Social Trends

Across all of society, certain patterns take hold across many people. They run their course the exact same way, every single time. They flow through a “soft human universal“, and can only be augmented, but can never be stopped.

In fact, barring human universals themselves, everything is a trend:

Most people must understand a trend to adopt it, so every successful trend’s essence can be simply described. Each trend is a symbolic conclusion to a story that started with a group that recognized a problem and tried to fix it.

Almost everything we do that affects others is influenced by a group’s standards, and those standards are mostly previous trends that have reached maturity. With the possible exception of technology, everything is simply a remix of a previous trend.

Trends are the application of creativity and habits across people, and there’s plenty to profit by knowing them in advance. However, they’re incessantly unpredictable and messy to precisely predict, so it’s only useful to gauge with intuition.

The purpose for a trend proliferating ignores what others may think at first, but as it trend matures everyone brings a variety of creative approaches, and the purpose for adopting the trend mutates as increasingly more people get involved in it. The speed of the trend’s movement is based on how fast people will accept it, which is based on how much people feel satisfied that they fulfilled their purposes.


A trend transitions through a series of stages. Each stages can last for days or weeks, but sometimes a stage can linger for centuries. Most trends move at the speed of information transfer.

It’s worth noting that each person’s status in a trend doesn’t really mean much for other trends. Younger people generally adopt trends faster, but it’s all based on how much people are willing to change. Very frequently, people who are savvy on some trends are lagging behind others, by virtue of specialization of focus.

A. Taboo/Impossible/Ridiculous

At first, something is unusual. If it’s really unusual, it’ll often be taboo.

Typically, the trend starts by not even existing within the group, and only a few brave, creative, or unconventional people are exploring it. But, nearly everyone is afraid to try it, outside of people who don’t concern themselves with how they’ll appear, who simply haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.

The trend always start at the fringe of the group’s understanding. The only people who engage with it are willing to break from that group’s expectations, typically because they’re exploring another culture.

While the thing may exist in another group, nobody will believe it to be worth trying, or will have additional untrue beliefs that imply it’s useless or bad.

The trend will have advocates, though, who sincerely believe that the thing will answer a problem. Most of the time, they’re watching what they say about it. Most large systems turn bad by crafting elaborate stories to maintain the taboo.

For smaller trends, like variations of a different trend, people won’t feel opposed to it, but will wonder why that remix is even necessary.

B. Possible, But Weird

At this point, a few outliers will have the courage to try that thing. They’re about 2.5% of the group, and almost always fit a few specific archetypes:

Unlike everyone else, these people have often made habits of breaking convention, and usually explore the thing for fun or to fight presently established things. This unique way of living means their personalities are completely different from the rest of their group.

While they’re called “innovators”, they’re not that innovative because most of their rule-breaking will get them in trouble and other people later will reap the brilliance. At most, across their lifetime, they’ll probably break 1-2 conventions that become dramatic trends. The rest of their efforts are either too premature or awful ideas that never take off.

Often, many of them are labeled heretics and outcasts. Their risk-taking and public shame provokes them to usually live solitary lives, but they can sometimes congregate in a community of like-minded risk-takers. Their choice is usually driven by an overwhelming passion.

Large trends start with innovators who were extremely creative or extremely foolish. However it happened, they broke an invisible “wall” of society in a way that was useful.

C. Cool, But Uncommon

Some people like to break convention but are still afraid of breaking a taboo. These “early adopters” represent about 13.5% of a group, and are constantly balancing the delicate relationship between the competing desires to innovate and conform.

Most early adopters are closely watching the innovators to gain influence with the rest of the group by attaching their identity to something before anyone else. They’re paying very close attention to a few specific things:

  1. The conflicts between the innovators and everyone else over time.
  2. Whether the innovators’ ideas are feasible.
  3. Whether the innovators’ ideas could be fashionable.

When their intuition senses that the public will generally accept something, they’ll adopt it in an attempt to influence everyone else toward it. They not only have to have evidence that the idea is true, but that others will also like it.

The most creative uses of the thing come with the early adopters, mostly because there are very few established rules or expectations of how to use it.

