August 18, 2021 #31 of Podcast: Continued… Conversation with Addison Reeves
This is Part 2 of my conversation with Addison Reeves from Modern Heretic.
In Part 1 we talked about the vaccine mandates in NYC. In part 2 that conversation is continued, but we also talk about modern life in general, what we define as success, what we consider a meaningful life, and what drives us.
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This episode is part two of my two part conversation with Addison Reeves, which we had on the night of August 5th on the topic of vaccine mandates in New York City. To catch you up, Addison is a writer and Renaissance woman in New York City, and you can check out her work on modernheretic.com. I’m an expat from the Satmar Hasidic community and a tour guide in Jewish Brooklyn. In this episode, we continue to discuss our concerns of the recent developments with regards to vaccines and health apartheid, and we also talk about our general concerns of modern life. Also, check out our earlier conversations, Episode 30, for the first half of this conversation, as well as Episode 28, our first talk for this podcast.
There’s one thing when I talk to people that literally have tears in their eyes when they talk about how their family members think they’re nuts. It’s like the experience that seems to really most profoundly affect all of us is that we are surrounded by people who keep telling us that we’re crazy.
Addison Reeves (1:28)
Yes. Yes, the experience I’ve been having with my father – crazy or I’m misinformed, or I’m radicalized by the internet, whatever. It’s been very painful. It’s been very hard to deal with. And I’ve kind of pulled away from everyone in my social network because it’s such a painful experience. And even when they’re trying to support me, it’s still from a place of condescension. Like when I expressed to my friend, you know, I’m scared that I’m going to probably lose my job because I won’t comply with these mandates, and my friend’s reaction was, well, it’s just a simple thing, why don’t you just do it? You know, that’s the support I get is telling me that my beliefs and my feelings and the direction I want from my life doesn’t really matter, I should just submit. That support. By them saying that, it feels like they’re saying I don’t matter, at that point, like I don’t need to exist. Like if I’m going to sacrifice everything I believe in and everything I want for myself, then what is the point of my being here? Why am I here? Like shouldn’t we allow for a unique individuality in this earth?
In the Hasidic community, when a woman is in an abusive relationship and her husband wants to who knows what do with her sexually, she’s having a really hard time, she gets the exact same attitude. She will have so much pain written all over her face, and people will say, well, he won’t be upset if you… At some point, you can take everything and just say just submit and it’ll make it go away.
Addison Reeves (2:57)
Yes. It kills me because, okay, I submit now and then what? Then what is next? If I submit to a vaccine now, there are going to be booster shots later. And then there’s going to be another variant, there’s going to be another illness, or there’s going to be, you know, we need to sterilize people for the good of… overpopulation, whatever. It’s going down a dangerous path. And we don’t know what it’s going to lead to.
And what kills me is everything that we think is normal today, there have been fights over. So, someone will use something that was done in the past, like, oh well, the government can force you to wear a seatbelt or the government can force you to buy insurance, the government… but those things were incursions on freedom, too, and those things were fought over. And at the time, they were considered extreme and crazy, and people were really upset about it. And so, the government did that and then it got normalized. And now people use those fights, and they don’t recognize they were fights anymore, so they say what the government’s doing now is normal because they did something similar in the past. So, what’s one more, you know, little bit of freedom taken away from us?
And I’m very scared about the generation that’s growing up in all of this, because, yes, the adults are all saying, well, this is an emergency, it’s just for the time it’s an emergency. Although even we can see that these adults have started to treat all of this as normal, too. So can you imagine what the kids, the young kids growing up in this, they’re not going to be able to tell that they are going to school remotely because there’s this emergency. Some of them, all of their experience of school has been remote, you know. They’re not going to know that the government’s monitoring them at home through the webcam because this is an emergency. They’re not going to know that the teacher is telling them to put on a mask and stop breathing for years it seems, like at least a year and a half and counting. Because it is an emergency. They’re not going to be able to tell any of that. So, what happens when these people grow up, and the government now says, okay, we want to put a microchip in you, or we want to put cameras in your home so we can make sure you’re not saying anything dangerous? These kids are going to say, well, they did it, you know, in 2020 and 2021, they did it then, so why can’t they do it now? Because that’s what people always say. Once government intrudes on our freedom, it becomes normal, and the people use that sense of normalcy to say, yes, the government should be able to take more of our freedom.
A lot of people argue that the kids will rise up and will fight. To me, that’s very depressing because you think the kids will just rise up – their entire lives have been boxed in. You’ve stunted their development. What makes you think that they’ll just suddenly, spontaneously rise up? I don’t know. I feel like when people say these things that are supposed to make you feel better, they actually make me feel worse, because you’re telling me to have hope in something that I don’t see a path out of this. I sent you earlier today a conversation that some people were having about how the only way out of this is through mandates. Yeah, that was their argument.
Addison Reeves (5:37)
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of that recently.
Oh my God, it drives me crazy, because these same people said the only way out of this is through vaccines, you know.
Addison Reeves (5:43)
And the only way out of this is through lockdowns, and the only way out of this is through two weeks…
These are the same people who said wear the masks because we’ll get out of it through the masks.
Addison Reeves (5:51)
Yep. And do they not… I mean, I don’t know, are they really anticipating that every single individual is going to be vaccinated? Because they have to know that’s not going to happen. Even if you forcibly vaccinate people like us who don’t want it, there are going to be people who are able to prove that they’ve got some documented disability and that they can’t get it. So, you’re never going to fully contain humanity on this. And the virus is going to change so fast that at this point, it doesn’t matter, it’s out there, it’s in the wild. I don’t know what these people are thinking.
