Category Archives: Health

Social Cancer


Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn writing in the New York Times in 2020 said there was “a cancer growing at the heart of the nation.” They meant the USA of course, but really as Jonathan Haidt showed it goes much wider than that. I clearly includes Canada and other countries such as the UK and Australia.

It is that social “cancer” that I want to look at. To do that, I must find it. That may not be easy.

Kristof and WuDunn have a suggestion of where to look:

We have deep structural problems that have been a half century in the making, under both political parties, and that are often transmitted from generation to generation. Only in America has life expectancy now fallen three years in a row, for the first time in a century, because of “deaths of despair.” [They wrote this in 2020]


I had heard that expression before. I think it was another physician, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta is both a physician and a television medical analyst. He had some very interesting things to say on a fascinating television documentary.


The trigger for Dr. Gupta’s documentary  was another startling fact that as far as I was concerned had gone under the radar. As he said, “In the 1960s Americans had among the highest life expectancy in the world. Today [2019] the U.S. ranks at the bottom of major developed nations.”

In that documentary, Dr. Gupta interviewed another physician a forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, in Greenburg Pennsylvania, who said “the previous year I did 356 autopsies. Of those more than 300 were drug deaths. And this is what is being experienced throughout the country.” He also said, “this is far greater than what we experienced with AIDs. It is a very significant epidemic of monstrous proportions.” As Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, “what we are dealing with in fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.” Drugs are part of the problem, but I actually think they are more a symptom than the cause. I will post more about this in the future. It is a fascinating issue.

As Dr. Gupta said, “In the United States life expectancy is dropping faster than any other demographic in the world.” According to the Center for Disease Control, “Middle-aged whites are the highest increase in the deaths of despair.” This group also has very high rates of drug overdose. Whites?  Who would have thought that?

What is going on here? That is what we must figure out. What is the cancer at the heart of the United States and Canada?


Eye Witness Testimony

Jonathan Haidt also told the Senate that “eyewitness testimony” confirms the academic findings: social media is a culprit. Not necessarily the only culprit.

Their research and others directly asked teens what they think is causing the problem. As we all know, many of them like social media, like heroin users like heroin,  but when teens were asked whether they think social media overall is good or bad for them, according to Haidt, “The answer is consistently “no.”

Added to that, Haidt pointed out to the Senate that

Facebook’s own internal research, brought out by Frances Haugen in the Wall Street Journal, concluded that “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression … This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Haidt advised the Senate that in Australia a study showed that “teens believe that social media is the main reason that youth mental health is getting worse.”

This is what Haidt told the Senate committee investing the problem:

“This crisis did not emerge gradually. There was no sign of it before 2010, but by 2015 it was everywhere, overwhelming mental health centers that catered to teens and college students. The crisis emerged in the exact years when American teens were getting smart phones and becoming daily users of social media platforms such as Instagram. Correlational, experimental, and eye-witness testimony points to social media as a major cause of the crisis. I do not believe that social media is the only cause of the crisis, but there is no alternative hypothesis that can explain the suddenness, enormity, and international similarity that I laid out in part 1 of this document. Researchers and spokespeople for the major platforms who tell you that the evidence is “inconclusive” or that the effect sizes are “too small” should be asked directly: “OK, then what do YOU think caused this?”


Haidt and his team believe, based on significant evidence, not just grump adults, that social media is part of the reason that in the United States, Canada and elsewhere are suffering from these serious health problems.

It is clear that in the United States and Canada the countries are experiencing what Haidt called “a catastrophic wave of mood disorders (anxiety and depression) and related behaviors (self harm and suicide).”

The crisis is so severe that the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, recently issued an Advisory on Youth Mental Health warning Americans to take this problem seriously.

 I think we should all do that. If we don’t the west will continue to decline and many more American and Canadian young people will suffer immeasurably.

A World-Wide Problem


Jonathan Haidt made another important point to the Senators that he has often made in print, namely, that this is not just an American problem. The same crisis has hit “many countries” not only the United States. That means that it cannot be blamed solely on problems unique to the US such as gun violence, particularly in schools. The cause must be broader than that. He then made a statement that should concern Canadians, namely that

 “The patterns are nearly identical in the UK and Canada, and the trends are similar though not identical in Australia and New Zealand. We do not yet see signs of similar epidemics in continental Europe or in East Asia, although I have not yet found good data from those regions.”


