.

What someone wears is a part of their self-expression. In this post, you use the phrases "respect for one's appearance" and "care about [one's] appearance" to suggest that people have a responsibility to follow certain norms in how they dress in order to make "'civilization' aesthetically appealing," in your words. Aesthetic is a subjective, and I think it's funny that you are so eager to project your aesthetic onto others. I for one actively choose to wear pajamas, go barefoot, keep my hair disheveled in public because that is my aesthetic and I think it looks good.

I will also clean up my local park, reduce my ecological footprint as much as possible, insert socially responsible behavior here...but you should consider widening your view of what is and isn't ok to wear in public.

To me, the distinction is whether we put in effort in our dress. It doesn’t matter what we look like; it matter that we spent resources to look like that.

People in many industries wear ties to work. I used to wonder what the point is of a tie, or a good suit. I don’t think it’s just fashion, but what? My take now is that it implies you care about how you’re seen by others - that you’re actively going to burn some of your time and money to demonstrate your vulnerability to your reputation. If someone who hasn’t washed and wears pyjamas gets in a fight in the street with someone in a suit, the person in the suit has more to lose. And that means if I want to make a business deal with one of them, I’m going to feel much safer dealing with the person in the suit because if they do wrong by me, they have reputational face to lose. (Or at least that’s the implication).

So yeah, I also agree with the GP. I think putting effort into the appearance of our cities and ourselves is effort spent signaling to each other that our society is worth investing in. It can go too far, and it was fun wearing pyjamas out on the street during covid. But I’m glad to live in a place that removes graffiti and where people sometimes dress up to go out.

Some people think that aesthetics is entirely subjective. This is the default view of Western liberal democracies, especially among people that haven’t really thought much about the topic.

Some people, including a lot of philosophers and art theorists that can be considered “experts”, disagree. I would consider myself in this camp, although not a credentialed expert by any means. And no, I’m not “projecting my aesthetic” on to others, simply defending the idea of norms and expectations. This is a very different thing.

As I said in another comment, if you can’t get beyond the idea that Value is not entirely subjective and that everything isn’t just “your opinion, Dude,” then no argument is probably going to convince you of anything. Hence you will just end up in a situation like the OP posted about.

>Some people think that aesthetics is entirely subjective. This is the default view of Western liberal democracies, especially among people that haven’t really thought much about the topic.

Don’t do this. It’s a weaseling way to claim the person you are discussing things with isn’t thinking.

Do you think the following is fair?

Some people think that freedom of expression in appearance is unimportant. This is the default view of authoritarian societies, especially among people who have not really thought much about the topic.

How do you know what the objectively correct attire is and how did you measure it? And if you don’t know what it is then why would you say pyjamas aren’t it? Norms and expectations have varied wildly not just geographically in the present day but over time as well. To the point it was and actually is common to physically harm people.

Just because multiple scales of value exist does not imply that all scales are equal or meaningless entirely.

Right but that’s a non-answer because norms change over time and place and that can only happen if people are allowed to change them over time and place. All you’re saying is that it’s subjective in a clouded way. At best you’re basically being left behind the cultural norm and probably should catch up.

No, it just means that norms should align with values. I have certain values and think that caring about aesthetics (personal appearance, nice architecture, clean spaces, beautiful art) results in a society that is better for me and other people.

Yes, it’s your subjective opinion you want to force on everyone else but previously didn’t want to admit is the case because it shows there is no actual argument as to why anyone else should agree. Like the clashes over wearing headscarves in Iran where people are literally being killed an imprisoned over that subjective value disagreement.

“Everyone should share my values” is essentially an extreme position.

Thinking that it’s beneficial for people to live in beautiful buildings without pollution is my subjective opinion?

But you’ve changed the subject. We were discussing what people were wearing.

And as obvious yes if you personally think that it’s very acutely your subjective opinion. You are literally telling us your opinion. You couldn’t get a clearer example of something that’s subjective.

There’s a worrying level of philosophical paucity here.

What is “beautiful” is, like, the textbook example of a subjective opinion.

No, not really. The concept of beauty has a long philosophical history and many knowledgeable and intelligent people have written books on the topic. As I said above, the people who think this stuff is entirely subjective tend to be ones that haven’t engaged much (or at all) with previous thought on the topic.