Early adopters’ experiments will yield remarkable solutions and abuses of power, but nowhere near as prevalent as later on. However, its novelty will generate major public reactions from it.

An early adopter successfully advancing a trend is unlikely. However, they’re closely calculating and straddling social expectations, so they never really suffer the stigma that innovators tend to receive. Early adopters and groups made of early adopters, though, almost always interpret those trends as “game-changers”, and will share them with inflated expectations on the belief everyone will love it with mere persuasion.

Most of the time, looking back, trends are attributed more to early adopters than innovators. The name (which is usually from the early adopter) becomes a symbol for the thing that unfairly disregards innovators who actually started the trend or the previous trends that warmed everyone up to it.

In groups, most trends die with early adopters, usually revisiting at least a few generations later with a different culture of the same group. If enough people identified with the thing once it died, they become a separate niche group that’s more easily swayed toward future trends similar to it.

As the majority of people see the results of something with the early adopters, an early majority (about 34% of the group) will change their beliefs to adopt the thing. The earliest people in the early majority may not earn all the popularity, but they frequently gain the most power through the trend from the early adopters paving the way already.

The early majority starts something because they see proof it has worked and has been proven to benefit their purposes:

  • The thing is stable and well-received already, or at least looks like it is.
  • The group’s leaders approve of it (at least enough that they imagine it’s useful and they don’t feel threats to their power).
  • There’s a defined educational system on how to work with it or operate it.
  • Other people with the same personality as them have already adopted it.
  • The resource cost (usually price) is at or lower than the resource cost for the alternative older way trends and rituals.

Like early adopters’ conflict, the early majority also care a lot about how they look. However, they’re far more terrified of breaking the group’s rules.

At this point, the trend will spread across a variety of social groups beyond simple hearsay or small talk:

  1. A major city with a history of trendsetters will almost universally adopt the trend.
  2. Other major cities with histories of trendsetters will quickly follow that trend. However, to meet a new variety of purposes, it will often need to “remix” as a new trend for those groups.
  3. The remixes will keep changing the trend as it shifts through an ongoing design or development. Each of these changes are their own mini-trend.
  4. Other people who don’t identify with the values of the trend at all will start copying or imitating the trend and its styles. This is where the trend develops a ridiculous range of variety, with many people each making small contributions to the changes.
  5. Popular media will showcase the trend, furthering the public’s awareness of it. Once the most popular media of a society has shown the trend (e.g., movies in the 20th century), the trend is memorialized as a permanent fixture of society. From here, the trend will cycle, but never be totally forgotten.

E. Social Standard

As the majority starts making the trend a habit, another late majority (about 34% of the population) will notice that most people have adopted the trend.

At this point, the late majority will conform standards to that trend, but not willingly. Instead, they’re afraid of the social push-back if they break the newly established social rules, since the trend has become so prevalent that they’re at risk of committing a taboo by not honoring it.

A trend that becomes a social standard is a constraint because everyone assumes it’s a universal value. They usually also presume that everyone else assumes it as well, or is at least somewhat familiar with its ubiquity.

At this stage, most creative efforts that change the trend are streamlining its use, so there’s very little development toward exploring new ideas:

  • Making it cheaper, faster, or easier to understand.
  • Simplifying it, removing elements, or making it more attractive to engage otherwise uninterested people.

The result of all this is that it becomes very, very boring, and all the innovators find more interesting things to do.

Every organization that benefits from a trend wants to keep a trend at this stage. Many organizations convert to bad systems or arise in this stage.

If enough people abide by the standard, there’s a chance a sub-trend will arise inside that constrained trend. This will become a microcosm of the original trend. If that trend becomes a social standard, and enough people continue using it, a sub-sub-trend system can persist into indefinitely specific capacities.

If a bad system exploits a trend, they’re overstepping their boundaries and pushing their power as far as the trend will permit them. If they’re sensible, they can often create a Social Standard Zombie while sacrificing quality. Otherwise, they’ll make everyone sick of the trend and it’ll quickly fade.