Together with His associate researcher Jean Twenge, they had discovered

“a sudden increase between 2012 and 2015 in all regions of the world. These patterns indicate that whatever happened to American teens was not uniquely caused by trends and events in the USA (e.g., a sudden fear of school shootings after the Newtown massacre of 2012). The cause is likely to be something that affected teens in many or all regions of the world at the same time.”


This is a world wide problem, partly because social media is a world wide phenomenon.

Note in particular the sharp rise for Girls after 2020. In particular, between 2012 and 2020 The rates of major depression for girls more than doubled during this time. The increase for boys was not as high.

Most of the research is confined to the west, but by no means exclusively.

One must always bear in mind the scientific point often made, that correlation does not prove causation.  For example, just because 80% of sex assaults are perpetrated by men who ate potatoes that day does not prove potatoes are a cause of sexual assaults.

First, Jonathan Haidt explained to the Senate Select Committee that “Correlational studies consistently show a link between heavy social media use and mood disorders, but the size of the relationship is disputed.”

Haidt then drilled down:

“Nearly all studies find a correlation, and it is usually curvilinear. That is, moving from no social media use to one or two hours a day is often not associated with an increase in poor mental health, but as usage rises to 3 or 4 hours a day, the increases in mental illness often become quite sharp.”


The graphs are quite explicit. To see them go to the reports. The message is loud and clear.  The more young people use social media the more they suffer from serious depression and anxiety and the more likely they are to attempt to commit suicide. Haidt puts it this, contrary to what some of his critics have said,  “The correlation is much larger than for “eating potatoes” or “wearing glasses.”

This is a big deal. We should all take note but particularly our political leaders who have the capacity to respond. This is not something that should be swept under the rug.

Serious and Sudden Stuff



When Jonathan Haidt testified before the American Senate, he presented specific data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (‘CDC’) that showed how sharp and sudden the increase had been for hospital admissions for teen girls who had intentionally harmed themselves, mostly by cutting themselves. This was serious and sudden stuff in other words. The numbers were stunning, particularly for young girls and serious, though not as drastic for young boys.

He noted that “emergency room visits for self harm increased very rapidly among teen girls beginning in 2010.”

One of the most interesting things about all of this data was how fast it rose. As he said, “The crisis came on suddenly, in the early 2010s.” In other words, things were fine before 2010 and then incidents shot up! What happened after 2010 was not just a continuation of what had started before then.  Something caused this rapid rise that could not be explained on the basis of prior conditions! As he said to the Senate,

 The curves you can see in the Adolescent Mood Disorders Google Doc are not just the continuation of trends already in evidence for the Millennial generation (born 1982 through 2016). They are more like “hockey sticks,” with a long relatively flat period before the early 2010s, and then a sharp upturn or elbow. This is rare in mental health data. It suggests that something changed in the lives of American teens around 2010

The next thing Jonathan Haidt explained to the Senators was that these numbers were big. As he said,


The increases in mental illness are very large. When you compare rates in 2009 –before most teens were daily users of social media––to 2019––the last full year before Covid made things even worse––the increases are generally between 50% and 150%, depending on the disorder, gender, and subgroup.

 After that he testified that “The crisis is gendered. He explained to the Senators what this meant:

The collapse of mental health has hit both sexes, and on many measures, boys and girls are up by roughly similar percentages. However there are two important caveats: A) the base rate for mood disorders is always higher for girls than boys, particularly after puberty, which means that a doubling of the rate produces far more additional sick girls than boys, as you can see in Figure 2 below, and B) there are some disorders and age groups for which girls are up far more, especially for self-harm, which is a much more common way of manifesting anxiety in girls than in boys.

 In specific terms, “rates of major depression roughly doubled, for boys and for girls, from 2010 to 2020”.  I must repeat this with emphasis. The rates for major depression doubled for boys and girls in 10 years! This is serious stuff! Serious and sudden.



Haidt’s Testimony before the  Senate Judiciary  Committee, Subcommittee on Technology, Privacy, and the Law May 4, 2022


I continue to be interested in why suicide rates, and rates of depression, and anxiety have so suddenly reached such high levels in Canada and the US and elsewhere in the west.  Is it a sign of the decline of the west? What is the cause?


Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist from New York University who has been studying moral psychology and moral development since 1987. He says that around 2014 he noticed something had gone wrong with mental health and social behavior of college students. He began to work with Greg Lukianoff to write an article for Atlantic magazine in 2015 which they called “The Coddling of the American Mind.” Later they expanded that into a book by the same title which they published in 2018. Later he also worked with Jean Twenge (a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and author of iGen) to further collect academic research on teen mental health and how it related to social media.  They made the research data  available to other scholars on line so they could contribute to the research and critique what they were collecting.

Based on that research Haidt testified before the American Senate to share what they had learned. They thought they have relevant information to a serious mental health problem among American youth that the Senate should have. He summarized the research for the members of the Senate Committee. I think it is worth looking at what he told the Senate.

The literature review the two professors performed concentrated on the time period beginning in 2012. In particular he wanted to testify on the effects of social media on the plummeting mental health of America’s youth. He testified about “the  research linking deteriorating teen mental health to the arrival and widespread adoption of social media, which transformed childhood activity, attention, social relationships, and consciousness in the years between 2009 and 2012.” Besides the effects on American youth, Haidt testified that he was very interested in the effects that social media was having on “America’s political dysfunction.” In other words it was also a societal issue. We must remember that the research show similar problems at similar times in Canada.

In part 1of his testimony he spoke about “the specific, gigantic, sudden and international mental health crisis.” Haidt began by pointing out that “the crisis is specific to mood disorders—those related to depression and anxiety” and that this was “not a general across-the-board increase in other illnesses.”

He also stated that

“The crisis is not a result of changes in the willingness of young people to self-diagnose, nor in the willingness of clinicians to expand terms or over-diagnose. We know this because the same trends occurred, at the same time, and in roughly the same magnitudes, in behavioral manifestations of depression and anxiety, including hospital admissions for self-harm, and completed suicides.”


The two professors wanted to know what was going on? It was very interesting. I will get to that in the next post.



Moral Panics are seldom Useful


Jonathan Haidt is quick to admit that new forms of technology often spur quick reactions from adults that amount to moral panics about what awful things kids “these days” are doing.  In my youth it was television. Moral panics are seldom helpful. As Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times said,

“Adults have fretted about the damaging impacts of radio, comic books, television and even the music of Prince. That’s a reason to approach the evidence linking social media to mental health disorders with caution. But it’s not a reason to discount it. After all, unlike hysteria over rock music, concern about the psychological effects of social media is something many young people share. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said internal Facebook research leaked by the whistle-blower Frances Haugen in 2021. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.


As well, many liberals are quick to blame evil corporations for their children’s woes as conservatives are quick to blame perverted liberals grooming of kids, but this time there is convincing data that social media giants are to blame for the steep rise in serious mental illness among America’s youth.

What we really need to do is look at the evidence dispassionately. Follow the evidence.  Jonathan Haidt says he does that. Let’s look at some more.


The Politics of Depression and Anxiety


Politics is not usually a good mix with health issues. Politics can tend to make us all stupid. What does politics have to do with the rising rates of youth depression, anxiety, and even suicides? First of all, it shouldn’t have anything to do with that, but it does. Bigly.

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times pointed out that a recent study showed that adolescents who leaned left were experiencing a greater increase in depression than their conservative peers. While girls were more likely to be depressed than boys, liberal boys had higher rates of depression than conservative girls?  What does that mean?

According to Goldberg,

“It’s long been known that liberals tend to be more depressed than conservatives, which you can interpret as either a cause or an effect of their unhappiness with the status quo. But innate factors couldn’t explain why, among the 12th graders the study examined, the gap in depressive symptoms between liberals and conservatives appeared to be growing. Nor could those factors explain why, after several years in which liberal girls and liberal boys endured roughly equal rates of depression, girls who identified as liberal had started having a much harder time.”


Some felt the girls who leaned left politically might just be experiencing a natural reaction to the many problems in society—growing sexual assaults against women, climate change, continued prevalence of misogyny and discrimination against women and girls. There is much to be depressed about in other words. After all it could hardly be surprising if those immediately affected by sexual violence or discrimination felt it most keenly. You might say it would be irrational not to be depressed or anxious or both. As Goldberg acknowledged “the notion that Trump’s America was a psychologically unhealthy place for young women resonated with me…”


Like Jonathan Haidt, she noticed the significance of 2012 for the rise of anxiety and depression among young women and girls. 2012 was the year of the shooting at Sandy Hook where very young school children were massacred. But it was also the time of Barack Obama’s re-election which no doubt cheered liberals. In 2013 the US Supreme Court extended gay marriage rights. It was happy times for liberals! Why would this lead to despair?

