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David_Gerard comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: David_Gerard 01 November 2010 04:10:08PM *  14 points [-]

I'd suggest it can be for some people. I really don't understand why people work sixteen hour days on Wall Street making more money than they could ever need for anything otherwise. (That's a statement about my map being deficient.) Perhaps as a token for status.

Western culture is, I posit, pretty much entirely composed of the most viral and addictive materials anyone can come up with. The civilisation has pretty much solved the food and shelter problems for its residents - imagine, in Britain it's regarded as a serious social problem that the poor people are too fat! As problems go, this is a vast improvement over the ones we had 60 years ago, when food was rationed - so exchanging memetic toxic waste as tokens of social intercourse appears to be what we do with the rest of our time. Frequently for the purpose of selling toothpaste or car insurance.

Western civilisation is not visibly collapsing, so I suggest that potentially fatal susceptibility to meme addiction is not sufficiently widespread to take us out. That said, even a lesser susceptibility can be a problem if you want to get stuff done. I should be fixing a build right now ...