The peak of a trend is right before the demonstration of a grandiose, obscene, audacious over-expression of that trend:

  • Putting as many people/elements into a medium as possible.
  • Mixing multiple things together that generate feelings of disgust by most people observing it.
  • Giving near-impossible promises with the trend that are near-impossible to even imagine.

The first signs of a trend losing power is when humor starts parodying and trivializing it.

F0. Laggards

Some people will always refuse to adopt a trend. These people are “laggards”, and will never adopt it. They usually represent about 16% of the group.

Laggards only adopt because they absolutely must, and often only because the law has become punitive. Many laggards are defiantly set in their habits, but creative laggards can become the innovators of other trends that run counter to those trends.

The laggards’ passion dictates how long a trend can be a Social Standard Zombie. The more passion, the faster they’ll successfully build a trend that opposes it.

F1. Social Standard Zombie

There’s no need to shift from many things once we’ve grown accustomed to them (e.g., writing, toilet paper). We eventually make habits that work with them, then consciously forget the elements of what we’re following.

If the trend stays a standard for years, people treat it as a necessity. Often, after many years, they’ll forget what it was like not having it! By this point, most people never really identify with it because it’s become mundane and commonplace.

When a trend is established, new trends assume that trend is part of existence alongside nature itself:

  • Marketing trends right now presume that most people have an internet-connected computer.
  • Novelty cups presume people are familiar with cups.
  • Steering wheel covers presume people drive cars.

When looking ahead, people tend to imagine a social standard will continue forever. However, the only thing that will continue indefinitely is the purposes behind that trend:

  • People will always need to communicate the need to buy and sell, irrespective of computers’ existence.
  • People always need a means to store liquids, even without cups.
  • Automotives aren’t permanent, but we’ll always need to easily and safely get from one point to another.

Naturally, every organization that profits off a trend will do what they can to maintain it, since they want their thing to stay a social standard:

Plus, most older people simply like things the way they are.

F2. Sickening

A trend starts outliving its usefulness to the point that people become disgusted with it:

  • Other trends may have arisen that outpace what that trend can do.
  • Sometimes, new technology made that trend obsolete.
  • People can grow tired of the hype or familiarity of the trend.
  • On occasion, the entire trend can become nothing more than evoked feelings of nostalgia.

As a trend starts dying, people will create away from the trend. It’s difficult to establish when a trend dies because everyone individually diverges their purpose to something else, and they often do it instinctively.

The majority of people who still use the trend are acting from habit. Innovators and early adopters either desperately seek new trends because they don’t trust the current trend, or have already moved on to another trend to fit their purposes. Soon enough, nearly everyone else will follow.

The leadership of a dead trend is usually unaware of the warning signs from their most risk-prone members leaving. Typically, they’ll believe that they’ve finally “purged” the last threats to their power and created complete order, often right before they suffer a crushing defeat from an outside source.

If a trend has many people who invested tons of power into it, the trend will fade very quickly.

G. Quaint/Relic

A trend will eventually fade from use, but not from everyone’s memory. For decades, people will talk about that trend and compare it to others, often symbolizing past life stages. After about 20 years, a generation of people will nostalgically remember it so much (and have the resources to re-live it) that the trend will resurge into the public consciousness again.

Anyone who chooses to use the trend at this point will either be an innovator looking for a variation from current conventions or a laggard unwilling to move on to another trend.

Most late adopters and laggards have a habitual association with an old trend, so they tend to not change as fast as everyone else. They tend to be older, with that trend peaking when they were about 10-20 years old. This tends to dissuade the youth from their trends and magnifies the trend’s image as a product of its era.

If anyone ever creates with an old trend without remixing it, they’re usually bad systems with low-quality offerings that satisfy aging laggards. They’re either retrofitting another more popular trend or working in a cottage industry to meet laggards’ expectations. After a certain point, it won’t be worth sustaining.

H. De-Contextualized

If the public has become fully aware of something, it will keep itself as part of the culture’s tradition. It’ll show up in small ways, in a variety of formats but mostly through small talk, often as a reference to the past:

  • A nostalgic remembrance of a different time.
  • An accounted history of the right way to live or do.
  • A cautionary tale of what to not do.

