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Simon Sinek: Because so many young people (Millenials, Gen Z, and beyond) are only communicating via text or DM, they’re not learning vital interpersonal skills. Now, companies have no choice but to teach listening, effective communication, feedback, and how to have difficult conversations.

LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Simon Sinek asks, “What are we gonna do?”  Because we have to do something, if only so our ruling corporations, companies, and businesses can continue being functional without devolving into a real-life rendition of Idiocracy.  This new generation is so flimsy, he says; they don’t even know how to talk to people.

Why not fix the problem?

The problem is we live in a police state, which has closed our open society. When I was a kid, I roamed my streets freely, since I began riding my bike around the block.

I lived in between the rough parts of town and the wealthy parts of town. And I roamed them all.

I especially loved hanging around a place called, “The Martin Luther King Center”. Some of my preppy friends in the mid- to late-’80s called it “the slums” because they lived up in the hills. Whatever.

I loved walking the streets with my siblings and cousins and friends, filled with people, meeting all kinds of strangers. We used to go up to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and walk around and see the crazy scene, filled with people. It still looked a lot like the ’60s. It was pretty cool because, culturally, it was such a radical departure from other parts of the country. It was very bohemian.

But our American police state seems to have finally closed down society. And its having adverse sociological side-effects. Now, there is the pretext of COVID-19 for our current police state, but urban youths, low-income people, and people of color have been facing police state conditions for decades, at least.  And our current COVID-19 police state exists, despite the fact that other nations, such as Sweden, managed to better control the viral outbreak without a police state response. But, hey…

Perhaps, this desire to tame the wildness out of people, has stripped our society of its humanity, of its color, of its passion.

One of my younger brothers was born about six years later than me. His generation was already more confined to the house, unable to roam the streets. And he has noted anecdotally about how his generation was much “softer” than mine. Our youngest brother was born almost 16 years after me, in the early 1990s. He would be categorized as a millennial. And he definitely had a full-on shut-in upbringing. I don’t think he ever rode his bike around. It’s weird. I think there was this whole thing going around in the news, about the dangers of kids being out playing in their neighborhoods or something. There were even Hollywood movies, like Sleepers and Mystic River, which perpetuated a mood of protectionism and a fear of letting our kids go outside. And what about that Kelly Clarkson song on the radio back in the day, “Because Of You”. I thought of my youngest brother. I had already moved out of the house by the time he was growing up. I don’t think he had the same, or any, role models to look up to growing up.

When I was a kid, my parents had boarders, who’d rent rooms. These were interesting guys. One guy was a family friend, into martial arts. He had amazing dexterity and speed with his nunchucks, like a pair of mini-billy clubs linked by a chain. At another point, my mother’s brother came to stay with us to attend the fancy high school in the hills. He was an amateur boxer and Olympic wrestler. So, he did his best to teach me what he knew.

Nowadays, my youngest brother and his generation, it’s a trip. I dunno. I see a lot of fear in their eyes, and shame. It’s sad.

I think it’s because kids aren’t allowed to go outside. And, honestly, if they go outside, there’s nothing to see anymore. When I was a kid, if I went to the park, there would be all sorts of loud music, food, basketball games, volleyball games, and whatnot. Yeah, there would be people drinking beer, even smoking pot, but life went on. And, I guess in the poorer neighborhoods, the greater prevalence of anxieties would manifest itself in less social grace in public, perhaps more rude behaviors than in ‘polite society’. But, generally, the workig class communities were more tolerant, understanding, and liberated by their diversity. Conversely, the upper class communities were less tolerant of diversity and more uptight and bound by conformity.

Perhaps, this desire to tame the wildness out of people, has stripped our society of its humanity, of its color, of its passion.

So, living in a sanitized, sterile world, where kids aren’t allowed to go outside and play, and if they do the world is so sterile, they’d rather retreat back into their rooms with their state-of-the-art video games and online gaming networks and social media. Instead, they create digital avatars, where they can be as powerful and confident and capable as they want. But when they come back out into the real world, we’re left with this soft gland of a man.  I see it in my youngest brother; and I see it in other men of his generation.  (I suppose there is a female cognate, or correlate.  The Virgin Suicides or Spring Breakers comes to mind, for some reason.  Chilling.)