She consulted with Jean Twenge a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of the 2017 book iGen, about the deleterious psychological effects of social media.  Twenge had preliminary data that showed that liberal teenagers spent more time on social media spent more time on social media than their conservative peers. Her data also showed that boys tend to spend more time on screens than girls because in large part they spent more time on video games.

There was another interesting thing in her data. She had found that there were also increasing rates of loneliness among teenage girls. Would politics make them lonely? That seemed weird.

Remember the data I have already flagged in an early blog post. The recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (‘CDC’) showed serious rises in adolescent girls experiencing greater feelings of sadness and hopeless, and almost a quarter made a suicide plan. As I mentioned earlier too, Jonathan Haidt’s data showed this could not really be attributed to the pandemic. The effects of Covid-19 were not that great.

 Some have emphasized the sexual violence against women. That is a big problem.  According to the CDC 14% of high school girls said they had been forced to have sex. Nearly 20% had experienced sexual violence. Taylor Lorenz writing in the Washington Post said the big problem was not phones but rather “the fact that we’re living in a late stage capitalist hellscape during an ongoing deadly pandemic.” A feminist writer Jessica Valenti claimed that depression is a natural reaction to a misogynistic society. She wrote, “The real crisis, the problem that needs fixing, isn’t girls’ mental health… In the midst of all this violence and dehumanization, their depression is actually very reasonable!”

All of these are relevant and no doubt contribute to the problem but as Goldberg, Twenge, and Haidt all point out the data all shows that in about 2012 severe declines in mental health of young people were occurring in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Can that be a coincidence?  And remember that is exactly when the data also shows youth were turning to the new social media available on their phones!

As Goldberg summed up,


Technology, not politics, was what changed in all these countries around 2012. That was the year that Facebook bought Instagram and the word “selfie” entered the popular lexicon. As Twenge showed in “iGen,” in 2009, fewer than 60 percent of eighth-grade girls reported near-daily use of what were then called “social networking sites.” By 2014, more than 80 percent did”


And it wasn’t just that youth were fascinated by new technology. It really was changing their lives in profound ways. As Goldberg said,

Social media didn’t just cut into offline socializing. It precipitated a revolution in consciousness, in which people are constantly packaging themselves for public consumption and seeing their popularity and the popularity of others quantified. It’s not shocking that this new mode of existence would be particularly fraught for those in a stage of life where both fashioning the self and finding a place to belong are paramount.”


And then of course there is the scientific research itself. Working together, Professors Twenge and Haidt maintained a Google document in which they collected studies on social media and mental health and even permitted their critics to contribute to it. Jonathan Haidt said “55 studies in their review found a significant correlation between time spent on social media and mood disorders, compared with 11 that found little or no correlation. Other research suggests a causal relationship.”


One study in the American Economic Review had some amazing data about Facebook. It was introduced on various college campuses at different times and this study found that “The introduction of Facebook at a college had a negative impact on student mental health,” it found, presenting evidence that Facebook fostered “unfavourable social comparisons.”

 The evidence makes it very difficult to deny the serious adverse affect of social media. And politics can supercharge the problems.


The Stupid Decade Continued


Jonathan Haidt makes the astounding claim that starting in the mid 2010s people, particularly young people, but really a lot more than that, starting getting stupid! It’s not just the kids.

Haidt, like me, is a fan of John Stuart Mill who pointed out that if a person only knows his or her own side of a dispute, he knows little of that.  I have blogged earlier about Mill’s arguments on this point.

[If you look under tags  under John Stuart Mill you can find links to these posts] ]

In other words, to really understand a position one must look at it from different perspectives. We need to have opposite cases pushing against each other. That is what used to be done in universities, at least, according to Haidt, until around 2013 or 2014 when universities became places where ideologies were homogenized, and questions about sacred positions became hazardous to professors’ career paths.  It became difficult for professors and their students to challenge conventional wisdom. This was particularly true for a few sacred issues like race, gender, transgender and others. If a professor or even students, suggested there might be a case to be made for views that challenged the conventional wisdom, the challenger would feel the full wrath of social media warriors. And as Haidt said, “when critics go silent, the group gets stupid.”


