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The Shut-In Economy (medium.com)
447 points by killwhitey on Mar 25, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 337 comments

I don't feel like ordering things online makes me a shut-in at all - just the opposite.

I work a lot, and by spending less time on the drudgery of brick-and-mortar shopping, I have more time to spend on the things that matter to me. Including socializing.

Yeah, maybe I leave the house less, but are those trips to the store really "quality time?" Making a run to Wal-Mart or the supermarket to buy toilet paper is time better spent than playing with my dog or reading a book?

We're missing out on some potential fun times, sure. I have made friends, bumped into existing friends, and had some good conversations while shopping. But those experiences were and far between. One positive social experience out of one or two hundred trips to the stores, maybe.

Retail shopping is usually freaking depressing - the employees and customers are often rude, and you're bombarded from all angles with sights and sounds designed to entice (or scare) you into buying things you don't need. No thank you.

Lately my wife and I subscribed to a service that sends you 3 ready-to-prepare meals (for two or four people) per week. These aren't frozen heat-and-eat meals; they ship you fresh ingredients and easy to follow recipes. Are we shut-ins? Because cooking these meals together is generally a lot more fun (and healthier) than dining out for us.

> Retail shopping is usually freaking depressing - the employees and customers are often rude, and you're bombarded from all angles with sights and sounds designed to entice (or scare) you into buying things you don't need. No thank you.

That's not about retail, that's about urban life. I live in a town of less than 2,000 people. There's one grocery store, and when you go there you recognize at least half the people inside (if you didn't already recognize their vehicle in the parking lot). In 2015, there is less need than ever for us to all live in the same few places. Remote work can offer you offer the benefits of small-town life without the loss of economic opportunities that used to go along with it.

I find the exact opposite. Sure, in a very small town you'll constantly recognize people and be constantly recognized. But you don't have a choice. There's little chance you'll find anyone who shares your interests, and there will be little chance of spontaneity. Everyone either does know you or will think they know you when they don't. There's a lot of social cohesion and apprehension. I find this really suffocating. In an urban environment I find it easier to socialize because I know that whoever I talk to doesn't have a lot of preconceptions about me.

> In 2015, there is less need than ever for us to all live in the same few places.

That's an interesting perspective. I've heard (and believe) the exact opposite. In 2015, there's no need to incur the (well-studied) economic, environmental, and cultural costs of low population density. Not to mention it's kind of bizarre to assume that it's clearly _better_ that having a population of only 2,000 people from which to meet people and make friends.

Your environment is what you make of it. I used to live in a smaller town and now that I live in a dense metropolis, I meet people and make new friends CONSTANTLY (not even joking, just this week I've (platonically) gotten 2 people's numbers based on meeting, finding mutual interests, and both of us wanting to hang out).

> Your environment is what you make of it.

Alternatively, maybe different people genuinely prefer different environments. You appear to be an extreme extrovert, so it's no great surprise that you enjoy living in a metropolis. Other people aren't, and don't.

I think that's backwards from the usual definition of "extrovert". I don't like making small-talk with relative strangers, whether that's the store clerk, someone waiting for the same train, or what have you. So I love living in a big city.

Yes and no. I absolutely get where you're coming from; I'm an extreme introvert living in London, and the anonymity is about the only thing that makes it bearable. The flip side here, and in many (but not all) metropoles, is the near-impossibility of finding quiet, either at work (expensive commercial property pushing employers toward open-plan bedlam hell) or at home (expensive residential property pushing people into tiny thin-walled apartments).

I think the small-talk-with-everyone-you-meet thing is a characteristic of very small towns and villages. I've lived in medium-sized places that didn't have it. The introvert ideal of a blissful hermitage miles from anywhere is probably impractical, for many reasons, but I still have some faint hope of finding a liveable middle ground someday.

Modern buildings in London seem to have got the soundproofing right; of course you'll pay for it but it's worth it IMO. I live in a shared ownership (housing association owns 75%, me 25%) flat and it's completely quiet (the tradeoff is that I'm living in Tottenham as that's the only way to make it even vaguely affordable).

Sounds nice. I'm a bit further in (N4) and in an older conversion, and it's not even a tiny bit quiet.

>Alternatively, maybe different people genuinely prefer different environments.

I fully agree. My comment was in response to the fact that the person I was responding to was casting a smaller town ad unequivocally better from a social perspective (ie saying that the economic benefits of big city life have been removed so now everyone is free to enjoy the social superiority of a small town).

> You appear to be an extreme extrovert

That's a fair assumption but believe it or not I consider myself quite far from extroverted. I just kinds go through moods where I feel more social and other times enjoy being alone more. The nice thing about the city is that it offers more freedom in both directions. For those days where I don't feel like socializing, I can still go wherever I want without recognizing anyone or bumping into anyone (for the most part) if that's what I choose to do.

Small towns aren't unequivocally better, but they are better for some people, such as people like the GP who might prefer not to be constantly thrust into large groups of unfamiliar people. For a long time they weren't really an option unless you wanted to do menial work you whole life. I'm merely pointing out that they are once again an option, if the small town lifestyle is what you prefer.

I guess I misinterpreted your comment. The last sentence sounded like you were making the claim that small towns' natural advantages are no longer necessarily balanced out by their economic cost (due to remote work), and thus implying that small towns are inherently better socially than big cities. I see now that an alternative interpretation (evidently the one you meant) is that you were saying that small towns' social advantages _for GP_ are no longer necessarily balanced out by an economic cost.

Even in cities that happens, depending on the city and your lifestyle. I live in a city of 500,000 people (1.5m metro area), but I recognize people all the time, because we don't spread out randomly throughout the city on a given day. For example for groceries, I almost always shop at the three grocery stores on my street, because there's no particular reason for me to carry groceries across the city when I can just walk next door. There, I see mostly other people from the neighborhood and recognize most of the employees. I usually recognize people at coffee shops and bars where I'm a semi-regular, too. Fairly often I'll even run into people I know just out on the street or metro and stop to chat.

If you use the extra time to do those quality things like playing with your dog or reading then you're benefiting from the on-demand economy. You've figured out how to make it work for you. That's great.

But... Lots of other people don't use that time well. They 'save' lots of time by having things brought to them, and spend that time watching TV or browsing the net despite not really enjoying those things. They're exchanging money for time to do passive activities they don't like and don't make them feel good. That is not a benefit. People apparently forget that saving time is a two-fold activity. There is the act of doing something to save the time, but there is also the act of using the time you saved to do something that doesn't make you feel awful. Unless you can do both things spending money to save time actually makes your situation worse.

I don't mean this snarkily: I think you have a higher opinion of retail shopping than me. Some people certainly enjoy it. Even I enjoy it sometimes. But:

  > They're exchanging money for time to do passive activities 
  > they don't like and don't make them feel good. That is not 
  > a benefit.
I would describe shopping as "exchanging time and money to do something I don't like and doesn't make me feel good" so... again, it's not an upgrade to me. But let's focus on a part of what you said:

  > passive activities they don't like and don't make them feel good.
This is a real problem. And I don't mean to gloss over it. I have gone through stretches like this. It more or less fits the definition of anhedonia which is one potential criteria for a diagnosis of depression.

But here's the key question: what's the causal relationship here? It's very easy for me to believe that a depressed person would want to avoid shopping trips; it's much less clear to me that avoiding shopping trips could possibly cause depression.

Sounds like the problem is people being depressed, not people avoiding shopping trips.

> They 'save' lots of time by having things brought to them, and spend that time watching TV or browsing the net despite not really enjoying those things. They're exchanging money for time to do passive activities they don't like and don't make them feel good.

I would agree with you here - often I have to push myself to do something more worthwhile with my spare time. Why do we do these "passive activities"? Is it because it requires little effort, despite little reward? Is it a mild form of addiction? It almost seems like procrastination, except it happens during dedicated spare time.

its sounds like you're suggesting that what people like to spend their time on is independent of how convenient their shopping experiences are

One thing I've noticed is the missing "friendly strangers" in my life -- the people you recognize by being visible in your community at all of the places people regularly frequent (or used to at least). Seeing the same people again and even just recognizing they are there reinforces a sense of place for me.

I moved out of the big city to a smaller one and was instantly fascinated by people who would say, "Hi," as I passed by. At first it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. They would even stop and ask how I was doing and make a banal, funny comment about the weather. The culture of the city I just came from was different. People would assume you wanted something if you opened your mouth or looked at anything but the ground a few meters in front of you. For more than a decade I lived in a place where people weren't nice to you unless they were selling something.

I even tried Facebook for a while because my friends had all stopped using the phone. That was a disaster. You would think that going to an "event," with all of your "friends," would be great. But people only showed up with their cliques and there was nothing very friendly about it. I stopped using Facebook and deleted my profile. I stopped going to events where nobody would talk to me and ended up seeing precisely the same people I would hang out with anyway so no loss there. I think the "social network," thing is some kind of inside joke I don't understand.

I hope to get to know my neighbors better. I shovel the snow the for lady on the corner. She lives alone with her dog. Her husband suffers from dementia and lives in a home. The neighbors one door up are a large family that mostly keeps to themselves. The grandmother is the only one who will acknowledge my existence when I say, "Hi," while I'm out in the garden or when we bump into one another at the corner store. It's weird, I think, to feel like I'm living in a fish bowl and that my community is just a place where we all keep our stuff and sleep.

It must be this pervasive culture of convenience and luxury that allows us to be entertained and socialized without having to interact with anyone else. Who knows what your neighbors are like and who needs them? Maybe that is a better quality of life. I just think it's a little strange... and when hard times do come I wonder if we'll all be able to rely on one another to get through it.

> The culture of the city I just came from was different. People would assume you wanted something if you opened your mouth or looked at anything but the ground a few meters in front of you. For more than a decade I lived in a place where people weren't nice to you unless they were selling something.

Honestly, I've heard this a lot, but I moved from a suburby area to one of the densest cities in the country and IME, people who feel this way are people who haven't really tried saying hello. I make eye contact with strangers and say hello pretty often, and I never really get anything but smiles and friendly replies in response. The same thing applies to chatting to people when waiting in line or whatever, etc. This isn't just a bubble thing, because I live in a pretty grubby area but also socialize in a lot of swankier areas, and I've found it to be pretty universally true.

TL;DR: You get out of a community what you put into it.

I agree; it wasn't like everyone was marching in line with their heads down and keeping quiet. It was just the predominant way to act in public: headphones in, eyes down, don't disturb anyone.

I didn't even notice it until I moved when people would actually make eye contact, talk, and be polite. You still pass people with their headphones in and eyes down... but they're not the majority in the smaller, less crowded city.

Ah okay, I was lumping you in with other people I've heard express similar things. I've particularly found odd the claim that saying hello to strangers gets you weird looks in a big city.

Yeah it's weird. In the city, you can meet all these people, but actual neighbors treat each other like strangers.

In the suburbs, neighbors are often (not always!) super friendly. My neighbors and I have watched each others' pets and helped each other in a lot of ways.

I think it's just the "buying" versus "renting" thing. In the city most people are renting. There's less incentive to make friends with your neighbors when in the medium-term future one or both of you will probably be somewhere else. Your rented property is truly often just a place to keep your stuff. I think rental neighbors should still try to be friends for a variety of reasons (why wouldn't you want to get along with and help your neighbors?) but this is a minority opinion.

On the other hand, when you and your neighbors are all in the midst of 30-year mortgages, people often put more effort into getting along and forging bonds. More of a "we're all in this together, let's try to get along" thing. One of our next-door neighbors is actually kind of unfriendly.

My neighbors are my friends and I rent in SF. Takes time though. And its sad to see people leave, but that means I have a reason to visit and a place to stay in Copenhagen, for example

I think it's dangerous to make friends with the neighbors wherever you live because you can't easily get away from them if you end up having problems.

From a purely pragmatic view (though I hope nobody makes friends for purely pragmatic reasons) I think befriending one's neighbors avoids a whole lot more problems than it avoids.

You do not have to be a close friend.

> the "friendly strangers" in my life, Facebook, &c

In my immediate area, there are folks who know me by face//habits//&c. The neighbours, the comic shop folks, the owner//operators of area restaurants, and so forth... I may not know them on a deep level, but we encounter each other on a semi-regular basis and have a measure of quality in our contact which we both enjoy.

Medium-for-its-purpose type of deal.

Regarding your aside about frozen meals, I'm sure I read a comment on this site from a food scientist who claimed that very high quality frozen meals were technically possible, but no one could overcome the consumer perception that it wasn't worth spending money on frozen food.

The grocery chain Picard in France trades in this space -- really nice quality food, all frozen. They're a pretty well-regarded brand, I'm told by my French friends.

One blogger's perspective: http://annmah.net/2010/01/23/french-frozen/

I think you're right. There's a small place (co-op?) in Seattle that sells frozen meals that are quite healthy and delicious. I wish I could remember the name.

