We’ll Pay More for Our Burgers
Richard Florida is author of the global best-seller "The Rise of the Creative Class." His latest books are the "The Great Reset," and "The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited," a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition of his classic work.
He is also the author of "The Flight of the Creative Class" and "Cities and the Creative Class." His previous books, especially "The Breakthrough Illusion" and "Beyond Mass Production," paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Florida is a regular correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few.
Question: What becomes of the displaced manufacturing worker in this new world you describe?
Richard Florida: Well, if you’re one of those folks, it’s terrifying, you know. I lived in Pittsburgh for nearly 20 years. If you are a person who had a great job in a steel mill, and then you get displaced when you’re 35 or 40, or 50 – my wife, Ronna, who is here just in the other room folks, she’s from greater Detroit. And we went back there for Thanksgiving; we’ll go back there for the Christmas holiday. I mean, the devastation that has happened to people who grew up thinking they had fabulous, stable jobs with the big three is truly horrific.
But I think as a society, we’ve got to understand this shift. You know, a hundred years ago, if we were sitting here, we wouldn’t be in a television studio, but if we were sitting around talking, we would have been terrified that agriculture jobs were going away. And if you were faced with the prospect of losing your farm, or being forced off the farm and having to move to one of these growing, industrial cities, people were terrified. And the debate was, where are these people going to work? If there’s no jobs on the farm anymore, and these automated factories are so productive, but we invented. And I guess I’m an optimist in a sense, throughout human history, we’ve always invented new ways of working, new divisions of labor. So, my hope is that we can do it again.
What I worry about though, what I really worry about, like thinking about the Obama Job Summit and the conversation about employment, most of that conversation is either about government created employment, which is a good stop gap, it can work for awhile; the WPA and all that in the Depression created jobs for a while, or it’s about how do we protect these manufacturing jobs, which are good jobs.
My dad worked in a factory all of his life. And I talk about him in my books and maybe people watching here. But my dad got a job when he was 13 and he actually had to leave school in the 7th grade in Newark because he had to go to work, his brothers and sisters had to go to work, my grandpa had to work, and my grandma worked in a bakery. It took nine people to make a family wage. And my dad worked in an eye glass factory in the down neck section of Newark, the iron bound section. It’s called the Victory Optical; this giant brick building. And I remember my dad telling me when I was a little boy, he said, “Rich, when I started working in that factory in 1934, 1935, I had a really crappy job. I mean, I made low wage, I had virtually no benefits, and we worked long shifts.” And remember, people used to bemoan manufacturing work as a terrible, dirty, dangerous – William Blake called factories “satanic mills.” My dad said, “But when I came back,” he enlisted in World War II and he was an infantry soldier in the great battles, D-Day and all of that, storming the beaches. “When I came back from World War II, something happened to my job. It became a good job.” Now, obviously there were unions that helped to do this, and collective bargaining and government – The Wagner Act that Roosevelt passed, and Occupational Health and Safety. But my dad said, “My bad job became a good job.”
And so what we’ve been working on actually in our institute – and so glad you can come up to Toronto where we live now. What the city of Toronto has been pioneering, and I think we’re going to help define this turf, we sort of mentioned that a third of the jobs is in the creative class, about 20% of the jobs is in blue collar, 45% of jobs – 45% of all jobs are in the service jobs, the retail jobs, the shop jobs, the restaurant jobs, the manicurist, the hair cutters, the makeup people. Those jobs pay the least; they have the most tenuous circumstance. So, one of the things we’re trying to do here in Toronto with the city, and city workers and city government and folks here, but also I think that needs to be talked about more is, how do we make that group of service jobs good high paying jobs equivalent to the fact, you know, lower skilled, like the factory job was, but how do we make those jobs more innovative, how do we get people involved like they were in the factories, improving quality? And how do we raise pay? That’s one of the key things we’re working on. And that’s the kind of jobs, somebody worked in an auto plant, if it was high paying and it was a good job. Not if it’s a 10 buck an hour job, but if it was a good job with a career position, that’s the kind of job they could naturally slip over to.
