Super insightful, Kyla. I have an article loaded in my newsletter for two weeks for now riffing on a clip from McLuhan circa 1977. He talks about "nostalgia and the digital man", saying at one point:

"One of the big marks of the loss of identity is nostalgia. And so revivals in every phase of life today—revivals of clothing, of dances, of music, of shows, of everything—we live by the revival. It tells us who we are, or were."

Here's the interview clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULI3x8WIxus&ab_channel=mywebcowtube

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Excellent! Reminds me of Social proof.

And that is what makes broadly defined Artists 🧑🏽‍🎨🎶💫wonderful. "You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry


Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay. Want more

of everything ready-made. Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.

Not even your future will be a mystery

any more. Your mind will be punched in a card

and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something

they will call you. When they want you

to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace

the flag. Hope to live in that free

republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot


The poem keeps going, it's on the wall in my home office for a reason.

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Apr 13Liked by kyla scanlon

Super helpful Kyla. I talk about these topics with my adult daughters (late 20's) often. It is often hard to bridge the gap of generational coding/experience. Let's not get too caught up in the past to lose the beauty of the present and the unknown of the future.

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Apr 13Liked by kyla scanlon

This is such an excellent article!

One question I keep thinking about is whether or not this commodification of self has always been a thing or is it a recent phenomena?

The "counter-culture" of the 1960s was framed as this rejection of consumerism, but you could argue that vision mostly fell flat and those young people revolting against consumerism mostly became consumers themselves. For example, both of my parents have told me stories about how their cars were a big part of their identity in their late 20s and going to rock concerts was "the thing" to do that differentiated themselves from their parents.

And also, could culture be stagnant because of the economic situation of young people today?

I think the 1960s and 1990s were huge culture shifts but that was before (1) all young people enrolled in college and (2) left college with huge amounts of debt. Could it be that young people, the drivers of culture, are less inclined to take risks and shift culture because they're in (or feel like they're in) a less economic stable position to take risks and do so?

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Another beautiful essay from an amazing mind! Thanks Kyla

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Our world is so complex, and yet we want to draw conclusions simply by lapping up anecdotes, rather than interrogate the facts (if any are presented). It’s strange in that many know this, but we just seem to allow the narrative to be TRUTH.

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Regarding de-dollarization, the thing is that it is not necessary that dollar should be replaced by another currency to lose its dominant position. It is more likely that several other currencies will gain the market share from dollar as many countries seek to diversify their reserve risks. Which is a common approach and the best practice in financial world. It is then still possible that dollar has the highest share out of those currencies, but this share is much smaller than what it is currently is.

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The standout quote for me from this piece: "We create ourselves via consumption."

It reminds me of Alan Noble's book, Disruptive Witness, in which he discusses how many people craft their identities rather than drawing them from a foundational source of truth. You make a good point here that passive consumption--where we put our attention--deeply influences what we become.

Nicholas Carr illustrates this beautifully in The Shallows when he shares neurological research showing how our brains create stronger pathways for things we do repeatedly. The more conditioned we become to scrolling and reacting instead of lingering and considering, the more we fill our brains with the images of things instead of considering the things themselves, the more we *literally* start to become those actions.

It's a sobering and convicting thought.

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"we must be good stewards of the online space, because it’s only going to get weirder."

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thank you for writing so engagingly about delusion and delusional thinking! thank you for associating nostalgia with delusional thinking. omg. mindfulness can lead to a quieter place but then we miss our thoughts.

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I agree that RMB or another currency taking on reserve status is exceedingly unlikely for the reasons you mentioned. But I’m not sure that’s what the BRIC countries are aiming for. Conducting more trade in exporters’ local currencies (i.e. a Brazilian exporter may just want to be paid in BRL, not RMB) and bypassing need for USD is still de-dollarization at the margin. And it can mitigate the need for a net exporting country to make an economic adjustment as Pettis suggests.

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"Twitter labeled NPR as government-funded media, which like fine, they do get money from the government (~1%).".

I'm a fan, but I think if you were to dig a little deeper you might find this is incorrect. NPR hews to a very fine line of establishment talking points and has done so for decades. The money comes in various streams from foundations, universities, and local NPR affiliates which are themselves subsidized by government money.

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NPR gets way more than 1% from federal, state, and local governments indirectly. They also get money from corporations that want to align themselves with politicians that use NPR as a platform. Wake-up.

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