I mean, heck, anybody who's ever cooked extra food and frozen it themselves has proved this... right? :)

What we like about the non-frozen meals, though, is that preparing the meals together is a lot of fun. Of course you could do this without a meal delivery service too (and we have) but we found that we didn't do it very often. The meal delivery service kind of "forces" (in the nicest possible way) us to do it.

So would you say there's now a greater efficiency to your social interactions knowing that they are, for the most part, more uncommon? There could be something to be gained by learning not to take personal transactions for granted, but I'm curious as to whether there's any proof/metrics for that.

Also, playing devil's advocate, but I don't see how the online shopping experience is any better - sure, there isn't human pressure, but there's targeted advertising and dark patterns. It's unlikely to be served an ad AFK that knows your browsing patterns, preferences, etc.

The online shopping experience doesn't require me to find my shoes and generally doesn't have fixed hours. Also, at this point, online shops often offer better security.

What do you mean by security in this context?

Better handling of sensitive payment card information.

I wouldn't say my social interactions are less or more common now. I never really considered my shopping trips to be social experiences anyway.

I grew up in an area where we were close to our neighbors but the nearest retail anything was a few miles away. Mostly chain franchises. After some years inbetween I now live someplace similar again.

So I had (and have) friends, family, and neighbors. To me brick and mortar shopping was just a really inefficient drudgery I'm glad to have mostly cut out. Those were not really social experiences for me.

There are exceptions. A good local comic or music store is priceless and those can be really social experiences.

AS AN ASIDE: I feel like retail shopping has gotten even less social. Since we usually pay with cards now, we make less eye contact with the cashier, since we're watching for the little screen to say "swipe now" or "enter PIN" or whatever.

With no knead bread, sous vide, a pressure cooker, and a tiny bit of planning you can have from scratch meals with less than 5 minutes hands on time per day.

People tend to vastly underestimate the time needed for amateur cooks to do prep work. A lot of people need 5 minutes just to chop an onion.

Yep, I start a "30 minute" recipe and 30 minutes later I've only now gotten the ingredients out of the fridge/spice drawer/cupboard and prepared as per the ingredients list.

To be fair, the "30 minutes" assumes that all the prep work is already done and that all you're doing is following the recipe from there.

Which is understandable, but not everything can be prepped far in advance. (Ok, maybe most can, but I just don't like looking at oxidized avocado and apple chunks.)

best troll ever

I am not trolling - cooking has never been less skill demanding than now. If you spend time anyway in the kitchen why bother with subscriptions.

The annoying thing about sous vide is that you need to be home at least 1-2h before dinner. If you're a lot at home, it's great though.

The point of the sous vide is that you can pop it over in the morning with no loss of quality. You can do a roast or a whole chicken (generally better quality for less money than smaller cuts) which is usually no-go for weekday cooking unless you work from home or like to eat at 10pm. The leftovers then make lunch and/or dinner on day two which further saves money and time.

  > If you spend time anyway in the kitchen why bother with subscriptions.
For us part of the answer has been that it's been exposing us to some new ingredients that we wouldn't have tried on our own and/or wouldn't have been able to find locally even if we'd thought to try them.

> service that sends you 3 ready-to-prepare meals (for two or four people) per week

Which service?

Blue Apron maybe?

That's the one! $60/week for three meals for two. More expensive than groceries but cheaper than dining out! The meals take about 20-30 minutes to prepare and cook. It's been working for us.

For me, that's barely cheaper than eating out, if at all. The portions are always big enough for two people - unhealthily so.

For us, sit-down meals for two at a restaurant were usually at least $50 including tip.

I'm comparing Blue Apron specifically to a sit-down meal because for us the point of dining out was to relax and spend time together - something that cooking at least three meals a week together gets us to do. It also gets us to try ingredients we wouldn't normally consider.

That's just why it works for us, specifically! Definitely not for everybody. I don't work for them and the only stock I own is chicken stock. :)

They always keep right around 700 calories, which is pretty healthy for a dinner.

That's not the point. It means they are delivering the same amount of food (2 X half a portion), for pretty much the same price, minus the enjoyment of eating out. And apparently, they take about as much to make as a regular meal from the store.

EDIT: I think we are talking at cross purposes - I meant restaurant meals are usually plenty for two people.

Ah yes, I thought you were referring to the home meals as having two servings.

I'm spending over $100 a week per person right now on groceries. Really goes to show how expensive food is in Canada.

Blue Apron would be $210 per week per person ($10 per meal) if one was going to use it to provide three meals a day! Canada is still cheaper than that. I think. Maybe? Hopefully? :)

After the last Soylent discussion here, I reevaluated my diet and ended up going with emeals to do breakfast/lunch/dinner plans. Food went from $300/mo to $450/mo. It go to show that there's a lot of variance!. I don't feel like the old meal plan was worse, it certainly felt adequate. (But I am getting 2 more good meals a day.)

Edit: I just realized that's your per-person figure. Mine is for two. That is quite expensive :(

> Edit: I just realized that's your per-person figure. Mine is for two. That is quite expensive :(

$450 a month is definitely a lot by my standards, where/what do you tend to buy?

But comparing it to his $60/w, $240/m, isn't quite fair. His meal plan is for 6 meals at $10 a meal. Considering you'll want a meal everyday, that's $300 a month and that's just for dinner. If you add breakfast and lunch he's either paying as much or more than you.

$10 a meal is just crazy expensive for a cooked meal. If you look at recommended servings of say 100g of vegs, 100g of rice or potatoes, 100g of meat or fish, you're looking at about 30c, 10c and 60c. With seasoning, oils, onion, garlic etc, you're looking at a $1.50 meal. If you double the servings for example, and get more expensive ingredients, you'll be hard pressed to top $5. But again, a $2 meal is very doable, meaning you can do dinner for $100 a month ea-si-ly. Another $100 for breakfast (oatmeal with milk & a piece of fruit is a 0.5$ meal at most, or $15 a month) and lunch (make any sandwich, another piece of fruit, a salad) and some snacks here and there. It's hard to top $200, and this'll get you a really healthy 3-meal a day.

Curious how you spend $450. I mean don't get me wrong, I easily could, if you buy oatmeal with banana chips instead of oatmeal and a banana you pay $2 instead of $0.20, and you can get that 10x price increase for 'processed food' everywhere, but if I were planning my meals and cooking myself, $450 is really unnecessary.

$1.50 a meal? In what country?

Where are you buying your protein for $3 per pound? Ground beef costs more. 100g before cooking is a pretty small serving.

My local Safeway wanted $7/dozen (!!) for store brand eggs last week. I walked away shaking my head. Dollar isn't what it used to be. This week it was a "more reasonable" 5.49.

> Where are you buying your protein for $3 per pound?

That's easily doable, at least here in the southern US. I regularly buy $10/3lb of chicken tenderloins. You can do much better if you're prepared to buy in bulk. Of course, venison is cheapest, if you're willing to kill it yourself/eat fresh roadkill/get the excess from hunting friends. ;)

Catfish runs about the same here as chicken, but tilapia can be had for super cheap. Of course, that's another one you can get for almost free after the investment of a fishing rod and a weekend.

Your egg prices are insane. I can buy 60-packs of eggs for $8.72.

In Atlanta (specifically, the Buford Highway Farmers Market) I regularly buy 10-pound bags of chicken legs for $0.99 a pound, and I've seen them as low as $0.69.

The comparison isn't quite apples-to-apples as legs have bone, but I can't imagine I'm paying over $1.50 or so for the meat.

Note for non-Atlantans: we don't know what "Farmers Market" is here, this is basically a large grocery store with a good produce section.

the Netherlands. Pretty easy if you cook, it's actually about a dollar. Check some of my latest comments for a breakdown of pricing.

Prices are from AH, one of the more expensive supermarkets here. [0] Chicken breast is $6.50 per kilo, no bones just the breast, or indeed ~$3 a pound. 100g serving is recommended here, but then that may be the difference between Europe and the US.

Ground beef is even cheaper. Of course these are the lower-end prices, you can pay $20 for a kilo, too. But for the cheaper prices the meat is still excellent as AH is one of the most expensive supermarkets.

The cheaper supermarkets here, which are still decent quality overall, get you a 10-20% discount. The cheaper shops have small discounts (5-10%) on things like meat or salmon as we don't see a lot of branding premiums here on meats. And bigger discounts (15-20%) on things like ketchup or cola, where if you buy a no-name brand that tastes just fine you pay a third less.

Wouldn't have thought the US had more expensive meats. When I was last stateside I remember paying a pittance at the golden coral and leaving with the feeling I just ate 5 cows for the price of a cinema ticket! How they remained profitable boggled my mind at the time, even with cheap & absolute garbage ingredients I must have cost them some that day :P

Eggs are as cheap as 15c and as expensive as 40c an egg. So a dozen can be less than $2.

Two things must be mentioned... one is that it's not a purchasing power parity comparison. I'd say average wages are a little lower in the Netherlands than in the US (although I think the median family is a lot better off here), meaning there's a bit less to spend here, putting cheaper prices here on some foods in perspective.

And the Euro is abnormally weak right now which is likely a temporary thing. Normally the Euro is about 30% stronger, so any price conversion I do now would normally be 30% higher.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Heijn

  > $10 a meal is just crazy expensive for a cooked meal. 
Yes. I have to be clear that Blue Apron only makes economic sense for us in the sense that it has replaced dining out to a large extent. A sit-down dinner for two usually winds up being at least $50 including the tip. If you use it to replace restaurants, it's a win.

If you use it to replace groceries... well, kudos to you if you can afford it. :)

(Another caveat is that Blue Apron's prepare-it-yourself meals generate a lot of packaging waste, since every ingredient is individually packaged. This is actually my least-favorite aspect of it. It's all recyclable, which helps tremendously although still incurs an environmental cost obviously)

> If you use it to replace groceries... well, kudos to you if you can afford it.

It really depends on where you live and what your time is worth. An hour every week at the grocery store, gas, wear on the car vs going once every two weeks. Also, with fresh groceries, my meals generally run in the 7 dollar area.

If I value my time at 100 per hour, plus gas, I'm definitely saving money, even if I'm not using it to replace eating out. I live in NYC, for reference.

EDIT: Ok, I wanted to do the math. So at 3 dollars more per meal, per person, I would be paying an extra 3 (additional expense per meal) * 6 (meals in a week) * 4 (weeks in a month) = 72 (additional expense per month). If I'm saving two trips to the groceries and my time is worth 100 per hour, 100 * 2 - 72 = 128. So I'm up by 128 bucks. That's not factoring in the novelty of it or the time spent planning meals/ingredients.

I'm actually buying less processed food now than before (funnily, this has also reversed the mostly recyclables trash trend in the household). Not especially expensive ingredients, generally substituting similar cheaper meats. One note is that we've been testing the paleo meal plans. A week of that pretty quickly ate up a third of the $450 budget. Representative meal plans for the rest of the month:

Dinner - http://emeals.com/meal-plans/30-minute/emeals-30-minute-fami...

Breakfast - http://emeals.com/meal-plans/breakfast/emeals-breakfast-plan...

Lunch - http://emeals.com/meal-plans/lunch/emeals-lunch-plan.pdf

Lots of fun little optimizations could be made here and in fact that's something I've been playing with. 2 months ago was baseline "exactly as the meal plan dictates" month, the next month I rotated Paleo -> Budget plan after we spent the first third of the budget, this month we are choosing half of the meals off of the family size 30 minute meal plan. Next month might include larger meals so more lunches can be made from leftovers, but I really enjoy a lunch that's not the same as a previous dinner. Brightens the middle of my work day.

Crunching numbers, I was actually replying to nahname spending $100cad/week/person == $80/week/person. $450 is $56/week/person. $8/day feels damn good considering that's a combo meal at Wendy's!

Ah I misunderstood, thought you were trying to say yours was expensive rather than the other way around. Thought the $450 was for an individual. No clue how I got to that.

Anyway, yeah $8 a day is fine. I'm at about $4 a day or so, but if the euro had been stronger like two years ago it'd be closer to $6 a day, not much different from you.

Anyway you asked about real prices so I looked them up. So here's a typical meal with prices from the most expensive large supermarket chain in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with the less expensive ones cutting prices by about 10-20% across the board:

Protein wise: 100g of Chicken: €6 per kilo, so €0.60. Fish is a bit cheaper unless it's salmon, about €5.50 a kilo, as is ground beef at €5.50.

I tend to eat 2x chicken, 1x beef, 2x fish, 2x veg. Looking to replace a chicken with another veg at some point. The vegetarian meal is mostly lentils, beans, soy etc.

Then there's veggies, it's about €1.80 for a kilo of broccoli or spinach or zucchini. A 100g serving is about 18c.

Then there's some form of carbs. Rice or potatoes at about €1.80 and €0.70 per kilo respectively. So a 100g serving averages about 14c.

So that gets you a €0.92 meal, which is about $1. It's the type of serving size I used while lifting heavy years back with a pretty muscular lean build, with a decent oatmeal breakfast, two pieces of fruit, a salad with dinner and a light lunch and plenty of water. Nowadays I have a pretty normal build, 6'2, not muscular or fat, not skinny either.