> The concept of beauty has a long philosophical history and many knowledgeable and intelligent people have written books on the topic

Which is not incompatible with it being subjective. In fact, many of those “knoweldgeable and intelligent” people have written specifically on its subjectivity, and others explicitly on specific, e.g., of a specific culture and time, subjective standards.

People who wax philosophical almost entirely about what the inherent subjectivity of aesthetics means for our experience as subjects, individually and collectively.

This line of reasoning is unsound because it attempts to universalize particulars wrt aesthetics. Universalizing particulars is what Lacan would call psychotic. The antidote here is a good dose hysterics.

What should one do if they find that the aesthetic norms practiced by the people around them don't align with anyone's values?

Is there room in your clean, well architected, art-endowed society for protest? If not, what keeps the norms in-line with the (presumably drifting) values?

>beautiful art

Wow, you just keep digging deeper. Pray tell, what makes some art beautiful and other art not?

I think we ought to distinguish between the case where the person has thought through their decision to wear pajamas in public and is doing it as an attempt to challenge existing norms, versus the case where they didn't even give it a thought.

Because if that's what they're doing, then I'm 100% with you. Hanging onto existing norms is just opting out of the conversation about what the norms should be.

I suspect, though, that gp is objecting to a different sort of opting-out--one where you're either blind or apathetic to the consequences of your actions.

I guess what I'm saying is, it depends on the pajamas.

But norms change because it becomes normal to do it which requires people do it without thinking about it. By definition.

If people only do subversive things intentionally nothing changes. That’s in fact what the conservative view wants, safe “change” that doesn’t actually matter. Which is why for example Iran is cracking down so hard on the recent protests because they desperately need for the norm not to change.

I feel like there's more middle ground than you're acknowledging.

Yes, people eventually start doing a thing because it's the new normal--but it doesn't happen spontaneously. Some emergent leader decides to wear pajamas to the office (or whatever) and then the barrier is lowered and others follow suit because the leader had a point and then eventually being comfortable in public is the new normal. But that emergent leader is required, no?

Somebody has to do it first.

I've been witnessing this in my neighborhood. Some apartment complex put up a fence and now the route to the grocery is long and circuitous because we can no longer cut through the apartment complex's parking lot. Some hero dismantled the fence to make a hole and now the whole neighborhood is reopening the hole when the complex repairs it. I'm happy to participate in the maintaining the new normal, but I wasn't the hero that set it up in the first place. I'm in that guy's debt.

Some people not only think that that aestethics is entirely objective (which may or may not be true), but also think that their perception is somehow authoritative on the matter!

Their opinion is that everything they like is objectively beautiful, and everything they don't like is objectively ugly.

How narcissistic do those people have to be to hold themselves in such an unrealistically high regard?

You've made a massive leap here. Of course there is an argument that aesthetics aren't entirely subjective.

Are there any noteworthy philosopher who says (in effect, obviously not this exactly) people shouldn't go around in pyjamas?

Aesthetics isn't really that subjective - at least not as subjective as modern philosophy likes to claim. This is why it is possible to produce a radio station or build an art museum. You actually can guess what art a large number of people people will like.

Still, people can have disagreements about the exact ranking of whether Monet's water lilies is prettier than the Mona Lisa or vice versa (or take any Jackson Pollack if you want to extend the analogy). We all agree that they are more beautiful than Timmy's finger painting. Even Timmy's parents. The fact that there isn't one strict ranking doesn't mean that there is nothing objective.

The same objective standards, and subjective disagreements, apply to clothing and personal appearance.

You can look really good with disheveled hair and pajama pants, but that mostly comes down to things like having clean, intact clothes, not smelling bad, not displaying offensive imagery, etc. Similarly, you can be repulsively ugly in a designer suit - just rip it in a few places and let the color fade. Your preference for one look or the other doesn't mean that there are no objective standards whatsoever.

>What someone wears is a part of their self-expression.

It's not just part of their "self-expression". It's a reflection on the broader community as a whole.

To give a concrete example, I personally think highly of black Africans in Australia because they're always well-dressed, well-groomed, physically fit and clean.

Back when I lived in Sunshine (area formerly inhabited by white trash, being rapidly gentrified by migrants), the gaunt, green-faced, drug-addicted beggars and whores with welts all over their skin would reflect badly on me. It was a big enough deal that I just needed to go one suburb over and suddenly would be treated well.