The oral tradition of sharing past trends keeps the trend alive, but as a “soft” understanding that misses many key details about the reason for that trend in the first place.

The tradition of re-telling the story empowers that trend to begin again in the future as a cycle with another generation. Without it, that new generation will rediscover it and the trend will start again as if it were new.

As time persists, the trend will lose all sense of its original meaning. It’ll get smashed together with other fashions of the time. Since our memory of history is fuzzy, it’ll lose progressively more context until it becomes the long-distant echoes of a mysterious practice. The youth will see it as a mark of human achievement or shame, depending on how the culture values its elderly.

Sometimes, a trend-resistant organization (e.g., education industry) will take give old trends from the past undue praise by virtue of their age. Often, they’ll make a tedious mess of something originally intended for fun. Other times, history simply fades the story:

  • Most clothing fashions of any artistic depiction are only the ceremonial wear, and people wore more mundane work clothes most of the time: Rome’s senate didn’t always wear togas, guards didn’t always wear full gear, Reformation-era settlers didn’t always wear buckled hats.
  • Hygiene in the Middle Ages was a well-honored value. However, it’s funnier to see the peasantry clothed in more mud than clothing, so the trope maintains itself.
  • Ancient Greek and Roman art was vibrant and colorful. However, the paint wore off the marble, meaning the popular image was that white marble was the standard.
  • William Shakespeare’s works are dry and dull for us to read. In his time, they were full of pop culture references, slang, base humor, and silly stories.
  • Poetry was once a song and dance, more like our modern-day rock concerts. Somewhere in between, educators removed the performance aspect and translating languages removed the rest of any flow it would have had.
  • Most classic films and music were the best-quality offerings of a relatively homogeneous spread at the time they were created. We look at them as original because nobody imitates that style anymore, but most of them were just doing a good job at standard practice for the time.


Every trend’s cycle, if spread across more than a few years, travels through a few meta-stages:

  1. Prototype – The trend is a creative derivative of its parent trend, and heavily defined by it. Adherents are often responding or rebelling against the parent trend, but that counter-reaction still drives it. People are still conforming to something, even if it’s dogmatic anti-establishment sentiments.
  2. Renaissance – If the trend gains enough influence, brilliant minds are free to openly explore the meta-trend at their leisure. Most of the effort here is intellectual, wealth tends to reward genius at this stage, and the meta-trend becomes the new “establishment”. This will be the Golden Age of the trend where most of its legacy persists whenever that glory eventually fades.
  3. Romanticized – After the meta-trend reaches maturity, it will dovetail with many other trends and blossom new remixes. The Romantic Era of the meta-trend will be defined by explorations into whatever people feel the strongest. Most of that meta-trend’s future stereotypes and silly oversimplifications come from this era.
  4. Deconstruction – The meta-trend will devolve into a type of Post-Modern Era. Its creative output will be self-referential and critical of itself. Most of the leadership’s efforts will maintain their fading control and hold onto whatever power is left in the movement. That leadership will also imagine the meta-trend can last forever (often from misunderstanding everyone’s responses), and the stage will be set for a new meta-trend to carry the spirit of whatever the meta-trend’s Prototype stage once had.


When we predict trends, we’re relatively reliable at guessing what trends will come, but are awful at predicting timing, even with robust analysis.

Each trend consists of sub-trends that can spin off on their own (all of them drilling down to each individual’s understanding and inner conflicts), so we can only look ahead a few months at the most before every model becomes useless.

A trend is a series of many stories playing out, so we can only reliably see a short-term trend, and can only somewhat reliably guess the long-term. So, we usually understand enough to see something coming, but don’t know where to position ourselves to profit the most from it.

The only way we’d be able to reliably predict the timing of a trend would be to understanding all the trends and technology that haven’t happened yet in between where we are and what we envision. We’d also have to consider all major factors that could tweak the trend’s adoption (example here).