Haidt admits that we have had polarized views in the past, but the new element is that social media supercharges the tendency to require ideological conformity. That of course amplifies polarization and intellectual tribalism.  The “other side” gets ignored. We need critics to make us smarter. If we don’t have them, we get stupider. We need opposing views or we get stupid. As Haidt said,


 “What’s new is these new dynamics brought to us by social media and especially Twitter, that we’re not shooting the other side so much anymore, we’re shooting the moderates on our own side. And so, what happened in the early to mid-2010s is the moderates on the left and right begin to go silent and the extremes get super empowered.


Haidt points out that as result on the right the Republican Party went off the rails and on the left, it was not so much the Democratic Party that went off the rails, but the supporters of the left who dominate major cultural and educational institutions, universities, media, museums etc. According to Haidt, “Both sides started shooting their moderates…Moderates on the left and right begin go silent and the extremes get super empowered. Metaphorically of course, I must add.


We must remember that polarization has many causes, but social media sure seems to be one of them. Anything that helps to silence our critics helps to make us stupid.  And that according to Haidt is how the west declined—by getting stupid.


A Uniquely Stupid Decade


A few years after he appeared on the Bill Maher show which I posted about yesterday, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, showed up on Amanpour and Co. expanding on his ideas about moral mistakes of the past. He was again explaining how social media was a problem but as always he did so in a very nuanced fashion and based his comments on scientific data. He is not free range pundits spouting off without restraint. Now don’t make nasty suggestions about me.


Haidt spoke with Hari Sreenivasan about the corrosive effects of new technology and how they have transformed the face of society, how they could be improved, and how drastically they have affected young people in North America. They talked a lot about an article he had written in the Atlantic with the engaging title “Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” It actually sums up nicely a lot of his thinking. He is actually working on book on the subject that I am looking forward to reading.


Haidt has been researching what social media is doing to the minds of children, the behaviors of children, and how maybe that contributes to the larger issues he is thinking about. He wants to go beyond the effects of new technology, and consider the effects on society. His research has showed how kids were the canaries in the coal mine and the ill effects they suffered were also suffered by adults later on. He says social media helped to make the decade from 2010 to 2020 a stupid one. Sreenivasan called it “stupefaction.”


This is how Haidt summed it up on Amanpour & Co. on American PBS in 2022:


“…something changed, something fundamentally changed in the nature of this social universe, in the early 2010s. And everything got weird and kind of stupid after that. And we see it clearly — most clearly with that the kids. All kids have been on screens all the time. When I was a kid, when you were a kid, we watched too much television. We couldn’t take the television with us to school or into the bedroom, and something changed when kids got smartphones. And it’s not just the phone, it’s especially social media. The girls went right for the digital platforms. Instagram and Tumblr. The boys went more for YouTube and video games. And at the time, people said, well, you know, maybe this is good for them to have so much stimulation. But actually, what happened, beginning in 2012, was that rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide all began going up. I mean, it wasn’t a gradual thing, it was like they were sort of stable until 2012 and then, it’s like a hockey stick. They’re now — most of them are 100 percent higher, we kind of doubled it, of the rates of suicide, self-harm, depression and anxiety. So, that has really drawn me in because this, I think, was a national emergency. One that is tractable. And I’ve been studying this in depth to try to figure out what is the evidence that social media actually is a contributor, and there is a fair amount now.”


Haidt is sensitive to the fact that many people will shout out that analysts like him and others have cried wolf in the past about the evil nature of modern technology. As he said.


“…there’s a long history of moral panic, especially around technology. And I’ve been engaging with other psychologists who say I’m fomenting a moral panic. And they’re right to be concerned about that because most of the previous times we freaked out about technology, it hasn’t been actually anything. This time, we believe is different for a couple of reasons. The first is that there’s never been a hockey stick graph, like that that sudden upturn in mental health problems. So, this time, it’s different. Two is that the timing is exactly what you would expect for social media. It’s not a gradual thing. It’s not like something changed and then something else kind of changed. As soon as most kids get on social media and right then, the next very year, rates of depression and anxiety start going up. And then, a final kind of data is, the kids themselves say it. I mean, when we were growing up, we didn’t say, yes, you know, television is making us crazy. Mom and dad, you know, do something. But if you talk to the kids,  about Facebook, Instagram, they talk to the kids and guess what, they say, yes, Instagram is what’s making us depressed and anxious.”


I have been trying to show that there is some serious rot in western society. Not that it is all bad. But there sure is some bad stuff around. Any society that allows it is to some extent in serious decline even though there are many good aspects  to it to. I will continue on the this in my next post.