The salad I always eat with dinner is a tomato, part of a cucumber, a carrot and some lettuce and an olive oil, vinegar, garlic and onion dressing with some S&P. It's about $0.70 or so all together.

So my dinner, with all the extra dressing, seasoning, oils etc, comes out around $2, with the option of shopping cheaper by 10-20%. The vegetarian meals are even cheaper, which I eat 2/7 days. It's basically $0.25 of lentils with a ton of extras like a few tomatoes. Hard to top $1 - $1.50 on these meals.

Again breakfast is really cheap for me. Liter of milk is about €0.60, oatmeal is €0.80 a kilo. A banana is about €0.20. So we both have half a banana, 10c of oatmeal, 10c of milk and we get a €0.30 breakfast. It's just a really great meal, the banana and oatmeal both don't spike sugar so they'll sort of give off sugar for hours until lunch, despite filling you up.

Lunch is usually pretty light for me. A sandwich or two with peanut butter. Tend to eat another piece of fruit, like an orange, around 4, sometimes a sandwich if my lunch was light. I can't really be bothered doing something fancy. That gets me to dinner around 7 where I go with a decent meal and a salad, and that lasts me until after 12 as I tend to sleep late.

So yeah $100 a month is possible, but I tend to do 180 a month in dollars if the euro is stronger like it usually is, or about $6 a day. Girlfriend likes to buy tons of the small things like dried tomatoes or olives that you tend not to buy in bulk. So 1 kilo of olives is €14, as opposed to say brocoli at €1.80. Those orders of magnitude more expensive small items that barely fill you up end up being almost half the budget. But it's what makes food fun and nice and not some kind of factory work :p

Thanks, I _just_ threw out the receipts this week for individual meal cost estimation or I would post my results from that.

I was kind of jealous when shopping for the new puppy... why can't I just buy a 30lb bag of bachelor chow and live off of it for a month. (Answer: I'd get to throwing up when I thought about it after a week.) Absolutely right that all of the things that make food good and fun end up being a large portion of the budget, while the things that actually power you can be safely bought in bulk.

An aside: I'd really like to see you do this with actual prices and see how it compares to your guesstimates.

Where do you live? In TO I spend about $70/week and I eat pretty healthy. Salmon, avocados, lentils, eggs, salad, yogurt, apples, milk, chicken, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, etc.

Edit: I also only buy humane meat, and organic eggs.

Humane meat, that's the one where they don't kill the animals, right? :p

I assume you're the one that downvoted me.

You're either a vegetarian or meat eater that thinks the whole thing is silly. I don't know which, but there are real differences. For example:


I'm sorry you got downvoted. It wasn't me, i just posted a facetious (joking, not very well thought-through) comment. I am indeed flexibly vegetarian/freegan, but i'm used to ribbing and being ribbed about it :) (haha geddit ribbing haha)

My comment was made in an understanding spirit, and indeed, i am clearly a proponent of ethical meat if someone is not prepared to go without :). So no, i personally don't think it's silly at all (what is silly, however, is downvoting a random person on the Internet with whom you do not agree on the subject :p).

Peace and kindness and all that, and have a nice day :) Thanks for the informative link! Maybe i'll send it to some of my more staunchly carnivorous friends.

Though that same $100 is less than $80 USD right now (sigh).

I find that I can get groceries, without skimping, for less than $100/person, it just takes some optimizing and sometimes deciding what to make based on what's on sale. Also, buying products lower down the processing chain generally makes things cheaper as well.

plated, blue apron, forage, hello fresh, peach dish, green blender... it is a cool idea but there's quite a bit of competition.

This is how I feel. I don't watch TV for hours like I did as a child. What I do now is worse; stay in doors programming, browsing the web aimlessly, or staring at the ceiling. I don't blame my internet lifestyle for this really, but I literally don't know what else to do and the internet is so accommodating to me being a shut-in. I know I'm wasting my life but I don't know how to stop.

San Francisco is a beautiful city but it is wasted on me and I feel like I should feel guilty for that. I don't deserve this nice city; it belongs to creative people.

Trying to leave the house to do anything interesting takes herculean efforts. I can't find joy or interest in anything beyond an intellectual level. Everyday sometimes feels like it's worse than the last.

I'm trapped in an un-ending present where I grow older but never grow as a person.

ps - anything you have to suggest is something i've heard already x10 and have or currently trying, such as therapy.

I took a look at your previous submissions and I think you've already heard the advice I'd give. If you haven't already, I think it might be useful to contact your doctor and at least rule out the possibility of depression.

Depression isn't just an attitude, it's an actual chemical imbalance. It's something that happens to all kinds of people and investigating it might lead you to a fix. I've had periods where I've felt that lack of joy or interest and I wondered why I even bothered, but I got some help and now in retrospect I can tell it was terrible to live like that. At least talk to a doctor and bring up the possibility.

Tons of people around you struggle with the same thing even while they look so awesome and successful, especially if you're in the valley. I know it feels like you're totally alone but you're really not. At least investigate that your brain chemistry might be a little out of sorts.

While depression is a real issue, I think people suffer from all the Skinner box reward cycles built into games / apps now days. Cook dinner takes time and some effort, clicking delver now and soon food just shows up. Things that lack that level of reinforcement just seem less interesting.

Sure, I could physically travel to interesting places or just click around on Google maps. The joy might not be as great as actually seeing the same thing in person, but places are so much easier to get to online.

A physical firing range is seriously intense, but messing around in a FPS does not involve leaving the house and it takes so much less skill. Not to mention something like guitar hero vs. an actual guitar.

Tough love doesn't work here. Logic doesn't penetrate. Worse, I worry you could come across as trivializing addiction, depression and other mental health issues.

When in doubt seek help. That is what we need to encourage. And I know first hand how hard it is to seek help and keep seeking it, but the very act can be its own little bit of healing.

No, I think parent is exactly right. I feel similar to the OP, but I know for sure it's not a depression. And I think I suffer the same problem the parent described. The real world just seems so messy and complicated compared to virtual worlds.

You may call it a mental health issue, but it is neither addiction nor depression; if anything, it's just not being addicted to real world enough.

How do you know it is not depression? This is a very personal topic, but I never thought of myself as depressed until I fell into a hole so deep that I had to search for medical help (and then I still thought about EVERYTHING but depression: High-functional autism, ADHD, whatever ..) - diagnosis and therapy helped me tremendously and looking back there would've been zero chance for me to recognize that I was suffering from depression on my own. It's one of the hallmarks of depression to rationalize it away "don't be such a wuzz ... all is fine, you are lazy, stop doing that", so it's very risky to say "I know for sure it's not a depression" - you are probably the worst judge for that (just to make this clear: It's your life, if you feel all is fine and you just don't want to go out then it is fine, enjoy your life - my comment is only intended as a second perspective on a real serious issue).

Depression has certain criteria, for example things like you don't enjoy anything, you feel tired all the time, you consider that you shouldn't live, and so on. I had a mild depression, and I know this is not it. I am happy, I like to meet people from time to time, etc.

It's not addiction either - I spend my days on the Internet (or in computer games) a lot, but if I had to spend a week without it, it wouldn't be a problem. I don't have to be connected 24x7 either. I also sometimes abandon the game for no reason.

It's really just you don't feel so motivated by the things in the real world compared to virtual possibilities. Let me reiterate, I think parent was spot on when he talked about the "artificial Skinner box of instant rewards", and I don't think there is a psychiatric category describing this.

It's not a mental disorder, just like overeating (and being overweight due to that) isn't (usually) a disorder. But yeah, it may be a mental health issue. It's mentally unhealthy behavior, just like eating too much is unhealthy.

"It's an actual chemical imbalance"

It's actually a hypothesis that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

I wish more people knew this. The entire "chemical imbalance" shtick is a myth. If you are ever told this, your response should be, "What chemical? What level am I at? What level should I be at?".. But, alas, there is no blood test, or any other kind of test, which can yet determine this. That's not science.

> That's not science.

Science is sometimes harder than a single test.

For example, there's no blood test for autism. There's no blood test for PTSD. But my best friend's brother took years to talk to me, and sometimes still goes into rages; one of my partners would wake up in the middle of the night convinced I was trying to kill her.

Brains, minds, reinforcement learning systems, are complicated. By entirely abstract mechanisms they can be rewired to beautiful and terrible extremes. I very much doubt that the trauma that induces PTSD depends on any pre-existing biological state to allow PTSD to take hold, nor does PTSD necessarily induce some biological state (other than the biological brain-configuration that it is obviously implemented in). PTSD seems to be the best example of the human mind's ability to learn being exploited in the same way a buffer overflow exploits a browser. Obviously something is there; it's impossible to see someone flashback and deny the condition exists; but will there ever be a blood test for PTSD, or any diagnostic test more sophisticated than something like the DSM?

Psychology is not an easy science. Like physics, it depends on reverse-engineering the rules to a complex system, but that system is the human mind, and unlike physics, which exists only at a single level, to understand the mind, we have to cross levels of abstraction, much like it would be utterly futile to try to understand a program by recording the patterns it activated on the silicon of a CPU. And worse, everybody thinks they're an expert, because everyone has N years of experience dealing with human minds.

It's easy to think that any science should have a nice, clean, reductionist, petri-dish and blood-test approach. But the universe is under no obligation to make things easy. In a sense, psychology is the hardest science, because it is simply so difficult to cross these abstraction boundaries easily.

All this is not relevant to the fact that there is no evidence for depression being caused by a chemical imbalance.

That we can fix it by changing the chemical balance is certainly evidence in support of it being caused by a chemical balance.

Never mind a chemical balance being caused by depression!

Yes, the point of my post was not to argue for the serotonin hypothesis of depression. If you think that, might I suggest that you missed my point, and you should perhaps reread with an eye towards absorbing novel information and viewpoints rather than trying to classify literally everything as either on a FOR or AGAINST side in a binary argument?

You were arguing that the absence of a blood test doesn't necessarily undermine chemical imbalance theories because of the complexity of the systems involved.

...this is still not my point. I was not addressing chemical imbalance theories at all.

Rather, I was trying to argue that the absence of a blood test doesn't make depression ascientific.

Nobody is saying that depression is ascientific. The context of the thread was that chemical imbalance theories are ascientific.

I agree with you, but you are also losing the message.

They are trying to say it's not a matter of willpower that you can just make it go away. It's something real and outside your control.

The chemical imbalance part is nonsense, the message it implies is not.

If depression caused by terrible things happening, or loneliness, that is not also outside of your control?

I've had depressed periods, but it was completely understandable given the situation I was in.

I think the whole "chemical imbalance" is an easy fix, rather than trying to fix society, or the situation they are in. It's quick and easy to give pills rather than fix a life.

Now i'm sure they're are actual medical causes for depression, but I think its overused.

Obviously there is depression caused by events, that type is "easy" to fix because (usually) you can fix the external events, or at least talk about them and come to terms with them.

But there is also depression caused by nothing whatsoever. Nothing detectable anyway.

People tend not to believe it can be possible, until they experience it (personally or by talking to someone who is experiencing it).

Talking about it (therapy) does nothing, because there is nothing bad happening to talk about. The person is just depressed for no reason at all, it's like someone pressed a "be depressed" switch in their brain. The person is aware of it, wants it to stop, and has no control over it at all, and no ability to change it.

It's that type that they call "chemical imbalance". The chemical imbalance part is nonsense of course, but the existence of this type of depression is not.

> but I think its overused.

In TV commercials, yes, I agree. But in real life? No, I don't think it's overused.

I think its overused, because its exactly that type of depression they tried put on me.

When in reality I was lonely, didn't have much opportunity to socialise etc.

It was only fixed when I got out that situation, basically by chance by getting a introduction into an accepting social circle. I am now very happy.

The highest sucide rates are basically in young men, basically because how society treats them. I don't think its because young men are more prone to chemical imbalances, compared to women or older people. Its because its that stage in life, when men are literally lonely because of the transition from college to work and you can end up isolated and alone.

A myth?

Put yourself in my shoes: Do I believe some Internet commenter without further evidence, or do I believe Robert Sapolsky?

I don't know who Robert Sapolsky is, I admit my ignorance, but you shouldn't believe people just because they are people. You should believe peer reviewed studies instead, regardless of who writes them.

Just saying. Claiming that Robert Sapolsky himself (whoever that is) is more correct than the post you are replying to, without providing citations to (peer reviewed and accepted) studies is nonsensical.

Yeah. I've experienced the exact same feeling, and had points in my life where I didn't leave my house for months on end. It was depression that was the cause; CBT, anti-depressants (and exercise soon after) helped fix that and now it's no longer a struggle.

Same here. Live in a beautiful city, cool friends, lovely girlfriend. Plenty of things exist here of which I can objectively say they're awesome, and in many things I'm genuinely interested, and so I avidly read and follow the news, whether it's social topics, economics, politics, tech etc. Yet I hold very little interest in experiencing anything personally.