Question: What can be done to make service workers more valuable and productive relative to their input?
Richard Florida: Well, it means one thing, that we’re going to have to pay more for our burgers. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s worth it. We spend a lot of money for a car. We spend a lot of money even for a television set, or a computer. Now, they’ve come down in price. We spend a lot of money for the clothes we wear. And then, you know, we don’t want to spend a lot of money for the food that we put into our body or what about the person who takes care of your ailing parent? Or your kid? I mean, it means we’re going to have to pay more for that. So, as a society, we’re going to have to pay more. Okay. Well, people might not like that, but if we want to elevate jobs and create livelihoods for people.
The other thing that we see happening, and we’re trying to organize this. Some of these companies to come and boy oh boy, I wish Obama would do this. This would be the job summit. I actually looked, because I’m a geek, I looked at the best places to work – an institute, their research on the best places to work in the U.S. economy, and folks can go to it. They’ll says that I have the wrong names, but you know, you get all kinds of interesting tech companies on that list. The SAS Institute, which I actually did a case study in North Carolina. Genentech, all of these cool names that you know, Apple, and some consulting firms. The other companies on that list are like Zappos, Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Container Store. What those companies are doing is actually viewing their workers as a source of creativity, innovation. And they’re taking a page from a company like Toyota which said, “We’re going to view our workers not so much as a liability, we’re going to organize them in teams, we’re going to tap into their brain power. And the guy who really challenged me on this, when he was the CEO of Best Buy, was Brad Anderson.
I remember he came, and we had this roundtable discussion in Washington D.C., at the Gallop Organization, and Brad was saying, “In my Best Buy store, there’s not much I can do to improve performance, I mean, we sell the same TV’s, we sell the same stereo sets, we sell the same appliances. And we have a kind of standard process.” He said, “The only way I can make my stores better is by getting the intelligence of my employees.” So, he started to actually do what Toyota does; challenged the workers to actually come up with suggestions and continuous improvement. And it would be simple, they would like figure out a way to move a display to get more sales.
I remember one, which just blew me away. They were trying to figure out why they weren’t selling in ethnic neighborhoods in LA. And the one kid on the floor said, “Well, you’re not having ads in not only Spanish, but Vietnamese.” So, he started to write the ads. Now, it’s simple stuff like that, but that increases value. And what we’ve been unpacking in our work is the skill sets that really increased value in the workplace. And there’s three kinds of skills in the workplace, really. There’s physical skills, we actually pay a lot for physical skill in the United States or Canada. And it doesn’t generate that much return. There’s two other kinds of skills that really matter in the workplace. One is the obvious one in a knowledge economy, cognitive skill. So, the more brain power you are of the team and the more you engage the better. But the other one that actually pays more is what we call social skills. And by social skills, I don’t mean just being friendly and extroverted and a good bartender. It’s actually, and you’ll know this in the stuff you discuss on this program. It’s the ability to build teams, to motivate people, to get other people to be part of your cause or your mission.
So I think if we could start to upgrade service with more cognitive skill, but no just more cognitive skills, more of this social skill. And I actually think, from a business point of view, this is the great low hanging fruit. The creative economy is coming together, art factories are optimized. Now we can do better and yeah, you know, more robots, but the low hanging fruit in our economy is really bringing the services, the low-end services into the 21st century. And so that’s what I’d like to see happen, and I think in terms of job creation, it’s millions upon millions of Americans work in that sector. It’s highly insecure, it’s low paying, it the sector if we want to build the backbone again of a lot of jobs, it’s the only place we have to look, unless we just say, we’re going to have a crappy split unequal economy and I am not willing to relent to that right yet.
Question: Have you developed models to assess the value of service workers?
