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Ed Driscoll

Then? Future Shock. Now: Effort Shock

February 20th, 2013 - 3:07 pm

In “‘Effort Shock’ and Parents These Days,” David French links to Jim Geraghty:

If you don’t subscribe to Jim Geraghty’s “Morning Jolt” e-mail, then you’re not only missing insightful political commentary but quite a bit of bonus cultural commentary as well (often buried towards the end of the e-mail — move it up, please!) Lately he’s been writing a bit about “effort shock” (a phrase taken — believe it or not — from an interesting essay on Cracked.com), the alarm and surprise that so many Millennials are experiencing when “real life” turns out to be much, much harder than their childhoods. Here’s Geraghty:

Young people go through their childhood and teen years, believing that they are uniquely gifted and talented and wonderful and believing that their adult life will be one fabulous victory and success after another. And then at some point they depart the protected simulation of life that is childhood/high school/college . . . and the real world just kicks them in the crotch again and again. (This is a bit of what Adam Carolla talked about in his rant about Occupy Wall Street.) And so instead of concluding, “Oh, achieving my dream is going to be a lot harder than I thought, I had better redouble my efforts,” they deflect the hard truth of responsibility and conclude that somebody else, somebody out there — society — is to blame. They can take no joy in anyone else’s success, because that just reminds them of their own failure to achieve what they had envisioned all of their lives. And their attitudes quickly become one more obstacle — short-tempered, incapable of taking responsibility, quick to blame others, perhaps paranoid, concluding others are out to sabotage them.

The rest of Geraghty’s Morning Jolt is online here, including this scary notion: “Am I crazy for sensing a general overlap between the Dorner’s-a-hero crowd and the Occupy Wall Street crowd?” Read the whole thing. (The report Jim references in his post on the psychological profile of the OWS rank-and-file and their leaders can be found here; our take on it is here.)

Incidentally, French’s post at the Corner begins and ends with observations worth commenting on. If you’re surprised by the often conservative — or at least common-sense tone of the material coming out of Cracked.com, you haven’t been paying much attention to the site in the last few years. And his post ends with a link to a video from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Up until the end of the clip when it goes over the top to reach its comic climax, most of the items on the success pyramid in the video mocking college basketball coaching great John Wooden are similarly common sense. And NBC is mocking the hell out of them as square, unhip, Jack Webb-era sh** your old man says.

One of the reasons why Effort Shock can be so painful is that it’s a reminder that the stuff your dad told you (or at least the stuff my dad told me — I imagine many of today’s dads are almost as clueless as their kids) is common sense for a reason. When the media overculture mocks such advice as yesterday’s news, no wonder kids feel a huge sense of resentment when they get out into the real world.

All of which is yet another reason why:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Or to put it another way, “It’s nice to elect the right people, but that’s not the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.”

That observation from Milton Friedman also has more than a little applicability beyond our elected officials.

Update: What’s the left wing antidote to Effort Shock? But of course: “New Book Just Comes Straight Out With It: ‘Against Autonomy: The Case for Collective Paternalism.’”

And I can’t help but think this item in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine (found via SDA) is at least partially a spin-off of Effort Shock: “Disabled America: where work is for suckers: Nearly one in 10 working age Americans now claims they’re too disabled to take a job.”

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A few months ago I attended a lecture at our local library given by a famous author. During the Q&A period following the lecture, the question was posed to him regarding why he does not teach occasionally and impart some of his knowledge. His response was that he tried teaching a graduate course in writing at one of the colleges. The students submitted their efforts to him full of confidence.....and themselves. They had gone through life knowing only praise for their schoolwork. When the author reviewed the papers he found that most of them were written on a high-school level with a good deal of poor spelling, grammar, and fractured syntax. He graded them accordingly, writing comments that he thought would be helpful. When he gave back the papers he said that most of the students just seem to "crumble" and sulk back to their seats. He called today's students "the fragile tea cup generation."
No sobriquet is more appropriate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
okay....... the reason why cracked.com had an axe to grind:

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/06/entertainment/et-panda6

".......Not that he has any kung fu skills, or training, or talents. Apart from a complete set of Furious Five action figures and an active fantasy life, he has none of what it takes to succeed in his chosen field. Which is OK! Because what counts, as self-esteem curricula has prescribed and government leaders have demonstrated, is that the panda believe in himself no matter what his limitations, deficiencies or proclivities, and no matter what anybody else thinks........."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the Heinlein quote on "bad luck" from the Notebook of Lazarus Long in "Time Enough For Love."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When I was a Boy Scout leader, we knew we had to allow the boys to fail. If you don't let them fail when it doesn't matter (being a little hungry when they didn't bring enough food or burned it), they're crushed when reality fails them whether it matters or not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I didn't have to click the link. I recognized that Heinlein quote from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This attitude is nothing more than the adoption of the culture of poverty mindset by the children of the middle class. Our socialist betters have finally figured out that the reason that socialism fails is that it promises the sky and delivers poverty. So to make socialism work -- for them -- they first create the cultural of poverty and then make people poor. The Millenials will accept poverty because they expect someone to give them the stuff they need free.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I once had a couple who were successfully self-employed take me to task for suggesting that "Americans should strive for prosperity." Taken aback, I asked them, "well then, if not 'prosperity,' then what should they 'strive for?"

Their answer? "Adequacy." Americans should strive for "Adequacy." Can you believe that? This couple was self-employed and prosperous, and yet they had an ultra-liberal outlook that was totally out of sync with their reality. But what they wanted for "other Americans" was much less than thye themselves had. That was 20 years ago, and it now appears that the "Age of Adequacy" they wanted for "others" is upon us. Whoopee.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These days, I don't even see many people striving for "adequacy." Instead, I see vengefulness and a sense of entitlement based on a false sense of victimhood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Reading this reminds me of the best graduation speech I ever heard...and of course, the man was roundly criticized for its truthfulness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4&feature=player_embedded#!

When self-esteem became the essential quality instead of selflessness, electability over character, demagoguing trumped truth, material possession instead of wisdom, and man sovereign, this country's days were numbered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Raising our son is going to be an uphill battle. My husband and I have talked about this endlessly over the course of the last two years of his life. Both of us already live modestly ourselves. We neither one need "stuff" to live fulfilling lives, and we want our son to grow up the same. We are aware that homeschooling will be key to this. We both agree that access to technology will be key for him, but we also know he doesn't need a cell phone or Internet on his computer when we have it on ours where he won't be able to use it without our direct supervision.

But there are so many details to work out ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You don't have to homeschool to teach your child values.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps not but if she & her husband cannot afford a good private school that truly believes in educating its students instead of just indoctrinating them in such a fashion that they grow up to become the garden variety "low-information voter," then homeschooling is a better option. Of course, it is the case that children learn far more by example with regard to rearing by their parents than by anything they are told.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Internet should take an enormous amount of the blame. Kids used to get together and whine about their parents, then they'd have to get with the program and do what is expected of them. Now they have an echo chamber where they reinforce their absurd ideas and "solutions" all day long, and no one's there to present the mature point of view. It's an electronic "Lord of the Flies" island. One generation of that and discipline is a lost concept.

As for Cracked: "conservative"? Wow. After all the rabidly anti-Christian and pro-drug nonsense I've seen there, they'd have to fire everyone who's ever worked for them and start anew. Of course, you're going to tell me that conservatives can be anti-Christian and pro-drug. Whatever. I have no use for that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"... conservatives can be anti-Christian and pro-drug."

A statement that reflects a poor understanding of the diversity of POVs among conservatives. Has it occurred to you that perhaps many conservatives are secular by nature & believe that the drug war is a huge waste of time, resources & money? This hardly makes them "anti-Christian" or "pro-drug." This is akin to labeling all those who are pro choice as "pro abortion." Ludicrous at best.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It depends on the writer. There are some on Cracked who are more conservative than they know, but there are others that are fairly liberal. Still overall, Cracked is a place I enjoy reading most of the time if you know what you're looking for.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you live out in a rural area without television or the internet, home school, and the only outside socialization your kids have is a few hours at church on Sunday, then they're your kids and any problems they might have are pretty much all yours. Since almost nobody lives like that and hasn't in a hundred years or more, parents are in a constant battle with the schools and the culture. Sure, if one parent has anything like a decent job you can live on one income and the other parent can be devoted to the home and raising the kids like it used to be, but you can live so much better on two incomes and even if the couple themselves are content with a lower standard of living, the kids won't be just as soon as they learn about all the cool toys their friends and class mates have. They stop being your kids the moment a TV gets turned on. They become even less your kids the minute they walk over the threshold of a public school.

