Episode 159: Society Is Going to Hell in a Handbasket

How following the exodus of Germany’s worst YouTuber to TikTok opened a private hell of lolcows for me. To a point where I don’t think I understand society as a whole anymore. What is this shit? And where is it all going to end?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://privatecitizen.press/episode/159
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Love the music, thank you!

To continue the discussion about the accountability of the lawmakers, I don’t think simple “not electing them again” cuts it. I mean, that’s what’s supposed to be happening already (if press worked and enough people cared, that is), but that’s not enough, as evident by the laws being passed. Of course, being Russian I don’t have much faith in the democratic process, so I may be underappreciating the severity of the “not being elected again” punishment. Still, if I drive in a way that endangers people around me, my driving license gets revoked, but if my driving causes massive damage to property or deaths, I don’t merely get my license revoked, I also get substantial fines and jail time. People that make laws that cause innocent people to lose jobs and be imprisoned shouldn’t get to walk with merely “a license revoked”, the danger they pose is not potential, it’s very real and harming real people.

As for the matter of the episode itself, I think I do understand why you may feel the way you feel about people enabling all this “non-content” with their money, and people producing the “non-content” instead of getting “real” jobs, but I don’t think it all is a tragedy of any perceptible scale. I think it’s all rather ok.

People are strange. People get amused by strange things other people like you or me don’t find amusing. I think D&D is a waste of time, and you invest considerable time and effort in doing it; I invest a hell of a lot of time, money and effort in parenting, while you don’t find it a thing worth doing; that’s ok, people are different, that’s arguably the good thing about them. :wink: There were times when mental asylums made quite some money selling tickets, and people would pay some hard-earned money to look at untreated mental patients for amusement and entertainment. Public executions were a big thing, too, not so long ago, also with front-row tickets for sale. I say: if any of these people need help (like children recording sex-related videos while they are still too young to actually understand what they’re doing, or mental patients who don’t really know what’s real and what’s not), let’s get them the help they need, otherwise, as long as everybody (including the person who pays) is a consentig adult, and nothing illegal is happening, let them do whatever they please.

Mankind is wealthy enough. This only became true recently, even a hundred years ago you coundn’t say there’s enough food, clean water, clothes and shelter on the planet without most people needing to work almost 24/7 to produce food and other goods. Granted, there are imbalances still, and the situation is different in Düsseldorf compared to a remote village in Congo, or in Moscow compared to countryside somewhere in Polinesia, but humanity on average is doing quite allright. We can even afford having most people working merely a 40-hour week, and still don’t have a third of Europe’s population starve to death after having two bad years for crops in a row — isn’t that awesome!? And without everybody and their under-age children having to constantly work their asses off, there appears to be a job market for TikTok beggars, and an option to make a living doing that.

I share your sentiment about how it would be better if people paid artists instead, but the people we have available pay the “non-content-creators”, and trying to fix people is where every great project of building a Society of the Future (Free from the Inadequacies of the Present) failed so far. Humans gonna human, the quest to righten them is futile, however noble.

And the lack of good waiters is easily fixable: raise the wages. Yes, the customers will have to pay up. Having high-class waiters serve you dinner is a luxury after all.


Could it be possible that those watching/paying actually relate and are enjoying a parasocial relationship they are happy to pay to do so.


I have to say, when I said that I feel the world is going to hell in handbasket, I was not thinking of Drachenlord.

Maybe it’s a German thing, but I never heard of the name except on this podcast.

And with regard to TikTok: I don’t have an account, and my experience with it, is just the passing short video on YouTube, or something someone shared on WhatsApp. So I really don’t know how much “creators” are there and how much money is being spent on their content.

But with this regard I totally agree with @nekr0z: As long as people are voluntarily spending their money, I try to stay out of it, regardless of my opinion of it’s worth. I still believe that market forces will lead to an acceptable balance, when openings are not being filled, demand will raise their value, and they become attractive again.

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I think you might have misunderstood my objection to what is going on. Most likely this is my fault because I couldn’t articulate it better. Se let me try to word this again:

I do not object what the people individually are doing. Neither the producers of this “non-content” nor the people who are paying for it. But it worries me on a societal level. It’s one thing to progress (or rather regress) to watching daily soaps on TV rather than reading Melville or Nabokov (or even rather more pulpy stuff like Arthur C. Clarke and the like) but here we have people (who don’t strike me as very intelligent) who spent their hard-earned money, of which they don’t have much of and which in many cases comes straight from the government, on this shit. Meanwhile, they live on junk food and try to save whatever money they can buying cheap clothes from China etc.

I do realise that every society has a large underbelly of people who just work all day or simply just exist. They aren’t interested to make anything of their education or to better themselves in some way. This was always the case. But isn’t the goal of a social welfare state like Germany to change this? Do we not have universal education, universal healthcare and universal job security so that this situation can improve? I was under the impression that I was paying taxes for this with the promise that the situation, at least on a net societal level, would be improved.

But all I see is rather the opposite. With all these programs in place, all I see is more and more people who just exist in this huge bureaucratic apparatus, eking out a living wherever they can, which somehow causes them to lose even the last inkling of self-respect and desire to somehow do better. I would never have imagined that I would see video games and random Hollywood TV shows as content that was above anything when it comes to quality. But these people are so dumb, so tired or simply so non-discerning, that even hot steaming shit shown to them on a screen is content to them.

I really don’t think TikTok, or even the internet, is the problem here. Those are just mediums, delivery methods. I somehow feel there is a much deeper, societal reason here. And apparently all our systems – especially education – aren’t addressing this.

Maybe this is me getting old. But I observe this stuff with increasing incredulity and worry.