They’re not thinking. They’re not thinking. The Excelsior pass in New York is designed by IBM. Forgive me because I’m just repeating it off memory, this was a story in the New York Times. They have a huge contract, the state, with IBM, there are two parts. One is just the pass, and the other is not yet disclosed, an expanded version, which we can only imagine what’s going to go on there, probably your ID, your passports. And it’s already in a contract with IBM. And they are anticipating, I think, they have a timetable. So, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but they know that they’re not going to get everyone on to the pass within the next two years. So, it’s like 50% of the state, let’s say, I’m just throwing out a number, will be within two years on the pass. So, they’re not expecting it right away. But they are working with a timetable, it’s going to get us incrementally in larger and larger numbers. And I guess they expect there’s going to be a contingent that will forever be without a pass, but it’s going to be like with the MetroCards with the way the Citi Bike is going where you’re going to have to participate in their system in order to have access then. I guess some people will just go without.
Addison Reeves (7:25)
Yes, I guess.
How do you go without?
Addison Reeves (7:28)
I don’t know. I mean, it’s hard for me to even envision this system being in place. It’s so foreign to everything that I thought was right with this country. You know, and over the years, I’ve been very critical and skeptical about technology. And I had a sense that this could go to a dangerous place, but I couldn’t fully articulate it. And now we’re here. We are at that dangerous place. And I’m like, yes, this is it. This is why I’ve been so critical. And all the other people who I was trying to express my criticism to over the years don’t see it because they just adopted all the technology along the way. So, they’ve just been conditioned and primed to just accept all of these things.
So, I don’t know. How will people be able to opt out in this city? Like you said, it’ll probably be something that’s really hard to use, they’ll probably have some paper option, and you’re going to have to pull someone aside, and they’re going to be annoyed with you because you’re making everything run very un-smoothly. And you’re probably going to feel uncomfortable, people are going to be looking at you, it’s going to be embarrassing, and it’s going to take a lot of time. And most people will cave, but there’ll be a few holdouts, then they’ll die, and then everybody will be on it.
If I’m completely honest with what I think, I think maybe there’s going to be a contingent of quiet rebels.
Addison Reeves (8:40)
What they’ll do is probably – God, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, it is so scary – they’ll probably, as people are born, they’ll give them this passport, and they’ll start them on it, and they’ll put all their vaccinations on and whatever else is going to go on this. And so, every generation going forward will have it, and they won’t even have the chance to opt-out because it’ll just be…
It will be part of your social security card.
Addison Reeves (9:00)
Yes, maybe you’ll have people, you know, conscientious objectors like the Amish and people like that, people who decide to opt-out and form…
The Hasidic community.
Addison Reeves (9:05)
Yeah, and form their own little communities, and those people might be able to withhold it. But those people are going to have to provide pretty much everything for themselves because they won’t be part of society. So, you will have to do something like that, I think.
Something that really bothers me about a lot of the pushback to technology often is associated with the right, these reactionary movements. But I think at this point, it’s completely a left issue. It’s being driven by economic forces by these startups that want to make a fortune of money. And they don’t care about anything except getting us to use more tech.
Addison Reeves (9:34)
You know, I saw the other day that somebody was talking about how we need to not be anonymous online, because there’s so much disinformation and it is so dangerous that we need to put our identities out there. And immediately I thought, you know, well, what about the women? That’s very easy for you to say as a man, but you know, women are the ones who, when they speak and say something that people don’t like, they’re the ones who are getting rape threats and people coming to their homes. Like there’s a danger of violence that men don’t experience.
So, it brings me back to the point you were talking about earlier about the way people on Reddit weren’t talking, you know, weren’t really bringing up women’s concerns. I think that’s a major blind spot here where people are going to say, they’re going to push for us all to be identified openly on the internet when we’re talking about things, which is very scary in this climate where they’re already trying to censor everything and trying to fire people if you have the wrong opinion. I think people think, okay, I’ll get this passport, and then I’ll be able to travel, I’ll go back to normal. They are thinking I’ll get this, and then everything will go back to normal, I’ll be living a normal life. They don’t see where this can all lead.
So, I see a situation in which now we have to have this passport to even participate online, you know. It’s going to be our identities are going to be tied to our opinion. But now, you can’t say certain things because everyone knows it is you, and some opinions are bad, and you’re not allowed to say them, and it could cost you your job. So, nobody really talks openly online anymore, and you can’t associate with other people because if you try to associate around a certain topic, like for instance, us trying to protest government mandates, then they’re going to say that’s bad. And they’re going to stop you from talking, and they’re going to try to shut you down so that you can’t find other like-minded people. So, in the future, if something like this were to happen, you will be fully alienated.
But I can also see things where, like maybe they just cut you offline completely. Like now they’re monitoring what you’re doing online, and they see that you’re going on to Telegram and you’re going on to White Rose, and so now, they just cut you off the internet, and you are now a guilty party, and you don’t deserve internet, and maybe you’ll have to go through some bureaucratic appeal process. I can see where if you have this passport, maybe you’re not going to be let into a concert, or you’re not going to be… like this could go so many dark and dangerous places where now you’re not free to just do the things that you wanted to do, you have to now prove that you are worthy to be able to participate in the aspects of society that you’ve always taken for granted participating in.
And I don’t think people see that element. And I don’t think they see, like okay, you’re on the side of government now, you support all these things that government’s doing now. But what if one day they do something you don’t like, and you do want to protest against them? Then what? What are you going to do when now you’re the one being censored? But they’re not thinking like that. They’re thinking they’re always going to be on the right side of government, and maybe they will because they don’t seem to ever question government. I can see so many bleak possibilities for the future. And I don’t think people are thinking ahead of all that can come. And that, you know, that’s just a sampling. If I wanted to, I could continue going even darker.
