Monday Musing

How you doing Pogue?

So I wrote to you last Monday and when you opened the letter you discovered I’d been reflecting on how children and young people live such a different existence now compared with when I was young. And you let the letter get loose and…I got some responses. In fact more than normal.

A friend in New York sent me an article written by Jon Haidt, author of several books, that spoke on the change, the change for the worse, in the mental health of young people that has occurred in recent years. This very much supported my assertion that I grew up in a better time. Sorry about that🥴. Haidt, and fellow researchers, trace the commencement of the decline back to the rise of various social media platforms and are able to draw direct correlations from this, speaking of the “largest epidemic of adolescent mental illness ever”.

Off the back of this article I found myself having conversations with other, younger, people all of who were keen to raise issues with popular social media platforms. More than one said that having once been a Facebook user they now had given up their accounts. Why? Well, it seems young people are finding some substance, saying that they found a lot of the content shallow (my word to sum up the various terms they used). They viewed it as highly manipulative and, indeed, dangerous.

Why, I ask again at the risk of sounding like a 5 year old?

Well, not because it propagated radical views (although I’m sure you’ll find them if you go looking) but rather because it projects a lifestyle, disguised as normal, which is not real and as such is deceptive and possibly damaging.

Social media has created jealous behaviour over illusions. Some of you are envious over things, relationships, and lifestyles that don’t even exist.


Let me give you an example. One person recounted reading interviews by Gerard Butler, after he made Spartan, and Hugh Jackman, after the Wolverine films, where both basically said the same thing. If you’ve seen either film you will remember just how ripped both actors appear. The very pinnacle of the beautiful male body. But both discussed the affect the regimes they followed to achieve “the look” had on them. How, after a scene on set they would have to rest because they were overtaken by hunger and loss of energy. That’s not normal but young people (and older ones) are seeing these images as desirable on social media.

Another young person told me about models who, reflecting back on their careers todate, recounted the discomfort they had put themselves through to achieve “the look” and create an image which was sold on social media as desirable. Some would even acknowledge that it was not normal. But young people, particularly young women, are being sold “the look” and a number of untruths that attach to it such as “this will make you acceptable” or “desirable”.

Don’t let your mind bully your body.

June Tomaso Wood

Add to this the awareness that photos and videos can so easily be manipulated, blemishes removed, tummies reduced, hair coloured, muscles enhanced and I ask you, what are we doing to our youth? More, what are we doing to honesty?

In recent times I have found a level of admiration for body positive groups who are embracing who and what they are and have become able to declare themselves beautiful as they are. A positive reaction?

So how do we save our young people (and again, older ones) from believing the untruths that they are being sold? I’m thinking that there is a whole educational process that needs to start. I’d like to call it The Emperor’s New Clothesafter the famous Han Christian Andersen story wherein the Emperor, because of his ego and vanity believes a lie, is sold an image and makes a public fool of himself. See, this sort of illusion has been going on forever it’s just, now, the person selling the untruth has a bigger platform than ever before🥺.

So, what a challenge parents have today. But know you are not alone. There are many who will speak out the truth when it needs to be done.

Yours, a little disillusioned with the world this morning,


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