The length of a trend’s phase comes from how new something is, according to each person’s calculation:

  • Outside of innovators, each person requires a certain percentage of the people (or certain people) around them to like something before they can trust that adopting it is worth the social risk. This calculation comes from how much conflict they’ll expect from the decision. For example, early adopters may need to know that 2-5% of their friends already like it and that 30% of their friends like them doing it, or maybe they’ll do it if their friend John is doing it.
  • Then, except for the late majority and laggards, each person stops adopting that thing when a specific people group has now adopted it. The early majority, for example, start questioning their trend when laggards begin adopting.
  • Laggards will never adopt the thing until it’s practically required by the group. Even then, they’ll never identify with it. The speed of a new trend developing to replace that one often comes from how much the laggards hate the current trend.
  • New mini-trends around an initial trend can restart the trend cycle all over again at any time. Often, they’ll send the public in a previously unexpected direction, destroying unrelated trends and revitalizing loosely connected ones.


A trend can’t be stopped, but it can be dramatically altered.

The value system of a group determines how quickly they’ll adopt new trends, specifically regarding risk tolerance:

  • Governments never need to move quickly unless they’re in a war, so they tend to drag at adopting in any other field.
  • Healthcare has many life-and-death situations where they can be blamed for killing people with uncertain things. Thus, it’s in their best interests to always adopt slowly, even if it kills people who couldn’t receive the new life-saving medicine or procedure.
  • Education-based groups are massive and have an aversion to large-scale changes, largely from how long they’ve been around and their attitude about new things.

Slowing Adoption

If a trend wields a new type of power that would make an older form of power obsolete, large groups with ill intent will try to stop their from fading, especially with ideas and technology:

  • The newspapers tried to stop the radio industry, which tried to stop the TV, which tried to stop online internet streaming.
  • Big Ice tried to stop refrigerators.
  • The Catholic Church tried to stop the propagation of Bibles that spoke against pay-to-play sin forgiveness, then tried to stop the Protestants who believed it.

The more taboo the trend is, the longer it’ll take for everyone to adopt it. But, if it does get adopted, it’ll create many more conflicts across society as it becomes a social standard.

There are a few ways to slow a trend, but nothing that can fully stop it:

Speeding Transition

Generally, the longer a trend stays popular, the more excited everyone will be about a replacement trend. In that sense, bad systems are often magnifying the power of the new trend.

Forward-thinking people who want power will try to hasten a trend. New trends require creativity, so they’re fostered more than provoked. Like any other creative thing, starting trends requires giving more information or influence to people, either to aid understanding or promote the trend’s status.

Often, a bad system will abuse their influence so much that observers create new stories that build trends against that trend, usually with a humorous and awful sub-trend. When that happens, the trend’s days are numbered because the sub-trend creates a stereotype people were feeling for a while.

Other times, a newly discovered deception or scandal can push people out of the trend in droves. When this happens, people will choose any trend outside of that one, and it shifts unsettlingly fast.

Trends Affecting Trends

Most large-scale trends tend to cycle themselves into other associated trends:

  1. Artists use technologies to capture the unknown in new creations.
  2. Scientists are inspired by art to explore reality to gain understanding.
  3. Inventors create new technologies from existing science.
  4. Artists use technologies to capture the unknown in new creations.

Ideas and technology also have a unique “piggyback” effect. Those trends are abstracted enough that they can revolutionize society:

  • Once the air conditioner was invented, populations in deserts dramatically increased.
  • Once someone adapted a guitar to run the strings’ vibration through an electrical amplifier, the entire music industry was transformed.
  • Pretty much everything that needs a switch or time-based component now uses silicon-based computers, which makes almost every non-perishable consumer product much cheaper to assemble.
  • Technology will often create trend cycles that didn’t exist before. For example, our idea of “seconds” and “milliseconds” comes from how well we can now measure time.
  • When mechanical objects first came into existence, most science of the time treated the body and mind as a mechanical object. The same is true right now with computers.

Many trends feed into each other. Often, society-rocking trends are usually the convergence of many people with multiple types of desires that get fulfilled from one thing. Typically, they’ll fade as fast as they started because our image of reality often deceives us, especially when we hear a story that gives us false hope.


