Burnout. It’s heating up.
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Film after film underperforms at the box office. Netflix subscriptions are down in the US. Twitter is at a boil, but vanishingly few Americans regularly actively post. The news media empties everything it’s got into trashing Trump, who is the only story everyone cares about, but can’t move the needle of public opinion.
This is an age when people are catching on that there’s very little they can do to affect their world by engaging with created content.
Everyday millennials are hunkering down in an online safe space where they can share safe, comforting memes about self-care and cute products. Only a narrow elite of obsessives constantly pumps out radical teachings.
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The generation that has come of age after the Millennials is retreating from the open over-posting culture of their slight elders. These teens post only the most amazing parts of their lives with increasing rarity—the social media equivalent of releasing only “greatest hits” records—keeping their heads down and their commitments at a minimum as they wait for the world to finish changing and become stable again.
Adults freak out about kids’ screen time, but the very young are disconnected—from Boomer and Millennial propaganda about social justice and sexuality as much as they’re unplugged from warmed over center-right nostrums about civility and country. Blessed not to have hit puberty yet, they know a bit more about sex than they let on, but recognize that teens are crazy and unhappy, and keep to narrow, light, and easily forgettable YouTube videos.
Nobody wants to be pulled into the endless culture war or the perpetual round the clock war on Trump that it has become. Most people quietly assume that Trump will return to office, based on the common sensical inference that nothing else has taken him down, so why would an election, which will give him his own huge platform and all the advantages of an incumbent?
But few want to bother involving themselves overtly in public life until it’s clear that Trump’s enemies won’t succeed in trying to haul America back to 1998 or forward into a cyber-communist future.
But with no new entertainments as gripping or transporting as the movies and TV of the pre-smart phone era, and the internet awash with interchangeable crap, it’s non-obvious how the burnt out should actually spend their time.
And few have faith any longer in get rich quick schemes. The ongoing turbulence of Bitcoin and its many rival crypto currencies, along with the fragile housing market, has convinced them to hang back.
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It all throws many of us, wearily, back to the front pages of the big papers, gingerly checking the headlines, making sure disaster hasn’t come to collect.
Take a deep breath these dog days of summer. You’re going to need it. This last year of this stupid decade will be very stupid indeed. And we’ll all need our strength for what is to come.