If I had to describe it succinctly; I've become a dedicated spectator, but no longer wish to participate.

It's pretty ridiculous and something very strongly tells me it's the wrong way to live life, and I'd love for that to change. But the passion just isn't there to get involved anymore for even the simplest things like taking a walk outside. Again, as a spectator it's great. It's not as if I'm disinterested or don't like to hear from friends if they call me or want to visit. But calling them, or visiting them, somehow it's too big of a step.

As it's only been like this for a few years I can see how ridiculous all of this is. It's like I got the lazy syndrome: still care, but not enough to act on it. Yet it's not really laziness as I never watch TV or sit on the couch or sleep all day or get no work done... It's something else but I can't quite put my finger on it. I wish I could take some kind of hormone injection and rediscover my lost motivation for life.

Similarish postscript as you btw. Proper food, sleep, exercise, meditation, social, iteration etc, already covered stuff like that, but I'm open to new ideas.

This is still me, in so many things. On an intellectual level, there are things I want to do that I know I would enjoy, and that would make my life better. On an emotional level, I simply lack the motivation to start engaging in them.

What's helping me is the concept of precommitment.

I have a simple system. It started as a simple weekly wager with a coworker: Every Friday, have a plan for your weekend. Complete that plan during your weekend. Failure in either part costs you a coffee, failure in both costs you lunch.

Those plans can be whatever you want. Ranging from taking care of basic life chores, to working on projects, to getting exercise, and to whatever else might seem a priority.

This doesn't fix the lack of intrinsic motivation to get started per se, but does add another, extrinsic, motivation. More wanting to save face than worrying about the hit to our wallets - both of us willing to tease each other and ourselves for being too meek in our planning when we succeed, or for being too ambitious or lazy when we fail. (Edit: Also out of a sense of competition.)

I'm still searching for intrinsic motivation, but at least as a stopgap, extrinsic motivation through precommitment is doing wonders for my life. Given that it took me a decade or so to figure out this much, I'll more than happily take it.

I've moved a lot in the last decade, and this is one of those predicaments I end up in the first months before I build a new social circle in the new city. I've found that my social life thrives if I can find a group with a few flaky social butterflies, who my general predictability can balance well against.

When they get some random activity in their head, they have someone to go do it with and I have that impetus to go do something outside my default patterns. It might be helpful to look at the friends and colleagues around you and see if you might need to go hunt for a little extra flavor in that mixing pot.

I think we're afraid of being wrong.

We live in a society where access to information is greater than it ever has been in history, and everything we may take an interest in doing has been done before, and someone has already pointed out all of the flaws and how it's wrong. We see that first and focus in on it, and we let it destroy something that a previous generation would've seen as imperfect yet beautiful.

Can definitely relate to that. I'd rather think that there's something temporarily wrong with my brain chemistry, something that'll get sorted out after a few years pass and new habits and a new rhythm, a new balance of social, work, rest, exercise etc become part of my life.

On the other hand I'm afraid that it's a generational thing. A child of the financial recession (nearing 25yo, economy's not quite booming in Europe), of digital work (I'm able to pay the bills programming from home in my own little company without having to leave the house much), of an age with unprecedented access to information (everything you mentioned, knowing exactly how great the world is and how insignificant anything you do is). As if my particular blend of person in this particular age in this particular economy is just begging to become a shut-in.

I didn't quite ride a wave of easy employment that led to company life playing a big social, professional and personal (confidence etc) role in my life, having graduated during a recession. Wasn't forced outside and into the lives of others due to the digital age allowing me to make a living from home.

Anyway it's all a bit depressing, I try not to spend too much time explaining why. It feels like giving up, or finding an excuse.

One thing a friend told me a while ago stuck with me though... on how the notion that life is malleable (this sort of variation on the American dream. That if you just work and try hard enough, you can become anything and do anything), meant as an uplifting and motivating cultural idea, not to mention an idea that homogenizes everyone: everyone is capable, everyone is unique and special and important and powerful... I think perhaps is the reason of so much depression and anxiety and uncertainty in young people today. Because it's simply not true that anyone can become the next Steve Jobs, yet because of this notion that life is completely malleable, if you're not awesome then there must be some unique character flaw you're suffering from, it's your fault.

Anyway again I don't like to get caught up on this frame of mind too much as it just gets me absolutely nowhere, but it's definitely interesting to discuss every now and then.

Re: malleability of life. I like stoicism because it captures the view that feels more realistic to me: That which you can control, you control to your utmost. That which you cannot control, you let go. Sorting it out and finding the balance between fatalism and optimism involves knowing and understanding your own limits.

After all, there are a lot of things your body is capable of doing, yet you aren't ever driven to do them. That's really at the heart of the shut-in symptoms.

Information overload can be worse than none at all. I recall someone did a study of employee 401K participation, and above a certain point, the more choices they were given the fewer people ever signed up.

Our limited capacity for "decision-making" is at least as real a limitation as time or money.

Absolutely, abundant choice can paralyze.

For me it has to do with opportunity costs. Take a strawberry milkshake instead of banana, no biggie if it tastes bad. Take a career path and end up regretting it, and it's a really big deal, usually. And even if your career path wasn't a bad choice per se, again, opportunity cost, perhaps the alternative had been much better. At the end of the day you just have to choose, try it, and if it appears nice enough you double-down, and that choice can be really difficult.

One of the most frustrating things for me had been having to decide on the bulk of my professional education before ever having worked in the field. I think programming is to some extent an exception in that many programmers get a decent experience on what programming is like as a kid, as a hobby. Being an engineer in an office is a whole different matter of course, but the notion of programming for hours on a daily basis is something you can grasp by age 15 or 18 when you decide on a focus in high school and a major in college.

But for so many professions, you have people age 17 having to decide if they like being a dentist or a lawyer, or a sales person or a government worker, while having near-zero experience, and fleeting ideas on what it is from movies and magazines.

Not sure what it's like in the US but in the Netherlands at age 11 you get tested and go to a certain level of secondary school. The lowest gets you entrance to community college at age 16. The middle to vocational school (e.g. university of applied sciences). The highest to university ('research uni'). There's some opportunities to switch after age 11, but it's very tricky for multiple reasons and generally rare. And then at age 13 or so you decide on a focus which gets you different subjects. e.g. Physics & Science, or Culture and Society or Economics & Society. And those give entrance to your tertiary education. So if you chose at age 13 or so that you liked Culture, you'd have gotten things like art history and French, and you couldn't go on at age 17 to pick Computer Science. You'd have to do an extra program, again difficult for various reasons and rare.

Now at 24 looking back this structure was really frustrating. I liked economics as a subject, chose that path, always did Computer Science as a hobby (which wasn't a subject in any of the paths), but couldn't do CS unless I did Physics (which was a subject I had for years regardless as everyone gets it, but not to the full extent supposedly required).

> Not sure what it's like in the US but in the Netherlands at age 11 you get tested and go to a certain level of secondary school.

Wow, that sounds really f*-ed up! I always thought most places were like Slovenia (or UK is similar, if I understand correctly), where the main decision point is only at 18-19, when you're choosing your university! (The earlier is at 14-15, between a "gymnasium" - general-purpose school - and a vocational school (e.g. for a hairdresser, cook, ...), but most reasonably intelligent people go to a gymnasium).

I'm originally from the UK and, while you are correct that university at ~18 is usually the point-of-no-return, "high prestige" universities often have significant expectations on performance within a predefined set of subjects (at least within engineering) during the admissions process.

It would be very challenging for someone lacking the above-average levels of interest/talent in relevant fields at the age of 16 (spurring them to take related college-level courses) to get into a prestigious STEM course - outwith extraordinary circumstance.

Yup so we have that system like Slovenia too only it's a little bit earlier. You go to a level of secondary school at age 12, based on a test at age 11.

I personally got a maximum score of 550/550 on this test which gets you into 'gymnasium'. If you get below 545 you go to a middle-level education (will let you go to university of applied sciences, to become e.g. a marketing manager, teacher, physical therapist etc). Below 530 you do to the lower-level education (for lack of a better word), to train to become e.g. hairdresser or cook.

Anyway I got 550 but still went to middle-level as per a teachers' recommendation. (typical minimal effort maximum score kid). Later ended up still going to uni but it's a path with various hurdles and detours.

Frustrating in hindsight that this decision happens so early in life when you don't quite grasp the implications of educational & class differences, and at an age where the notion of becoming someone who volunteers in an animal shelter is way more interesting than to become a data scientist. As you grow up you realize the social stratification brought about by educational differences.

And then on top, indeed, you choose a certain flavor of high school. You get 2 years of general purpose stuff. Everyone gets both Physics and Math, as well as French and Art History, etc. But then the 3-4 years after, you choose one or the other. That's at age 14ish. And so even if you do gymnasium and everyone can go to uni, you're not going to be able to apply for medicine for example if you didn't do 6 years of physics in secondary school.

There's a lot of talk to change it. In fact I think Finland just removed the concept of 'subjects' altogether. Which is a radical thing to do, and takes a lot of effort and rethinking and reshaping of education. But it could be brilliant. Here they're talking about making secondary school a bit more general purpose, as the huge push for 'career planning' sessions for 12 and 16 year olds isn't enough to let them make informed decisions about what they'll be studying at age 20, and working in at age 30 or 40. Beyond that all of education is shifting away from skills, and towards competencies. So that if you teach 'self-learning', someone who spent 5 years in marketing can shift to become a programmer, if the economy changes. At least that's the general idea. It's a lot harder but competencies are definitely more valuable and important than skills (which become redundant as tech changes, e.g. being a skilled typewriter) in the long-term.

Regarding information overload, it seems that this is on track to get much worse before it gets better (if it ever does get better). Subsequently, I think we are building up to a large scale consumer backlash or implosion against "hyper connected-ness" as no one will be able to physically parse, consume and manage the deluge of bits and choices thrown at them. I think we'll get to a point of peak information and at which point it will be more hip to be offline...at least that's the hypothesis that's been ever so slowly nagging me in the back of my mind.

Sounds like "The Paradox of Choice"

I'm not familiar with that term/book/topic/idea/concept. Care to elaborate on it, or shall we rather resort to the All Knowing Google ?

You might be interested in reading this:


  > It's pretty ridiculous and something very strongly tells me it's the wrong way to live life
Maybe? It's hard to tell. At least for some of us, I think the "something" telling you to get out and have fun is just society in general (and media in particular) telling us that we're supposed to be out doing "exciting" things with beautiful, interesting people.

Definitely. if I somehow tragically were to lose my parents and brother, and lost touch with friends and all who wouldn't check my Linkedin, i.e. nobody to check if I'm a success or failure or to judge me... I wouldn't mind as much to live the life I do now. So there's definitely a sense of community pressure. I wrote about it in another comment briefly; this notion that life is malleable and you can be anything and do anything is really depressing. Because it almost implies that if you're not Steve Jobs, you're really doing something wrong. While the notion that life is malleable is supposed to be uplifting and motivating, it can also be depressing. Yet the thought is absolutely pervasive in our culture. Hell to take Jobs as an example, his well known speech on everything around us is designed, and you can design things, too, so empowering [0]... can to some people be interpreted as 'I didn't design anything nor have any good ideas on new designs, I'm an idiot'.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZyUlHtxoBs

I don't know what exactly you've tried, and back seat driving on HN about such a tough topic is probably a bad idea, but...

Have you tried joining a volunteer organization? I'm a member of a couple, and it's hard to overstate how much it has helped me get out. Helping other people is such a rush. It's not all roses and sunshine, but might be worth a try if you haven't gone down that path.

Either a dedicated non profit like a mentorship program or a volunteer organization like the Rotarians (I'm a member of the Odd Fellows, myself) would love to have even an hour of your time a week.

Yes! Volunteering is great. You meet really good people doing it. Because people who volunteer tend to be people with big hearts, of course.

Having done a small amount of required volunteering for school I would disagree. Of course, I live in the middle of nowhere, and it was mostly my classmates volunteering with me who are also required to volunteer for so many hours.

  > required volunteering
So, uh, not volunteering, then? :)

I know what you mean; my school had that too. It's compulsory but you at least get to pick where you work, right?

Anyway, yeah. I'm talking about actual volunteer work. The kind where you volunteer.

Well, ya, it isn't really volunteering. And there are so few places I know to work that I really don't get to pick where I work, it is just whatever one I find I do.

I think the volunteering experience is, like so many other things, dependent on who else is participating as well as what you are doing. I hope you explore/are able to explore other opportunities in the future that resonate more profoundly with you.

Maybe. I lost my signed sheet. So I have to do like 20 hours again. You wouldn't happen to know a good place to find things to volunteer for in general?

My wife's charity organization has gotten some new members by publicizing their events on Meetup.com! I haven't used it but in general that seems like a good place to find things to do.

If not, try your local government or church, or just see if big-name charities or service organizations have any groups in your area.

