High school seniors & unhappiness

It’s easy to speculate. Here is one idea. Suppose females generally exhibit more empathy than males and that liberals have more empathy than conservatives. So when Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012 and his killer acquitted, liberal females would likely have been most impacted by the unfairness of it all. Combine that with the ramping of social media around 2010 (e.g., Facebook and Twitter both began in the mid-2000s), which promoted an increase in cyberbullying and online sexual harassment as well as providing a forum for far right hate speech, and it becomes easy to rationalize why women in general and liberal women in particular would become depressed.

The authors of the paper linked in your OP suggested this possibility:

" Among the most socially privileged group, male adolescents with highly educated parents, conservative ideology may work as a psychological buffer by harmonizing an idealized worldview with the bleak external realities experienced by many ([Jost et al., 2008). This group presumably benefits from the American cultural myth of an equal playing field in which exceptional social positions are thought to be earned through hard-work and talent rather than inherited through codified privilege…"

In other words, liberal women are more depressed than conservative men because many of the latter live in a dream world divorced from reality.


I was trying to think of a way to say “because conservative men are fat, dumb, and happy” or “ignorance is bliss” in a nicer, more socially acceptable way.

Thanks for doing that so much better than I could.



Sorry, but this study and similar PhD turns on the scholastic stage strike me as misleading and even absurd on many levels. The pollsters notion of “depressed” and how to measure it quickly is likely focusing attention on what amount to shadowplays. “Social moods” such as this are not new, can be extremely shortlived and/or shallow, or be expressive of entirely different and even cheerful causal basis.

See for instance, Sturm und Drang - Wikipedia

…sentimentality and an objective view of life gave way to emotional turbulence and individuality, and Age of Enlightenment ideals such as rationalism, empiricism, and universalism no longer captured the human condition; emotional extremes and subjectivity became the vogue during the late 18th century…The Sturm und Drang movement did not last long; according to Betty Waterhouse it began in 1771 and ended in 1778 (Waterhouse v). The rise of the middle class in the 18th century led to a change in the way society and social standings were looked at

Societies, how they “feel”, and how that is expressed are extremely complex interrelated selfcontraditory messes with huge unknown time lags of experience, expression, and meaning. Digital social media probably adds an enormous level of amplification on feed back for what is differentially experienced by different population segments.

This book: The Sorrows of Young Werther - Wikipedia
was considered the “very portrait of our time”, but that “time” came and went with extraordinary rapidity. Reading it (oh my lord!) was crucial to convincing Young David to NOT trust surface reads of socially expressed emotions.

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Right wing totalitarianism is on the rise throughout the western world. Empathetic people who care about human rights are anxious and depressed for good reason.


Here ya go.
Today’s kids are depressed cause of smoking.
Smoking relieves depression and anxiety.

ralph missed the old HURL board.


A modest proposal: No smartphones for kids
Don’t give your kid a smartphone before high school, and don’t let them use social media before age 16, New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues in a new book.

The shift from “play-based” to “phone-based” childhoods is making our kids sick and miserable, Haidt argues. In “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness,” out March 26, Haidt says that staring at screens all the time is terrible for human development…

Banning phones in schools “is the easiest and fastest step we can take to improve youth mental health,” Haidt writes.


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Yes. But I fear that the operable verb needs to shift from “is making” to “has made”, and that the complex mix of habits, shared cultural knowledge (how to play “hide and seek” or sand lot baseball above the infant level by creatively legislating new rules to fit circumstances and opportunities) has largely died. Even the children in my relatively poor local pueblo here in Mexico show this deprivation.

We might have to rent busloads of Amish children to help our deprived children learn how to be children again…

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Only if you think that way of life might return.
We didn’t play the same as our grandparents, and somehow it prepared us to live in our current world. Our parents worried about our TV-based entertainment.
Today’s kids won’t grow into a world where phone-based isn’t a way of life.
And who knows what their kids and grandkids will think is play.


As mentioned somewhere in this thread, it’s not the technology that’s the problem, it’s the use of it. Things change over time. That’s a simple fact. But it is very much different if someone who’s more or less formed as a person, with basic beliefs and values, and confidence (at some level) is exposed to all these things than if we’re talking about teenagers. This is the period where peers become more important and now these “peers” are influencers (no comment, let me not start that topic).

What all this media hysteria about “social media” reminds me of, is all the hysteria about video games, when they were new in the late 70s/early 80s

Older generations had other things to whip hysteria up about.