Feedback requested on a possible new situation

I’ve been reading about the link between social media usage and a lot of negative health impacts like depression, anxiety and suicide. It does seem like there is a definite link there.
I’m thinking that in a situation where technology was high (everyone has smart phones), GDP is high (people can afford smartphones), and internet speeds were good, that social media addiction, with negative impacts on health, could be a likely outcome.

The only downside is I’m not sure how from a policy POV this can be fixed. Perhaps there could also be a new policy of restriction on social media use? (unpopular with capitalists and young, but popular with parents, and reduces the social media addiction situation.


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While I think using a form of events or dilemmas would be better, I agree that social media has noticeable effects on political landscapes and public health. Censorship of taxation of internet might affect the situation but this will make it seemingly way too similar with the existing Internet Crime or Cyber Bulling (or even the Fake News situation). Maybe you can add another ‘campaign’ policy? But, to be fair, I didn’t really like the Cyber Bullying Awareness Campaign since it doesn’t really create any meaningful choice and is only there to trip newbies over.

TBH, the problem with a cyberbullying awareness policy is that I cannot actually see much in the way of downsides to it. I guess there is a slight element of ‘nanny state’ with the government being seen to take on the role of parent… but that argument only really lends itself to having a negative impact on conservatives, which could be seen as saying that conservatives are pro cyber-bullying.

In design terms, I try to structure government campaigns as slow, long term but cost-effective solutions to problems, which you can only really do when you are not busy using political capital firefighting urgent problems, so the trade-off is basically political capital.

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These problems have been generally linked to Mean World Syndrome as a result of squeezed news and publishing sectors prioritising terrifying clickbait, and polarising topics which draw engagement, both of which are emotionally exhausting to be constantly exposed to. This combined with poor job quality, lower standards of living and horrible existing mental health provision in our societies have resulted in a lot of people suffering.

It’s disappointing to see people understand that problem to be with social media itself, rather than the way it’s being programmed and weaponised. It’s like blaming climate change on the concept of transport itself, rather than the emissions transport has typically caused. We all know how social media should work, and that’s fairly easy to enforce.

I think it’s a cool thing to add, but the eye-rolling Black Mirror take of “technology bad” is reductive. Assuming the game gets a Mental Health value as Cliff has previously suggested, this kind of situation would make for a terrific synergy.


Very true. I do think adding mental health could be interesting, because overwork (poor labor relations) could feed into it, to represent stress, high unemployment could also feed in. Maybe even inequality and racial tension if they were at high levels, with social media addiction being just another input.

Because the goal of the game is to represent vast real world complexity, but still be fun and playable, I am always looking for policies or situations that can be metaphors for entire areas. So for example, in the game we have ‘respiratory disease’, but thats really a catch-all for any and all health problems associated with a poor environment. So given that, ‘social media addiction’ could be a proxy for all of the downsides and negatives of modern technology, such as overwork, ADHD and so on…

…this is not to say that technology is bad, just that it brings with it new challenges, in the same way that economic growth and cheaper food (a good thing!) can also generate a negative effect in the form of obesity.


I see your point but it isn’t that hard to squeeze just 2 or 3 pol cap out of other issues that can wait. It would be nice if such nanny-state actions can become ineffective or even backfire under specific conditions. Like the Bureaucracy situation maybe. It’s kinda nice depiction of capitalists hating excessive government intervention without flooding the UI with red arrows heading to them.

Two thoughts.

  1. Restricting freedom of speech should reduce cyberbullying and the social media addiction situation (China, Russia, etc.)

  2. You mentioned more suggestions for positive situations. Social Media Connection can also mean increased positive social interaction between people, better social awareness (“wokeness”, wokeness can backfire mental health wise, if there’s no outlet for greater social good, say for example if the government has banned strikes/protests/etc., or it could lead to greater apathy as well, or a partial social revolution like metoo, this could be part of a greater randomized system for good/bad effects), greater ease in charity and disaster relief, the inculcation of rare hobbies (or relatively rare if you consider say Table Top Games, or like the unofficial QA testing that happens here, which I imagine is rare in the absolute sense), among other things.

So, I suggest a new suggestion, if Social Media is being used in a positive (or government approved) manner, it can lead to a positive situation such as, “social media a force for good”.

Any other such relations or further suggestions welcome.

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Who said absolute “freedom of speech” has to always have a beneficial effect on society? This is amongst its drawbacks.

I don’t want to keep stacking negative situations in game (when we should actually be looking for positive ones as well), but depopulation can be serious problem in some cases, like a “pensions crisis”. Ratio workers to retirees. This can of course be balanced by increased productivity per worker and increased automation (but can it endlessly be the solution? I hesitate to think so).

Pensions crisis - Wikipedia

Depopulation Positive and Negative Effects
[Population decline - Wikipedia] (Positive) (Population decline - Wikipedia)
[Population decline - Wikipedia] (Negative) (Population decline - Wikipedia)

Currently, for how the game is structured population growth has mostly positive effects (although not full, as tax is not tied to population size) and underpopulation (population decline) does not have much of an impact in the game, negative or positive outside of increased emigration.

With reference to negative news media (MWS), The Guardian has a “upside” column for dealing with solely positive news, but when you look at the scale of negative news and the negative/mocking tone present in many guardian articles (rightly or wrongly), the scale dwarves the positive news, even with a dedicated section. This is just an example.

A major driver of the dissolution of the Soviet Union was the very “openness” he talked about. The economy was stagnating along for a few years before gorbie and there were bad things which happened in the Soviet Union, but when the era of (relative) “openness” brought about the airing of the many wrongs which happened in the past, people just lost faith in the Soviet Union, that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.

That’s probably a major reason why China is still here today, how many Han Chinese know of the full knowledge of the Uyghur Genocide within their own borders, if they don’t have access to foreign news sources? Or how many Indians know of the genocide against the muslim kashmiris in India, or even the more well-known hindu exodus and genocide from kashmir (even if it is what the Indian government wants people to focus on), people are too busy with survival that most don’t even pay attention to the news which the government wants them to pay attention to and rally around, unless it affects them and their group personally (although that has more of an effect than what the government doesn’t want you to know).

Human rights abuses in Kashmir - Wikipedia

Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus - Wikipedia

Creating fear is something both government and non-government entities are good at.

Generally speaking, technology has enough upsides. It could really stand to use a few more drawbacks, so I am really pleased to see this idea have traction.

That’s got to be my favourite kind of difficulty present in the game.

Well, automation generally presents within the game an untractable problem with unemployment, and all the presently positive technological stuff is mainly what has already been achieved. Good nuclear energy, good renewable energy, greater automation, greater advantage (which has the drawback of increased rare metal prices), etc. Of course reality is asymmetrical, I guess it’s just a question of how asymmetrical Cliff wants his game to be.

Foreign spying, extremism, polarization, fake news, cyberbullying, etc. are also other problems of tech.

Are they enough of a drawback? Is a question up for debate.

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I do not think it is yet clear to anyone to what extent compulsive social media use is a cause of generally poor mental health, or a symptom. This seems like a relatively minor “subjective well-being” issue for which there is not enough data to model any outputs, except towards “polarization” and sedentary lifestyle. It’s similar to “video game addiction” and the earlier “television addiction” social phenomenon. Subjecting the population to extended, self-inflicted telehypnosis is not new, and aside from effects on physical activity and public opinion, it doesn’t have clear outputs.

Watch this and get back to us

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