Richard Florida: It’s very casual and haphazard. We’ve been looking at the Four Seasons. It was started here in Toronto. It’s obviously a luxury brand. But it’s the kind of brand that depends on the allegiance of its customer and it really has worked hard to – and the other thing is promotion within. I mean, that’s a key thing. You might start as a low-level person, but the ones that work always – just like Toyota, it’s promotion from within. So, you may start at the lowest occupation, but you can work your way up.
I think now we’re in the same situation as kind of Fredrick Taylor, sitting there in the 1880’s and ‘90’s. And a few manufacturing companies were experimenting with time in motion studies and scientific management, we’re certainly not where Henry Ford was when Henry Ford said, we can add the assembly line and have an organized production system. So, we’re very early into this. And I think the key right now, and what we’re trying to do at our institute, is really an array of best set of practices. And we had a meeting last week and we said, “We’ve got to go at this just the way people studied high-performance or quality manufacturing.” We’ve got to figure out what those best practices are in the workforce with regard to paying benefits. And then we have to see to what degree they’re diffusing and how they work together. But I think we’re extremely early on the companies I would look at again, Whole Foods engaging its workers to a certain degree, Starbucks, which is a pretty big company. The Container Stores, another one that’s done a lot of this. And we’re going to have to figure out models – Zappos online – figure out models that go beyond that and push it.
I don’t think it’s an academic who’s going to lead this. I think this is a very much an in action strategy project where. You know, and maybe the better example is agricultural extension. How they began in the farm to move new technology onto the farm. And then what we used to call manufacturing extension back in the ‘80’s. When they said, oh my god, manufacturing is become leaner and more quality. As we identify those practices in an effort to diffuse them and to make people understand, you don’t have to treat workers – you shouldn’t ethically treat workers like crap. But in your grocery store, or in your mom and pop shop, or in your hotel operation, if you stop treating workers like a cost or liability and you start treating workers as an asset, you invest in them; you upgrade their capabilities. You get more productivity and innovation. And that’s where I think we have to go.
Question: How will the economy both contract and prompt better pay and treatment for employees?
Richard Florida: Well, isn’t this the great problem in every crisis? Isn’t this what Keynes wrote about? I mean, the nature of a crisis is a big race to the lotum. Right? That’s what a crisis is about. Everybody says, “Oh my god. I’ve got to cut costs. I’ve got to get my balance sheet in order.” And so Keynes and others, others in the United States, businessmen, were worried about, Oh my God! How are we going to create demand? This ephemeral thing called demand. And what they quickly figured out is the only way you’re going to create demand is by raising the incomes of workers. If you kept the worker’s incomes low and you paid them like crap and you gave them minimum wage or below sustenance wage in the factories, how do you create that demand that we’re going to buy the cars and the houses with? So, they put a lot of effort into that. And actually, in the United States, not only the Keynesian thing, but the United States, moved pretty close – we actually had a full employment bill in the House and the Senate in the late 1940’s. And then fortunately, the machine kicked into action. That got tabled. And then in other countries, in Scandinavia and in Europe and Japan, that became a reality, but here it got scuttled. In the United States it got scuttled. And the idea was that we could create demand. And one of the things we create that demand by building roads, by building houses, by building appliances. It became a cycle.
When I was a younger person, we used to talk about Fordism. A fancy concept for not only Fordist mass production, right? What the theorists at the time were arguing, not only do you have this mass production system with assembly lines and steel mills and car factories pumping this stuff out, you had to not only build a Fordist economy, you had to build a Fordist society. Well, the Fordist society required higher wages. Henry Ford’s great idea, “Oh my god, these workers need to make 5 bucks a day so they can buy a car.” And you need to have institutions, right? Governmental institutions, a social welfare state, infrastructure investment, mortgage banking that could make it affordable to buy a house. We don’t even have that conversation now. All we’re thinking about is how do we cut the cost, how do we get the economy back on track, and then the silliness of like trying to re-flate the old Fordist thing. I slam my head against my desk. We’re going to the Cash for Clunkers, we’re going to do a Cash for Appliances. We’re going to have everybody redo their mortgage so they can buy another house they can’t afford, or walk away from this house and buy another house.
