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Once I started writing this video I realized that there was a great deal that I wasn't going to be able to fit into a 4 minute video. There are times, like when I'm watching a Logan Paul video or reading about Tide Pod challenges that the natural response for an older adult is to just overwhelming anxiety for next generation.

And, indeed, I've watched as bad ideas (much worse than tide pods) have taken over young people in a way I did not expect and am extremely stressed out by. I worry a lot about people who figure out how to capture this energy for their own gain and do not consider the responsibility that their power brings, or think that they are righteous when they are in fact leaning into culturally destructive ideas.

But also, I have found the level of responsibility pretty paralyzing. John and I have both been shying away from cultural criticism on this channel because, like, I feel more and more drawn to stability and that means compassion for people who are intolerant, but don't necessarily know they are. And I feel like people often (maybe rightfully, I don't know) get roasted for that kind of behavior.

So this video was a surface-level discussion of a deeper and more intense thing that I've been experiencing, and that is pushing me a little bit away from four-minute explorations of culture because:

1. I don't know if I have the guts to put myself on the line for things that I completely recognize I might be wrong about.

2. I don't know if internet-based, echo-chamber-riddled discussion about any of these things is actually helping.

Also, a thing I cut from this is how, just like genetic mutations usually do nothing, I believe we can freak out about cultural changes that actually have no real effect on people. And sometimes the changes are absolutely negative. The way brains are set up after new dopamine channels open around puberty to when the frontal cortex finishes developing in the mid-20s is a recipe for indulging in bad ideas, and individuals certainly suffer when that carries them to the wrong place. Culture at large can suffer as well.

But it can also mean great things...great change...great action. And that's how I'm feeling right now.

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Good Morning John, it's Friday. Today, I wanna talk about young people.

But first, I wanna talk about evolution. There is a thing called mutagenesis -it's when a new change is introduced to the genome of an organism. By far the most common effect of a mutation is nothing. Like, it changes an area of the genome that doesn't code for anything or the protein changes but it doesn't change enough for it to matter. 

Occasionally though, the mutation will allow the cell to divide uncontrolled, and that's cancer. But also, even more rarely, the change is good. It allows the organism to digest a new kind of food or it makes it bigger when it needs to be bigger, or smaller when it needs to be smaller, or hairier when it's colder out, or less hairy if its hot.

While, on average, mutagenesis is really bad for individuals, without it there would either be no life on earth or there would be one kind of life and it would be little single-celled sludge.

Genetic mutagens are things like sunlight, other sources of radiation, certain oxidizing compounds, a bunch of different crazy hydrocarbons. Those things create mutations inside of organisms. But it turns out that evolution seems to actually select for a certain amount of mutagenesis. Like, it wants some mutation to happen. There's a balance.

So there's external mutagenesis, and there also seems to be internal, intentional mutagenesis.And I started thinking about young people as cultural mutagens back when I was still a youth. It sounds bad, but it's not.

Culture, obviously, can be understood evolutionarily. Like, the things that work stick around. That doesn't mean that those things are good or bad, it just means they're working. That can be institutions like marriage or fast food restaurants. It can be ideas like human rights or tribalism. And culture mutates. Like, from the perspective of a biologist, it mutates extremely quickly. But also, it needs to.

Look, I am now what could properly be called middle-aged, and I am frightened by the pace of change as I witness it as I continue to live in the world. Fairly regularly, I will think to myself: "Okay, how about, I don't know, we spend a little bit of time getting used to the current complete revolution in how humans communicate with each other before moving on to revolutionizing the entire global financial system with cryptocurrencies?"

Like, I don't - take a - just slow down, a little bit! Get on a boat, do a little bit of fishing, have a couple drinks, noodle around on the guitar. And now I'm Jimmy Buffett, great. Thanks. Wonderful. That's what I wanted.

But young people, for a number of actual, physiological reasons, as well as practical ones and cultural ones and psychological ones, I think are built to create change. To take risks, to avoid stability, to mutate culture, to make things, to imagine a world that's deeply different from the one that I've gotten really used to.

I am worried about what happens to individuals and also even culture at large when the wrong change takes hold. But also, I'm old! [laughs]

I recognize that society without change is destined for a sorry, sad end. And I think that a really important thing to remember here is that, unlike genetic evolution, cultural evolution can be done with intent. It can be done carefully and thoughtfully. Which is why I want to say to people who talk to young people for a living: this is an extremely important job that you have. You may not be being valued by society correctly, but that does not mean that you are not creating that value.

And, I want to say, to the 12 to 24 year olds out there: you might feel powerless, sometimes, but in some ways, right now, you are the most powerful you will ever be because you can imagine the world in a way that I no longer can.

And that's not an indictment of getting older, it's a recognition that different life stages serve different roles in culture. So use your fuel wisely, use it often, and thanks for inspiring us old folks.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.