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…And there is a disturbing sense in which I feel like that’s the world we’re entering. I’m astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. There are just a lot of people who feel that being able to get their video or their tweet seen by somebody once in a while gets them enough ego gratification that it’s okay with them to still be living with their parents in their 30s, and that’s such a strange tradeoff. And if you project that forward, obviously it does become a problem.

What that leads to is the world that Wells and Kurt Vonnegut and many others wrote about, where there just is enough virtual bread and circuses, just barely enough to keep the poor in check, and perhaps somehow not breeding, and they just kind of either wither away through attrition or something. Or medicine gets good enough and expensive enough that those on the wealthy side of it live and those on the other, once again through attrition, fade away.

Another example that is quite astonishing, one that will be recognized by future historians as an extraordinary phenomenon in the 21st century, is that the aging populations are buying into their own impoverishment. There’s this strange way in which people who are older tend to be conservative, and what conservative means now is no government: “Don’t you dare support my dialysis, don’t you dare support my nursing home expenses! That reduces my liberty! I need my freedom and my options.”

Read the rest of this interview with Jaron Lainer, “The Local-Global Flip, or the Lainer Effect”

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