Often, trends will swing on a cyclical “pendulum”. They’ll oscillate back-and-forth across extremes spanning decades or centuries because the two trends address opposing human universals. Often, values associated with things will completely invert themselves.

  • An age of understanding often follows an age of fear, then back again.
  • An age of audacity often leads to an age of civility, and back again.
  • People tend to politically lean liberal when they trust the future more, then conservative when they trust the past more.
  • Clothing fashions move from conservative, back to liberal, back to conservative again, and often split and go in opposite directions at the same time.
  • Writing styles across centuries tend to shift from blunt, to poetic and florid, and back to terse again.

This pendulum effect means moralizing non-moral things can be dangerous to anyone’s sanity, and exiling heretics often comes back around later.

The speed the pendulum moves is determined heavily by universal human characteristics, augmented by the longest-standing cultural norms and technological developments. Any deviation from those universals will quickly revert back.

Also, when the pendulum sits in the trends of individual efforts, these cycles more articulately represent themselves into a unique cycle pattern of “resistance”:

  1. A sedentary period of relative inactivity that makes up most of the time. This may be defined as “rest”, “recovery”, or “reward”.
  2. Slow, growing exposure to the conflicts represented by the scope of purpose, defined as “resistance” or “pressure”.
  3. A final, grand clash between the old and new. This is the mythologized part of the experience, and the portion everyone remembers and retells later. It’s the “crash”, “breakdown”, “surge”, “resistance” or “advancement”.
  4. (repeat #1)

Without this resistance pattern in a constant flow, the pattern that creates growth (e.g., athletes, entrepreneurs) halts as habits take over (e.g., addicts, victims):

  1. Without a sufficient sedentary period, there’s no preparedness for another buildup (e.g., chronic pain, PTSD), but too much of a sedentary period creates too much aversion to positive changes (e.g., muscular degeneration from bed rest, culturally established safe spaces/trigger alerts overstepping natural law).
  2. No slow exposure to increasing challenges sabotages the means of accomplishing (e.g., burning/exiling heretics, insufficient resources), and growth that’s too slow won’t make the impact it could have otherwise (since we all must contend with our eventual end).
  3. Without a full-intensity resistance at the end the story never becomes a legend to inspire others later without lying about it and can often leave doubt within the participants’ mind that can sabotage longevity (i.e., “did I really reach my peak?”). But, if the resistance goes so heavily that it destroys someone, it becomes a crushing story of defeat and despair (e.g., a crushed political resistance, cultural taboos based on others who came before).

Sometimes, a cycle moves repeatedly on a somewhat predictable cycle:

Part of the existence of cycles comes through aging:

  1. People tend to nostalgically remember the trends of their teenage years as the “best time of their lives”.
  2. Younger people are more likely to (loudly) adopt trends, though their influence to advance them will be very limited until their early 30’s.
  3. Our understanding maxes out around age 51, and we tend to resist new trends at that time.
  4. For that reason, society as a collective whole always fights between trends from 35 years ago and trends from 10-15 years ago.

Generally, cycles never break, and are critical to understand the long-term way to live well in that culture.


Even the way we interpret thoughts is a “trend”. People gain interest in something, then become familiar, then grow bored with it after a while.

Trends spread like diseases. A few people at first, then a large group, then practically everyone until they’re immune to it. Also, like diseases, ideas require human hosts, and wouldn’t exist without groups to spread it.

If you’re the architect of an idea, you didn’t really “think” it yourself, since you likely conflated multiple ideas and applied them in a different way. But, if you’re the first thinker of a new trend, you may well deserve credit for it. You will not get that credit, and someone else who comes later will have the trend named after them, but there’s tremendous meaning in finding this arrangement acceptable.

When most people of any group start growing tired of a trend, the trend is losing its influence and about to shift.

We can’t fairly judge people from the distant past by present fashions. The embodiment of their culture was so heavily removed from ours from technology, science, religion and time that we must learn to think the way they thought at the time to discover why their innovators were so influential.

When we hear of political movements that overstep their boundaries, the tide will shift when most people get sick of it enough to react.