Sinek is right. We have a real societal problem. An argument can be made that it’s the corporate world of capitalist accumulation, which has led to the social decay, which has led us to these social ills decried by Simon Sinek.  The need for capitalism to beat the humanity out of people in the pursuit of efficiency and profit maximization has rendered the most recent generations of Americans unable to think for themselves, it seems, with compromised executive functions.

So, I reject Sinek’s call for corporate power to step into the vacuum of now reprogramming the listless generations, who are all shriveled up because of the cultural malnutrition they have been subjected to, the social isolation, and the vicarious digital lifestyles.  Online gaming can be insidious because, as Professor John Vervaeke points out in his Awakening From the Meaning Crisis lecture series on YouTube, online gaming can provide a medium for achieving a state of flow.  This is what my former music professor used to call “being in the zone”.  When you’re in the zone, improvising, mistakes are impossible.  And that is a good thing, depending on one’s purpose. 

The question is: What are we trying to achieve in this state of flow.  The rock climber attains a state of flow, when he’s in the zone, fully concentrated on his craft of rock climbing, engaging mental and physical skills accumulated over time through real experience.  The jazz musician attains a state of flow during improvisation, combining skills, timing, creativity, personality in real time to create a sophisticated musical art form.  But what skills or purpose is being served by the perpetual online gamer?  Entertainment?  What about the outside world?  What about reality?

So what is the answer to Simon Sinek’s very real critique about the diminished social skills of Gen Y and Gen Z, which translate into diminished communication and interpersonal skills on the job?  If capitalism isn’t the answer, maybe socialism is the answer to this social problem.  Maybe freedom and liberty is the answer, as opposed to police state fascism increasingly closing our open society.

The answer is to open up society again, to get rid of all of these “No Stopping” and “No Parking” signs everywhere. The open country and the open society have been shut down.  Everyone has been funneled into shopping malls and strip malls, designated green spaces at designated times.  Essentially, we’ve been living under a kind of social curfew.  And there is no soul in a shopping mall.  Even the music stores have been closed down, replaced by atomized digital music libraries on the cloud.  I used to meet all kinds of interesting people in my favorite music genre sections at Tower Records.  Yes, it was a super consumerist, capitalist culture in America by the 1990s.  But it still allowed some degree of liberty.  You could browse for music at a record store, or read a book at a café, or sit at a burger joint.  We used to be able to drive our cars around and pull over just about anywhere, as long as it wasn’t on people’s property (even then, at times; people weren’t so uptight, it seems), and simply relax, meditate, or congregate.

Today, there is nowhere one can park, unless it’s commodified and you are being corralled through some sort of profit-making transactions, like going to Starbucks and then to a store to purchase a product. Yes, places are a bit more crowded than they were in the past, in the 20th century.

Today, three or more people of color congregating in America for no particular reason, especially if appearing low- or no-income, is cause for police harassment or worse. So, the streets have pretty much been shut down. Cops have become increasingly draconian, to the point that any car, that pulls over on the side of the road is a sitting duck for cops, subject to police harassment. When I was a kid, my teenage friends and I used to park by the Drive-Ins and listen to music. Cops drove by, and would only stop, if there looked like a fight or a conflict was occurring.

As the years went on, by the late ’90s and 2000s, cops became more and more brazen. They would stop and harass you for no reason. Now, we know “stoners” and other teenagers have been listening to Metallica and Black Sabbath and other counterculture music, pissed off about the bullshit of the world. We know what kids are up to. But cops weren’t always so fascist. Something changed. Teenagers, bikers, pedestrians, and other street urchins have all realized: “the streets are hot”. And the times have changed, too. There are more cars and less pedestrians. Whatever the cause, the streets look dead to me. Public interaction seems to have vanished. But it also seems to depend on the city and neighborhood, too. Kids have been made shut-ins now, it seems.

There is no more spontaneity to human life, it seems. People do not seem free the way I remember people being free when I was a kid. Hell, there were people like the Hell’s Angels, there were “stoners” in school, there were “preppies” in school, there were “skaters” and “jocks”. My point is not one of nostalgia for these identity descriptors; it is only that there seemed to be a greater variety of personal expression. Today, I see a lot of cultural homogeneity, which seems to reflect some deep-seated apathy.
I don’t know… That’s just the impression that I get…



[2 JAN 2021]

[Last modified on 2 JAN 2021 at 06:55 PST]