Call people like this a bigot or shallow or whatever you want, but this is the global norm and almost everybody seems to understand it except young Westerners.

Is pijamas in public OK or is it OK to wear what is not considered OK?

Maybe someone’s aesthetics say it’s ok to live in a neglected building close to falling apart or drive a beaten up car.

I’d say it’s much more pleasant to be in a community where aesthetics do matter. Styles do differ, but neglect is not a style by itself.

> What someone wears is a part of their self-expression

Disagree. I generally wear jeans, t-shirt and jumper. It literally has nothing to do with self expression.

> if you don't find this obviously true

Not the one you're replying to... Not only I don't find this obviously true, but also I find it obviously wrong. I prefer people stop being offended by how others look and stop judging people by their looks. I consider such attitude very shallow.

I'm not going to defend the other commenters point but I find your position strange.

Imagine a person covered in poo, ripped clothes leaving visible track marks from using intraveinous drugs.

I'm sure if you were forced to interact with that person, you'd not be happy, right? Does that make you shallow?

I'm not sure someone wearing pyjamas is the slippery slope the previous commenter thinks it is, but their point about preferring people who make themselves more presentable is valid.

I’m rather confused. The topic was how one looked. Where did poo and drugs come from? And where did happiness come from? Do you consider happiness a judgement?

I am someone who, for much of the last 15 years has been happiest in a t shirt and shorts.

But your points are ones I’ve thought about a LOT the last few years.

In spite of being someone who rejects the idea of dressing fancier going deeper than just superficial beauty, I remember how I carry myself differently when I wear a suit. I feel more confident when I dress well. My wife loves when she sees that I made the effort and I love it when she has (as she often does).

I also remember a friend telling me that the way people dress often also reflects their self esteem. And I know I dress worse when I’m feeling worse.

These things matter. And I do think the general drop in quality of how people dress is a more visual sign of how we care less about each other.

I feel worse in a suit and it makes me feel like a fake. Wear a suit if it makes you feel good, I won’t because it makes me feel bad.

That's totally fine, I'm not advocating for suits per se – my point was more about the fact that what you wear DOES affect how you think (and in your case it seems like that particular piece of clothing makes you feel worse).

I am genuinely curious why you make the association between wearing a suit and being fake – have most of the people you encountered that wore suits, been dishonest?

> I'll also add that in many countries outside of America, it is just the default to care about your appearance when in public.

Like forcing women to wear headscarves in Iran.

The reason your argument is not self evidently true is the reason it’s not important FWIW.


My response is neither low quality nor trolling. There is absolutely a connection between the OPs attitude towards pyjamas and women being allowed to show their hair in Iran. It’s the same social mores except one opinion on how others dress is palatable to some and the other not. Which is particularly important given the on going struggle in Iran.

Likewise the OP should consider how their opinion is reflected in that light.

And your style of empty comment is the one that’s explicitly discouraged in the site guidelines.

Edit: oh lol, you are the OP, I assume that touched a nerve.

Dude, I have to agree with the OP here. Chill out.

> There is absolutely a connection between the OPs attitude towards pyjamas and women being allowed to show their hair in Iran

Except there isn't, because women's dress codes in areas under sharia law is enforced with violence and generally considered oppression; whereas pyjamas are an unenforced expectation.


> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Converse curiously; don't cross-examine. Edit out swipes.

> Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.

> Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.

Oh yeah the community can sneer at whoever the fuck they want but god forbids someone does it to them.

But I find enforcement of arbitrary dress codes to be aesthetically unappealing. I feel disgust towards those traits of a low-freedom society, whether that low-freedom comes from social pressure or actual laws. Have strict pollution and noise laws because those things actually hurt people beyond your personal subjective imagination.

Wanna play 5 Whys with it?

A trip to “Citizens of Walmart” (or whatever it’s called) provides a much more solid argument for dress standards. Pyjamas are pretty crass, but they don’t hold a candle to the vulgar, bizarre, and even pornographic stuff that you’ll see on that website.

I kinda hop on this bandwagon to recommend the book "The righteous mind" by Jonathan Haidt, specifically the notion that there tends to be 3 main 'modes' of morality: a logic of individualism (Especially in the western word, and doubly so in affluent classes), the logic of community, and the logic of sacrality.