One of the things that we’re going to have to figure out is – and this is a big task, this is a task like we faced in the 19th Century. What kind of society do we have to build if we’re going to uncork this tremendous creative and productive potential? This is not just a task of Keynesian demand management and fixing the economy and making sure the bubble doesn’t blow up. This is a task of building a whole new social order. And I like that we’re having this conversation, but what I’m scared about is in the corridors of power, as far as I can see around the world, this conversation isn’t going on. And that conversation did go on in the United States and in England and in other places in the 1880’s, it did go on in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. And maybe it’s because we’re so early, this thing just happened a year ago, maybe it’s because it’s so early and we think we can just brush it aside, but sooner or later, I hope that conversation emerges. How do we build a society which values the creativity of everyone, creates markets for that creativity, creates good jobs for people and is functional?
Recorded on December 14, 2009
Our challenge is to improve the quality of service workers, says Richard Florida. Only then will we elevate jobs and create livelihoods for people.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.
- Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
- Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
- In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.
- Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
- The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
- The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
An extremely active galaxy<p> <br> </p><p>Radio galaxies are galaxies with extremely active central regions, known as nuclei, which shine incredibly brightly in some part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are known for emitting large jets of ionized matter into intergalactic space at speeds approaching that of light. They are related to quasars and blazars. It is thought that supermassive black holes are the energy source that make these galaxies shine so brightly. </p><p>What makes these two galaxies (known as MGTC J095959.63+024608.6 and MGTC J100016.84+015133.0) so interesting is their size. Only 831 similar, "giant radio galaxies" are known to exist. As study co-author Dr. Matthew Prescott explains, these are particularly large even for <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2021/01/18/we-just-found-two-mysterious-galaxies-62-times-bigger-than-our-milky-way-say-scientists/?sh=76edf29c2892" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">giants</a>:</p><p>"These two galaxies are special because they are amongst the largest giants known, and in the top 10 percent of all giant radio galaxies. They are more than two mega-parsecs across, which is around 6.5 million light-years or about 62 times the size of the Milky Way. Yet they are fainter than others of the same size."</p><p>The smaller of the two is just over two megaparsecs across, roughly six and a half million light-years. The larger is almost another half megaparsec larger than <a href="http://www.sci-news.com/astronomy/giant-radio-galaxies-09266.html" target="_blank">that</a>. <br></p><p>Exactly how these things get to be so massive remains a mystery. Some have proposed that they are ejecting matter into unusually empty space, allowing for the jet to expand further, though some evidence contradicts this. The most commonly suggested idea is that they are simply much, much older than the previously observed radio galaxies, allowing more time for expansion to occur.</p>
How does this change our understanding of the universe?<p> While exciting and impressive on their own, the findings also suggest that there are very many more of these giant galaxies than previously supposed. If you were going off the previous estimates for how typical these galaxies are, then the odds of finding these two would be 1 in 2.7×10<sup>6. </sup>This suggests that there must be more, given that the alternative is that the scientists were impossibly lucky. </p><p> In the study, the researchers also apply this reasoning to smaller versions of these galaxies, saying:</p><p> "While our analysis has considered only enormous (>2 Mpc) objects, if radio galaxies must grow to reach this size, then we may expect to similarly uncover in our data previously undetected GRGs with smaller sizes."</p><p> Exactly how common radio galaxies and turn out to be remains to be seen. Still, it will undoubtedly be an exciting time for radio astronomy as new telescopes are turned skywards to search for them.</p>
How did they find them?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/c1ZW3nVfe5A" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> The new galaxies were discovered by the amusingly named <a href="https://www.sarao.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">MeerKAT</a> radio telescope in South Africa during the creation of a new radio map of the sky. The MeerKAT is the first of what will soon be the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Kilometre_Array" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Square Kilometre Array</a> of telescopes, which will span several countries in the southern hemisphere and make even more impressive discoveries in radio astronomy possible. </p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreamers are trapped by their fantasies.
Maladaptive daydreaming<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUwMjgyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTUxNzc3Nn0.yVIUGnZl6VnJhfevESkBpb1TEvwKrHcLtobwNJV55HI/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C63%2C0%2C63&height=700" id="713cf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2d24a66284b3aa58ad16b66c135dc9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
One maladaptive dreamer spent hours a day dreaming he was a powerful man who could solve the world's problems.
(Photo: Pixabay)<p>Daydreaming is an indulgence of the mind and imagination, one provided courtesy of the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/default-mode-network#:~:text=The%20default%20mode%20network%20(DMN,and%20Exercise%20Psychology%20Research%2C%202016" target="_blank">default mode network</a>, a network of interacting brain regions that is active even when the conscious mind is not. But like so many of life's indulgences—wine, steak dinners, video games, and even <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-too-much-exercise-can-be-bad-042514" target="_blank">exercise</a>—too much daydreaming can be harmful to our well-being. When daydreaming crosses that threshold, it can be considered maladaptive.</p><p>This disorder was first identified by <a href="https://haifa.academia.edu/EliSomer" target="_blank">Eli Somer</a>, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Haifa, School of Social Work, in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1020597026919" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2002 paper</a>. That paper looked to six patients in a trauma center whose daydreaming habits replaced human interactions or interfered with their standard life functions, such as going to school or holding down a job. </p><p>Since then, other case studies have looked at <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/maladaptive-daydreaming#:~:text=Maladaptive%20daydreaming%20is%20a%20psychiatric,life%20events%20trigger%20day%20dreams." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">maladaptive daydreamers</a> and compiled a list of potential symptoms. These include vivid, richly-detailed daydreams; abnormally long daydreaming sessions; daydreams triggered by real-life events; daydreaming sessions that interrupt sleep; and repetitive motions or whisperings while daydreaming. On average, one study reported, maladaptive daydreamers spend <a href="https://bigthink.com/bps-research-digest/people-with-maladaptive-daydreaming-spend-an-average-of-four-hours-a-day-lost-in-their-imagination" target="_self">four hours a day</a> housed in their imaginations.</p><p>"This is not like rehearsing a conversation that you might have with a boss," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/30/health/maladaptive-daydreaming-feature/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Somer told CNN</a>. "This is fanciful, weaving of stories. It produces an intense sense of presence."</p><p>While such symptoms are common, though not comprehensive or guaranteed, how maladaptive daydreams manifest are naturally individual to the dreamers. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426361/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In one case study</a>, researchers analyzed the diary of a man codenamed "Peter." Peter described investing as many as 14 hours a day online. The news and images he happened upon would trigger related fantasies. For example, he may envision himself as a multimillionaire genius who could prevent bad news from occurring or self-insert himself into the power fantasies of superhero movies or police procedurals for hours at a time.</p><p>"When I felt this pain as a child, I started imagining how things could be different. I created stories which never happened. To suppress that pain I would hug my pillow or quilt, thinking I was being comforted by someone else," Peter wrote.</p><p>In an interview with CNN, Cordellia Rose described her maladaptive daydreaming like a drug and noted that her daydreams developed into intricate storylines that could last for years. These stories proved so distracted that she was unable to complete everyday tasks such as driving lessons.</p><p>"You get hooked on it, because it can be like an action movie in your head that's so gripping that you cannot turn off," Rose told CNN. "This [condition] needs to be public, because these are people suffering, and badly."</p><p>To be clear, maladaptive dreaming is not a <a href="https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/what-is-psychosis#1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychotic disorder</a> like schizophrenia. Daydreamers such as Peter and Rose are aware that their fantasies are as unreal as they may be unrealistic. Because of this, many maladaptive dreamers understand the difficulties they face and the real-life losses they have endured for the sake of their fantasies. </p>