Again, this but un-ironically. Nothing pains me more than seeing footage of everyday people in everyday situations from as recently as 10-15 years ago and realizing just how uninhibited and "real" everyone looked and acted before pervasive social media destroyed it all.

It's that old post-Jungian idea of the two versions of ourselves, ourselves as we experience the world and others, and ourselves as others actually perceive us. For 199,990 years of human existence, our own perception of self has dominated our interactions with the world.

But for the past decade or so, we've been digitally inundated with reminders of how others actually see us. A flick of the lock screen gives us a years long public-facing visual record of how we've appeared to the outside world. It's profoundly unnatural, it's been a disaster.

For some, it's entertaining. You remember a girl from college, that cute blonde from sophomore bio lab, the one with the Roman nose and the great ass. You wish you'd made a move back then. You look up her grainy bikini photos from study abroad '09. You furiously jack off to them.

This is what Zuckerberg wanted it to be. This is social media in its purest form. You convince that cute girl you admire from afar but are too shy to talk to that she should upload her George W Bush era bikini photos to the internet so you can jack off to them.

But it got out of hand. What was intended as idle entertainment for socially awkward autists to see if the girl from their intro to C++ class had a boyfriend or not before they asked to be her project partner has metastasized into a psychological prison for normies.

Everyday people were always more conscious of themselves from the get-go, that's why they wore Abercrombie and played sports and went to parties and watched football instead of hanging out in the math club or wearing Star Trek shirts or talking to other autists on usenet.

But social media locked them into a horrific self-reinforcing cycle. They see a permanent record of their peers online. They put the best versions of themselves in THEIR online permanent record, their friends see this and try to one-up them with THEIR best versions of themselves.

Etc etc ad infinitum.

A certain man called it "oversocialization" he was talking about the 60s, though. I can only imagine what he'd have to say about where we are today. The college campuses of the Nixon years might as well be ancient Sumeria compared to the social melange of the past decade or two.

Now, everyone's overdosed on others' perceptions of them. This has led to an unprecedented convergence of human behavior. Everyone uses the same mannerisms, everyone dresses with the same attention to detail, everyone talks about the same things on the same cues.

Few things that we do now aren't filtered through the ever-oppressing consensus of mutual hyper-perception. Even those who believe that they're going against the grain unwittingly conform to an increasingly optimized set of behaviors in order to maximize external engagement.

Now, everyone is Brittany Murphy in Clueless, the proverbial new girl trying desperately to fit in with the ever-changing whims of the cool girl's clique. Only instead of Alicia Silverstone, it's a planet-spanning silicon behemoth with billions of eyes looking in on it daily.

And that's just the Gen Xers and millennials.

Gen Z has it incomprehensibly worse. While older folks at least had the chance to form a truly self-directed idea of themselves before social media shattered it and replaced it with a crowdsourced facsimile, Gen Z has known nothing but the machine.

You see this in how they interact with the world, how they interact with each other. They've never known anything but seeing themselves as others see them, and every single behavior they engage in is filtered through their perceptions of how others might later perceive them.

There's a reason why all of the silicon valley bigwigs chose to raise their own kids Waldorf style, as far from any electronics as possible.

This modern social media-corrupted "childhood" is a behavioral prison, with all elements of natural behavior or spontaneity now subsumed by fears of how others might later see it.

It's the age-old high school gossip machine, long the nemesis of youthful exuberance, but now it's been pumped up on V'ger steroids, and it's scanned and digitized every aspect of young people's lives, replacing them with a cold, sterile facsimile of what it means to be young.

And the kids who've been destroyed by this have retreated from nearly every single aspect of adolescence as it's been experienced for the past 50 years. They aren't starting bands, they aren't tuning cars, they aren't even dating or having sex. The data is terrifying.

And all because Mark Zuckerberg wanted to creep on his classmates.

I'm not sure how we fix this, but I'm pretty sure that banning capacitive touch screens, and with them the truly democratized internet, would be a good place to start.

It's very likely though that this is a spiritual speciation event, and most people exposed to the mind poison will never recover in any meaningful way. Cratering marriage and birthrates seem to back this up, and in the long run it may well be a self-correcting problem.

But in the interim, we face something almost unprecedented, a world in which the freest thinkers, the ones who will be able to reverse the damage and build a better future aren't the young, but those old enough to have been relatively uncorrupted by digital life.

It's an inverse 1960s. Don't trust anyone under 30.

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