A culture of exploitation?

post by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-24T22:00:09.189Z · score: 2 (7 votes) · LW · GW · 3 comments

Thoughts in the car:

I just had a discussion with a coworker who bemoans the lack of respect and responsibility of the newer generations. While I do think these concerns are typically overstated due to availability bias, there could be some truth to them.

I hypothesize that a significant contributing factor is our ever-expanding population; our increasing ability to discard one social group and easily form a new one. One of our primary motivations for being kind to others is the hope that others will be kind to us. (see the thought experiment 'Prisoner's Dilemma') Yes, most of us have empathy as well, but this can vary by degree and situation; the most reliable motivations are usually the selfish ones. If we are able to exploit one social group, then move on to a new group, thereby avoiding the consequences of our actions, this encourages exploitation ("exploitation" is defined here as reaping the benefits of a social group while not respecting others or taking responsibility for your part in the group). Side note: A lack of consequences for our actions is also an explanation for why internet communications can so easily turn toxic.

Before we can falsify this, we would have to first establish quantifiable data to represent our culture of exploitation. Then we could demonstrate a similar environment (large choice of social groups) where such a culture of exploitation (among relatively equal members) doesn't occur. Or, we could find a culture where there ISN'T a large choice of social groups, where exploitation (among relatively equal members) occurs regularly. Finally, we could identify a different factor that better explains the data.

3 comments

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comment by rpcrpcrpc · 2018-11-25T22:30:09.879Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The NYT had an opinion piece talking recently about how Americans (especially younger ones) are in fact the *loneliest* they've ever been, and how this is being attributed as a cause for a whole host of social ills:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/23/opinion/loneliness-political-polarization.html

That doesn't seem to go along with the "easier to find another social group" hypothesis. Anecdotally, I and almost everyone I know has had an incredibly hard time making new friends, especially outside of college.

I could see the inverse argument then (as is apparently being made) that maybe the lack of community ties is making people more resentful/anti-social/destructive in their interactions.

comment by Dagon · 2018-11-25T16:30:09.493Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"lack of respect" is probably true, universal (every generation gives it's elders less respect than they think is due), and IMO good. "respect", in this context, is a mixture of trust, obedience, and social deference that tends to build up over time and needs to be regularly dismantled and re-built to be useful. Inter-generation conflict does a good job here.

"lack of responsibility" I don't see at all. I have a lot of smart, hard-working almost-millennial coworkers who give serious thought to long-term sustainability both individually (caring and providing for family) and systemwide (environmental and social issues).

Before you jump forward to falsification, it's worth fleshing out your model. What would be true if you were correct, and what would be false? It's _VERY_ common not to measure something directly, but to find measures that are impacted by the thing under considerations, and to use those instead.

comment by gbear605 · 2018-11-25T03:35:51.812Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If anything, to me it seems like younger generations are less exploitative. For example, they tend to tip a lot higher at restaurants.