I feel that this back-and-forth about public pajama-wearing is really at heart a back and forth between a logic of pure individualistic moral (if nobody is hurt, then what's the deal), and more community-focused moral (yeah, nobody is hurt, but it's not bad either to uphold some standards in society).

I've never been to America, and I'm also living in Paris, where clothing is kinda important, but honestly I'm a bit shocked at the idea of going out in public in a pajama. I feel that, unless you're in a really bad place in your life, you should put some effort in presenting a 'good' version of yourself in public, and public pajama-wearing would be a huge signal that you're letting yourself down/are having a huge breakdown, or have mental health issues.

I live in Berlin, where the dress code is far more relaxed.

I noted how well-dressed people are in Paris and my friend answered “because they pretty much have to”. It’s a social pressure and you’re expected to conform to that standard regardless of your means or interest in fashion.

I love not thinking much about clothing. I wear what works, spend less on something that doesn’t matter to me, and save my energy for what does.

I’m not sure how I would benefit from raising the pressure until I am forced to dress better at my own expense.

Taking care of the most basic forms of aesthetics is a form of respect and care towards others.

There's a healthy balance between following some strict victorian dress code and wearing a pajama. It's not about the colors or shape, it's about the message it sends: "I don't bother to dress up"

The underlying assertion of this post and similar ones in this thread seems to be that non-conformance in dress is associated with weakening of social bonds. However, that doesn't seem to match the way that people actually behave.

In America, people who advocate for greater freedom of expression in things like dress and social roles are generally progressives who support strengthening social institutions. On the other hand, people who tend to promote traditional dress and roles are generally conservatives who support hyper individuality.

The liberals want to strengthen explicit institutions (welfare, education, etc). The conservatives want to strengthen implicit institutions (trust, community).

So, "we live in a society"?

This; I’ll take other people in pajamas that doesn’t offend me one bit vs stupid loud exhaust (especially on non-performance vehicles and doubly so when they floor it in neighborhoods) every time. The latter serves no purpose other than annoying many many people around you, and plenty of trucks in particular do it explicitly for the intimidation / “manliness” factor. In addition to polluting a ton more and literally degrading the air we have to breathe when you remove the catalytic converter (which isn’t even legal in many places) it’s just a giant asshole move.

The good thing is that sound cameras with automated ticketing are already here, and I cannot wait until we get them in the Bay Area. https://www.autoweek.com/news/technology/a39906304/californi...

> whatever X they want to affects you in literally no way shape or form.

Replaced "clothes" with "X" to point out a pattern.

This has been said a lot, and I'm not sure it's true. It's true on a case by case basis that individual freedom does not affect us perceptibly. But I'm pretty sure it's not true in aggregate. Maybe the PJs don't matter, maybe yelling in the stairwell at an apartment once a year does'nt matter. But it seems in aggregate they might exponentially matter (kinda like CO2).

Its not just the PJs, but also the butting in line, rude/crass ways of speaking, going behind people's back in a variety of ways (sex, taking credit for work, not reciprocating efforts), driving in a way that causes a series of traffic micro events on the road which exponentiate behind them (if you leave a big enough gap for safety, folks speed to fill it in, so you have to slow down to let the gap increase, so even more people pass you), a little white lie here and there to get ahead unjustly etc.

Dress how you want in your own house. The public space isn't yours and you don't have a right to dress indecently in the public space. Turns out, some of us want to live in a society that takes itself seriously and gives a shit. Walking around in your Cookie Monster PJs just doesn't cut it.

THIS mindset is what I think is the root of all the other listed problems. Somehow freedom has come to mean "I can do whatever I want as long as it doesn't cause you physical injury" - completely throwing the ideals of common decency, mutual respect, obligation to your community, etc out the window.

We're not atomized individuals with nothing to do with each other except transact for individual gain. If we want to be a community with a unified social fabric, we have to act like it, and that means putting aside some "freedoms" that make the commons worse for everyone.

Holy crackers.

When I see a person wearing PJs in public, I think -- actually, I guess I don't really think about it beyond "huh.. PJs in public." You're out there stewing on it, writing about it on the internet, and literally thinking that people wearing things you don't like is stemming from a mindset that's at the root of society's problems.

