Gamers vs. Reality: Who Wins?

Economists have once again pointed a finger at escapist fantasy as the potential downfall of civilization -- with video games the most recent scapegoat -- due to young people supposedly finding their increasingly realistic escapism more appealing than work. And yet tabletop role-playing games are even more engaging than video games...so why haven't they heralded the end of the world as we know it?

What the Economists Said

The Economist uses a lot of words phrases like"could" and "it would not be surprising" to reference what's happening in the video game world and, more broadly, society at large:

In 2016 the video-gaming industry racked up sales of about $100bn, making it one of the world’s largest entertainment industries. The games on offer run the gamut from time-wasting smartphone apps to immersive fantasy worlds in which players can get lost for days or weeks. Indeed, the engrossing nature of games is itself cause for concern.


The issue is the acceleration of unemployment rate among men in their 20s without a college education, which dropped from 82% to 72%. These men, who often live at home with their parents, spend each hour less at work in leisure activities, 75% of that time playing video games. The Economist posits:

Over the same period games became far more graphically and narratively complex, more social and, relative to other luxury items, more affordable. It would not be surprising if the satisfaction provided by such games kept some people from pursuing careers as aggressively as they otherwise might (or at all).


It's perhaps “not surprising” that the study The Economist quoted eventually zeroed in on leisure activities like gaming:

What these individuals are not doing is clear enough, says Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, who has been studying the phenomenon. They are not leaving home; in 2015 more than 50% lived with a parent or close relative. Neither are they getting married. What they are doing, Hurst reckons, is playing video games. As the hours young men spent in work dropped in the 2000s, hours spent in leisure activities rose nearly one-for-one. Of the rise in leisure time, 75% was accounted for by video games. It looks as though some small but meaningful share of the young-adult population is delaying employment or cutting back hours in order to spend more time with their video game of choice.


Video games aren’t the only fantasy world being scapegoated. Cosplayers apparently share the blame as well.

Cosplayers: The Downfall of Civilization?

For young people in Japan, economic growth has been stagnant for two decades. Stagnation after the 80s real-estate collapse, combined with labor laws that make it difficult to let older workers go, have trapped young adults in Japan in lower-income careers, which delays them moving out, getting married, and having children. Masahiro Yamada made a familiar argument about why these young people are turning towards fantasy worlds in the Financial Times :

People are escaping to the virtual worlds of games, animation and costume play. Here even the young and poor can feel as though they are a hero.


James Pethokoukis picked up Yamada's thread:

Then again, they do have plenty of time to dress up like wand-wielding sailor girls and cybernetic alchemist soldiers from the colorful world of anime cartoons and manga comics.


Pethokoukis makes the argument that U.S. economic growth, averaging 1% annually since 2006, coupled with a surge in convention attendance and cosplay popularity, puts America on a parallel track to Japan where “young people give up on reality”:

When you're disillusioned with the reality of your early adult life, dressing up like Doctor Who starts looking better and better.


The concern seems to be that gaming is too good as what it does, offering rewards and incentivizing players much better than real life:

The economists who worry about the seductive power of gaming fear that gamers who miss the scheduled step away from virtual play and into a proper adulthood will never “level up” to that truly immersive competitive experience. Instead, they become stuck at a phase of the game which no longer satisfies, yet which they cannot move beyond. The designers of the game of life, such as they are, may have erred in structuring the game in a way that encourages young people to seek an alternate reality…Unsurprisingly, some players are giving up, while others are filling the time not taken up in rewarding, well-compensated work with games painstakingly designed to make them feel good.


It’s not hard to see how this line of thinking leads to tabletop games, board games, card games, and indeed just about every other leisure activity enjoyed by young people as somehow being to blame for society’s ills.

Why This is Nonsense

There's a lot of things wrong with the conclusion these articles draw, not the least of which is that correlation does not imply causation. Simply put, the rise of unemployment and gaming does not necessarily mean that fantasy escapism causes unemployment. We already have a narratively complex, more social and more affordable form of gaming with the most realistic graphics ever: tabletop role-playing games. And despite claims to the contrary, tabletop gamers haven't caused a wave of unemployment. Pethokoukis concludes the real problem isn’t the fantasy at all:

It's not to say that all or even most cosplay aficionados are struggling to find work. It's only to say that any rise in people fleeing reality for fantasy suggests problems with our reality.


Rob Bricken put it this way on io9 :

If our economy is driving people to escape from reality, then perhaps television, movies, sports, books, alcohol, drugs, and videogames might be somewhat more recognizable factors than cosplayers. And if that's the case, then I also have to wonder if maybe — just maybe — this desire to escape is true of people of all ages who are...struggling to find jobs and to hold them, who resent their lack of advancement, or more likely their lack of anything resembling job security.


Ryan Avent in The Economist concludes:

A society that dislikes the idea of young men gaming their days away should perhaps invest in more dynamic difficulty adjustment in real life. And a society which regards such adjustments as fundamentally unfair should be more tolerant of those who choose to spend their time in an alternate reality, enjoying the distractions and the succour it provides to those who feel that the outside world is more rigged than the game.


The problem with young people leaving the workforce may have much less to do with escapist fantasy and much more to do with the state of the modern workplace. Jane McGonigal explains in "Reality is Broken" that we need to flip the script. If society feels threatened by gaming, maybe it's time it borrowed some concepts to make reality better:

Game developers know better than anyone else how to inspire extreme effort and reward hard work. They know how to facilitate cooperation and collaboration at previously unimaginable scales. And they are continuously innovating new ways to motivate players to stick with harder challenges, for longer, and in much bigger groups. These crucial twenty-first-century skills can help all of us find new ways to make a deep and lasting impact on the world around us.


In the future, we may all be gamers.

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 
Michael Tresca

Comments

SerHogan

Villager
Table top RPGs aren't more popular because they are hard work. High barrier of entry. But hard work brings reward. :D
 

Von Ether

Explorer
If I may indulge in a gross over-generalization. I think part of the problem is that today's society partially fosters the idea that success and failure are beyond the control of the individual. Society teaches that you check the requisite boxes in high school, and you then check the requisite jobs in college, and presto! you get the perfect job. Success is attributed to engaging the system rather than engaging the individual. On the other side of the coin, failure is often attributed to outside factors and the system. Whether good things or bad things are happening, there's a perception that they are happening somewhat independently from the individual's actions and efforts.

In this way, individuals are conditioned to (on some level) believe that success and failure are beyond their control. When someone checks all the boxes and still ends up flipping burgers, they are conditioned to blame the broken system for why things didn't work and submit to their fate. Likewise, when encountered with success, they are conditioned to believe that success is based upon checking all of the boxes or that somebody else's success is the result of that other person lucking out or having some unfair advantage. (Yes, I am aware that some people really do just happen to luck out and/or have a privileged head start, but that's a different conversation.) So, the end result involves two things: 1) the creation of a mentality of powerlessness; 2) the motivation of an individual to push through hardship is killed because there is a perception of pointlessness.

So, I can see a scenario in which gaming is an escape from that situation. In a game, a person is a not powerless. Their character is someone who has power as an individual; power to change the game world. Pushing through hardship is no longer seen as pointless because the active actions of the player have meaning within the context of having power of their character's fate and abilities. As an individual in the fantasy world, they have power, power which they've been conditioned to believe they do not have in real life.

For whatever it is worth, I have been following studies which measure why college graduates are not getting hired. In nearly 7 years (arguably closer to 10 or 15) the answers have remained largely the same. Most of the surveyed employers have responded by saying that, while graduates do great at technical skills and score well on aptitude tests, graduates have a lack of "soft skills," and graduates are found to be lacking skills that are needed outside of the classroom setting. In particular, one of the most cited "soft skills" found to be lacking is the ability to take initiative in the workplace. (One of the other commonly cited things is a lack of ability to effectively engage in face-to-face communication in a work environment.)

I live in America, so most of my opinion is based upon how I see things here. It's been quite a few years since I've traveled abroad, so I cannot speak on behalf of how things may look elsewhere.
"initiative" is an interesting word. I divide up initiative into two types.

Type 1 Bravado.

When I was new and entering the white collar world, I got the same complaint. I had grew up on a farm and never worked in an office before.

I was lost and literally had no idea of what to do and scared to death of making suggestions in fear of looking dumb.

My co-worker who grew up white collar and had a Master's degree had more "initiative."

His secret?

Confidence and a couple of years workshopping business plans and presentations with friends -- something not on his class schedule or as an assignment. He even admitted that he was just as lost as me, but he could talk the talk. Something lots of geeks don't feel comfortable doing.

The side benefit of his confidence is that this rising star was quickly mentored. Suddenly he didn't need initiative anymore as he was assigned projects.

Later in another job, I found my own confidence and a mentor to guide me as well.I also leaned that every boss and job had crazy different expectations and tools. You need a mentor to help guide you around not only job, but more importantly, the company culture, especially the culture not in the employee handbook.


I also have some nurse friends and they have a secret. The goal of doing clinicals is so that you have enough practice and confidence​ so that you never know if you are their first patient. No wants to be the first patient for health care professional. These patients get nervous and constantly second guess the new nurse or doctor.


Type 2 Experience.
This, to me, is what I actually think of when someone mentions the word "initiative."

Someone who knows what to do takes the reins and bangs out a rough strategy on how to tackle the problem. That, though, takes experience. And through that experience, the confidence to know what needs to be done.


So bosses want to see someone act like the already have experience. And that maybe the employees who need mentoring aren't the ones who look more promising.*

*Because it seems that mentoring is a binary decision in the corporate world.
 

Toriel

Explorer
"Unsurprisingly, some players are giving up, while others are filling the time not taken up in rewarding, well-compensated work with games painstakingly designed to make them feel good."

This sentence in the text bugs me a lot. There is an assumption here that everyone can get a rewarding, well-compensated job while in reality it is far from being the thruth.

In North America, the current capitalist model (which has changed over the last 50-60 years) greatly favors specific aptitudes, interests and skills while ignoring the rest. To be able to have a rewarding and well-compensated job, you have to fit this mold. There might be one person in a million who will have both parts without being in the mold but for the vast majority of people that is not the case. You either have a boring, unfulfilling job that is well-compensated or you can starve while doing something much more rewarding and better suited to your interests, aptitudes and skills. It's no wonder people want to escape reality.

There needs to be a change of culture so that most domains of work can offer both.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
As an economist and a gamer, I find this utterly stupid. For starters, a proper economist would know that the reason for unemployment is not part of the workforce not getting outside looking for a job, it is that there are no jobs. Also, the reason for the development indexes not rising the way they were is not due to the fact that young people are lazy and prefer to play than work.

Generally, this is a huge discussion. But blaming games (in general) for the global lack of development is totally unethical and false.
As a gamer & economist, I generally agree. I generally expect better from The Economist.

OTOH, Internet "abuse" does have an impact on education and productivity, and gaming owns a small section of that.

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Von Ether

Explorer
"Unsurprisingly, some players are giving up, while others are filling the time not taken up in rewarding, well-compensated work with games painstakingly designed to make them feel good."

This sentence in the text bugs me a lot. There is an assumption here that everyone can get a rewarding, well-compensated job while in reality it is far from being the thruth.

In North America, the current capitalist model (which has changed over the last 50-60 years) greatly favors specific aptitudes, interests and skills while ignoring the rest. To be able to have a rewarding and well-compensated job, you have to fit this mold. There might be one person in a million who will have both parts without being in the mold but for the vast majority of people that is not the case. You either have a boring, unfulfilling job that is well-compensated or you can starve while doing something much more rewarding and better suited to your interests, aptitudes and skills. It's no wonder people want to escape reality.

There needs to be a change of culture so that most domains of work can offer both.
But that is the proper mode, don't you know? If you make money, you have to be in soul crushing job. There's no way you could be actually enjoying your self. And if your gig pays like crap, it has to rewarding because you're doing real work.

I love that mythical balance, while it's much more likely that you'll get a crappy paying that is also soul crushing.

Maybe most people making good money feel like it's soul crushing, but I bet it's a bit more endurable with a nicer house and not having to chose between replacing your brakes or groceries this month.

And I guarantee you at this point of the 21st Century, some dude who is rich AND living it up is still playing a few video games. He just doing it on an awesome sound system with wall projector.
 

Ace

Explorer
Taking the article at face value here.

When it comes to working hard, Cui Bono? who benefits ? Given that nearly all economic gains at least in the West go to the top 1% with another more affluent 10% getting the rest and every other group losing wealth in amounts half or more of percent GDP people in the early 70's earned GDP , hard work for many is a mugs game.

Unless you and your family (and note family formation is at an all time low) gain significantly from hard work, people are far better off enjoying themselves rather than slaving away so Big-Co can have a bigger balance sheet

Life is short play D&D or WOIN ;) or anything else. Heck if you can't get friends together play Skyrim and have some fun instead of making someone else rich.
 

Ace

Explorer
This is a tricky subject.


There is very likely a chicken-and-egg situation going. The economy is bad and unemployment is high so people turn to videogames, which slows their finding of a job and boosting the economy. But I think the "Great Recession" of the late '00s is far more to blame with that.


While I know politics is verboten on this forum,



.
I had to cut a lot of really good material here but let me say this, the way things are you can't really discuss politics on a political forum much less anywhere else. Worse all of the problems that the article notes are political in nature and require political, cultural and economic solution that are hard to do and it seem not on anyone's agenda

Given its hard to get things fixed or sometimes for people to feel connected and with purpose its little wonder fertility rates are so low and increasing number of people seem to want more escapism whether through video games or other methods.
 
Mercantilism, brought in, in the 16th century introduced the economical idea of "work" as a thing everyone should do, as a measurement of a countries potential. If you weren't working, you were wasting the resources of your country, which was as effective to the enemy as sabotage, in effect you were a traitor and were arrested or worse, hanged.

We still haven't gotten over this, The Economist (see its even in the title) still adheres to this slavery based system. Work or you are BAD!

We live in a free market economy, supply vs demand. When supply (of good jobs) is low and alternatives (games) exist, people will seek change in their lifestyle to accommodate for the alternative.

Interesting note.. in the 1920s when they started claiming how alcohol consumption was bad, during a recession, it lead to prohibition and speakeasies.. We are approaching the next 20s.. will gaming prohibition come about? will it lead to gaming dens, back alley RPGs?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Meh. I'm more concerned about the job automation tipping point.

In 2012 or so, a company unveiled a prototype modular robot that could be used to automate @200 different jobs, depending on how you configured it. And it did so at an estimated purchase price + 5 year cost of ownership/depreciation that was roughly equivalent to an Indonesian factory worker's salary. Doubtless that company and others have improved on that by now.

Price-Waterhouse-Coopers estimates that 38% of U.S. jobs have a "high risk" of being wiped out by automation by 2030.

Amazon tested its "no cashier" store this year.

Self-driving cars and even semis are being tested. How long before truckers, bus drivers, cab driver, chauffeurs an even Lyft & Uber drivers have almost no job opportunities? After them, what about forklift operators and others working heavy machinery?

And it isn't just service or manufacturing jobs at risk. Diagnostic programs are getting better.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/03/ai-versus-md

A Scottish reasearcher is trying to make commercially viable 3-D printers for pharmaceuticals. In a few decades, thousands of generic/OTC drugs may be available at automated kiosks the size of SUV.
http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-scotland-17744314/3d-printer-developed-for-drugs

There's a lot of sci-fi out there set in "post-scarcity" societies, but almost none about the process of transitioning away from capitalism. My guess is it could be very bumpy...maybe even bloody like the French Revolution.
 
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Meh. I'm more concerned about the job automation tipping point.

Self-driving cars and even semis are being tested. How long before truckers, bus drivers, cab driver, chauffeurs an even Lyft & Uber drivers have almost no job opportunities? After them, what about forklift operators and others working heavy machinery?
Google the Video "Humans need not apply", Its worse than you think. 45% of the workforce.

There is talk of Basic Universal Income in many circles, My own Idea is that robots can replace humans, provided they are owned BY humans who derived the income in the first place, (to ensure we don't have riots of 45% unemployed "Dey tuk Arr Jarbs")

If we can get into some kind of system of automated sufficiency, Roleplaying and Computer games may well be the only thing left to do, even if they are run by computers too.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Google the Video "Humans need not apply", Its worse than you think. 45% of the workforce.

There is talk of Basic Universal Income in many circles, My own Idea is that robots can replace humans, provided they are owned BY humans who derived the income in the first place, (to ensure we don't have riots of 45% unemployed "Dey tuk Arr Jarbs")

If we can get into some kind of system of automated sufficiency, Roleplaying and Computer games may well be the only thing left to do, even if they are run by computers too.
I was just using one of the more conservative estimates.

Heeeeeyyyy, what if...
View attachment 84599
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
If I may indulge in a gross over-generalization. I think part of the problem is that today's society partially fosters the idea that success and failure are beyond the control of the individual. Society teaches that you check the requisite boxes in high school, and you then check the requisite jobs in college, and presto! you get the perfect job. Success is attributed to engaging the system rather than engaging the individual. On the other side of the coin, failure is often attributed to outside factors and the system. Whether good things or bad things are happening, there's a perception that they are happening somewhat independently from the individual's actions and efforts.

In this way, individuals are conditioned to (on some level) believe that success and failure are beyond their control. When someone checks all the boxes and still ends up flipping burgers, they are conditioned to blame the broken system for why things didn't work and submit to their fate. Likewise, when encountered with success, they are conditioned to believe that success is based upon checking all of the boxes or that somebody else's success is the result of that other person lucking out or having some unfair advantage. (Yes, I am aware that some people really do just happen to luck out and/or have a privileged head start, but that's a different conversation.) So, the end result involves two things: 1) the creation of a mentality of powerlessness; 2) the motivation of an individual to push through hardship is killed because there is a perception of pointlessness.

So, I can see a scenario in which gaming is an escape from that situation. In a game, a person is a not powerless. Their character is someone who has power as an individual; power to change the game world. Pushing through hardship is no longer seen as pointless because the active actions of the player have meaning within the context of having power of their character's fate and abilities. As an individual in the fantasy world, they have power, power which they've been conditioned to believe they do not have in real life.

For whatever it is worth, I have been following studies which measure why college graduates are not getting hired. In nearly 7 years (arguably closer to 10 or 15) the answers have remained largely the same. Most of the surveyed employers have responded by saying that, while graduates do great at technical skills and score well on aptitude tests, graduates have a lack of "soft skills," and graduates are found to be lacking skills that are needed outside of the classroom setting. In particular, one of the most cited "soft skills" found to be lacking is the ability to take initiative in the workplace. (One of the other commonly cited things is a lack of ability to effectively engage in face-to-face communication in a work environment.)

I live in America, so most of my opinion is based upon how I see things here. It's been quite a few years since I've traveled abroad, so I cannot speak on behalf of how things may look elsewhere.
To crush an economy, instill an external locus of control. Make people believe that outside forces totally control their destiny. They will become hopeless, make excuses and so forth.

I work with young people on a daily basis. Most seem to still have some sense of urgency and responsibility. But laying this at the feet of employers is really ridiculous and plays right into propaganda about wealth redistribution and the unfairness of it all.

I feel some shame knowing that my grandparents had dirt floors and often no shoes growing up and I am actually listening to nonsense suggesting that I can justify shirking my responsibilities because "its too hard/unpleasant out there." Vomit.

When I learned that too much free time with too little money actually sucks, I figured it out. I never had in mind that someone else would feed my kids or buy my D&D books either. Its amazing that fun predicated on work is not only necessary, but more gratifying.

My old man made it clear: go to work, go to college, learn a trade, or join the military. Be a starving artist even as long as you can buy food (wink).

We know that when we extend unemployment benefits (which I am very glad exist, by the way) people take longer to get back to work. If parents did not feed and allow for decades of an extended adolescence, would all of this still happen? I do not think it is the fault of everyone else.

If I did, I might be whining without sufficient education, work or a life outside of D&D....
 

Shasarak

Villager
This article should be titled something like "Gaming stops the downfall of Civilisation" because otherwise you would have those 28% of men in their 20's without jobs prowling the streets looking for trouble.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
I don't even know where to start... so many parts of this article are so horribly wrong.

Like, the whole issue on Japan and its blatant ahistoric over-simplification. Yes, Japan has had both a depression/deflatation and an early rise in alternative hobbies like Cosplay, Video Games, Manga and the like. But the latter all started way before the 90s (Manga saw its first big rise after the 50s). In addition to this, there have been tensions between (very traditional, oppressive) expectations and reality for more than 30 years now, leading to very high suicide rates even among teens etc. If anything, the colourful and sometimes extreme fandoms in Japan are a means of brief stress-relief and throwing aside expectations.

For gaming, from my own experience I can say that playing TTRPG games and co-operative online games have increased my social and problem solving skills a lot. The very same "soft skills" that are so much needed in a modern job.

For the whole GG affair... seems more like an American issue to me. We don't see a rise in misogyny in Western Europe despite having the same growth in gaming. And just because you don't date that much doesn't automatically mean that you don't see and talk to girls in school/university or in your local sports club...

But you know what? They warned about reading too much novels when that stuff became a phenomena for the masses as well (Werther madness and its likes). Always a good move to blame the media and the mediaphiles ;)
 

Igwilly

Villager
Ok… I'm talking mostly about my reality, but that’s all what I can do.

About jobs:
It’s amazing how many people, especially older people, expect us to get a decent job by the early 20s. It’s not possible. Not at all. By “not possible”, I mean most “jobs” college students get are either unpaid internships just to check in that mythical box of “experience”; or very low incoming ones, without most laws regarding real jobs, which are simply not enough for a living. Maybe, if you’re very lucky, you can get a “night-turn” college with poor job and live a very simple life, but mostly your pay may not get much better afterwards.
In addition, talking about Brazil – my country of origin – the common wisdom is: It’s 2017; No one gets a job. Period.
In addition, the main factor, which tends to make young people out of their homes, is marriage, which is related to the next subject.

About dating and the “relationship” side of most of my generation, the current “young people”:
I cannot honestly discuss all the topics and factors happening here without breaking one of the forums rules. I’ll try to say as much as I believe to be possible (within the rules).
How other people are saying young people do not interact in the “real world” so much puzzles me. The real world defined as the “physical” world, outside of internet or games. Well, speaking of people I actually know and can see their behavior, I can honestly say that interaction in the “physical” world is very active. In fact, it is all what many youngs are looking for, if you get what I mean. There are many things going on wrong here; they aren’t related much to social media and nothing related to games, RPGs or whatever. Our “romantic” relationships are pretty much destroyed by current believes and no amount of “you must work, form a family, be responsible…” talk will fix that. This issue impacts in young people not leaving their parents’ homes because, historically, marriage is the main factor why people leave "mom and dad". If you don’t get married, and your job doesn’t afford a middle-class life, you just stay home.
I really wish I could say more about this, but I cannot do it here. Sorry…

Note that I use the word “people”, and derivatives, a lot. The thing is: one person, one case. There can be all manners of exceptions. I’m talking about generalized cases, in the big picture of Brazil's society. Honestly, I hope I don’t offend anyone here when I was talking about the current “young generation”. I’m 22 years old, this is just what I’m seeing right now right here, bypassing the pink-colored glasses my age puts on me.

Games, whenever video-games, table-top RPGs, LARPs, or anything like that, have zero responsibility on this mess. In fact, I could say my life improved through RPGs. A lot.
 

Libramarian

Villager
Conversely young women are told that a professional career gives status and meaning to their lives, their work is valourised, and they are coming to dominate the 20-something professional workforce, while also not marrying and not having children.
I do think the pendulum has swung a little too far in the direction of ignoring traditional applicants and encouraging non-traditional applicants.

Despite getting excellent grades in math in high school and winning math competitions in junior high (high school math competitions were phased out before I got there), I was never encouraged by anyone to study it at university, so I didn't, because I didn't find grade school mathematics very interesting. In fact all I heard about quant degrees at the time was that they're too hard, too competitive, too dry, etc.

At uni all I heard about grad school was that it's too competitive nowadays, too expensive, you'll be overqualified for an entry level position, etc. so I thought I was doing the smart thing by not pursuing it. I finally broke into a thankfully decent-paying career (where most of my co-workers have comp sci degrees) via self-study while working in a warehouse. It was a tough road to doing the kind of work I was clearly suited for in the first place but didn't know anything about.

Meanwhile my college girlfriend, who used to say she was intimidated by my intelligence and would ask me for help with her schoolwork, went on to get two master's degrees and now works for the World Health Organization in Dubai.
When I was new and entering the white collar world, I got the same complaint. I had grew up on a farm and never worked in an office before.

I was lost and literally had no idea of what to do and scared to death of making suggestions in fear of looking dumb.

My co-worker who grew up white collar and had a Master's degree had more "initiative."

His secret?

Confidence and a couple of years workshopping business plans and presentations with friends -- something not on his class schedule or as an assignment. He even admitted that he was just as lost as me, but he could talk the talk. Something lots of geeks don't feel comfortable doing.
Yeah it seems like another thing that is changing is the degree to which people think shyness/diffidence is an inherent part of one's personality. It used to be thought that shyness was a temporary personality problem that you could help kids grow out of (for ex. by getting them into team sports or part-time jobs so they could build confidence), now it seems more likely to be thought that some kids are just naturally shy and others are not. When that clearly is not true -- I mean you can see it in any social species that dominant/submissive behavior, particularly in males, is very labile depending on who they're interacting with and their relative status within the group.

Meanwhile aptitude/intelligence is considered more and more to be mutable, and standardized testing ecologically invalid, culturally biased, and so on.

Aptitude is more mutable than social skills. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength...
 

Libramarian

Villager
I feel some shame knowing that my grandparents had dirt floors and often no shoes growing up and I am actually listening to nonsense suggesting that I can justify shirking my responsibilities because "its too hard/unpleasant out there." Vomit.
Well not everyone's grandparents had dirt floors. Mine, an RCMP officer and a nurse, were able to buy a giant house in their mid 20s and raise six children in a middle class lifestyle. They later became rich by selling their house for ~100x their purchase price. I can't do those things despite arguably working harder. I don't make enough money for a house like theirs and I make too much money to have six children.
 

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