I think what we’ve seen with a credit score, with a regular credit score, for me, it’s been very eye opening, because I don’t come from a world where you have to give your credit score. At least when I lived in the Hasidic community, there was no credit score. You applied for a job, there was no credit run. Everything was word of mouth, community based, reputation based. And also, when I left, I wasn’t very good with finances ever, so I had to learn a lot of the things that I had been shielded from through being part of a larger network. And for me, the credit score was eye opening because these companies have a tremendous amount of power to call your value and decide what you’re going to pay in interest. And I told you Blink charged me $100, $130 during a lockdown, and I guess they didn’t have my address, I didn’t know. And they took 12 points off my credit score. It’s to me insane that they have the power for $130 to take 12 points off my credit score. But people’s response if I tell them is not these credit score businesses are abuses of power by the money. Rather they say, oh, do this and that to fix your credit score. I’ll do whatever it takes because, unfortunately, I have to fix my credit score. But that’s not why I’m telling it to you. I’m telling it to you because don’t you realize what’s happening? Who has the power?
Addison Reeves (13:30)
Yeah, they never criticize the system. They never criticize the institutions. It’s always the individual. It’s you’ve got to do something to make this right.
Yeah, exactly. It’s that mentality of you need to work for the system better. When the system is going to get really rude to them, they’re going to have a bad reaction to something or they’re not going to have their papers right, instead of them saying, well, it’s time turn on the system, they’re going to say, well, I guess I need to work harder for the system. Like the horse in Orwell’s Animal Farm that ends up destroying itself in the process – that’s what people are doing now.
Addison Reeves (14:05)
I think that they’re going to figure it out. I think when it happens, then they’ll realize, oh my God, like now I’m being tracked, and I didn’t think it was a bad thing to be tracked. But now, you know, I realize I needed a mental health day and I’m going off to a sporting event. And now my employer is tracking me, and they know I was there because this smart pass is on my phone. And they were able to track that I used the smart pass to get into this thing today. Or the government’s tracking me that I went to enjoy a day in the park instead of going job hunting, and so now they’re cutting my welfare benefits, which maybe people think that’s okay.
But my point is that there’s a creeping loss of autonomy with this stuff. There’s going to be a time in the future where I think we’re going to be so constrained because we’re so aware of being surveilled. All of this technology is ushering in such massive surveillance that we’re not going to be able to live fully, we’re not able to speak fully, we’re not going to able to associate with others fully. We’re constantly going to be living in order to keep a perception of innocence. We’re going to… It is almost like you’re presumed guilty, and you have to try to constantly maintain this perception of innocence so that you don’t get punished and have critical aspects of society taken away from you.
I feel it already. You know, we go to these things and you dance, but people are pushing their cameras everywhere, and I think the joy of dancing is being ruined. Like that’s my feeling. Like take away all of your stupid cameras. You just cannot get lost in moments in the world where we’re so cognizant already.
Addison Reeves (15:32)
Yes, people are already performing for the camera. They make sure I’ve got to look just right, I’ve got to put this outfit on, I got to make this smile, I’ve got to take a picture at this angle. They are already so used to performing for the camera, and that’s just their friends. What’s going to happen when now they’re also performing for your employers and the government? And I think people already do it. I remember being shocked in law school, this is back when Facebook was still new, and I was naive, and I didn’t realize how evil it was going to be. But they would compartmentalize, like they wouldn’t want to show the things that they were doing on the weekend, nothing, obviously nothing illegal or anything, just things that they would do to have fun. And they didn’t want to show it because, God forbid, a future employer would see, and they wouldn’t get hired and they would think badly of them. And I’m like but this is your private life, like you should be able to do what you want in your private life outside of work, that’s your life. But they already had this conception that, no, my life has to be controlled by this employer who is already looking at what I’m doing. And I have to make sure… you know, they would still do the things, but they would make sure I have to manipulate my life in such a way that I don’t worry about being penalized by somebody, some authority figure in the future. So even back then, people were already thinking that way, and it’s only going to get worse.
And BuzzFeed is going to run an article “15 ways to avoid being penalized at work for taking a day off” or something. And there’s going to be a whole industry of dealing with it. It’s so bleak. And people just go along with it. You know, ultimately, it comes down to this – going along with it means that the whole thing can exist for you in the periphery. But going against the grain means that it’s in your face every second. And this allows for people who go along with it to, as long as they go along with it, it doesn’t exist.
Addison Reeves (17:13)
Yeah. I can’t believe that so many people do go along with it. It seems so obvious to me that it can only lead to a bad place. It’s horrible. And because I go to work each day, and everyone around me is so into the narrative… every day I have to go, and I don’t know, it does something to you when you have to… It’s not, I don’t want to say I put on a false self, but you have to compartmentalize yourself to such an extent every day for a year. It’s horrible. It’s just I’m so tired of it.
It’s very psychologically affecting, very. I think a lot of people who are very naive about what social pressure subtle erosion of your right to speak freely does to you are really being schooled.
Addison Reeves (18:05)
You know, and I have all these friends, I’ve been trying to reach out to them and say, you know, there’s really a problem here; this censorship is getting out of control. It’s not just people on the right, it’s people on the left, too. It’s people who are scientists, you know, it’s not just disinformation. I’m trying to convey this. And they’re all like, yeah, okay, sure, whatever. They don’t really, I can’t tell if it’s that they don’t grasp the magnitude of the problem, or if they just don’t think it’s a problem. But in the same breath, they’ll talk about how they’re scared to say something or please don’t share my opinion because I don’t… You know, they understand that the climate itself is kind of dangerous for free thought at this point. And yet, they aren’t connecting that to the issue that I’m raising to them that there’s this big problem with censorship, because obviously, you have outright censorship, that we’re seeing more and more. But even before politicians started getting more aggressive with direct censorship and calls for direct censorship, there was this softer censorship that has now shaped this culture that we’re in so that even my friends who don’t think censorship is a problem still clearly feel impacted enough to say, “Please don’t share my opinion with other people because it can haunt me, and it can cause problems for me.” So, for whatever reason, they can’t connect those dots.