This casual insight into madness is what keeps the internet exciting.

This line of reasoning is very popular with the "west in decline due to anything I personally dislike crowd".

This is why I come to Hacker News.

This whole thread of folks arguing about PJs in public is reinforcing OP’s point IMO :)

Pretty sure it's just a matter of having drawn the line of "proper behaviour" in a different place instead of not actually caring about enforcing proper behaviour

> Dress how you want in your own house. The public space isn’t yours and you don’t have a right to dress indecently in the public space.

“Indecently”, perhaps [0], but…

> Walking around in your Cookie Monster PJs just doesn’t cut it.

I mean, you do have a right to do this; its not indecent by any definition that is excluded from the scope of personal rights, it just doesn’t mean some people’s fashion preference.

> Somehow freedom has come to mean “I can do whatever I want as long as it doesn’t cause you physical injury” -

If you delete “physical” with “legally cognizable” [1], that’s…exactly what freedom actually means.

> completely throwing the ideals of common decency, mutual respect, obligation to your community, etc. out the window.

“common decency”, “mutual respect”, and “obligation to your community” (beyond legally defined obligations) are subjective, mutually defined limits, and freedom means that you are not bound by other people’s idea of them that you do not share, and, similarly, they aren’t bound to yours, except to the extent that each of you decides to be, perhaps because you want something from the other beyond what is legally obligatory.

[0] EDIT: Though, honestly, while I don’t see the usual definitions of this in the West as urgently problematic, I’m skeptical of the usefulness and compatibility with liberty of the general concept of “indecent” dress. There are very good health and safety regulations about dress in certain contexts, but the idea that the visibility of body parts is a source of the kind of harm to anyone that would warrant limitations on free choice aside from those particular contexts is dubious.

[1] EDIT: and additionally, define what is “legally cognizable” injury by a robust concept of personal rights both defining such injury from the PoV of the rights of the injured and defining exceptions to when injury is legally cognizable based on the rights of the actor who might cause injury. You can have a bad definition of what injuries are legally cognizable which conflicts with freedom.

I went to Home Depot last weekend wearing lounge pants with cartoon foxes on them, because that's what I was wearing at home and I didn't want to change. The benefits to me (saved time, comfortable) greatly outweighed the negative impacts to anyone else. (None.) I'm not going to worry about what I wear to a freaking department store because it might offend some busybodies.

This is a disgusting point of view. You view those who are different from you as subhuman. I bet you see people who wear their tradional non-Western clothing as icky, or poor people as dirty. Anyone not wearing a suit and tie is not worthy of your respect? And dare someone wear something comfortable, because they don't conform to YOUR norms they're somehow being disrespectful, when YOU are the one lacking the base decency to see other humans as worthy of respect.

Do you really have an issue with people wearing what they want?

Where do you draw the line? And who decides when things are turning socially acceptable? Are young people ment to wear the same attire as their parents because that is what I'd already socially acceptable?

I wear stupid things in public because I barely care for anything than comfort. I never thought that could bother someone

I really like places where people wear whatever they find comfortable (PJs, bare feet, togs, dirty work clothes). Happens near me a particular supermarket, and a shopping mall.

Seeing someone in their relaxed clothes has an intimicy, like walking into their home. They tend to be friendlier, more open, smilier.

Uptight suburbs where everyone is wearing "nice" clothes and more strictly following social conventions can feel unfriendly, sad and closed. I can play along with the mores, but I prefer places with more relaxed codes.

Hold on, you're saying Cookie Monster is indecent?

Contributing directly to the downfall of society! Put on some pants, Cookie Monster! There are rules!

For Christ sake, if you seriously can't tell the difference between an exhaust system that physically assault one's ears bordering on tinnitus versus a goofy eccentric pair of Cookie Monster pajamas, I just don't know what to say.

What does "a society which takes itself seriously" even mean? To me this just sounds like mindless conformity.

Broken window theory of dress. Poorly dressed uncaring people attract more of that behavior and the poor attitude bleeds into other interactions.

But how far do you go? Using that approach, people 100 years ago wearing a suit and tie and a hat would probably want to ban what we wear today, on the grounds of broken glass theory. Yet we are (I presume) law abiding citizens here, etc.

