Keeping up with the FITs 11/16
Gen Z miseries; elite media miseries; Freddie deBoer on pre-K impact; Mike Solana interviews Substack's founder; Tyler Cowen disses the NatCons
Nellie Bowles, writing on Bari Weiss’ substack,
71% of Gen Z says poor physical health kept them from doing their usual activities, while only 38% of Baby Boomers said the same. The survey, conducted by the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, is haunting. Younger people feel sicker and unhappier than older people by wide margins.
Jonathan Haidt has been harping on this for some time, and he blames iPhones, social media, likes, and shares.
My line is that social media has conflated the intimate world and the remote world. The intimate world used to be people you interact with daily—family, friends, and co-workers. The remote world used to be people you watched from a distance—celebrities, politicians, and journalists. Now, your friends show up on your phone acting like celebrities, and celebrities show up acting like your friends. I don’t think we have adapted well to this conflation.
Andrew Sullivan recounts the discredited narratives from elite media.
notice how the narrative — embedded in a deeper one that the Blake shooting was just as clear-cut as the Floyd murder, that thousands of black men were being gunned down by cops every year, and that “white supremacy” was rampant in every cranny of America — effectively excluded the possibility that Rittenhouse was a naive, dangerous fool in the midst of indefensible mayhem, who, in the end, shot assailants in self-defense.
I think that what unites every public intellectual that I feel positively about (and there are many on what I call the Fantasy Intellectual Teams—hence FITs) is that they look at institutions like the New York Times or Yale University or the FDA and feel betrayed. The ideology and tactics of progressive activists at these institutions have offended many on the left as well as on the right. Not to make a sales pitch for my seminar for paid subscribers, but the goal of the seminar is to try to understand the reasons for this institutional crack-up and what we might do in response.
One thing that you can never ensure, in any context, is universal excellence, and if educational equality (whatever that might mean) depends on it then we’re chasing a ghost. In the past I’ve called this attitude “we’ll only scale up the good ones” and I would hope anyone who’s been part of any human institution, public or private, understands what a mistake it is to hang your hopes on scaling excellence up across millions of students and teachers.
Read the whole essay. He still supports universal pre-K, but as day care, not as a provider of long-term cognitive benefits.
And read or listen to the whole conversation between Mike Solana and Chris Best, founder of Substack. Hard to excerpt, but here is one:
One of the big problems with Substack now is people are like, “Great, we've got this place where the incentive structure works differently, and I want create this better product to earn and keep the trust of my subscribers… but the way that people find out about my stuff is still on Twitter.”
So we’re kind of downstream from this, you know, attention sewage factory of incentives. I think for Substack to live up to the idea of letting readers take back their mind, and their attention, and helping us all create this kind of alternate universe of content with different laws of physics… we need to do more on that front.
As I’ve started to put it: We live in a Golden Age—it’s just not evenly distributed. Maybe when more people have Substack feeds than Twitter feeds. . .
It is a mistake to start by defining one’s view in opposition to some other set of views, in this case progressivism. You will end up with something limited and defensive and ultimately uninspiring.
He is referring to Chris DeMuth’s talk at the National Conservatism Conference. And other talks were even less libertarian and angrier. I take second place to no one in decrying Wokism, but I think we need to rant less and promote the Golden Age more.
The comments from the founder of Substack seem to ignore its limitations. While its subscription model is a good one, it is a text-only medium and thus (IMO) likely to meet the fate of MySpace against the likes of locals.com, which combines that subscription model with multimedia.
I would also point out that a Great Divorce of video hosting sites is already well underway, and that the left-biased Big Media including the likes of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook can expect to lose a large part of their both their membership and content to newer sites such as Rumble, BitChute, tv.gab.com, and locals. A blog such as this which does not wish to limit itself to recruiting only left-leaning people should promote itself on those sites in addition to Twitter. (Or instead, if Twitter starts banning more people for dissent.)
"Younger people feel sicker and unhappier than older people by wide margins."
I find it striking that feelings of burnout for Gen-Z and Millennials pre-Covid were nearly as high as they were for Gen X in February of this year.