Yeah, I know, I was talking to a friend who’s in academia. And she’s like, “Why aren’t you finishing?” So, I said I can’t get into academia. Are you kidding me? Before the pandemic, I already realized that I’m not going into academia. It’s so censorious. I have opinions that don’t jive. And she says, “Oh, yeah, you have no idea.” But then she repeats the same question, “So, why don’t you? Why don’t you?” We just agreed that it’s terrible. They take it as part of the price of being able to study the thing that you’re really into. But you know what, I’m not into anything enough to want to censor myself.
Addison Reeves (19:47)
I guess people can’t think long-term or they can’t see the bigger picture. Because I don’t see how you can compromise on something like that. It’s not really a compromise. Once you go down that path, that’s it. You’re shrinking your world of expression; you’re reducing your ability to express yourself fully. But not only that, by doing that, you’re robbing the world, you’re robbing the people around you of an opportunity to hear a diversity of opinions, which means that we’re all dumber for having been censored.
Reminds me of you were talking about Stephen Colbert.
Addison Reeves (20:18)
I used to love Stephen Colbert. And it’s so sad to me because I thought he had the sharpest political humor of the people on The Daily Show when he was on it. And so, when he got his own show, I was so excited. And it was so incisive at the time, and it was so… So, he started off his very first show talking about this concept of truthiness. And he was making fun of, you know, the Bill O’Reilly type and saying that truth is just something that I feel in my gut. It’s not what the facts say. And it’s so ironic to me now because I feel like that’s what the Democrats have become, that’s what Stephen Colbert has become. So, I went to go see him when he still had the Colbert Report on the Comedy Central. And he was so dynamic and so alive. And so… he came and played with the audience, I mean, like interacted with us a lot. Even on the commercial breaks, he continued interacting with us. He was hamming it up, he was clearly having a good time. And he was just amazing. He was a brilliant person.
And then, later on, I went to go see him at the new show – what was it? The Late Night Show or whatever he hosts. So, I went there early on when he was hosting it, and he was a completely different person. He had somehow lost all of his vitality. He wasn’t smiling. He didn’t interact with the audience at all. He didn’t play with us during the commercial breaks. He didn’t interact. I don’t remember, he might have given a little speech when he first came out. But he was like a completely different person. You could just see that somehow by ascending to the new heights that he had ascended to that, even though, you know, it was this wonderful promotion in essence that he got, that it was doing horrible things to him, that he no longer seemed to have the joie de vivre that he had before. And clearly, he doesn’t have now that incisive wit that we all came to know on The Colbert Report and the Daily Show. So now I guess he’s more beholden to sponsors. He’s more beholden to the powers that be on the show.
And the audience.
Addison Reeves (22:06)
And the audience. He’s not… he’s lost his edge. He has lost his edge.
Watching him is so painful. You feel like there might be some intelligent man with maybe whom knows how far he’s gone, but he is tied up in his own success.
Addison Reeves (22:24)
Yeah. So, seeing that first segment on truthiness and then seeing his interview with Jon Stewart, or his segment with Jon Stewart when Jon Stewart was proposing that, you know, the virus probably leaked from a lab, and his reaction, I think a lot of people commented on his reaction being so blunt and so…
Addison Reeves (22:45)
Closed off, like trying to shut Jon Stewart down and trying to close off his segment. And Jon Stewart, you know, persisted and he was great. But the idea now that Stephen Colbert, the person who lampooned the right and their hypocrisy all those years now can’t see the same thing on the left and can’t recognize the facts and the data that’s out there and is now relying on his own truthiness in his show, it’s just crazy. I can’t believe he’s come this far. He’s done a complete 180.
I tend to think that success, the process of success, sets you up for turning on your cause, because you start to be beholden to so many interests that put so much pressure on you – say this, say that – so suddenly, your freedom is lost.
Addison Reeves (23:30)
Yeah. And that’s why people always accuse artists of selling out. They always love an artist’s earlier work, and they are always upset later on, they got watered down, they sold out. It’s always the case that success has its own demons that come with it.
You have to go your whole life unsuccessful, and then in the afterlife, hover over your legacy and enjoy the… I’m coming up with solutions here.
Addison Reeves (23:55)
Yeah, I love old classic movies, and I find Marilyn Monroe a very interesting figure because she’s so tragic. And so, I read a biography about her. And it’s just crazy to me to think that when she was at such heights, and she was this bombshell who was so famous around the world, she was miserable. She was so depressed, she was going in and out of hospitals, like mental facilities. She’s trying to commit suicide. And yet, from the outside, you would look at her and think she’s got it all. She’s got everything you could possibly want. She’s got the life. And yet, no, maybe it would have been better for her just to be a normal person because it seemed like she constantly had major insecurities about not being competent enough, I guess an imposter syndrome, you know, in trying to prove herself. And so, there’s so many ways that success can go wrong.
And I think I noticed it early on because my parents always pushed me to be successful. And by successful, I mean, you know, following career aspirations, climbing up the ladder, all of that, that was the path to success. And so, I started up that path, and then I quickly realized, after I went to graduate school, I realized that there’s much more to it. It’s not that you climb up the ladder and everything gets better, you have other worries, you have other stresses, you have other things. So, I had my own issues with imposter syndrome, too. And there’s alienation because if you come, as I did, from, you know, a poor background, and now you’re in this situation where you’re surrounded by people who are elite, and they’re very confident, and they expect everyone to think like they do, it can be very isolating to be in that situation. And that was something my parents couldn’t relate to because they hadn’t been in it. So, there are other costs and stressors and harms that come with “success.”
You know, it’s interesting because you’re mentioning Marilyn Monroe, but a few years ago, Kate Spade committed suicide.
Addison Reeves (25:45)
Oh, yeah, I vaguely remember that.