I don't know if it's the same as you, but whenever I consider doing some "activity", I immediately fast-forward through it in my mind and think, "OK, so it'll be fun for, like, an hour. Then what?" More than anything, deep down, I feel like I crave the unknown and the unfamiliar; but as I grow older and learn more about the world, the things in my proximity that still have this property have all but disappeared.

For this reason, I've found what I desire in my life — as a fellow "spectator" — is to drastically change my surroundings instead of focusing on specific (and ultimately inconsequential) things to do. Not, "I want to ride a jet ski", but "I want to live on an island", or "I want to take a ship across the ocean". Right now, I've been traveling around Europe for most of a year, and even though I've still been largely living the shut-in life, I appreciate having seen so many new cities, tasted so many new foods, bumbled my way through so many new languages, and gained so much life experience.

The only problem is that you can't really develop a circle of friends when you're moving from place to place every few weeks. I've been thinking that maybe if I could find a nice, tech-minded "shut-in" community in a warm location, I could live like that for a few years. Do some gardening. Raise some chickens. Maybe visit the closest city every few weeks, if I feel like it. I think that would be a pretty good life.

But I guess that's the hardest part: finding that little locus of the unknown in the first place.

I have found over the last few years that making things -- preferably making beautiful & functional things -- is what makes me happy, more than just "specific (and ultimately inconsequential) things to do".

What sorts of things do you make? My "curse" is that as a programmer, all the beautiful and functional things I know how to make require me to sit in front of a glowing screen all day!

Maybe I should take up woodworking or something.

Food :) (everyone loves that!) Beer (great way to meet people -- everyone wants to swap beer). Textiles, beadwork, crappy art. I really am thinking of woodworking -- I would like to make a really nice chair. Or a salad bowl.

Actually, I've been really interested in getting into beer! How easy is it to get started? How long did it take you to get good results?

Beer is very easy. So is wine--actually easier. Lots of people have made them over the past 5000+ years, so how hard can it be?

I had helped a friend a bit with some beer, but it wasn't until a few years later I tried on my own. I started with wine, initially with a book from author of _The Joy of Home Winemaking_ [1]. Apple, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, elderberry, and also grapes (piesporter, carmenere, barolo, grenache, viognier, etc.). Cabernet / chardonnay are boring choices for boring people; there are so many other choices available.

Good results right away. More extreme experiments, perhaps questionable results, but learned a lot in all of them.

For beer, can't go wrong with _The Complete Joy of Homebrewing_ [2].

I went to my public library and got a dozen books on each subject before going to the bookstore. Besides the techniques and recipes, there tend to be a lot of history and related books on those shelves, so definitely check your library and return for more.

It can seem like a lot of details, but it's not that hard. Easier with a friend. Even easier, you can go to a brew-on-premises place (with a friend). There's probably a homebrew group near you, maybe a meetup; go to your local brewing supply store and check it out--they're knowledgeable and usually pretty friendly too. Relax! have a homebrew.

And don't forget cider, mead, metheglin, cyser, perry, etc.

[1] http://www.joyofwine.net/ [2] http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-Homebrewing-Fourth-Editio...

My first batch of beer was good. One nice way to start is to buy a kit -- all the ingredients and the recipe come nicely packaged. A friend got my husband a beer-brewing kit for cheap a few years ago; it had two big 6+-gallon plastic buckets, the appropriate glassware & plastic piping, a hydrometer, etc. That and a big big pot for boiling water and preparing your wort are all you need. (I figured I needed to contribute to the family beer vault and we have slightly different tastes, so I made a great summer saison for my first beer.)

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brewing/beer-equipment-st... looks like the kit.

Experience: first batch always great. 2nd or 3rd or 4th goes bad because you get overconfident, fail to sanitize something, and something nasty grows. You realize sanitizing is important and have success thereon.

I read an article (or maybe comment somewhere?) once - and sadly, my search-engine-fu is not strong enough today, so I can't link it - that talked about two kinds of depression, two kinds of "beasts".

Once was called black I think. It's the one people think of, when you say depression, and how movies portray it too: sadness, despair and the feeling that everything is bad, and everything ever will be bad.

The other one, however, is supposed to be more tricky. It's gray. It doesn't make you feel sadness or despair or any other thing. It makes everything gray. It makes you numb, it makes you not care about anything at all. The world doesn't do it for you anymore, and if it were to drown, you would not care.

The former is like being hurt. The latter is like being dead. The former is hell, the latter is great endless emptiness.


I'm not sure how accurate it is, especially considering how people find it easy to see themselves in text that could be about anyone - see horoscopes and stuff, but I think it's important to know, that depression doesn't have to look like person is sad or anything. I think what you are describing sounds a lot like "grey" depression.

Yeah so I think I'm depressed but it's nothing like in the movies. No alcohol, no smoking, no crying, no suicidal thoughts (other than intellectual), no real sadness or despair (there's some disappointment but it's again more intellectual than emotional) and I don't really consider anything 'bad' in my life. In fact objectively most things are great. I get 3 nice meals every day, live in a nice apartment next to the park with a cool gf. Family's part of my life, as are some good friends I can rely on. Work my own hours and it pays the bills.

At the same time it's completely empty. Going outside or making career moves or traveling or going dancing or eating out or whatever, just doesn't do it for me anymore. I feel pretty empty about most things, and I'd be mostly comfortable losing touch with say my friends. I tend to leave my house, in total (whether it's groceries or seeing friends) maybe 40 times a year and I tend to wake up and spend an hour in bed lying there without any reason to get out of bed, and then finally do because it's so boring to just lay there a whole day.

So yeah definitely 'gray' for me, while the 'black' thing just absolutely doesn't resonate.

Human Nature / selected poems, 2014


<IHaveNoIdeaWhatImTalkingAbout> Do you feel guilty doing 'fun' things or is nothing fun? I have the guilt side of it. E.g. "Sure, I could go jet-skiing for a few hours but I should be productive." Is that it?

Ah no not at all, work isn't really a big driver for me at the moment so I tend not to feel guilty about it.

I do feel I should do something more ambitious. So my brother for example keeps telling me to just get a job at a coffeeshop, go out and meet new people through work again. My bills are such that I easily could, but in that case I'd feel like I'd be wasting my time and should be doing something productive. I don't have anything against menial work but I'm sure I'd regret it in 6 years if I'm 30 and feel like I missed the boat on another career.

So I currently do basic programming from home which pays the bills just fine but I'd like something new. I'm not really a programmer though, just have a tech interest and did it on the side as a hobby, and grew that into a business. But it's definitely not professional software engineering. More like how your nephew can build you an ecommerce shop online with some plugins and basic scripting and could make a living out of that, but no ecommerce company would ever hire him to build products, only I know a bit more than your typical techie-nephew but not quite enough to work as an engineer.

My uni background is in business & management which is absolute shit in terms of skills/knowledge. It's very much an experience-based industry. Business fundamentals is something you can do in a 2 month course, not a 4 year undergrad program. And so as a recent graduate you spent too much time learning too little, and have 0 experience. It'd definitely be fun to be a project manager, trying to blend the engineering and the business side of things as I feel I have a good enough intuition for both. But that's a role you get in your 30s with experience, not as a recent grad. Positions that are available to me are mostly sales. So a buddy of mine does ERP sales. And it's just not me, cold-calling people, having people shit in my ear 99/100 times and and preparing 1 hot lead for someone up top who rakes it in the next day for years, and then become that person. But the labor market for non-engineering things is just really brutal for recent grads. There are still jobs but everything requires a few years of experience at least. Let me know if you have any ideas haha, I'm at a loss, business school is one big joke in terms of employment. It's like it's the 80s and I just spent a few years mastering the typewriter.

Anyway got off on a tangent there. So no, no guilt on doing something 'fun'. I also wouldn't quite say that nothing is fun. If you'd teleport me onto a jetski right now, I'd have a blast. And to borrow from another comment, somehow I'm much more inclined to download a shooter game than to go to a shooting range even if it was free and around the corner, despite the fact the range would be a bigger thrill. I can't explain it, it sounds ridiculous. Same with friends, I enjoy hanging out with them every two weeks when someone keeps asking to hang out and I give in and we set a date, it's always, without fail, a fun evening. But I'm completely fine not arranging that myself for months. I wish I desired to do the things I end up enjoying once I do them. That desire isn't really there. It's like being a guy not attracted to girls at all, not feeling any emotion or sexual interest in a gorgeous willing girl across the street, as if you were gay. But once you do get around to visit the girl for whatever reason, it's genuinely fun. Again I can't explain how or why, just how it is/feels. Pains me to say it's a bit like that with my girlfriend, too. Absolutely love and adore her, pretty girl, too, sex is great and it's all there, but I've barely got any desire for it. I'd say it's a chemical thing, like a particular thing in my brain just doesn't fire because of it. But, and this is almost like a sad doctor's joke... I have no interest in going to the doctor to get it fixed. Kind of hilarious. Despite wanting for things to go back to 5 years ago (in terms of my mental state), I don't really care enough to pursue a solution.

Anyway hope that covers your question ;)

This is personal experience talking: there's a close to 100% chance you're clinically depressed. Try speaking with your girlfriend about it if you need some encouraging to try to work on it. I stopped pursuing treatment for about 4-5 years and really wish that I had that time back. The way you describe having fun when you get out but not pursuing it yourself describes the way I used to be perfectly. It gets comforting or reassuring to do nothing to make it better, because that's all that you're used to - but once you find something that helps you and return to a better mental state, you'll realize how bad it is now and wish that you started sooner. Don't get me wrong, it's very difficult, and there's never an easy answer to finding what helps you feel better. There will be times that trying will make it worse. But after 10+ years I finally feel close to normal again and it was very much worth the effort. If you'd like to reach out or talk further, let me know, I would be glad.


>cool friends, lovely girlfriend.

I don't have any of those.

I don't quite know what to say... although I nearly wouldn't have, either. My girlfriend fell in love just as I was slipping into this new shut-in life. She had to adjust to me not really wanting to go to a cafe, movie, restaurant, park, museum, party, friends etc. It's the reason I wanted to break up and told her it's not going to work out like this. But she refused and stayed with me, we moved in together and it's been years now. But it hasn't been the same like 2 years earlier when I was a typical boyfriend, interested in participating in all facets of life and doing all of the above mentioned things and enjoying them, too. It's quite strange how it went and I'd still be okay with her finding someone else. I mean don't get me wrong I absolutely adore her but it's just how it is, something irrational.

Same with friends, I've not instigated contact in 2 years now with any of my friends. I still have 3 who hit me up and I go see either of em a few times a month because they want to. But I'd also be okay if they stopped calling.

Same with family. I hate to say it. I'd definitely still check in on them if they stopped calling, the only people really, but there's no real desire to hang out or talk, I'd just be really curious and concerned about how they're doing but not more than that.

So it's really because of them, not me. Wish it was all like 3 years ago. Now I couldn't even get excited for a free holiday trip. Hell I used to love that. Traveled Europe, Africa, Asia and North America by the time I was 20. Now I don't even want to walk in the park when it's nice outside, and I literally live next to a park. Crazy how a brain can change for no discernible reason.

When did things start to change for you, has it always been like this?

This is similar to my life in a lot of ways! I feel you on a lot of these things. Although I was always pretty happy spending most of my time alone, and I didn't do a lot of traveling.

I think if I had to sum it all up, I'd say that the things I value just aren't really obtained by doing a lot of shallow socializing. I'd rather have a few very close friends, and I'd rather do a few things very well than do a bunch of things on a superficial level.

One thing that really helped me was getting a dog a few years ago. It was my wife's idea so I can't take any credit for it. But having a living (and loving) creature depending on me has definitely been good for getting me to take plenty of walks. I don't ever want to recommend a dog as some kind of self-improvement tool... they're sentient creatures, not accessories, and are a big commitment! But he's really been a wonderful influence.

  > Traveled Europe, Africa, Asia and North America by the time 
  > I was 20. 
Do you think it's possible that you don't feel a need to do these things precisely because you've already done them?

> Do you think it's possible that you don't feel a need to do these things precisely because you've already done them?

Mmm good question. When I was a bit younger there was definitely an urge to do things I'd never done before. Travel, go to college, live on my own, girlfriend etc. And certainly there's a sense that this first-time's urge is gone.

But I've also always enjoyed things I had already done. Meeting friends or playing another game of football like hundreds before, going dancing etc, I used to like doing them weekly or monthly even when I'd have done them tens of times before. But not anymore so that's new. And when I came back from Asia I certainly didn't feel like I'd seen it all. I mean those 4 continents sound like a bigger deal than they are. I've seen only 2 countries in each of those continents, none of them more than 6 months, except Europe where I've lived for decades and traveled quite a bit. In terms of traveling there's a shit ton of places I'd love to visit, on paper that is. Places I've never been, would be awesome to explore and that I'd enjoy being if I happened to be there.

Thanks for sharing your story, always wanted to get a dog haha. But also always felt like it was a huge 10+ year commitment. Who knows maybe in a few years, if I ever buy a house I can definitely see myself having a dog! :)

Does she see these messages you are writing?

