All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice!

I’m in LA this morning to do work for “Lock It In” so I’m bleary eyed after a late night/early morning Outkick, but let’s get rolling with the mailbag to distract all of you at work.

Eddy writes:

“Longtime fan of the mailbag. I know you’re a thinker and I like your thoughts on big abstract issues. Here’s the question(s)

Have we reached peak technology, or at least plateued for a while, to make our lives better?

I’m talking better not easier. Better is a measurable improvement in quality of life. Vaccines make life better. Moving sidewalks make life easier. An example, when cameras were invented they made life better. You could capture a moment and have it frozen in a picture. Instagram makes it easier. It’s easier to access and take a picture.

When the phone was invented it made life better. You could connect instantly and hear  someone’s voice. The first cell phones made life better you could connect instantly to anyone who had one. Then the iPhones came and I’d argue the jump is smaller with each new one. My life is no better from iPhone 4 to the 8 I have now. (I think I have the 8) The phone is easier but not necessarily making my life better.

Does social media/technology make people’s lives better or easier? I tend to think its not making life easier but not better. I think we’ve may have reached the peak, and now it’s for some moderation in things tech related. The world is in the brink of chaos despite all the incredible good things happening. Is it time we start thinking of tech like alcohol or pizza? Be careful how much you consume, a little makes life better, too much makes life miserable.”

This is such a fascinating question.

It seems to me that technology in general has reached its apex when it comes to making people’s live truly better.

I’m not sure I buy into your better vs. easier dynamic, but think of it this way, I have almost lived for two generations. If I went back in time now to 1979 — the year that I was born — the only real major technological innovation that we have now in America that didn’t exist then was the Internet.

In other words, we drove on Interstates in 1979, food was safe, cheap and easy to consume, air travel was relatively commonplace, immunizations for children protected all of us from most awful diseases that could kill us when we were young, cameras and videocameras existed as did microwaves and cable television — even if it was in its infancy.

If I suddenly went back in time to the year that I was born, the biggest change would be the lack of the Internet — and the fact that we didn’t have mini-computers in our hands capable of telling us everything.

But was our life back then really totally different and are we better off now?

To me, if you’re defining better to mean — extending the scope and longevity of the average American’s life — the answer is: not really.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet — it’s given me this job and it’s given you the ability to read this article on your phone while you’re standing in line to buy lunch — but if you’d been back in 1979 would it really have been that awful to just stand in line and wait for your sandwich while you read a physical newspaper or, more likely, talked to someone while you waited in line?

I think about this quite a bit because people of my age — I’ll turn forty next month — grew up with an all-encompassing Internet once most of us were already close to adulthood.

But we weren’t immersed in it from the cradle like kids today are.

When I came home from school unless someone called me on the phone I was pretty much totally alone with my family at my house. I had acres and acres of time to fill where I could develop my own personality distinct from being surrounded by my friends all the time or worrying about what the latest thing someone had said on Snapchat was.

Do kids today have that opportunity today with technology?

I don’t think they do. And the results — suicide, depression, anxiety and the like — suggest that our embrace of perpetual technology isn’t leading kids to be happier, it’s making them much more depressed and suicidal.

To me there’s a difference between something that entertains us and something that makes our lives fundamentally better. The Internet, really, is just a different way to entertain us. But, and this is an even more interesting question, what if that “entertainment” has a huge downside which results in many of the things that have made America great — our democracy, robust capitalism, respect for those with different opinions and world views — being challenged, destroyed or disrupted?

I mean, just think about something like vaccinations. No one but true wingnuts challenged the idea of vaccinating their kids in a pre-social media era. Now we’re in an era when measurable and unquestionable scientific advancements — vaccinations unquestionably make the world safer and better for children, both yours and mine — can actually be rejected because disinformation spreads so much easier. That is, our technological advancements actually allow us be less informed — or even worse, misinformed — about a subject that directly influences the health of our children, which is arguably the issue parents should care about the most in this country.

Now think about what you would tell yourself about the future if you went back in time to when you were a kid.

It would go something like this when you got to trying to explain the cell phone and the Internet, “Pretty much everyone in the entire country will have tiny pocket computers in their hands by 2019 and we’ll spend at least five hours a day on them, often much more. That pocket computer will have access to every movie, TV show, sporting event, or song ever made in the history of American life. We can get access to all of it instantaneously with very limited cost.”

Your kid self would be like, “No way! That’s awesome! I can watch GI Joe and A-Team all day long?! The future is going to be awesome!”

And then you’d continue.