It's really not that intellectual or complicated. Just don't dress like a bum in public? Not everything needs a theorem or rigorous, tested, scientifically researched set of rules.

Nobody is asking you to walk around in a 3 piece suit, there is no slippery slope or conspiracy theory here, it's just "dress like you give a shit about the public space and others in it".

But that’s a subjective criteria and one that’s obviously ripe for subversion. What about people’s right to freedom of expression?

Express yourself however you want. People respond to you putting effort in, even if it’s in a direction they wouldn’t go themself.

The minimum effort is being clean enough that you don’t smell and don’t have visible skid marks on your clothes. Stinking up a cafe is antisocial.

There's an absolutely massive space for freedom of expression within the bounds of "not looking like shit".

Nobody needs to look (or smell) like garbage to 'express' themselves.

Don’t they? Seems like an unfounded statement. Just because it’s distasteful to you it’s not valid?

There you go, you got it.

Is it a form of expression to walk around in semen encrusted sweatpants?

Obviously. In the same way you are largely able to say what you want even if it’s distasteful.

Big neckbeard energy with these comments.

It's still essentially the same rule. Something like "Dress according to society's expectations" where it's the expectations that are changing rather than the rule. It's a meaningful difference because ultimately the signal is something like "I can meet the basic expectations of social interaction and human behavior".

How is me not caring what you think of my attire a bad attitude? Fulfilling your aesthetic desires is not one of my goals and, frankly, expecting otherwise seems like something of a bad attitude.

Stop and Frisk, but for an imagined global dress code.

I disagree with this. People - at not just Walmart - with brown stains on the rear, or pajamas that don't cover their butt. :x

Okay except I didn't say anything about people with literal shit stains or exposing themselves, stop putting words in my mouth. Both of the things you mentioned can apply to ANY kind of clothing.

Arson, Murder and Jaywalking (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArsonMurderAndJa... warning, TVTropes link).

I enjoy the fact the American „clothing culture“, e.g. going to the shop in rags, hasn’t caught on in Europe yet.

Rags? As in, pre-torn jeans? No, we had those in Europe in the 90s. Or was it the 80s?

It comes after the obesity epidemic. Once >40% are obese (adult obesity is 60% in the US), the people stop caring and don’t have the energy or self confidence to care.

Seeing ugliness everywhere you look absolutely effects you. If you can reason about noise pollution, then surely visual pollution is not too great a jump.


Sorry you got a boner once in public, but that doesn’t mean you can dictate women not to wear short shorts. Maybe you need to learn to deal with boners better.

> billions of years of sexual selection

> fertile attractive woman wearing the shortest shorts possible

...so she's wearing more clothing than she did for 99% of the time period in question - that's the observation you're making, right?

I wonder how much popular culture has to do with it. For example, when you sincerely listen to rap lyrics, a lot of it (and from the biggest names too) sound like a deranged, narcissistic, and sometimes violent, rants. When people hear that around them from the youngest age, they get the understandsting that such outlook on life is within the accepted norms (or, more likely, the music tells them to don't care about any norms at all, because it's all about the benjamins or whatever), especially when they don't have parents or other authority figures to correct them. Smart people from decent backgrounds can see through this filth or even use it as harmless entertainment - but, for other people, it can instill antisocial behaviour.

In my social circles, I rarely hear anyone say anything critical about rap music, but it is quite common for people to make disparaging remarks about country music. "I like all kinds of music, except country" is a commonly expressed preference, for example. I have found the lyrics in country music to almost always be positive and optimistic, often imbued with values recognizing the importance of family and hard work. Perhaps there is something deeply wrong with our culture if we continue to have this negative association with an art form that is meant to encourage people to be better to each other.

Yeah no, Typically when people say that they’re.

1) Ignorant. I promise I can find many songs that aren’t country real quick that they’ll hate.

2) Referring specifically to overproduced modern country-pop crap.

> Smart people from decent backgrounds can see through this filth or even use it as harmless entertainment - but, for other people, it can instill antisocial behaviour.

Ignoring the other part of the comment, this sentence sounds quite a bit like the stories I've heard about people who very loudly knew that unlike everyone else, they had enough self-control to play with the nastier drugs safely.

None of this is new. I can tell you stories of similar experiences going back into my childhood in the early 80s. I know people who can tell you airline stories from the 60s that are similar.