My bio-daughter was more a product of the old era. Her mother didn't work until the child was two or so, and then only part time. We didn't watch much TV and she didn't have one in her room. She was in high school before the internet came into general use. She has a college degree, a good job, one and only one husband, no particularly bad habits or addictions and in other words, she is dull as dirt and quite successful.

My stepkids are a decade and more younger and were already completely immersed in the popular culture by the time they came into my life at 2, 4, and 6. I really thought that some stability and predictability in their lives was all it would take, but they were already who they were going to be even at those young ages. The oldest one, a boy, is smart and handsome, but would rather be a scammer than a real worker. He is a master of doing just enough to not be thought of as a screwup. He did finish college, barely, and is married and on his own, but I still cringe when the caller ID shows his number.

The middle one, a girl, is maybe, kinda, sorta growing up now at age 28, married, and two kids, but for most of her life she has been the exemplar of the excuse-making culture the schools produce; she would shirk any burden and tell any lie about it and because she could get away with that at school, she was deeply resentful of us, and especially of me, when she didn't get away with it at home.

And the youngest is an almost complete failure to launch. The only time either of us ever used our positions for anything personal was when we made the agreement to get him out of town one step before the indictment and got him in military school then in the Army. He wanted out after his three years and the Army evidently didn't try very hard to dissuade him. He almost seemed squared away when he first got out, but it quickly became evident that he'd just spent those four disciplined years dreaming of the day he could return to being a screwup and immediately began swimming for the shallow end of the gene pool where he remains flopping around like a dying salmon. Were he not more or less incarcerated in our spare room at age 26 he'd be sleeping under a bridge and eating at the shelter, but he feels really, really good about himself, has resisted all civilizing influences, and ain't about to listen to any old fogey about what he ought to do or how to do anything. He does have a job, not much of one, but a job even though he either has to ride the bus or we have to take him to work since he's lost his license and his vehicle was confiscated. We lost that battle to the schools and popular culture altogether, and the next stop for him is the shelter or prison.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Art. You must throw in a bit of his personality with all that cultural rot he has digested over the years as an accounting for his continued pattern of behavior. Have you & your wife considered the approach of giving him first & last month's rent along with a firm "you are on your own from now on...."?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, aren't you the proud (step) father? ;-)

I do appreciate your honesty, although this is old news for those who have read your posts for a year or two. Sorting out your own judgmental attitude from what the kids are or are not, is obviously a factor. There are also a LOT of variables at play here, popular culture being just ONE of them.

Fortunately, we have had somewhat better luck with our six, four of hers and two of mine, but again...the variables. I think that all of ours did have some sense of the possibility of there being a wolf at the door, or at least in the vicinity, at early ages, something that just couldn't be helped, but they also knew that at least one of their parents would bust their butt to keep the wolf at bay.

By the way, my wife, who happened to be nearby for this (suspicious of my internet posting as always) chimes in that you might deserve some of the "credit" here.

The popular culture is what it is, so one has to parent with that as a given. Or is the underlying point that if the kids are screwed up, it's the school's fault, but if they're ok...it's our accomplishment?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, Deewhite, your jab aside, I'm not a proud step-father; that one was a battle I lost to the lesbian social workers, the excuse-making teachers, the rappers on MTV, and the mother that couldn't deny her children anything. That old Biblical parable about the broad and easy versus the straight and narrow didn't come from nowhere. We had the straight and narrow at home; the broad and easy was just too easy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's a closed loop system if you keep at it. Unfortunately some kids go 'open loop'. (maybe if I used my real name I could 've kept my original moniker)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Meaning what? If you control every aspect of your kids lives, then they will be what you want them to be? Some of us actually believe in some liberty for our children. It is not their duty to replicate my life and values, but to develop their own. I try to give them strengths to cope. Maybe they pick them up, maybe they don't, and maybe they develop some that they could not have gotten from me.

It is also life and sh*t happens, as it does on message board formats. I am more of a suck it up, than a complain loudly person, but tastes may vary. ;-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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