It's a bit of an odd suggestions, but consider having kids. Kids have a way of needing things, that just transcends all the meaningless excuses you have for not getting anything done.

Make it a point that it's YOU that takes them to school, or shopping or whatever. Or if shopping is too confusing to do alone make a point that the whole family goes. That it's you that makes lunches, and checks if they did homework. As infants make it a point that you dress them for bed, even if your SO picks the clothing.

The instinct to take care of kids is wired really really deep in your brain, way below any surface problems. It will easily override them if you let it.

I have zero experience with parenthood. That said,

Raising kids for any reason other than "raising kids" strikes me as terrible advice. I'd be interested in hearing anecdotes of whether raising productivity by having kids is effective (let alone morally permissible).

The only reason to have kids is if you think you can do a good job raising them.

It makes no difference why they were born, or how it helped you. The only thing that matters is how you raise them.

There are plenty of people who have children in order to mature, be adults, and progress in life. If you love them, and pay attention to them, and intend to raise them well, it works just fine.

pretty much everyone that posts here should have children.

most people here will do a great job raising them. you learn on the job, and via friends and family.

(lest people want the future depicted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy :)

> Does she see these messages you are writing?

Nope, unless she tries to find it. HN is in my favorites and it auto-logins. But she's really not the type for that. I think it'd be pretty painful to read although she knows the bulk of it.

> It's a bit of an odd suggestions, but consider having kids.

Still 24, so that'd be really early for us, not something I'd love to have so early in my life (although I can imagine how nice it'd be to still be 44 with an adult kid!).

Beyond that though it's also not something I'd feel is appropriate. It's definitely true that if I'd have kids right now I'd probably solve the symptoms of whatever problem I have, completely agree with you there. I'm that type of person, as most people are, to my girlfriend for example. If she needs me I'll be there, if she has stuff planned for a birthday, or is going to graduate or needs a running partner for motivation, I'll suddenly be up for going out with her. And it's certainly true that people have had kids for less. But this issue is not something I'd ever want to use as a reason to have kids in and of itself, despite any of that.

> I think it'd be pretty painful to read although she knows the bulk of it.

Personally I think she should, but of course I don't really know anything about her.

> Still 24, so that'd be really early for us

I don't think 24 is especially young. Maybe a drop younger than typical, but you seem to have good earning potential, and someone you love. What more do you need?

It has advantages too - you have more energy when young, and kids take a lot of work.

(Also don't forget you never know how long it will actually take.)

> But this issue is not something I'd ever want to use as a reason to have kids

It's not written permanently on them you know. Helping their parents is probably the best reason to have kids. "Why did you have me Dad?" "Because you make me happy."

What matters is how you raise them, not why they were born.

  What matters is how you raise them, not why they were born
While that's likely true, I think it's also wise to consider that it is probably unwise to consider "having kids" as a _solution_ to a problem. Having kids is signing up for a half decade of never sleeping the same way again, never having "you" time easily, etc. It's a mountain of stress on both parents, and should not be entered into lightly -- else how will one manage to raise the kids well?

Have you tried Meetup? I screwed up my work-life balance towards the very end of college so I graduated both rusty at meeting people and in a situation that many people find hard (making friends in a new city post-college, particularly when all my coworkers lived 40 miles away from me, were older than me, and I didn't have a car). My gf at the time suggested Meetup, and though I initially dismissed it as "embarrassing" ("Jesus I need to use a service to find friends? How pathetic"), I eventually tried it out and made some really good friends pretty immediately (as well as a much larger circle of friendly acquaintances who I still see semi-regularly). Though perhaps that was specific to my problem, since at the time (and now) I was always bursting with new things to do but was lacking people to do them with.

Come visit LA - you can stay with me if you like. I'm looking for new friends in the area and we could meet a bunch together - or go to a few nerd nights. Respond if interested.

It's not often I see compassion like this on HN. Good for you.

This was me 10 years ago. I got rid of my cell phone and got rid of internet service at my house. I had to go to a local coffee shop. After a month or so of regularly going I met some people. I also took up racquetball and jiu-jitsu. Getting rid of internet service and a cell phone saved my life. At least in my opinion.

These are suggestions for you but maybe someone for whom your comment resonates with will get a helpful idea from what I've written. I hope you find a way out of your rut.

> I got rid of my cell phone and got rid of internet service at my house.

I've been wondering about doing something similar.

I know it sounds silly to most people, but this is a modern equivalent of "going cold turkey." Many of us are addicted to our network connections, which is tolerated and even celebrated because it's a tool that can also be used productively.

For some people, not being able to get online once you leave the office (if you're lucky enough to have such a clear work/life divide) can be the best thing for leading a healthy life.

So many people see the benefits of "cord cutting" but forget that replacing cable with WiFi is a problem of having six in one hand and half-a-dozen in the other.

+1 jiu jitsu.

aside from being great mental and physical exercise, you will make friends from completely different walks of life, which is a good thing.

>ps - anything you have to suggest is something i've heard already x10 and have or currently trying, such as therapy.

Uhh, you sure? Solution space is much bigger than you'd think.

Have you heard of Trigger-Action Planning (also known in the literature by the horrible name "Implementation Intentions")? It gets you around 0.6 standard deviations more "doing things you want to do but don't end up doing." The gist of it is fairly straightforward - take a concrete experience, and tie it to a specific action you want to do in that context. "When I walk through my bedroom door, do a pull-up on the pull-up bar" is a great TAP. "After dinner, study math" is a bad one. "When I open reddit, close reddit" is both hilarious and effective.

The best part is that doing Trigger-Action Planning badly is better than not trying it at all. It's why I'm sharing it, since it's generally safe. It's a learnable skill for programming your automatic and habitual actions. (Please don't use it to program experiencing negative emotions into yourself. Part of your problem is likely that you've programmed "feel guilty about being unworthy of San Francisco" as an automatic response to experiencing San Francisco's beauty. If this resonates with you, don't feel bad about it - this is a growth opportunity, which is not something you want to avoid in the future.)

PS aside, you might find that walking aimlessly satisfies the same itch as browsing aimlessly, but you feel better at the end of it.

Yes. Cannot overstate how important that is. I've started taking random 10-15 minute walks throughout the day at work (leaving my phone on my desk), and it's a great way to clear your mind and relax a bit.

This sounds like what the Japanese call Hikikomori (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori).

I saw a wonderful anime about a Hikikomori character recently, called Welcome to the NHK. It's on Netflix, and I recommend it to everyone since it's topical but also because it was oddly (and sometimes not so oddly) moving.

How about going on Couchsurfing and putting yourself up as a host? If you don't have the energy to go out into the world, you can get the world to come to you, all through the internet.

No suggestions, but a historical comment: the sort-of ancients described this as "acedia". Monks and other solitaries were worried about this problem and discussed how to deal with the demon of acedia. From the Wikipedia page, the Oxford Dictionary of Church Stuff calls it "a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray". I actually learned about it from "Acedia and Me" by Kathleen Norris. It was given to me by a friend at a period in my life when I'd get up at 9 or 10 and drag myself through my part-time job and not make progress at side projects even though I had lots of time, all the time in the world....

Based on your postscript this may not help, but how about giving yourself the mission of getting outside the house and doing something at least once each day, with a sense of purpose?

"I really don't feel like it, but I am going to walk to the park/bridge/waterfront and back. I am going to get a beer/coffee/tea at this place I've heard about. I will walk to the store and pick up groceries. It doesn't have to be anything miraculous or life changing and I don't have to meet or talk to anybody--I just have to try, because it will be worse if I don't."

>with a sense of purpose?

>"I really don't feel like it, but I am going to walk to the park/bridge/waterfront and back. I am going to get a beer/coffee/tea at this place I've heard about. I will walk to the store and pick up groceries. It doesn't have to be anything miraculous or life changing and I don't have to meet or talk to anybody--I just have to try, because it will be worse if I don't."

Where is the purpose there?

I think he means with a purpose in your activity.

As in - go to the grocery store to get groceries

Go to beer place to get beer.

Small tasks with a small errand-like purpose to build up to bigger activities

The purpose is the getting of the thing, or the being at the place.

The point is that not everything you do needs to have a _higher_ purpose.

I think a better idea would be to accept there is no particular purpose, more about doing something random, that perhaps you think you'll feel better for after, and seeing what happens. Embrace the chaos!

I am the same but my view on it is the complete opposite - I love my life! Staying home programming and surfing the web is the most stimulating, fun and rewarding thing I know so why would I bother doing anything else?

If you're an alcoholic, you don't work as a wine taste tester, and you certainly don't keep an infinitely-replenishing liquor cabinet at home.

That sounds rough! Would you like some random suggestions on what to do tonight based on projections from my personal life and experience?

Sure I would.

Okay, here's some suggestions. Test them out and see what happens I guess. Frankly, I have no idea what will happen if you do them:

1) Take a random amount of money... $25...$50... research and donate it to a charity you think is cool. Pick one and do it. Like now.

2) Are you in your house right now? Still on your computer? Go outside and walk around. It doesn't have to be supremely interesting or perfect.

3) Go to a coffeeshop or other place you can sit. Get a drink. Stare at the wall without your computer. Try not to be productive. Drink your coffee. You are not allowed to be productive.

4) The book "Feeling Good" helped me immensely.

1) I've been donating to Doctors without Borders since I was 18 and help fund a project on Kiva every month or so.

If anyone's interested in researching where to give I also recommend checking out the Give Well foundation,[0] as it matters more how you give, than whether you give. i.e. there are millions of people who have partial or full blindness due to lack of vitamins. A simple $20 operation will restore their eyesight, which is gigantic. Alternatively, there are millions of blind people who will never be able to see. We have alleviate their blindness with a guide dog, but it costs $20k to raise and train the dog and blind person. That's a three order of magnitude difference in cost, and the 100x cheaper operation actually cures blindless, while the 100x more expensive option 'merely' makes a blind life better.

In other words, one person donating $100 can be much more effective (curing 5 people of blindness) than 100 people donating $200 (giving 1 blind person a guide dog). This is the sort of thing the Give Well foundation tries to approach in a data-driven manner: what is the most effective way to give. This is an extreme example, but I think it's a really important approach to charity.

2) Went to my mom's birthday today instead. Was fun to see family again.

3) 9PM, reall cold and dark now... but yeah, I'd really struggle with this one even in the afternoon. But I'll try to do it tomorrow.


[0] http://www.givewell.org/

How are you doing!

Have you considered volunteering? We can make our lives so safe, so sufficient, that there is no reason to do more, but that doesn't mean that there are no wants in the world. When we substitute someone else's needs for our own (which we've already taken care of), we can both make the world a better place and find a reason for trying again. So many organizations can benefit from someone who knows how to use Excel or set up a wireless router or help optimize some workflow, and you can have an enormous impact while getting to see the broader world.

Either that, or get some good shrooms.

You should travel. Buy a plane ticket and just go. Don't even pack-- you can buy more clothes if you need them.

It helps to have persistent friends who force you to get outside. What types of things are you interested in?

If you get an opportunity, you can take a few weeks or months off and do something crazy and awesome:


It sounds like you can afford it.

Your self awareness is commendable. I'd hazard a guess that you belong here more than you think you do. Just recognize that beauty when you see it, and keep supporting the locals. It's a city of immigrants.

Perhaps meditation is what you need, so you can enjoy the un-ending present AND grow as a person! http://dhamma.org

Hi Hoboon. I'm the editor of the story the OP put up here. Would you mind dropping me a line? bobbie at medium dot com

Any sites you recommend that are interesting? Or favorite docs found on vimeo/youtube/whatever?

Go on google flights and pick a city that sounds dangerous.

Supplemental MSM,5-htp, L-Theanine, Magnesium, NAC, and Alpha Lipoic Acid

Think about all this specialization.

This is what a "good economy" looks like. Parents who work long hours so they can afford to rent some great apartment and buy stuff for their family. They outsource a lot of the childcare to professional nannies or whoever. They outsource a lot of the elder care to nursing homes etc. People are getting married later in life so they can focus on their career. Individualism, kids moving out early, trying to impress each other with great apartments etc.

We are materially richer, but what about the social connections?

Similarly with technology. Take birthdays, for example. On their birthday people used to get personal phone calls, possibly emails. Then facebook made it easy to just write "happy birthday" on someone's wall, and see who else wrote it. Then, to increase "engagement" (or the appearance thereof), they let you write a quick note right where the birthday reminder appeared, on the right-hand pane. Now you couldn't even see what others wrote, and sometimes would breeze through, personalizing the greetings slightly "Happy birthday girl! Older and sexier they say."

Now, people are complaining that they have to get through so many birthday wishes on their wall and write a semi-personalized "thanks" response to each one. So the remaining step is to make an app to automate this. So the end result is we'll have nearly automatic sending and nearly automatic thanking, basically robots talking to robots, while the whole experience of birthday wishes is automated away from humans.

