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Making adulthood more desirable

I definitely feel this at the moment. As a parent, your kids mostly follow what you do rather than what you say, which confers quite a bit of a responsibility about how you choose to live your life…

Young woman with lights

For many, adulthood means trading a life entirely devoted to learning for one in which you only read (maybe) two books a year. It means swapping a full schedule of sports, clubs, and music lessons for having exactly zero hobbies (unless watching Netflix counts). It means going from hanging out with peers for the bulk of each day to (maybe) seeing friends a few hours a month. It means shifting from experiencing plenty of firsts to being stuck in a hamster wheel of thousandths.

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Adulthood means taking on more responsibilities, and in turn, receiving more privileges. Unless we do something worthwhile — fun, interesting, desirable — with those privileges, young people won’t want to apply to the society of grown-ups, and adults won’t be able to wholeheartedly encourage them to join its ranks.

Source: Sunday Firesides: We Need to Make Adulthood More Desirable | The Art of Manliness

Image: Henri Pham

Losing followers, making friends

There’s a lot going on in this article, which I’ve taken plenty of quotations from below. It’s worth taking some time over, especially if you haven’t read Thinking, Fast & Slow (or it’s been a while since you did!)

Social media inherited and weaponised the chronological weblog feed. Showing content based on user activity hooked us in for longer. When platforms discovered anger and anxiety boosts screen time, the battle for our minds was lost.

Till this point the fundamental purpose of software was to support the user’s objectives. Somewhere, someone decided the purpose of users is to support the firm’s objectives. This shift permeates through the Internet. It’s why basic software is subscription-led. It’s why there’s little functional difference between Windows’ telemetry and spyware. It’s why leaving social media is so hard.

Like chronological timelines, users grew to expect these patterns. Non-commercial platforms adopted them because users expect them. While not as optimized as their commercial counterparts, inherited anti-patterns can lead to inherited behaviours.

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In his book Thinking Fast And Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thought…

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System 1 appears to prioritise speed over accuracy, which makes sense for Lion-scale problems. System 1 even cheats to avoid using System 2. When faced with a difficult question, System 1 can substitute it and answer a simpler one. When someone responds to a point that was never made that could be a System 1 substitution.

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10 Years ago my life was extremely online. I’ve been the asshole so many times I can’t even count. Was I an asshole? Sure, but the exploitation of mental state in public spaces has a role to play. It’s a strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

Commercial platforms are filled with traps, some inherited, many homegrown. Wrapping it in Zuck’s latest bullshit won’t lead to change. Even without inherited dark patterns, behaviours become ingrained. Platforms designed to avoid these patterns need to consider this if exposed to the Dark Forest.

For everything else it’s becoming easier to just stay away. There are so many private and semi-private spaces far from the madding crowd. You just need to look. I did. I lost followers, but made friends.

Source: Escaping The Web’s Dark Forest | by Steve Lord

The omnishambles of Brexit

The UK is a pretty bad place to live at the moment. Except for the US, and well a lot of other places. I guess what I’m saying is that things are pretty bad politically and in terms of economically, but then the rest of the world is pretty screwed as well.

Union Flag with arrows going in different directions

Britain today is a poor and divided country. Parts of London and the southeast of England might be among the wealthiest places on the planet, but swaths of northern England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are among Western Europe’s poorest. Barely a decade ago, the average Brit was as wealthy as the average German. Now they are about 15 percent poorer—and 30 percent worse off than the typical American.

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In the 2016 Brexit referendum and then in the 2019 general election, Johnson offered voters the chance to “take back control” of their destiny, to rebalance the country and to pull it together again. On both occasions, he won.

Six years on, however, we can safely say his project is failing. His government is busy trying to wrest back more control rather than exercising what it has regained. It has not united the country. It has not even begun to level it up.

The truth is, this government won’t accomplish any of that. Until Britain stops trying to restore a vanished past—whether the one imagined by its pro-Brexit Leavers or its anti-Brexit Remainers—and begins to construct a viable future, the country as a whole never will.

Source: What Brexit Promised, and Boris Johnson Failed to Deliver | The Atlantic