“But somehow, despite having access to all of this in the palm of our hands, studies will show that we aren’t becoming happier in the country.”

Why not your kid self might ask? How could anyone not be happy watching G.I. Joe and A-Team all day long?

“Because there will be this thing called social media that most people will use to interact with each other and the overwhelming majority of the time people will spend on social media will be about arguing with each other and demanding that people be fired from their jobs for petty slights and distortions of cultural mores. Oh and everyone will turn into angry tribes of people and all that will matter is your feelings and most people won’t care about facts. Ultimately people who tell jokes will lose their jobs and you don’t even want me to start on what’s going to happen with Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson.”

It’s really pretty remarkable to think about this conversation.

Your kid-self would understand the concept of the entertainment options, but social media would be tough to explain. We’re going to create, essentially, an entirely new world in the Internet where people don’t have to be themselves and then they sit around and argue with people who are themselves all day long.

Regardless, I don’t think there’s any doubt that if you consider any forty year period in American life that 1979 to 2019 has been filled with more technological transformations than almost any before it, but it’s also been simultaneously filled with the least transformative changes to actually make our lives better.

Maybe that’s because we’ve already achieved most of where we can go in terms of making life objectively “better,” as you assert, but it is a fascinating question.

Have we essentially plateau’d from a technological perspective?

I mean, Amazon’s a great company, but it’s just a new, faster way to consume. Buying things in a store, whether online or in person, is still buying something.

(It’s important to note that the world, by the way, has become immeasurably better during these forty years, but most of that is because America’s betterment of life has reached the poor in other countries. In other words, most American kids were immunized in 1979, but most kids in poor countries weren’t.)

Marty writes:

“I work in high level finance for a living and the lack of financial comprehension of sports fans continues to astonish me. 

If you want to educate yourself financially more than 98% of people on this planet learn two things: Time Value of Money and Compounding Interest. They’re very simple ideas that go hand-in-hand.

This is very important: Le’Veon Bell gave up $14,500,000 in favor of $0.

I’m going to dramatically oversimplify his tax situation and say he paid taxes on his $14.5M (US income tax of 37%, state income tax rate 3.07%. Local income tax avg. 2%. Municipalities Income Tax 2%), and then had $8,109,850 left over (that’s not exactly how taxes work, but close enough for a ‘Friday Mailbag’).

Since then, the market is down 2.2% (that’s the S&P, only old people look at the Dow). That brings us to real-time and Le’Veon’s 2018 contract money to $7,931,433.30.

Now here’s where smart people are rolling their eyes. Le’Veon gave up this amount of money for no other financial gain. It’s not a leap then to say that he didn’t need this money in the immediate future and chances are he wouldn’t be touching it for a very long time (let’s go with the average retirement age of about 59.50 years). He would then
invest the money per his advisors.

The adjusted for inflation average return of the S&P 500 since its inception is approximately 7%. Since he’s 27 now, let’s say that hypothetically continues for the next 32 years. Next year Le’Veon’s $7.9M is going to be worth $8.5M and then that money will grow 7%, which will then be $9.1M. This is called compounding interest. Your money makes money. You want to know how people get rich? Read my sentence two sentences ago. Over 32 years, do you know what that dollar amount is? $69,124,589.03. He gave up $14.5M for $0 and in the end that money very feasibly could have been worth $69.1M. This is called ‘opportunity cost’.

I don’t want to hear about ‘guaranteed money’ and I don’t want to hear about injuries. Earl Thomas broke his leg, missed the year, and still signed a 4 year $55M deal. The truth of the situation is that Le’Veon wasn’t worth what he thought he was (no running back is, by the way) and gave up a whole lot of money on the losing side of one of the
worst bets I’ve ever seen.”

This sums up LeVeon’s idiocy very well.

The number of people in my mentions arguing that LeVeon “won” in this negotiation is truly staggering.

It brings me back to one of the eternal truths of the Internet, most people aren’t smart enough to know how much they don’t know. In other words, they actually lack the mental faculties to consider why they might be wrong.

Most smart people I know are riddled with doubt and spend tons of time questioning themselves and their ideas. In fact, this is one of the biggest issues with being smart, you can paralyze yourself into inaction because you realize how difficult and uncertain a decision can be.

There’s nothing wrong with Leveon taking less money — people in this country make lifestyle choices like this all the time — but taking less money when you’re trying to make the most money is insanely stupid.

Even Master P, who famously negotiated Ricky Williams’s disastrous rookie contract, thinks Leveon Bell is an idiot.