Coddling the Youth


Well before the recent reports by the CDC and the US Surgeon General,  about the shocking rise of suicides among youth, in 2018, Jonathan Haidt a social psychologist appeared on various television shows to flog his book about his ideas of what happened to American youth, particularly American teenage girls. One of those shows was Real Time with Bill Maher. The book is called The Coddling of the American Mind: How good intentions and Bad Ideas are setting up a generation for Failure co-written by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff.

The book has its origins in an observation by Lukianoff that in 2013 for the first time it was students asking for protection from words and books and ideas and speech. All of which should be protected by the Constitution. Students had protested speakers before, but they never before medicalized it. They said that if this person says something I will be harmed or damaged and people will be traumatized. Therefore, schools like universities should protect them from hearing such speech. This was something new and when they put it in terms of safety to their university officials those officials had no choice but to respond.

As Haidt said, “This brought with it a whole package of innovations: micro-aggression training, safe spaces, trigger warnings, all this stuff appears from out of nowhere from around 2013 and 2014.”This made Haidt realize that this new generation of campus students are even more fragile than the millennials. And they wanted protection. Free speech be damned.

This drove both conservatives and liberals nuts, though liberals had a harder time deflecting these claims.

Haidt pointed out that kids born around 1995 had a very different childhood than children born before them. They don’t get driver licenses as much, they don’t drink as much, they don’t go out on dates, and they don’t have sex as much. What are they doing? They sit at home on their devices often with each other and this seems to be changing social development.” Haidt asserted, “As a result the rates of anxiety disorders, depression, self-cutting, and suicide are way, way up.”

This is particularly true for girls, and it all begins around 2011. In 2013 this generation entered colleges. And that is when these attitudes came out. In part this is because their parents insist on watching them all the time. Instead of helicopter parents they call it bull dozing parenting. They clear out all obstacles for their children. Their children are prepared to face no troubles at all. To put it bluntly, they have been coddled.

The main proposal made by Haidt and Lukianoff is anti-fragility. As Haidt said,

“Some things are fragile like a wine glass. You knock it over it breaks. Nothing good happens. If something is plastic, you knock it over nothing gets damaged. It doesn’t get better. But some things have to be stressed or challenged. Your immune system for example.  If you constantly protect your kid’s immune system, use bacterial wipes constantly, you are actually hurting them. Then you are preventing the system from getting the information it needs. The same thing is true with social life. If you protect your kids from being excluded, from being insulted, from being teased when they grow up it’s like the Princess and the pea. Any little thing they encounter on campus now becomes intolerably painful.”


It doesn’t help that parents try too hard to be their kid’s friends. They negotiated too much. They say, ‘Hey buddy isn’t it time to go?’ According to Haidt, “Kids need instruction and authority.”

This is a very new phenomenon so scientists don’t yet have a lot of data about it. Yet Haidt was prepared to say this in 2018 (later he went even farther and I will get to that in later post): “The preliminary data suggests that the anxiety, the fragility, the mental illness, that is across the country, across social class and across races. And that’s why social media use is starting so early. That seems to be the most likely culprit of several likely culprits.  Just that  week (Oct/2018) students at the Munk University Debates in Canada were demanding that Steve Bannon not be allowed to debate David Frum. That would be a travesty if the organizers gave in.  The Munk debates in Canada went ahead after the same debate had been cancelled in the US by The New Yorker magazine who chickened out because of the uproar.  I lost a lot of respect for the magazine then. I was a subscriber at that time.

Bill Maher had a good point about this. He said allowing the kids to shout down debates is like allowing the kids to take over in their homes. And, of course all of this gives fodder to the right who blame the left wing for the coddling. And there is some truth to that.  In civilization this authority should never be given up to the youth. You don’t stop giving them guidance. On this the right is clearly in the right, in my view.

In 2018 Haidt was worried about what was happening on line. The boys were mainly playing games on the Internet.  They may be killing people but they talk to each other and they co-operate. So, it is not all bad. But the girls were doing something else. They were putting something out and then waiting anxiously for comments from others. They are governed by social comparison and the fear of missing out. With boys bullying is mainly physical. With girls it is relational. So, girls can never get away from it. That is why the suicide rate for boys is up 25%, which is bad, but it is up 70% for girls! This is serious stuff.

And he had more to say about it later. I will get to that.