The running narrative

This article went viral on Hacker News: I have forgotten how to read

This post is not about the content of the article itself but rather what its viralness signifies. The fact it went viral on Hacker News (abut also on Reddit) agrees with the earlier posts Time Management and The Celebration of the Mundane and Inaction and Indifference as Rebellion about how for high-IQ people, narratives and nostalgia, even for things that are mundane, are important.

Here are some ‘boring’ stores that recently went viral:

Why is it hard to make friends over 30?
Why I Collapsed on the Job
In an Era of ‘Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better

Both the high-IQ left & right can relate. In an era media-driven partisanship and divisiveness, people are taking refuge in the simple and mundane.

A passage form the Social Matter article Why Isn’t Self-Destruction Immoral? stood out and describes the sort of post-values era we’re living in, where many people have resigned themselves to a sort of indifference:

In today’s intellectual and cultural climate, choosing nothing is okay. In Japan, it is okay to choose a virtual girlfriend, so you can feel less lonely being alone. Here in America, you can choose to smoke weed every day, work a job meant for teenagers, and wait to die, and that’s okay, too. On the whole, the “system,” or perhaps better put: the moral atmosphere we all breathe in, does not care if you live your life like a zombie. No pressure will be put on you to be better. Since none of these people made it as artists, nor are they single mothers, or housewives, their self-destruction is not seen as pitiable, awe-inspiring, or even interesting. It just is. Different strokes for different folks.

It would seem like we’re living in a post-values society, yet all political mudslinging over Trump and politics is evidence many people still care.

There is a sort of solipsistic reactionary yearning, even for people who work in technology and or are left-leaning, to return to a simpler past. In response to the futility of changing the present, the response by many is to retreat and ‘drop out’ of the system. The post-2013 rise of rationalism, which can be likened to left-wing reaction–and indeed are linked by shared narratives (such as high-IQ discourse, strong interval value systems, and rejection of reductionist narratives) despite having ideological differences–is also related. The world is a sort of Hegelian narrative/movie that is unfolding, where each story fits into it’s predetermined place in the narrative. For ‘normies’, who have average or below-average IQs, either they don’t care or they care about the immediate: topical stories such as celebrity scandals, or things that are very pragmatic and have immediate utility (how-to tips, health & fitness advice, etc.), and no such running narrative exists. They don’t care about how technology is alienating or has short-circuited people’s attention spans.

But other high-IQ people such as Tyler Cowen and Matt Ridley are optimistic about both the present and future and don’t want to return to simpler times, so among neoliberals, neocons, libertarians, and classical liberals, there is optimism in spite of the drawbacks.

There is the interplay between two systems: the ‘running narrative’ which everyone is subjected to and has little control over, and then there external value system, which is based on politics and other normative values. This is why rationalist left-wing and right-wing internet subcultures, despite having stark political differences (external value system), seem to agree on fundamentals issues such as the country going on the wrong direction (the running narrative) or a revulsion to low-information discourse (internal value system). The latter two make up what are called shared narratives, because they unite both the left and the right in this regard.