Much of this is new. Governments have taken much heed to anything that could be construed as having "disparate impact", and are running a reverse broken-windows experiment on the ground. When in the past did we decide we were going to prosecute theft only if the total value was greater than 1k?

I assume always, when corrected for inflation.


Salem, OR straight up won’t respond to any noise complaints anymore, citing low officer count. Seems like the negative effects from the 2020 BLM riots are starting to show.

I think we should hire a lot more cops than we currently have but this

> The goal, Womack said, is to not send a patrol officer immediately out to every noise complaint and civil dispute. Those issues can be handled by the civil court system or by non-sworn employees, freeing patrol officers to promptly respond to emergencies or focus on building trust in the community.

Doesn't seem like a huge deal. I'd rather cops be patrolling for property crime than victimless ones.

It’s not victimless. Frequent exposure to environmental noise can cause stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mental health issues.

> Antisocial behavior like drag racing, speeding through neighborhoods

Fast and Furious came out in 2001. A pop movie about a topic means it had been going on for a long time. Driving fast and drag racing has been thing forever.

And loud cars...look up whistler tips on YouTube from the early 00s.

Not to mention the movie Grease lol. 1978. Humans have als ways been a mix of social and antisocial. Or think of A Clockwork Orange, 1962, presenting an anxiety of youth gang violence.

I mean I think the existence of new tech makes it harder to enforce. In the 80's there was an issue with noise on the subway when boomboxes became popular, but they were heavy and expensive to operate. With smartphones and bluetooth speakers, literally anyone on the subway can annoy the rest of the train car with minimal effort. In fact, it takes a bit more effort now (remember headphones, or mute phone), to actually be accommodating to your fellow travelers.

I honestly subscribe to the maxim that humanity doesn't really change, it's our ability to view and be affected by humanity that that increases over time. This works in both directions. It's much easier for someone to annoy me on the train, but it's also much easier for me to learn full-stack development on youtube.

The number of times I've heard phones/iPads blaring music, kids cartoons, etc while at a restaruant is absurd. I don't even notice it anymore.

People feel entitled to have their kids streaming Cocomelon 24 hours a day and ignore you or challenge you to a fist fight if you as them to turn the music down. "This is TGI Fridays it's not supposed to be quiet"

> blaring music, kids cartoons, etc while at a restaruant

The heck, where in the world is this? I've literally never seen anyone do that. Recently (1-2 weeks ago?) someone did this on the bus, after loud phone calls they opened some video app and started watching the most random crap with loud noises on speaker. The bus is not a quiet place but even so, after a few minutes someone told him off.

“ I honestly subscribe to the maxim that humanity doesn't really change.”

This maxim is probably wrong, since humanity and said human behavior is a function of the environment which is objectively changing.

That’s only if you believe humans are some kind of tabula rasa. I don’t.

Ask HN OP:

The harsh and indignant backlash to "things would be nicer if people gave half a fuck how they look in public" is probably the best answer to your question that you're gonna get.

I agree whole-heatedly. Every dumb kid thinks he has to be noisier than the next, whether it's a shitty dropped Honda civic covered in primer, a dumbshit F-350 with dumb tires sticking out past the body, or a motorcycle with some ignoramus on it wearing a bandana with a skull over his face, like that makes him tough. It's like everyone has to flex because they think it makes them cool, but really the rest of us are saying "oh look, another dumbass". Yet, you're right, the cops don't seem to care. I don't get it. It's like even they think they have something better to do, and noise complaints are too beneath them to care. I've talked to a number of cops about this, and they have told me they won't enforce these laws unless they are looking for an excuse to pull someone over for something more significant (to them).

I don't agree that these behaviours are down to a lack of social enforcement. The root issue is that the societal incentives that encourage adherence to social norms have been fundamentally weakened by neo-liberalism and the economic consequences.

I don't think it's controversial to suggest that comfortable, healthy, well fed, and financially secure people are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour. Those doing so are typically people who do not view themselves as belonging to (or benefiting from) society.

Frankly, what goal is achieved in meting out punishment on someone already disillusioned with society? The likely result is exactly what plays out in many prison systems today. A cycle of increasing disillusionment, societal expense, and escalatory retaliation.

