on gifted kids, community, Fake Karens, and outrage
Great, thoughtful, challenging writing. Thank you. /// As a 54 year old "child" who experienced the birth of the internet as an adult, here is some of my take...The internet has been a great enabler and a great burden. Our brains have not evolved the capacity to care and digest that which is happening a half a world away. Add info volume and pixel-based dopamine surges and we (somewhat suddenly) have an epic change in how most humans spend their time. /// The lack of local community and daily suffering and celebrating with those near us seems like something valuable that we are losing. Go visit a rural town in the midwest and you might see some signs of walkable-radius community as it once existed all across America. /// Please keep sharing, as you have made a very positive impact on the lives of many with your writing and creativity.
The "niche audience" enabled by the internet can also be complex and fluid, defying easy categorisation -- your work, for example, ranges from finance and the Fed, through memes and Gen Z anxieties, to Chomsky and Borges, in this column alone. Can you imagine the "marketing team" trying to pitch that one?
And you can't go wrong concluding with Borges.
I empathize with the weight of the challenge you're describing regarding community involvement. It's indeed a complex struggle filled with reflections, distractions, and judgments that (for me) can make it very difficult to discern when to remain silent and when to voice your concerns.
In my experience, the ever-shifting expectations and standards can hinder personal growth while attempting to effect change within a community. Thus adding to the overall mass/weight of the topic.
I've been struggling with one aspect, how to discern when silence is more beneficial than speaking up, striking a balance between constructive critique and potentially harmful criticism. Standing up for what I believe when what I believe seems to be reshaping itself everyday.
Thank you again for these posts.
good luck with the move - hope it is uneventful.
This is a fantastic piece and helped me understand a bit about why political influencers on twitter are posting the way they do. I was very surprised how the war in my home country (Ukraine) was portrayed worldwide in so many diverse views on seemingly simple case.
I also really relate to the "shifting standards" piece, there's a void, that everyone feels but can't point out to, so what I notice is people blaming either themselves (i'm not as entrepreneurial, i have to start tiktok account etc), or the "system" ("someone is taking my money at the moment, damn capitalism").
I'm not even sure the community will heal me anymore. Is "hut in the woods without internet" still a dream or do everyone will connect to Starlink and consume the same void?
So grateful for your writing! Thank you!
I have not thought about that experiment in a long time. We must liberate the marshmallows.
Thank you again for your thoughts. I feel like I’m going to have to reread McLuhan with Bo Burnham’s “Welcome to the Internet” in the background.
Finding a community with whom you resonate with is tough, and I don't think the digital world quite cuts it. There are awesome communities online that have given my life joy and opportunities. But having some communities offline are where life happens too. I guess it's why many are actually turning back to religion - not because they believe in all of the stories and tenets - but because there's a deep sense of community that goes back a Millennia. I don't know what the answer is other all of us seeking genuine relationships: join a club, host a poker game, play pickup basketball, cooking group, go camping with friends, attend an off grid music festival. We have to fill that void one way or another and we might as well try to fill it with some meaning/joy.
"It's about... building community where you are"
"where you are" feels crucial to me: a re-assertion of the power of place. The Internet is a void, and however real the friendships formed there, there's an unavoidable lack due to our neurological reliance on "spatiality".
But I struggle with what this call to action means, and how it manifests.
Thanks for a great piece.
Holy buckets is this article good. Thank you, Kyla!
In "The Social Life of Dogs", Elizabeth Marshall Thomas suggests an answer to the age-old question, "what do dogs want?" The unsurprising answer is "other dogs." I believe it's the same with us humans. Social contact seemed effortless (or at least, thoughtless) until the scourge of COVID hit us like the proverbial ton of bricks. Now we seem to be scratching our heads. Can't go backwards and the way forward looks murky. Some folks are acting nutty in public. Does that mean the rules are gone, the guardrails broken? I'm suggesting we need to create our community on a daily basis with thoughtful effort and consideration for civility and decorum. Let's resolve that participating in a community is a creative expression, in spite of the inevitable misunderstandings. Every person needs help finding their footing, learning to be comfortable with discomfort. One of the greatest win-wins of all time is the realization that helping others helps our own gnarly selves with the unending struggle to find solace.
Really wonderful newsletter, Kyla
Also appreciate all your links.
This was a great newsletter. Just thought you might be interested in knowing (if you didn't already know) that the marshmallow turned out to be a test of the parents. In other words, kids who had stable parents who kept their promises were more likely to "succeed" at the marshmallow test than those who did not. If your parents are untrustworthy, then why would you trust the person who told you that you will get more marshmallows later? Might as well eat it now...
Great meditation on life, Kyla. Some really good writing in there! 💚 🥃
Good luck with the move!
Have you checked out Alfie Kohn’s analysis of the oft repeated marshmallow test? I posted it on your IG account.