Yeah. And it was all over the news. And I was trying to wrap my head, especially I was going through an incredibly hard time financially. And I thought if I had money, I would send Seth to summer camp, and then I would have free time, and I’d be the happiest person. And then I see someone like Kate Spade who has all the money in the world and lives in a penthouse in Manhattan, and I try to wrap my head around how could you…? Of course, I understand. Of course, I understand. But also, a part of you is like how could you possibly?
Addison Reeves (26:12)
Right, you have everything at your disposal.
You have everything I want. And what I found was really interesting is everywhere you read, you try to read what was going on with this woman, all the conversation is, oh, she had a chemical imbalance; see, even successful people have depression. And that’s where the conversation ends. You can’t even talk about well, maybe success itself.
Addison Reeves (26:35)
No, that’s never the conversation. It’s almost like a success worship in our culture.
Addison Reeves (26:40)
Definitely. Because I’ve looked a lot into the idea of simple living, it really appeals to me. So, I’ve come to this place where I definitely think success, as it’s defined here, is not the right path and it doesn’t lead to contentment or happiness, at least not for me. And so, I’ve read all these different stories and books about people who’ve pursued paths of minimalism and simplicity and intentional poverty, you might say, and in communities that kind of run concurrent to that, like financial independence communities, there can still be a lot of disdain for that. There’s this idea that you have to be, even if you’re not in the rat race itself, you still have to be trying to succeed, you still have to be trying to climb something, you still have to be working around the clock to build something, to create your own business. You have to have success, whatever that is. So, there’s this idea that if you’re not achieving this success, as it’s defined by society, then you’re not really achieving meaning in your life. And you’re not, maybe not a good person, maybe you’re kind of lazy. And, you know, you’re not contributing your fair share.
And so, the idea that you could just want to spend time with your family, just make enough so that you have what you need and spend time with your family and be with your neighbors and take care of people who are sick, and you know, that to some people, to me, that sounds like a great life. But that’s not a good life by this society’s standards. By this society’s standards, you have to go and you have to leave and you have to go out and leave your family behind and go work, and then earn that money to use to pay for someone else to take care of your family and to take care of your needs. And it’s kind of a bizarre system. But that’s the idea of success is not having to take care of yourself, having to be able to pay someone else to take care of you.
But it’s interesting because you were talking in our last conversation about externalizing versus internalizing. And I very much tend to take it in myself. And a part of what I find I am especially plagued with is that I always have to push myself, like I have this internal gym coach, it’s like, you’re not doing enough, mean, constantly critical.
Addison Reeves (28:45)
I know. I can’t even blame society for it because I think it’s part of being the kind of person who takes everything on themselves. I think a part of my natural makeup that is especially well suited for this society in an unfortunate way is this idea that you constantly have to be doing more, doing more. And I don’t know, I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe it’s not necessarily a societal thing as much as it’s an internal desire. I sometimes wonder if it’s just the desire to feel like we do something.
Addison Reeves (29:16)
I think that’s still a societal thing. Because I think we live in a society that tells us we need to be doing all the time. We can’t just exist, we have to be doing something. And so, who knows, would you have had this if you had grown up in another culture where it’s okay for you to just be? Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.
But I think I have felt it, too. Like I have tendencies of perfectionism and I’ve kind of tried to rein that in a bit because I’ll go through the same thing. And that’s one of the reasons why I try to be good about saying no and staying away from things that I know will pull out that perfectionist tendency because I’ll do the same thing where I try to pull all the stuff together by myself and do it all, and it can be very stressful. So, I try to focus on this state of being that I want to feel all the time, which is more a state of peace and tranquility. So, I think it’s taken me time, but over the course of years, I’ve been able to say, you know what, being that person who’s constantly trying and moving and always going – and it’s still something I’m struggling with – but that person doesn’t feel good. You know, it’s stressful, it’s anxiety producing, I don’t feel good when I’m that person. So, I need to try to focus more on being the person who just is, the person who slows down, the person who is not going out as much. And it’s very much a struggle in New York City. But I think just over time, I’ve learned that it just doesn’t feel good to be the type A, constantly going, always moving…
Yeah. Why do you say it is a struggle in New York City? Because I find people stay in their apartments for weeks on end? No?
Addison Reeves (30:47)
Really? Well, I mean, you’re talking just pandemic or you’re talking even before the pandemic?
No, I guess just pandemic. Because before the pandemic, I’m always impressed with my tours – people are cramming, they do something before the tour, they do something during the tour, and after the tour. And I think to myself, I’d be so unhappy if I was made to spend a supposed vacation cramming my days like that, but I guess people were doing that always.
Addison Reeves (31:09)
Yeah. So, I felt this pressure. So I go to work, and you know, that takes up the bulk of my week. And then I want to meet up with friends and it’s this very New York thing to have to schedule people months in advance because everyone’s so booked up. So, I’ve got a friend, “Let’s meet,” and “Oh, but I’m not free until three months from now, let’s put that on the calendar,” and you can’t ever have an organic…
I get really frustrated. These days, I get so frustrated that I can’t wake up on Saturday and say, you know, it’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll go hiking or… I just want to go and do this today, like my weekend is already planned out pretty much every weekend. And that’s something I’m struggling with because I want to hang out with people, and I want to spend time with friends. But then when I wake up on Saturday, and my Saturday is already scheduled out and I already have all these things to do and I can’t just sit and relax and be and then move slowly and figure out what I feel that day, I can’t respond to what I’m feeling. I have to… it’s my day is already planned. And then it feels like my weekend is already over before it even began because it’s just another scheduled day in my life. And I can’t just sit and exist.