Maybe. But wouldn’t this be equally worrying? Doesn’t a parasocial relationship like this only develop if you’re missing actual relationships in your life?

Somehow I can’t see all the simps on Twitch, TikTok and OnlyFans as people who have a fulfilling sex life.

And I don’t even want to speculate what it means if you pay money so you can enjoy Drachenlord destroying his life. Because that’s what this basically is. It’s like paying a late-stage alcoholic living on the street to see him drink even his last bit of self-respect away.

I don’t think that works. Not that I’m not for paying people more, I’m completely on board with that. But what I am observing are people who just don’t give a shit. I have worked with people like that. Paying them more money does make them happier, but in general it doesn’t improve their work performance. If anything, it seems to have the opposite effect in my experience. I have no idea why. But then, I think I’m mentally very far away from these people. If I do a job, I try to do it to the best of my abilities. If I tire of it, I quit and try to do something else. Hell, I’d rather sleep under a bridge than embarrass myself by walking around like these people are doing…

Oh, of course, simply paying more wouldn’t help. That’s necessary, but not enough. Doing a sloppy job shouldn’t be tolerated, and people should be fired for that.

It takes a motivated manager (in the case of a restaurant, an owner-manager, perhaps) to identify the drawbacks in the work of the waiters, make sure everybody who doesn’t perform well enough understands what needs to be improved about their work, and, should they end up being too lazy, not caring enough, or otherwise not have what it takes to do a good job, have them fired and the place vacant for the more able candidates to take.

Naturally, people who can a good job (at any position) are less common that people who can do a sloppy job. It may (and will) take higher wages and other benefits to get them to work for this particular place. That’s what I was referring to.

I mean, as a manager running (or aspiring to run) a decent shop, you can’t have people doing less than a decent job. Doing a decent job should be the baseline. Of course, a decision can be made (for many reasons) to lower that baseline, but the consequence of ending up running a less than a decent shop should be obvious and accounted for.

It’s all nuanced and should be carefully balanced, of course. But what I noticed is that as soon as people start codifying the workers’ rights, they tend to overdo it, and the whole system starts going down the drain. I mean, unions are necessary, we’ve seen what happens without them, but did the example of the USSR where “getting a good job” was everything (because once you got it, you had to really screw up big time to get fired), so most people stopped actually working and only did enough to keep the job as soon as they got it — did that example teach the world nothing?

But what I am describing is a phenomenon where the worker will put less effort in but the boss (and even some customers) find that totally okay. Kind of how during the pandemic people suddenly talked themselves into things like “ah, I never liked leaving the house anyway”. I think this is another symptom of the “new normal” mind disease.

I don’t notice anything like this happening in shops where the boss actually gives a fuck and isn’t affected by this idea. Which is why, I think, it happens more often in hipster places where younger people are running the shop.

Yeah, I don’t want anyone to codify anything. If anything, I just wish more customers cared. If they weren’t all lulled into this “new normal” idea, the market would sort it out.

Where I tend to go “this is unacceptable, how come we could do the same thing better 10 years ago with way less crutches like apps and robot waiters” these people just get “that’s the way things are today” as an answer and just accept it.

Now that I think about this more, it’s probably another symptom of nobody being able to think critically anymore. I need to think about this more…

I think it still will. With a vengeance.

I mentioned above that mankind is doing quite ok. The progress we’ve made in info/comm technologies during the last 50 years is amazing, the progress we’ve made in material technologies during the 100 years before that — astonishing. Still, we’re not ready to have 1000 highly skilled and passionate farmers, accompanied with their tireless automatic machines and robots, and being able to delegate mundane tasks to the trustworthy software assistants, provide abundant food and natural resources to the whole planet. Ditto for the 5000 passionate and dedicated engineers providing us with all the machinery we need, etc, etc, so that the remaining 8 billions can do whatever the hell they find worth doing, from watching TikTok 24/7 to designing spaceships for fun to designing and programming a viable microkernel to providing shitty service at shitty coffee points. Not there yet. Drastically closer than 200 years ago but not quite there still. Not even very close.

So when the hipster mindset finally creeps from coffeeshops and burger joints into infrastructure and utility maintainance, things begin falling apart and collapsing. Shitty coffee service is a nuisance, shitty public transport is a major nuisance that negatively affects the net productivity of the community, shitty energy production paired with shitty construction is a major disaster that requires containment efforts shitty emergency services will be unable to provide. When big crowds of cold and hungry hipsters realize that plastic furniture makes subpar firewood, there will be trouble, then more trouble. A couple of big wars, several civil wars in big countries, we may even be lucky enough to have no big nukes flying to and fro, who knows. Unfortunate times to live in, for sure. But those who will be lucky enough to get through will certainly be better at critical thinking and worse at tolerating bullshit, at least that’s what they say happened before.

Then maybe the sane minds manage to hold their ground in important areas of expertise. Maybe even for long enough to make a difference.

Who was that dude who said something about how hard times produce strong people, strong people produce happy times, happy times produce soft people and soft people produce hard times? I’m not quite sure it does in fact work that way, but it does look plausible. In which case we might as well do our best to enjoy riding the handbasket downhill, because uphill will follow and will be tough.

This is basically what I have been imagining the backstory for the post-apocalyptic novel I am writing to be… :laughing:

Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but all I really want is for us to keep this level of society without having to have a major war every hundred years or so.

Maybe we’ll be lucky. Maybe shit will be so fucked up by the time that the nuclear war rolls around that the nukes will have stopped working… :laughing:

Yep. It’s a very slim chance, but it looks like it’s the best one we have. :smiley:

I feel what I have just written is relevant to this discussion:

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