All of which is why I walked away from the whole charade that is Facebook. Frankly, fuck that noise. Facebook added nothing to my life. I have the same number of friends as I had when I was Facebook but now I know who they are.

> Now, people are complaining that they have to get through so many birthday wishes on their wall and write a semi-personalized "thanks" response to each one.

Noooooo you just made that up in your head.

> People are getting married later in life so they can focus on their career.

Noooo, they are just no longer ignorant and don't think a god will smite them if the have a relationship before marriage.

> kids moving out early, trying to impress each other with great apartments etc.

Noooo, they are more childish than ever and are now still living with the parents past their mid teens. Here the reality might actually make you point.

The world is what you believe it to be, you're far from reality but it will become that for you if you keep believing this stuff.

> We are materially richer, but what about the social connections?

Well...Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn of course.

Those are database records. Social connections are actual interactions with other people.

Well, online services are also actual interactions with other people, much of the time.

They are interactions based on telecommunications, computing, display and sound reproducing technologies, etc, and they are one way to have contact with other people. "Real-world" interactions are also involve mediums: sound waves traveling in air, eyesight dependent on presence of visible light frequencies. Physical phenomenons like the transport of bits is, deep down.

Yes, there are some aspects in physical presence which do not apply to on-line social connections. Most importantly, touch.

But (depending on culture), we don't often touch people who are in the same room, either. On-line interactions have also some aspects that improve our workings with other people, over physical presence -- for instance, from on-line you can go off-line and exchange ideas and information, while if you're in a room and speak, the person who comes in 5 minutes later will not hear it.

I am sorry to say but you're so wrong... human interaction is not only accoustic and touch-based, but also visual, which takes most of sensory signal feed to brain (correct me if I am wrong here).

If you shun away from human interaction, that's fine. But be honest to yourself and don't say few clicks/strokes of keyboard are similar to having a decent talk with anybody. Heck, even video conf call is miles away from real world experience. I am an introvert myself, but this is simply not true.

Interaction in the same room is not the same as on-line interaction, of course; but it is not better in all ways. Many ways, yes, but not all. In some ways, humans interacting over (e.g.) a computer are faring better.

pssst... don't scare the crowd in their comfortable zone :)

I have a birthday in ~24 hours. I plan to deactivate Facebook in ~12 hours and leave it off for a day or two.

I'm pretty sure you can change the privacy setting associated with the day/month and leave the year public.

But some people remember, and once one person posts, more people post.

I guess call me crazy, but I really enjoy chores. They aren't always pleasent, but they are a diversion. I can listen to NPR podcasts while grocery shopping. I catch up on the "Stuff you should know" podcast while cleaning and vacuuming my apartment. And I enjoy a walk around the area in the evenings when the weather is nice out. The diversions are where I can really think. I often have too many distractions at the computer, and can't focus on the really hard problems I am working on. I've found when I am doing something menial like chores, that is when I can really think and solve hard problems, especially when I am not trying to at all.

I would never outsource my chores. I just enjoy them too much.

To me, what's really great is the feel of independence.

When I do chores (or any work really) I'm always thinking like "Look, Ma - I can do this on my own!" even when nobody around is watching me. I guess the feeling that you can learn those small things and take care of yourself help boosting your confidence a lot. That said, I admit that there are many things I can't do - like making my own garment or my own transistors. But I'm trying to expand my abilities, and this everyday learning process helps me keep having positive attitudes towards many things (because you're often surprised by how little you knew about things that you've taken for granted!).

A little side note. I work for disabled (blind) people and often I feel sorry for them not being able to do some of very simple chores without help by sighted people. Let them have a chance to enjoy their own chores. That would be a good society.

Agreed - but I think I know the source of my love for chores and it stems from, while I love him dearly and appreciate how he raised me, a cheap dad growing up who wouldn't be caught dead paying for someone else to do something around the house for him. I couldn't imagine paying someone money to come mow my lawn or clean my windows, etc.

I do really enjoy the feeling of completing something on the to-do list as well, so that probably helps.

Similar here, currently living most of the time alone (gf's work is temporarily 200 km away), and the "chores", shrink to 30mins/week cleaning of appartment (max), spending maybe 10 mins/week cleaning dishes, and doing laundry takes away another 10 per week. Shopping? Extra 30-60 mins/week.

I would even go further and say these activities are necessary for some sort of mental balance (for lack of better words). What I mean - life isn't always about nice & easy experiences. One needs a bit of fortitude, resillience when you are facing with some "have-to-be-done" mundane or hard task to just move forward. Be it professional, be it in parenting, be it in adventures. When I look around me, I see a lot of successful, bright people that are incredibly spoiled in interesting way - any at least a bit boring activity appears on horizon, they are going nuts. Well, however hard you try, you cannot avoid these things in life, so better be okay when dealing with those.

I dont' want to sound extreme, some things can be done online easily and save a lot of time (managing bank accounts vs visiting local branch), just that some middle path by taking best of both worlds/approaches seems better to me. The situations in article seem on extreme end of scale (even within such a bubble as SF seems to be).

So, for that delivery guy, living in similar appartment building sounds like a dream. For me, I wouldn't call it nightmare, but definitely a bit sad life I wouldn't like to live.

Yup. I don't even think of them as chores. I mean, maybe cleaning, but grocery shopping? I enjoy that shit. I'm too anal retentive to let someone else pick out my produce. Aside from that, if you're in a city why do you even need these services?

Are these people so glued to their work that they can't take 30 minutes out of the day to walk to the grocery store and pick up a few items? This article was very sad to read imo.

that couple situation, whether imaginery or not, seemed almost desperate - she comes home at 9, he at 1 am. This might work for years (it would be a sad story if they had kids in this regime though), until something changes and they end up having more time for each other. Who they discover living with might be pleasant or nasty surprise...

This might be just me, but being in relationship is always a strong bond for me, that works only if both parties have similar attitude towards each other and can actually be present in the relationship.

I miss having a lawn to mow -- it always had a meditative quality for me.

I agree, also gives a sense of accomplishment. I may not get a tricky problem fixed or make progress on a project in the day; but damn it, those dishes are clean!

There is something soothing to me about grocery shopping. Everyone I've said this to thinks I'm nuts, though.

The most 'jarring' part in the article was "But when the Homejoy app maid shows up at her apartment, she feels uncomfortable. The class implications of someone cleaning her toilet are jarring."

Income inequality will always exist in capitalistic society and to a certain level that's ok. Whats not so cool it to feel as if they are inferior just because thats how they're making the best of their life circumstances. As one of the workers said “This is a job I need, but I actually love,” Some of them come from tougher times and appreciate the work they have. Being polite to them and treating them equally as another human goes a long way.

When our cleaner is over we always have a good little chat to her. She moved from Colombia to Australia by herself, is studying English. Respect to her drive to move to a foreign country and work hard to get ahead. She wasn't born in a middle-upper class first world country like I was.

> Being polite to them and treating them equally as another human goes a long way.

Yeah, but it goes a longer way to make sure they're paid a living wage for their work, and that they're not being exploited by you or their employer (by not paying into their Social Security, say).

Part of the class weirdness around these jobs comes from the way the rich want people to do them, but they don't really want to pay what it would cost to have someone do them legally. So a whole gray market emerges of companies offering cheaper cleaning services by taking advantage of workers who don't have a lot of options, due to things like not being fluent in the local language or lacking proper immigration documents.

Homejoy's particular dodge to keep costs down is insisting its cleaners aren't actually employees of Homejoy; by classifying them as independent contractors, Homejoy can skip out on all sorts of expenses, like paying the minimum wage, providing health and retirement benefits, and reimbursing them for work-related expenses they pay out of pocket. Homejoy cleaners actually just launched a lawsuit against the company to challenge their classification -- see http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Homejoy-Postmate....

Yeah but the other class weirdness comes from actually confronting poverty. When you live in relative luxury, and you see someone who cleans toilets for a living, you feel guilty that not everyone can enjoy the life you have. Now, you shouldn't feel guilty, because it's not entirely your fault. You're just one person in a massive economy. But it's hard not to feel bad for the person scrubbing shit off your toilet bowl. That's why a company like Alfred should stress discreetness. You know in the back of your head that poverty exists, but you don't have to see it. Out of sight, out of mind.

I think it's more along the lines of Katy's own sudden perceived elevation of status is jarring to her. "The wealthy" as a group come with a lot of stereotypes, responsibilities, & judgments. Katy doesn't think of herself as wealthy, but having hired help is generally a sign of considerable wealth in the USA. So, Katy is unsettled by how her social status seems to have changed out of the blue, and how she now needs to behave.

Particularly, there is a pervasive stereotype of the wealthy mistreating or dehumanizing hired help, so any suddenly-wealthy middle class person is going to be panicking, "Oh shit, how do I not become that wealthy person, I've never done this before"

I don't think judgement of the worker was even on the radar.

There's another, perhaps US-specific dimension to the discomfort:

The self-sufficiency and egalitarianism of doing one's own chores used to be a note of middle class pride, at least in the once strong middle-class industrial areas of the country.

These values were further facilitated by the post-war boom in home-labor saving appliances (washing machines, etc.)

Many of us who grew up in such a cultural context have a more difficult relationship with others serving us, and we don't feel it gives us an increase in status, but rather it feels almost like a moral failing. Of course, with the ever busier nature of our lives and the availability of low-wage workers, it's quite hard to stick to those morals, hence the inner conflict.

People I know who grew up in US cities or other countries where a significant service-employed underclass exists don't seem to have issues with being served. From what I've seen, being able to afford service labor in those places is actually a status symbol that people strive towards.

Good points, the discomfort as the article put it is a better way to describe it than inferior. Also true that not everyone feels comfortable in the elevated position of being able to afford to hire other people to do what they might consider menial tasks.

A phrase I heard recently that really stuck with me: "Human beings are not designed to be compared to each other"

It's true. We all have different backgrounds and we all have overcome different hurdles to be where we are. It's easy to look at someone who's 10x as successful as you by whatever metric you use to measure success and feel inadequate, or to see someone with 10x less and feel guilty.

But the reality is that we've all been dealt different hands, and all we can do is play the hand we have the best we can, and help others to do the same.

I would imagine that this wouldn't normally be as big of an issue if it wasn't a service offered in SF or NY, where there is already a lot of animosity around wealth and its impact on the community around it.

So for all of you people who withstand the bullshit of the bay area but stay in all the time...why are you wasting all your money living in a city and not taking advantage of being urban? You could, instead, move a bit further outside the city and live around trees, grass and the best part? There's like no people around! It's great!

I mean...you don't even need to live in the bay area. You could just move to, oh I don't know, one of the other 20 massive major cities in America and live much cheaper. Is being amongst all of these startups really that important if all you're doing is going to the office and coming home? Never going out and being a part of the social scene? I just...don't understand this idea at all. Seems like a fairly illogical way to live life.

FWIW this is precisely the reason why I moved away from the suburbs and live in a city. I just like living in the city more, I like walking around and having conversations with people. Not talking to my neighbors makes me afraid of what I don't know about them. Not seeing anyone or knowing anyone exists seems scary to me, and the Internet is just 70% there because the social interactions you can have on here are limited at best.

Saying you have a social life because you're on the Internet is kinda like saying you're a total stud because you have a lot of phone sex. It's not really the same thing, but you might feel the same way about it.

> So for all of you people who withstand the bullshit of the bay area but stay in all the time...why are you wasting all your money living in a city and not taking advantage of being urban? You could, instead, move a bit further outside the city and live around trees, grass and the best part? There's like no people around! It's great!

Right!? When I saw that the concierge said they have a lot of "work from homers" I was like "wait...what". Why on earth would you live in SF if you could work from anywhere?

I would imagine that a lot of them have jobs that may be from home but require frequent meetings in the area.

Other than that it might be for networking, or they might have all their friends in the area.

I don't have the historical knowledge to do it myself, but it would be fascinating to read an in-depth comparison between these services and the economy of servants in the 19th or early-20th century.

The image in my head (from movies and books and reading [about] Piketty) is that the wealthy in earlier eras were more idle, living off rents rather than incomes. I imagine servants would have been more of a status symbol for them, whereas today's upper-middle-class strivers see them as more of a necessity "to dedicate more time to working." I wonder, is that as close as we get to progress, under capitalism? I.e., if we're going to have servants, the people employing them today have a somewhat less dubious reason for doing so than their ancestors?

I don't think servants were just status symbols. Cooking, cleaning and laundry without appliances was a very time consuming job which probably occupied the days of the wife and daughters of a family with no servants. Add to that inconvenient shopping, clothes mending, child care.

Yep, your comment reminds me of the $3500 shirt:


You're absolutely right. I'm not sure why this didn't come to mind immediately. I guess I was just trying to get at the distinction between people employing servants in order to enjoy more leisure vs. employing them in order to have more time to work.

> The image in my head (from movies and books and reading [about] Piketty) is that the wealthy in earlier eras were more idle, living off rents rather than incomes.