Sometimes a trend can rise and fall across centuries, depending on its mini-trends. It’s not easy to detect when it’ll fail, but we can often discover how trends will go by understanding the lives of people who lived before us.

To be a major influencer in pretty much any domain, you must be lucky enough to be born with the personality to drive hard and take risks, mixed with the fortune to live in a technologically strong and demographically varied large social group, combined with being born about 20-40 years before a major new innovation, and the wisdom to make the right decisions at that time. If it’s a physically or mentally demanding role, you must also have certain genetic dispositions as well.

The most lucrative time to invest in something is when the innovators are playing with it. But, the safest time to legitimately profit off something is to follow what the early adopters are doing. The yields for following an innovator over an early adopter are insanely higher and way more unpredictable, and if 30% of the people already use something you’re going to get a modest and safe return on your efforts.

Innovators are often venerated in stories if they succeed. For every innovator given honor, dozens or hundreds of them lived unfashionable, unimportant public lives. To follow their example, keep that in mind to learn from their mistakes.

Be careful who you trust and swear loyalty toward. Often, following trends can get you in trouble with your group. It’s far better to take a social risk outside a group (and possibly form a new one) than let that group prematurely destroy you.

To avoid becoming obsolete, focus on things that won’t change anytime during your lifetime.

Huge, society-spanning trends often come from awful conflicts and hardship:

  • The Golden Age of the Renaissance in Europe arose from the tragic experiences of seeing the Bubonic Plague destroy most of the continent, likely because people focused on meaning from mortality and how to live well in light of it.
  • After The Great World War (WWI), Germany was utterly ravaged. That hatred led to passions which advanced Germany’s Nazi Party in an election, mostly from a desire to justly take back the power they had held.
  • France was economically ruined after World War II. In that depression, they created the Eiffel Tower to express their patriotic solidarity.

Trendy people want everything to conform to their trends, but society can never run that way. Instead, trendy people spend lots of effort on failed trends before other people take on proven things. However, trendy people try to distort the perceived popularity of the trends they wish to advance.

Trends require multiple people to take hold:

  1. Innovators must be willing to break convention and explore taboos.
  2. Early adopters must be willing to take a risk on the trend enough to influence others.
  3. Quite a few sensible, respectable people have to agree that the early adopters’ approach is worth the risks to adopt.

No matter what, every trend is just a majority adopting it. There will always be outliers who never change from their fixed habits. Depending on the thing in question, extremists tend to either disbelieve their existence or maintain their outlier status.

There will always be “old people” industries for phased-out things. They will almost always be low-quality, and are rarely worth specializing in unless you simply need the money. Those old people will likely never change, but will often complain when their old trends are finally phased out.

Beyond technology, most of society stays the same across centuries. But, it feels like it’s improving or deteriorating because of which trends we’re observing, and the youth always think a trend is new.

To see a new trend, watch how useful technology becomes. For example, clothing styles will have no more further advancements until they create a new fabric or find a way to create affordable computer screens onto fabric.

If you believe something people had believed 100 years ago and still do, you’ll likely be right 100 years from now. Those things are likely universal to humanity, and transcend culture. The same generally applies for wrong things as well.

Everything has its season, and watching for the timing of a season is critical to living well. Investing effort, or not, depends on what phase of the Recovery/Buildup/Action cycle we’re in.

The average lifespan of a civilization was about 400 years. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it’s been closer to about 300 years. With technology allowing instant information access, it may lower itself to 200.

To make the most strides in advancing, society needs a precarious balance that gives enough conflict to create resistance, but not enough conflict that bad systems can take over. The only safety is in change, and the only progress arises from convention.

To be anti-fragile, we must never accept something as a “loss”. Setbacks, limits, scarcity, challenges, and obstructions are all parts of reality, but the only failure comes through believing a risk is defined by its results more than its effort. A society that maintains this attitude can repeatedly rise above anything (e.g., the Renaissance came from surviving the Black Plague, America’s Greatest Generation came from the Great Depression and World War II).

Healthy routines are upward trends: