Millennials and Intellectualism Culture, Part 2

Part 1

Continuing on the article…

No. 1: read a fucking book…

No. 2: learn something…

No. 3: stop buying so much shit….

Everything he’s listing that he wishes were happening is already happening, at least as I can perceive based on my own observations in the field.

As further evidence of how America is not ‘dumbing down’, Arxiv is flooded with complicated physics and math papers – almost 100,000 papers submitted in 2015 alone. http://arxiv.org/help/stats/2015_by_area/index

A ‘Wait but Why’ article about the Fermi Paradox was the most popular on the site ever, getting over 300k Facebook shares…not bad for a country that is supposed to be in the throes of an ‘idiocracy’, indicating a large demand for complicated, intellectual stuff. It may not be as popular as reality TV or the latest scandal on TMZ, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Elon Musk, the poster child of the post-2008 wealth and intellect synthesis, AMA was the most popular ever in the history of Reddit, and AMAs by scientists tend to do very well.

Martin Shkreli, a smaller version of Elon Musk, combines wealth with intellectualism, and is very popular among millennials who are rejecting ‘low-information’ SJW-liberalism and class warfare in favor of wealth creation, self-improvement, and intellectualism.

The Big Bang Theory – a hugely popular TV show and one of many examples of the appropriation of ‘nerd culture’ by broader society and pop culture.

Whether it’s economics, political science, philosophy, or advanced mathematics, the internet is making people smarter by exposing them to information that they would have otherwise never encountered. Nowadays, many people are are interested in Category Theory and Tensors, both very advanced mathematical concepts which even just fifteen years ago were inaccessible to anyone that wasn’t studying graduate-level physics or math. The recent explosion of interest in these concepts has less to do with physical applications and more with esotericism and intellect as a form of signaling to boost social status in a society that in recent years values intellect more so than ever, as discussed earlier:

… STEM skills are increasingly valued both culturally and economically in our new economy. It’s the tyranny of the bookish, of smart people pulling ahead as everyone else struggles with a perpetually anemic labor market, stagnant home prices, and falling real wages. Math and code are the new ‘scriptures’ of modern society and economy, with mathematicians, philosophers, physicists, and economists the new ‘priesthood’. More and more young people are studying code and symbols, much like Bible readings, as a way to salvation, except not an intangible one, but one measured by higher wages and more respect.

Interestingly, on Reddit and 4chan, English, History, and Philosophy majors are also respected, too, as they sacrifice monetary gains to pursue a ‘higher’ calling. Such degrees, even though they may not pay very well or have immediate real-world applications, are a solace of intellectual purity, patience, and understanding in a society spoiled by instant gratification, ostentatious materialism, ‘low-information’ pandering, and sensationalism. Both STEM and some liberal arts (not the useless ones like child development or gender studies) combine authenticity, sufficient intellectual rigor, introspection, and abstractions. For the math major such abstractions include axioms, postulates and theorems; for the literature major, it’s words and grammar; for philosophy, it’s ontology and epistemology. ‘Low-information’ means not circuitous enough, too obvious.

Of course Youtube, 4chan, and Reddit are not representative of all millennials or all Americans, but it’s a pretty big sample. I’ve also heard plenty of arguments about how highly intelligent people, versus just the merely competent, are marginalized by society, their talents underutilized or unappreciated. But even the smartest person in the world may still have to market himself, meaning that some effort is required, although the path to success will be easier than for someone who isn’t as intelligent.

Many millennials, to their credit, understand that being financially independent is better than depending on a handout. We’re also seeing the rise of minimalism, with millennials eschewing ostentatious materialism for intellectualism, financial independence, wealth creation, and introspection. Nowadays, it’s ‘cool’ to have money and buying stocks, while reading philosophy, investing, and coding – not frittering money on depreciating positional goods. As evidence of this trend towards intellectualism, for example, many millennials would rather stay home than go clubbing. Intellectualism, with money in a bank or in the stock market or real estate, rather than flashy and rapidly-depreciating car, is more impressive. Like Musk, Warren Buffett is another example of someone who is very wealthy as measured by stock market wealth, but prefers reading complicated financial statements than drawing attention to himself. Counterintuitively, less you try to demand attention, the more people seek your counsel, by virtue of your talents and expertise. Despite Buffett’s minimalist lifestyle and introverted demeanor, thousands of people flock to Omaha for his annual shareholder meetings.

This is related to the rise of ‘advice culture’, the tendency of millennials (but also older generations) to impart their knowledge and advice to others through blogs, social media, and YouTube, whether it’s about self-improvement, economics, masculinity, career advice, and so on. Decades ago, this information either didn’t exist or was only accessible in libraries, but now an abundance of it is online, often with a slight contrarian bent: Vice, Thought Catalog, and Daily Elite articles written by smart people about how conventional wisdom may be wrong, and how political correctness and coddling (which I agree) is incompatible with the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. Here’s one example of such an of such an article.

The rise ‘intellectualism culture’ of the ‘alt right’, objectivism, right-rationalism, and other ideologies and movements is part of a reality-based approach to life, as opposed to delusions, false victimization, and wishful thinking.

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