Indeed, this is exactly what it meant to be a gentleman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman) in 15th-19th century English/American society -- you owned enough land to be able to live off rents, rather than having to dirty your hands working for a living. Gentlemen were part of the broader upper class called the gentry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentry), which also included titled aristocrats (barons, dukes, earls, etc.). Since making money and buying land were generally easier than convincing the King to give you a title, becoming a gentleman was a popular way for ambitious commoners to move up the social ladder. (The flip side of that ease, of course, being that it was easy to stop being a gentleman, too -- just lose your money and boom, your family is common again -- whereas a titled peer would always be a titled peer, even if he was penniless.)

> I imagine servants would have been more of a status symbol for them, whereas today's upper-middle-class strivers see them as more of a necessity "to dedicate more time to working."

Partly it was a status symbol for them, but status symbols were a bigger deal to them than they are to us because their societies were more rigidly hierarchical than ours are. So having ways to display your status was part of how you held on to that status -- gentlemen had servants, because if you couldn't afford servants that told everyone you really weren't a gentleman. It was self-reinforcing.

Why do you think serving is an undeserving job? Each person being paid to do some type of task has a job. That is better than being unemployed.

It's wrong to make value judgements on the way people make money in an honest job. A person in the 19th century who had a job as a servant at least had a job, and what was considered respectable as well. The alternatives were far, far worse, like getting caught for petty theft and shipped to a colony.

"it would be fascinating to read an in-depth comparison between these services and the economy of servants in the 19th or early-20th century."

See "The Edwardian Country House", the BBC/PBS series. It's a reality show for which the producers staffed a large mansion with the staff it had a century ago and sent a family to live there. All the servants had to live by the rules of that era. The lower-level servants were trained to be invisible - the maids would turn away and not make eye contact with the family.

I'll check this out, thanks.

> whereas today's upper-middle-class strivers see them as more of a necessity "to dedicate more time to working."

I don't understand HN's tendency to swallow this claim whole. If you convert any increase in free time immediately into more work time, that's a problem with your work/life balance, not with whatever is increasing your free time.

Van Ekert’s answer: “It’s more to dedicate more time to working.”

With the arrival of every functionary serving as a reminder of what could happen if you slow down your pace on the treadmill.

This article makes me glad I don't live in SF any more.

There's an episode of the show Black Mirror that makes this very very obvious.

For those wondering, I think the episode that copsarebastards is referring to is called 15 Million Merits.

I started working from home as an employee and then moved out of the job to be an independent consultant working from home. I enjoyed the freedom, there was so much I could do apart from work after saving on daily travel and lesser restriction on time.

Slowly, it turned the other way round - I got shut-in. Started from not having to go to local store daily - because it was a waste of time. I could not relate to a calendar-day. Sometimes I would start my work at 6pm in evening and sometimes at 3am in the morning. I tried to discipline myself, but it did not work out for valid reasons. And I started introverting due to lack of social contacts. Health wasn't an issue - because home gyms were good enough and I think those kept me off any depression. The shut-in introduces pretty bad habits. The "freedom" was out, I was working most of the time - it almost felt like a self-imposed prison in the name of discipline and saving time. Sometimes I have wondered if my life was any better than placing my brain in a box bionically connected to a computer.

Now, I make it a habit to go out once every day or couple of days, same time for 45 mins-1 hour a bit after the busy day starts for most. It is a HUGE waste of time but it acts as a tether for my work day, makes me feel grateful for what I have and surprisingly, results in better productivity.

Oh god this is so familiar. Work from home, too, pays the bills just fine but I've lost any semblance of schedule. Barely need to go out anymore, just for groceries but my gf who goes out daily and loves to cook likes to do this part, only occasionally do I run to the store to get some things for her. So I barely get out.

Been meaning to go out on a daily basis but I think I have DSPD [0] and so I tend to wake up late, sleep really late (or early in the morning). It's terrible really, I feel like a bum or a teenage kid sleeping like this but it's like I'm programmed to act like a 3 year old in the morning, the self-discipline required to get out is insane while I've generally always had a bit of a spartan lifestyle haha. It boggles my mind how hard it is for me to get up. And I absolutely can't sleep at night consistently. Even if I wake up at 8AM, work out heavy for 2 hours, spend a day draining my brain concentrating for hours, meet people for hours and go around town doing groceries and am physically tired, I can't sleep. And then at 4-5AM it hits me like a train. Sometimes I'll power through, not sleeping because I know if I sleep at 4, I'll wake up at 12. So instead I'll try not to sleep and power through until the evening, and then yes I can finally sleep at night that day.

But then that next day I generally still wake up at 12. Even if I ease into it and change my sleeping schedule by 1 hour every two days, at some point it gets reset. Anyway the point of all this is that I tend to wake up shortly after noon and I just don't want to go out for an hour at that point, all I want to do is get some work done before I need to clean up, help prepare dinner, spend time with my gf etc. After sleeping in so late, the last thing I want to do is spend the first hour walking around outside. So I postpone going outside to the evening and I never really do, especially if it's dark and cold like now. In that way it's exactly like you said, a self-imposed prison in the name of work and saving time. And then a little later it's 12PM and I've still got hours ahead of me, but there's no way I'm going outside at 3AM. (I used to as a teenager, but now as an adult I'd just feel like a freak and my gf would get super worried and want to have 'a talk' if I started doing that haha. Also I'd be bored out of my mind if it's dark and deserted. Also, no Vitamin D at night!) Writing all of this down is confronting haha, looks like my life is a mess.

Still trying to find some balance to all of this. I've been meaning to just get a regular job again, but I'm genuinely afraid I couldn't do the 9-5 schedule, as I basically went straight into freelance work out of college and both college and freelance work allowed weird schedules. The hope is that the pressure to conform to this model for fear of getting fired etc forces me to keep to the schedule.

Would love any more ideas or experiences if you want to share :)

0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_disorder

This is crazy! I've never heard of DSPD before, but I've explained to my girlfriend several times (as recently as a couple weeks ago) that no matter what time I go to bed, I don't really fall into a deep sleep, or fall asleep at all, until around 4am. I'll either be fully awake tossing and turning or I'll have a really light sleep. I'll wake up by myself around 11:30 or noon.

I have the same guilt about it as you do, and I'm a total baby about being woken up early. It's been this way my whole life.

Hi IkmoIkmo. I sent a private message to your Reddit account.

>So here’s the big question. What does she, or you, or any of us do with all this time we’re buying? Binge on Netflix shows? Go for a run? Van Ekert’s answer: “It’s more to dedicate more time to working.”

Meh. It's specialization. It's been happening since everyone figured out Og makes better clubs than everyone else and he'll make you one if you give him food. Most of the people reading this site have a skill that brings in $50+ per hour. Why not pay someone to clean your bathroom and use that time for working?

There is a big fallacy here that the people who are going to be working more hours will actually make more money. These people are salaried, and may get better performance pay, etc. for more hours; but it is not guaranteed. Unless you're paid hourly, then the (admitted strawman) "I make $100K, which is like $50 an hour, so its like making money to pay someone $25 an hour." really doesn't work out.

The example of Mallon making $1,000 for her company an hour, isn't clear to me that she owns that company. Based on her apartment not having sufficient hot water to wash her hair, I tend to think she is not making the $1,000 an hour herself. I'm also a bit dubious that she would be able to bill out at nearly that rate, but could be wrong.

Many people who work long hours find their work enjoyable and would rather work extra 2 hours than do boring household chores that they hate. I am one of them - cleaning up house is like pulling out teeth for me.

I'm not against paying money to avoid doing things you hate or something you enjoy more. I just often hear something to the effect of, "My salary is more money / hour than I'm paying for the service, so it's a good for me financially." If you're not paid hourly, that's probably not true.

I'm paying an accountant to do my taxes, not because I can't do them; but because I don't want to. I mow my own lawn, because I don't mind doing it. I pay someone to clean my house once a week, not because I think it makes me better off financially, but rather because it is no fun; I would rather do something else (e.g., engage in some kind of home improvement).

Yes, but working every waking hour is a good way to burn out. Cleaning your own toilet might be inefficient but it will remind you that you are human.

> Cleaning your own toilet might be inefficient but it will remind you that you are human.

Woah what? I know you're not being literal here, but I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. Are you saying that having a high-paying job automatically makes you feel like you're better than everyone else and doing mundane chores reminds you you're all people?[1]

The problem with that is "thinking you're better than everyone else" in the first place, not "missing out on mundane chores".

[1] Apologies if I'm misinterpreting you here: if so, what did you mean instead?

Why are you so certain that I didn't mean what I wrote?

In case you're talking about "I know you're not being literal here":

Because only a lunatic would think that high-status people think they're literally no longer classified as Homo Sapiens?

In case you're talking about "Apologies if I'm misinterpreting you here":

The word "if" is generally used to indicate conditioning on an event: i.e. "considering only the situation in which this is true". Nothing about the word indicates "certainty" about anything.

Lunatic? Well, I avoid making statements about my own sanity. But people sometimes decide that they are superhuman, or that others are subhuman. The ancient Greeks called it hubris. Nowadays we are more likely to say someone is out of touch, or living in a bubble. It shows up in comments like "Only the little people pay taxes".

Making $50/hour while spending $25/hour (figure thrown out in the article) is breaking even because there is a 50% transaction fee on your earnings. Furthermore, the proceeds are used to fund mayhem and misery both domestically and abroad so you're increasing your responsibility for that as well.

Now you make $50/hour, wait till commoditization hit your profession and see your wage dwindle before your own eyes.

If that day comes, who will be better prepared, those that cleaned their own toilets, or those that used that time for something more productive?

Don't underestimate the value in a multitude of skills. When Argentina's economy collapsed in 2001, I'd prefer to know how to write code, do laundry, and wash toilets than only knowing how to write code.

>Don't underestimate the value in a multitude of skills.

I'm sure pretty much everybody who hires a cleaning service knows how to clean a toilet.

I went to university with a girl who didn't know how to operate a dishwasher. At first, I assumed it was because her family had not been wealthy enough to own a dishwasher; later, I found out it was because they were so wealthy they had servants who loaded and ran their dishwasher for them.

The problem I have with people who say things like this is that these things are easily Googlable. I didn't "know" how to do laundry until I went to college (my sister and I had specific chores and laundry was one of hers). During a fight with my sister when I was still in high school, I recall her using that as an insult: "You don't even know how to do LAUNDRY".

I needed to do laundry my first week of school: I couldn't (and to this day can't) even fathom what the phrase "know how to do laundry" meant. Separate whites and colors (or don't), put the clothes in the machine, and press the button.......what kind of mental deficiency is required for someone to think there's an actual gap between "knowing how to do laundry" and "not knowing how".

Loading a dishwasher and cleaning a toilet would seem to be similar. The only gap between "knowing" and "not knowing" is perhaps three seconds of Googling (in case there's some pitfall about what you can and can't put in there).

The only gap between "knowing" and "not knowing" is perhaps three seconds of Googling

Have you ever worked tech support and had to help a lawyer or doctor set up their router?

It's not about mental deficiency.

That example is not relevant in the slightest. Setting up a router quite clearly requires prior knowledge, even if that knowledge is something implicit like "familiarity with navigating Web UIs" or "general familiarity with basic networking concepts".

Neither of those are applicable to doing laundry. There's literally no knowledge required other than "clothes and detergent go into machine". Hell, you don't even have to know WHERE to put detergent because machines are variable enough that they usually just tell you where to put detergent.

So nobody has ever shrunk clothes before? Or ruined whites? Or mixed ammonia and bleach to clean a floor?

Honestly, that stuff is a lot harder to do than you seem to think it is. My gf has never even bothered separating whites and colors and she's never ruined any article of clothing in the laundry. By contrast, setting up a router is not something you can just feel your way through without _any_ prior knowledge (even prior knowledge unrelated to that specific model). Shit, without prior knowledge you couldn't even get to the router config page.

> Or mixed ammonia and bleach to clean a floor?

The first part of your comment was a reasonable point, but what the hell are you talking about here? You do your laundry using bleach and ammonia....on your floor?

So you screw up once and you learn. Why do you have to learn now, when your labor is in demand, rather than later (accepting OP premise) when the value of your labor has been arbitraged away?

I'm sure

I'm not.

Bits can move anywhere in the world. Our jobs could be done from anywhere labor is stupid cheap, as long as the workers have the knowledge.

Someone has to come in person to clean your toilet, and can't be outsourced to the cheapest locale.

Presumably the people delivering groceries or doing someone elses laundry weren't making $50/hour in the same profession at some earlier point in their career.

but at least they had a tad more job security and weren't being misclassified as contractors (so had less tax burden)

But these jobs just didn't exist(unless you count full time maids for example), so it doesn't make sense to talk about job security or whether they were contractors or not.

I'm not sure we have enough data yet to say whether the people doing these jobs previously did or didn't have better paying or more secure jobs. Anecdotally, there are many people whose income and job security have severely declined, and who been relegated to low payed variable-workforce service jobs. I don't know to what extent people like that are represented among the taskrabbit-type service workers.

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