And I think New York pulls that out of you… I’ve had struggles where I’m socializing with people, and at the end of the work week, on a Friday night, I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. I want to relax. And I’ll meet up with other people who, especially people who don’t have nine to five jobs who want to go out and they want to party. And so, I’ve been told that I’m a homebody, which is crazy to me, because even though, I do have a lot of domestic interests, I have spent so much of my life in New York going out. The people at my job are always like, “What are you doing this weekend? You do so many things.” And they think I’m crazy for all the things I do. But to other people in New York, I’m a homebody because I don’t want to go out every single night and party. And I think there’s just a pressure.
Even just socializing, we always have to be doing something. If I meet up with a friend, after we decide when on the schedule we’re going to meet, the next question is, okay, what are we going to do? And that doing, it always involves, you know, doing something specific. It always involves probably going to a restaurant or a show or something. We have to be doing something. We can’t just meet and be.
And hangout. Yeah, just go to the park.
Addison Reeves (33:15)
Yeah. I mean, sometimes we do. But most of the time, it is like, okay, now we have to find something to do together. And it’s something that we’ll both like and something we’ll both enjoy, and often it involves spending money.
Addison Reeves (33:23)
It’s never, I noticed, I was starting to think about this a couple years ago when I was evaluating my life and realizing it’s not where I want it to be, it’s never integrated. Socializing, work, and leisure are really not very well integrated. Socializing and leisure can be integrated. But you know how I do all my cooking. I can’t… I’m reading a book, , I think it’s called, where they talk about ancestral food traditions. And there was one chapter that really resonated with me because the author was talking about how in all these traditional cultures, the community would get together and they would prepare the foods, they would ferment foods for the upcoming season. So, they would all have the abundance of the harvest, they would do that together, and they would sing songs, and they would have a party. And I was like that is what I’m missing.
All the work of my life, of my life task, all of the, you know, the cooking and the cleaning, the things that I need to do to support myself, that’s all completely solo. It’s not, I can’t incorporate my social life, I mean, I guess I could try. But it’s not… Most people aren’t really doing all of the things that I’m doing. And so, there’s no way to have a communal feel around these things. So, I just do them in isolation, and that takes up time. And then I do this work and that’s isolated from my home life and my social life. And so, there’s different areas of my life that are completely isolated from each other. And it just makes you feel busy all the time because you’re constantly trying to juggle all of these things, and they’re not interrelated.
I play a little bit of video games with Seth, and everything in a video game, if you play simulation world, is compartmentalized. Like now you’re cooking, and you have six points for cooking; and now you’re eating, you have two points for eating. And you are like that’s not how it works. Like now you give flowers to a potential mate, and they like the flowers you’re giving so you get one heart point towards love. And I’m like, no, this is not how it works. Because in real life, if you give the roses they like, but you’re the pimple-faced suitor that they don’t like, you’re not getting a heart point. But every single video game player, of course, has the exact same formula in life. And I feel like this is what modern society…
Addison Reeves (35:30)
Even the concept that you have to be rewarded for these things, you have to be paid or compensated for these things, is problematic.
So, I think all the video games that these boys are playing, they’re growing up on, is introducing them to a really horrible concept of if you know the right things the girl likes and you do them, then you must be rewarded in the end. And that it also really promotes the idea of progress because you keep upgrading. That’s how these video games are built. It really has a huge effect on these kids, the way video games are designed. But I used to do food tours for, I think it’s… I don’t remember what it’s called. But they would also do that you would go to someone’s house and cook with them. Part of my revelation of how we’ve turned everything into a business and everything into an industry and a segment has been realizing that something that should be organic, that you go to someone’s house and maybe you’re not in the mood, but you are in the mood and you’re obligated, you do these things that are part of your world, become instead you pay someone money and they give you the experience. And it’s never the same once it’s mediated by money.
Addison Reeves (36:40)
Yeah. So, I visited Jamaica a few years ago, and I went to the countryside in Jamaica. And it was so different. The pace was so different, and it felt so much more human. So, people are walking around, and people are going about their day, and they’re very friendly. They’re talking to each other, their neighbors, they know each other. I visited a household where they’re there, the family’s there, and they’re cooking together and they’re all sharing food, and someone just came over and cooked. And like first of all, that is kind of unusual these days, like if a family is getting together, we’re going to a restaurant. We are not cooking. And then they just stayed on the porch and just talked for hours.
And like that in New York City could be crazy. Like people have so many things to do. We don’t have time to sit leisurely on the porch in the sunshine, watching the goats like walking by. And it wasn’t just the family, somebody, a neighbor would come by and would just be walking by. They’d walk two miles, you know, because it’s not, it’s rural. So, the two miles, it wasn’t a big deal to them. Here, that’d be like, oh my god, it’s too much time, we can’t do that. But they’d walk two miles and just stop by and just hang out. And it was just a slower, more human pace of life. And everything was outside, everything was open air, all the buildings were open to the outside environment and weren’t hermetically sealed, like we are here. So, it just felt much more communal. It felt much more ancestral. And people have the time to really be there for each other. So, a neighbor could come and walk a couple miles to help you out with whatever. And here, like God forbid, you’ll be lucky if you could get someone to help you move, to get a close friend to help you move to a new apartment, you know.
You just hire somebody.
Addison Reeves (38:15)
Yes, exactly. So, there was much more a sense of community. These people didn’t, you know, there wasn’t a television on. They weren’t all sitting watching television, they were just talking. That’s it. There was no entertainment, there was no let’s go do something, we’ve got to find something to do. It was just sitting on the porch and talking about whatever. And that’s lost. In The Importance of Living, he talks about that, how you need to be able to have good conversations. It is an important aspect of life just to be able to sit with your friends with your feet up on the table just having a very relaxed conversation. I think we’ve kind of lost that because we’re always in such a rush.
I think in general; I love a good conversation. But I cannot have a good conversation if you look down at your phone every five minutes. That is not the same. If you meet an old friend and you start to talk and it’s the kind of friend where you can talk for hours, but they’re looking at their phone. I mean, it’s just lost.