Dave writes:

“Lori Loughlin is being raked over the coals by just about everyone. Will hot girl privilege eventually prevail in her case or are we to far in to our social justice warrior phase and all will continue to be outraged?

All Aunt Becky is guilty of is wanting what she thought was best for kids…a crime all parents should be guilty of!”

Well, I think there’s a difference between wanting what’s best for your kids and committing a fraud to benefit them.

So if the charges are accurate, she’s guilty of a crime.

But is it that big of a crime in the grand scheme of American life?


If she’d been richer she could have just donated tens of millions of dollars to USC and her girls would have gotten in that way instead of this way.

It’s also absolutely outrageous that she had to post a bond of $1 million for what she did. That’s the same bond that R. Kelly had to post.

I also love that the New York Times yesterday had a story about how minorities saw this story as evidence of how unfair college admissions were and how much of a benefit white people got.

First, this wasn’t about race, this was about wealth.

Second, uh, hello, that’s the exact premise of affirmative action! You get treated better because of your race in college admissions.

In my opinion all college admissions should be totally race blind. Take the best applicants without any clue what race or gender they are.

Now, will Aunt Becky get hot girl privilege?

That depends on whether her case ever goes before a jury and if there are enough men on that jury to work in her favor.

If I were Aunt Becky I’d want a full jury of men, no women at all.

Zero doubt they’d be in her favor.

By the way, the biggest beneficiary, by far, of hot girl privilege right now in this country?


If AOC were a 55 year old post-menopausal congresswoman from New York no one would pay a bit of attention to her.

But she’s hot — especially for a politician — and as a result she’s insanely popular even though most of her public comments are really unintelligent and not very well thought out.

I’m not even sure AOC could get a four or five on an AP history test. (I’m not even kidding about this. I kind of wish every person running for political office had to post a 4 or 5 on an AP history test before they could be qualified to run.) I’m not sure we’ve ever had a collection of famous politicians — from both parties — with less actual knowledge about their country’s history or how to do their jobs.

Chris writes:

“It’s been a few weeks, but I believe we need the King Solomon of the internet to weigh on this topic. You recently retweeted and article from NBC News, “Trans athletes make great gains, yet resentment still flares” with the following comment, “I know this will shock y’all, but it turns out when biological men start competing as women and dominating the women’s sports people get upset.”

My question is this: what does this mean for Title IX? Does this now mean that biological males who identify as female can receive scholarships traditionally given to biologic females? If so, what do you think the chances of the statue being challenged in court are? And under what premise?”

Even the most far left wing Democrat out there thinks it’s insane, deep down, that the logical extension of their position on transgender issues leads to biological men dominating women’s high school and college sports.

You can’t tell me that any dad or mom out there, no matter their politics, truly thinks it’s fair for a biological man who had access to all the advantages of being biologically male through puberty, can suddenly start taking estrogen pills and call himself a woman for purposes of athletic competition.

That’s because men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women and the best female athletes would all be men who decided to become female if transgenderism became incredibly popular and this trend continued to grow.

That is, women would never win any women’s athletic competitions any more, men who became women would.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m completely fine with someone changing their gender, but I don’t think it’s heroic, I think it’s just a choice that someone makes to try and be happier.

Most of the time, I think it’s unlikely to make that person happier — that’s because I believe happiness is based mostly on internal thoughts not external appearance — but we shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what legal choices they are allowed to make once they are adults. (I do think, however, that it’s crazy teenagers are allowed to get gender reassignment surgery. Teenagers! Do you remember when you were 15 or 16? Do you really think you should be making any sort of decision like cutting your dick off forever at that age? It’s insanity that doctors allow this to happen.)

I wrote this in my most recent book, what if Bruce Jenner had decided to become Caitlyn Jenner at the age of 28 or 29 and had then gone on to compete in the Olympics as a woman and just crushed every female competitor? He could have won gold medals for twenty years, probably, competing as a woman.

Is there any reasonable person out there who thinks that makes sense?

Of course not.

Equality of treatment does not mean you get equality of results.

Speaking of Title IX, since we have that fake sports story about Toni Harris, the woman who got a scholarship to play football despite not being good enough to play on most high school JV football squads, I’d love to see a Title IX challenge arguing that football isn’t a male sport.

It just so happens that men are better at football than women.

In other words, instead of having to give 85 scholarships to women to balance out football scholarships, aren’t those scholarships technically open to all students and men are just better than women at football? That is, football isn’t a male sport, it’s a male and female sport, men are just typically better.

That’s what equality of the sexes looks like, kids.

Watch out.

Thanks for reading the Friday mailbag, hope all of you have fantastic weekends.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.