Social media is attention alcohol.

It has some beneficial qualities, but it's not naturally wholesome. Many ppl use it often and love it and are basically okay. But a lot of people abuse it and develop unhealthy compulsions with it. Also, it's functionally a depressant.
I want to defend "attention alcohol" against most other food/drink metaphors.

Twitter really isn't just Doritos, something tasty with no nutritional value.

Instagram isn't just heroine, a short-term rush of good feels that's destroying your body.
Social media is wine, or whiskey, or beer.

I love Twitter like I love wine or whiskey. These things makes my life better and more interesting. But knowing what alcohol *is* makes me aware of the way my drinking habits fits within a broader knowledge of addiction.

I tweeted "social media is attention alcohol" and a researcher saw it and emailed his new paper on digital addiction.

Twitter really is whiskey: a naturally unwholesome thing that tastes great and can, in the right dosage, make your life richer!
1. "The top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year"…

2. "Self-control problems cause 31 percent of social media use."

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More from @DKThomp

13 Sep
I wrote about why Americans die so much, from everything—and why that's a policy choice.…

An amazing new study shows the U.S. is doing much worse than other developed countries at performing the most basic function of civilization: keeping people alive.
In the last 30 years, two important things have happened with US lifespans.

1. US longevity fell way behind much of Europe

2. This happened even though the Black-white mortality gap shrunk by half, thanks to strong improvements in Black mortality in high-poverty areas.
1. In the last 30 years, Black infant mortality in the U.S. has improved by a lot

2. But the slope of the red line is still steep, which means Black infants in high-poverty areas have much worse outcomes

3. In Europe, no slope = very little effect of poverty on infant death
Read 8 tweets
13 Sep
Democrats claiming that it's "hysteria" to worry about sharply rising homicide rates across the country because of a long-term decline in burglaries seems like a moral and political dead end to me.…
Liberals claim they dislike the Pinker approach to progress—"if things seem bad now, look at the long-term trend"—but a lot of them revert to a bad caricature of Pinkerism on crime.

"Homicides are spiking"
"No, look at this basket of crime variables over a 40 yr period!"
Here is a move that is totally available to us:

The 1990s were really violent. Then most crime measures declined for 20 years. In 2020, homicides spiked in some places but not others. We should care about that, and want to know more it, so we can stop it.
Read 4 tweets
11 Sep
Quick thought on the remote work study, which got some ppl riled up.

The 20th century office is a bundle of REAL WORK—desk work, meeting spaces—and SORTA WORK—lunch, chats, serendipitous convos.

The biggest advantage of offices isn't REAL WORK. It's the SORTA WORK stuff.
What I think we only barely understand—because it's really really hard to study—is how much does in-person "Sorta Work" matter for creativity and productivity? Is idle chatter a critical carrier wave for psychological safety? Or is easily replaceable by Slack, Twitter, etc?
My bet for now is that

1. The Harvard Business Review Mafia has almost certainly overplayed the benefits of serendipity

2. The pro-WFH group probably underrates how psychologically discombobulating it can be for extroverts to interface w/ peers via only screens for too long
Read 4 tweets
7 Sep
Highlights from another amazing chart-o-palooza from Michael Cembalest and his JPM team…

1. Binge drinking and marijuana use have basically switched places among college students between the 1990s and today
2. You've seen versions of these graphs before, but my god.

Americans are addicted to politicizing *every single thing* and thousands of people have died or suffered unnecessary illness at the hands of COVID because of it
3. "Software eating the world" update: still very much doing the old eating-the-world thing
Read 4 tweets
7 Sep
The ivermectin story is being framed as the apocalypse of institutional media, but it's more like a glaring reminder of a few oldish truths

1) Journalism was always a mix of great, good, mediocre, and shitty work. The Internet makes it easier to find and highlight ... all of it.
2) There really is an epidemic of "team-picking" in institutional (and independent!) media. Subscription competition will make it worse—or better, if you like teams.

It's the 19th century, again, in news media, but this time, with an internet connection.
3) The most important public health story by far, isn't MSNBC's (etc) big ivermectin fail but the vax denial led by a mix of institutional (Fox) and independent voices. It's kinda galling to see so many smart ppl miss the forest of vaccine denial for the tree of ivermectin b.s.
Read 5 tweets
6 Sep
“U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline”…

At current rates, female college graduates will soon outnumber male grads by a unprecedented two-to-one margin
There are so many implications of this, but to pick 1:

College polarization and gender polarization are two of the most important electorate trends of the last few cycles, so the fact that men and women are so sharply polarizing by college attainment seems pretty significant
Read 4 tweets

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