Addison Reeves (39:04)
Yeah, that’s so common these days. That’s what I mean, technology, it seems so small, so minor. But something like that makes such a big difference in how people process information and how they relate to other people. And all of this, when you add it all up, it’s having such an effect on the way people think. And the way people think is having an effect on our politics and what’s happening today. It’s all related.
In the end, the public, I think, has been effectively lobotomized. We really, really have a confluence of really big problems. And one of them is that the public is so, so anesthetized by spending so much time watching and seeing. And it just does something to you. I see it in myself. I’m not saying, I have a very addictive personality, so I know that maybe I’m extreme, but when I have these devices, it just does something to my mind where I’m constantly like, oh, let me refresh, maybe something came in.
Addison Reeves (39:56)
I feel it too. No, I definitely… it’s human nature. It’s the, you know, like the dopamine hit that we get whenever we get the little pings. I do, too. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t have internet on my phone. Because at first, I wasn’t happy about it, but over time, I realized it’s so much better. I’m so much more independent. I’m not constantly looking at my phone. I am not constantly a slave to my phone. I’m not always checking to see what someone else is thinking. I have space to think for myself, I have space to read long form books, and to not constantly be seeing what’s going on in the world. And it’s crazy, like we said at the beginning, people’s own perceptions are being replaced by what they’re being told.
Your mind does not have the time to process. This is something video games can never capture. Epiphanies don’t come to us when we have six things filled in our inventory box. It’s a process of going through life and thinking and seeing, and suddenly, we have this realization. Out of the blue, we suddenly have this thought. It just requires a certain amount of time of your mind just doing its thing. I’ve been looking for a Luddite movement for a while because I thought there must be people…
Addison Reeves (41:09)
You’re in a Facebook group, right?
Addison Reeves (41:12)
But it’s probably tiny.
Addison Reeves (41:14)
Yes, yes, it is. It is a worldwide group that has like 70 people in it.
Really? But it is on Facebook.
Addison Reeves (41:19)
From around the whole world. Yeah.
But you know, there’s so much… I hate the attitude of, well, if you’re a Luddite group, you shouldn’t be on Facebook. What the heck should we do? How should we meet?
Addison Reeves (41:30)
Yeah. And you know, so much of the public square has basically been eroded because everything’s online now. Being a Luddite doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all technology. And just like there are different political persuasions, there are different types of Luddites. There might be some who are on the extreme end who don’t want any technology at all. And then that even gets to the question of what is technology? Is a bow and arrow technology? Somebody who is an ancestral hunter-gatherer primitivist like they might not consider that technology but someone else might. Yeah, I don’t think that it means we have to give up all technology, it means that we’re more intentional about our use of technology and that we don’t want to just universally adopt every piece of technology that comes along.
Edward Curtin, who I really like, writes a lot about technology, like a pencil is technology. To be a Luddite today, it’s to be critical of some parts of this behemoth. It doesn’t mean that we want to live in shacks without running water.
Addison Reeves (42:26)
Exactly. That’s exactly it. I think there’s this caricature of what a Luddite is. And even this example that you’re using about the pencil versus, you know, the computer, I have noticed such a difference in my writing. I don’t think people appreciate how much technology affects the way you think. So, when I’m writing on the computer, I mean, it can flow sometimes. But it’s definitely a much more tortured process, it’s a lot more stopping and trying to think through what I mean. Whereas when I’m writing on paper, it just flows out of me and I can’t stop, it just keeps on going, you know. And then when I write on paper, I think it triggers something in my mind that I’m still continuing to compose, even when I’m no longer writing, whereas with the computer, it’s more self-contained. Like once I’ve written on the computer, my mind isn’t in as high a gear as I am when I’m writing with the pencil on paper. So, I definitely notice it.
That is so interesting.
Addison Reeves (43:15)
Yeah, I notice a big difference between that.
Actually, in David Cayley’s Conversations with Ivan Illich, Illich tells him that to this day, he could tell on every single book if it was written on word processor.
Addison Reeves (43:30)
But I thought really? Could you tell? But this is the kind of question when I’m interested in luddism, I’m not interested in throwing all my tech out, obviously, I’m surrounded by tech. I’m interested in this question. What happens, actually, when you write on paper? Because now it’s too much work; my handwriting has gotten too bad. It’s too much work, I’m not going to do it. But I want to understand the process. What’s lost? Maybe it’s not worth it.
Addison Reeves (43:55)
Yeah, it’s definitely different. I think we lose so much. And you know, I used to write – I still write – in a journal, and so I started handwriting things. Maybe that’s part of it is because I’ve developed this ability to write, just have this stream of consciousness flow in my journal from since I was in high school. So maybe I’m more, you know, trained to do it. My mind’s more used to this style. But I don’t think that’s fully it, because they’ve even done studies where when people read on the computer versus reading on books, I mean, I guess you can make the same argument that maybe they’re trained to read on books, but there’s something different. I notice when I have to proofread something, if I proofread it on the screen, on the computer screen, versus proofreading it on paper, I always catch so many more things on paper than I do trying to look on a computer screen.
Really? That’s very interesting.
Addison Reeves (44:40)
Yeah. And I don’t think people realize that it’s changing them because it feels so subtle. You think you’re thinking in the same way, that you’re writing the same way, you’re reading the same way. You don’t even realize that it’s happening. And now people have been changed and they don’t realize that they’ve been changed. They think it’s exactly the same as it was and don’t even remember what it was like before smartphones and computers. Now, we have generations of people who never experienced life without it. Who knows what it’s doing to their brains. I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like I’ve heard – maybe I’m not even going to say it because it could be completely speculative – I think I’ve heard that there have been higher rates of like ADHD in younger generations.
Yeah, I think so. I mean, but there’s always the argument is it more diagnosed or is it…?
Addison Reeves (45:20)
That’s true, too.
Yeah. But of course, I mean, you can just look around and you’ll see, if you just look at what kids can handle for students now versus what they were able to, let’s say, in the 60s, there is no doubt in my mind that there’s an increase of concentration problems.
Addison Reeves (45:35)
Yeah. I mean, how can there not be? If you have a smartphone from the time you are a kid, and you’re constantly getting all these pings and notifications, and your mind’s now been adapted to constantly being interrupted, how could you focus under such conditions? There was some kind of study that came out and it said that this generation of people have much lower hand grip strength than people and generations, you know, decades ago, right? And then lower hand grip strength is associated with, I guess, higher mortality rates, or like a little shorter lifespan, something like that, right? So of course, people see this and they’re like, oh, my God, this is a bad thing. I’ve got to change this, so let me get one of those little hand squeeze exercise machines and I’ll use that and that is going to fix the problem.
So, nobody thinks, okay well, life has changed so much, it becomes so much easier, and there’s so much more technology, that we’re no longer engaging our bodies in such a way that our hand strength is developing. Instead, it’s like let’s find the simple solution that’s not really a solution, it is just a Band-Aid that’s not going to fix the underlying problem, which is how much life has changed. So, people no longer even recognize that the change in life has happened that I feel like that’s what’s going to happen with the kids. These kids are going to be adults, they’re not going to function the same way that our generation or older generations have functioned. But no one’s going to recognize that it was the technology and the change in lifestyle that did it. They are just going to say this is the way it is now. And maybe they can do some brain activities on their phone and that will help them.
Well, already, isn’t it Luminosity or whatever they keep advertising, supposedly keeps your brain sharp. I used to be like oh, I guess I should do that sometimes. Now, I’m like, no! Liar! Because I don’t believe it. I don’t believe the entire premise of these technologies delivering an equivalent.
Addison Reeves (47:16)
Yeah, it’s very dubious.
Yeah. Based on what? Their own metrics that they’ve designed.
Addison Reeves (47:23)
There’s something so lost in our society. I really do think the culture here – I think that’s really where I’m at with New York. I feel like New York itself, the culture, the focus on technology, the focus on fast paced, the focus on work, I think it’s all very bad for human beings. I think it has a detrimental effect on community, it has a detrimental effect on your feeling of dignity, your feeling of being able to connect with others, your feeling of being able to live your own life fully and express yourself, I feel like all of those things are harmed by this really monstrous, urban behemoth culture that we have here. And I don’t think it has to be… I don’t know, maybe… I don’t know. Because it seems like, I’m sure you’ve noticed, that all of the craziness with regards to lockdown, all the hysteria, has been focused in cities. So, I don’t know how much of this is just maybe urban areas are prone to all this hysteria and insanity. Or if there’s something also about New York that’s more specifically growth-focused and more specifically progressive, and it’s just so centered on trying to be on the cutting edge of all of these things and trying to focus on making as much money as possible that it just completely corrodes human spirit.
I mean, it’s also New York, the media is here. New York is unaffordable to normal people. The people who have largely taken the apartments and driven up the prices are often very likely… like my apartment next door, someone moved in, just two people, and they have a big apartment. The people before them were squeezed in there. You know, you see that change of people who work from home and are comfortable that has come to New York. But also, I think there is a philosophy of modern life, of the world, which is that modern society causes us to live squeezed together so we will have to respond to any potential plague with a lockdown. And that’s why cities are so good for spinning that narrative. New York is terribly infected. I walked through the streets, I didn’t see what we were supposed to see – bodies lying everywhere.
Addison Reeves (49:32)
Yeah, I don’t understand why people don’t recognize that given how congested we are and how much contact we have with each other and how we’re all squeezed into these tiny little cars on the subway or the bus, that New York would have fallen. If it had been as bad as people were making it out, New York would have really fallen, and we would have definitely seen it. Everybody would have gotten it. It wouldn’t have been a matter of, oh my gosh, you have to go get tested to see if you have it, you know. Like if it was as bad as they’re saying, New York would have been… it would have been like The Decameron, it would have been like people would be away at home, people would have been… I guess people did flee. But it would have been more noticeable in our daily lives, and we would have been more affected. And we would have… I think the numbers would have been so much more dramatic. I am so shocked that people are so outraged by the numbers that New York had because the way I look at it, when you think about the millions of people here and you think about how much contact we have and how easily something could spread here, the numbers to me seem very low when you think about all of those factors.
The people are outraged. You’ll tell them three and they will be like, “Three!” It’s absurd.
Addison Reeves (50:35)
“A person died yesterday from COVID! Oh my God, we’ve got to close everything down!” I really do want to see the statistics. I want to see a comparison. Although now, who knows, they might be coding heart attacks as COVID deaths.
Yeah, all the data is so unreliable at this point. It’s so muddled. But in the end of the day, the reality is staring us in the face, this is part of life, nothing to stop and grind the world to a halt. Definitely not since the spring of 2020.
Addison Reeves (51:07)
Yeah, and that’s what’s so frustrating to me about all of this. It is this larger question of how do we live? How do we live? What risk do we accept? There’s a question of how to live as a human, how to be human. And we’re not allowed to answer that question for ourselves anymore. It’s being imposed on us, this ridiculous answer in which we have to try to avoid all risk forever and not live our lives because, apparently, living a life longer is more important than living a life of quality, which I definitely do not agree with. But apparently, I don’t have a say now in how to live my own life.
I don’t know where there’s going to be salvation.
Yeah. I’m going to let you go because you gave me a ton of your time. And I love to talk to you.
Yes. I love to talk to you. Thank you for having me back.
#30 of Podcast with Addison on Vaccine Mandates
#28 of Podcast with Addison from Modern Heretic
#18 of Podcast on the short story The Machine Stops