Is it any surprise that anti-social behaviour is increasing? Advertising exists largely to convince people of the inadequacy of their current situation, be it financial, physical, or mental. What other effect could be expected in the context of growing social inequality?

In an era of general prosperity households have gone from working a combined 40 hours per week to 80, leaving much less time for personal affairs and increased stress.

Many "low skilled" jobs are simply gone, the replacements generally offering much lower pay and poorer working conditions. Consider the wider ramifications in towns where these jobs made up a significant proportion of the work.

Housing grows increasingly out of the reach of the younger generation despite paying an ever greater percentage of their monthly wage to landlords.

Pajama pants are just decorative scrubs. Medical people go out in those all the time. You’re welcome to wear your denim scrubs as well.

While this is neither here nor there wearing scrubs out is a relatively new phenomenon. In fact, even wearing them around the hospital is pretty new too. They started as something you changed into when needed and then changed out of when the procedure was over.

I've seen scrubs in use as routine shift wear for about 20 years. Easy enough to get fresh ones if they get soiled mid shift.

Yeah I'd say it started probably in the 90s and by maybe the early 2010s it was acceptable to wear scrubs in any sort of medical situation. Like even the receptionists at a opthalmologist would wear them.

That's kinda funny. But if it saves the receptionist buying other work clothes <shrug>

Like with pajamas outside, that sounds unhygienic. But there is no way to judge anyone for this as you do not know if they are going to wear it again.

"normalize $X !!"

$X being antisocial or otherwise reprehensible behaviour.

As others have pointed out: this is the society becoming more liberal. The great triumph of liberalism has been removing the government's influence on social norms, and how we engage non-violently with one another in general.

Where the modern Left has gone off the rails is insisting that we also cannot reinforce good behavior and shame bad behavior, mostly the latter, through non-violent social interactions.

It's great that the government can't prevent adults from wearing pajamas in public, but you'd also be right to make value judgements about the kind of adult who does that.

I have stronger value judgements on people enforcing religious believes on others, don't care so much for pyjamas.

I tend to make more negative judgments on people who look like they've spent the last three hours coiffing every individual hair follicle. All I see is the human equivalent of a whitewashed tomb.

Both of them are the result of the policies that you voted for. Maybe not you personally, but the people in your state.

There's zero need to be judgemental about people's choice of clothing. Also, I don't think you understand what antisocial typically means, And there's no need to be judgemental about that either.

This is actually part of the problem - making shallow jabs on the internet to feel superior is avoidant compared to an actual confrontation; where you have no choice but to reflect on how your views may not apply to all situations.

Kind of ironic that you’re trying to shame him for being judgemental. Username checks out.

I am confronting someone rather than avoiding a confrontation. If I had made the initial comment, you would be correct. Causation and all that.

It was not my intent to shame them either. I was talking to them. Not you.

And this is where in the world? It sounds likely regional but you're not mentioning a region.

This is the problem generally known as liberalism. Hobbes said the foundation of the state was the arbitrary Will of the individuals in the state. Modern states are thus founded on caprice. The solution is as JFK said: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

This begs the question, what is it that my country wants to do, and who decides that?

In my view it should be decided by a class of philosophers. People who from an early age were possessed of a duty to the whole.

I'm curious if you have any recommended reading on the criticism of liberalism?

I prefer Hegel’s critique. In his Philosophy of Right. It’s a difficult read but very much worth it. This is from the Editor’s Introduction:

“Hegel's liberal critics are in the habit of saying that he does not believe in founding a social order on the conception of individual rights. The element of truth in this assertion is that Hegel thinks personal right, apart from a developed system of ethical life, is an empty abstraction; he believes that a social order founded (as in liberal political theory) on such abstractions will be unable even to protect individual rights, much less to actualize the whole of concrete freedom. In fact, Hegel thinks that the greatest enemy of personal and subjective freedom is a 'mechanistic' conception of the state, which views the state solely as an instrument for the enforcement of abstract rights; for this sets the state up as an abstraction in opposition to individuals. In Fichte's theory, for example, Hegel sees the state as a police power whose only function is to supervise and regulate the actions of individuals through coercive force. The only real guarantee of freedom is a well-constituted ethical life, which integrates the rights of persons and subjects into an organic system of customs and institutions providing individuals with concretely fulfil­ling lives.” (p. xvi)

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