232 Comments

Growing up in the 80s, I’ve always come to associate conservatism with self efficacy, the idea that one had control over their own life and it’s outcomes. Whereas progressivism seems focused n the things that stand in your way (racism, capitalism, climate, evil corporations). So I tend to believe in the self-selection theory.

But more than that.... having raised a shit ton of kids (I have five staying with me right now), I’ve noticed a fetishization of depression over the years.

Among High Schoolers and College Graduates it has become sort of trendy to say “I battle with depression” and I’ve begun to think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In addition, it’s not just social media that’s bad for kids, it’s cell phones, it’s video games, Netflix, etc... everything that keeps kids from running wild on the streets with their friends experiencing in person companionship.

Personally, I’m a little depressed that I am not heading to France for a few weeks. I miss Europe. But spending the whole time with your family seems subpar. Kids and family are a lot of work (just got back from family camping trip)

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I think this used to be more generally true. However, MAGA right wing think is over shot with victim mindset. It’s the government or the trans groomers or the international order, they are all keeping the real Americans down. There was always an element of it on the right. I remember listening to Rush Limbaugh in the 90’s with my dad and wondering why the dude was so pissed all the time, I came to understand why.

People who obsess over victimization are often also suffering from some sort of mental issue. I don’t mean a strictly DSM type thing but you can certainly think yourself into unhealthy patterns of behavior and create a negative feedback loop. Social media just xeroxes all of this and sends to dutifully to billions of black mirrors. Add some abs or boobs and you’ve got sexy victim porn, this generations Marlboro Man.

Looking inwards is good but you’ve got no context if you don’t look outward. The context of reality is inconvenient for certain narratives so we just don’t do it sometimes. Sad!

I’m getting up at 6am to start the grill because I have to grill the burgers and hot dogs to take over to my in laws. They don’t have a charcoal grill and I refuse to cook forth of July meats on a gas grill like a Swede. I’m going back on low carb tomorrow so I fully intend to demolish a bag of bbq chips (the best type of chip).

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I agree about Maga, in fact I had considered mentioning it. Honestly, MAGA people have come to disgust me (even on issues I agree with) for this very reason.

Everything you say is 100% correct.

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I like this comment a lot, but salt and vinegar are the best chips.

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Y'all need some all-dressed, my goodness.

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I respectfully disagree. Though they are a delicious chip.

I think the recent additions of tangy ketchup to the Doritos cannon and Cuban chips to the lays ruffled cannon are interesting.

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This is Fritos erasure.

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Chips experiencing Frito erasure.

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Am I the only one who prefers plain old Frito Lay classics? I usually have them with a sandwich (I don’t have a grill) and just like the salty crispness to contrast with the sandwich.

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Nothing wrong with the classics!

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I like plain lays on a sandwich best because they smoosh down just right. If it’s a side car then I’m going BBQ all day.

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Ugh not a fan of Doritos, in any form! Cuban could be interesting though....

Enjoy your holiday chips, whatever the flavor!

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Jul 4, 2023·edited Jul 4, 2023

"However, MAGA right wing think is over shot with victim mindset. It’s the government or the trans groomers or the international order, they are all keeping the real Americans down."

I'd say it is a -defensive- mindset more than anything else.

'Defensive' doesn't seem preclude action the way 'victimized' does.

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That’s a tough/thin line to draw though.

I don’t want to turn this into which political/religious ideology thinks it’s the most victimized because there be social media dragons.

The currently popular strain of negative populism that runs through Democracy encourages the victim mindset to some degree. Because it is largely true that everyone is some sort of victim but it’s also largely true that the best way to gain control of your situation is to think with a positive mental attitude even if the situation looks bleak. “Suck it up” isn’t fun to hear and it’s much easier to think the person telling you that is working in bad faith, a racist or something even worse that social media has yet to imagine for us.

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I think that the difference is that progressives seem to attribute positive status to claiming victim status.

You get benefits (primarily social) for credibly checking off as many boxes as possible.

And kids in particular see this and mimic it, and don't have the mental guardrails in place yet, and so they can't avoid the pitfalls associated with making 'victim' a key part of their identity. (I.e. depression)

MAGA folks...don't generally do that. Because for a lot of older people being a helpless victim is emasculating. They mostly just seem to get angry instead.

And being older on average, they don't really know how to protest in a politically productive way. And they have families and other responsibilities and less time to go spend on protesting compared to high school and college kids.

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Does Trump not have positive status in the conservative base at the moment? Isn’t he using a victim narrative to collect money from people on the right? I think there is a lot of value to being a scorned Christian on the right as well.

I think what you are saying used to be more true but I think it really has broken down at amazing speed.

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Honestly, I also don't think a lot of progressives are -really- that depressed and miserable.

I think they are just claiming it and wearing the title as a badge of honor.

Some of them really do take it to heart and become depressed, but I suspect a lot of it is just play acting so they can check the victim box.

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Except I use gas grill because ease > tradition.

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If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right.

Also, grilling barefoot and then stepping on a hot coal builds character.

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Cooking with charcoal introduces an element of danger that elevates the experience from piloting a drone to being in the command module if Apollo 13. Will everything catch fire? Will you be seriously injured? No one knows! Just keep that bucket of water full and pray to your god(s).

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Remember to clack the tongs together a few times. It is for good luck.

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There are lots of things I will happily cook on a gas grill but the taste of a burger or hotdog on a charcoal grill can’t be beat in my opinion. Charcoal has the ability to really boost a low quality meat. Glad to see you back in the comments Rory!

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Thanks Bo. My kids are visiting so I’ve been busy. But I randomly woke up at 5am, so figured I would join in the fun.

Bummed I missed all the SCOTUS decision bitching. I was generally ehhhh except for student loan thing.

Intellectually I agree with the decision, but it sure would of been nice to have my daughters student loans cancelled.

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Now I feel like a Swede, and on the 4th of July. Why did I come here? Why am I deficient? A liberal internet space just made me more depressed!

Enjoy your 4th, folks.

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Great post by Matthew and I appreciate your thoughts Rory. I do think that you are generally correct about the self-efficacy piece as of a decade or so ago but also agree with the posters below that conservatives generally (and particularly MAGA types) have become increasingly enamored with the victim mentality.

I think some forms of progressivism are more vulnerable to this but I think more broadly the liberal leaning take over of education has really inculcated all children who do not attend religious schools (and probably those as well, but to a lesser extent).

I work in higher education (at a very liberal institution), have sent a couple kids through to college and volunteered for years as a senior project coordinator for a couple local schools, coaching youth sports in the school and in a program that was aimed at providing mentors to youth who would be the first in their family to go to college. In this I have been broadly exposed to mid-school through college (but only in one geographic region) and have seen some disturbing trends.

The first and most noticable, because it impacted my daughter, is the trend to downplay any success not born of overcoming some kind of adversity or oppression. Simply being good is not worthy (because it does not play into a victim mentality). So my daughter, who was excellent in school, reasonably popular, etc., but has a serious illness, was repeatedly told by the schools to focus on this disability (for things like college admissions) and not highlighter her success, except that she had success despite her illness.

The school wanted to turn her focus her energy on lamenting her disability but ignore her hard work and dedication. It was like they wanted to turn her into a victim.

I saw similar trends in my volunteer work and now in school. There is a passion to be part of a marginalized community and strongly identify with the injustice that community experiences (google "pretendian"). If that is not possible, and you have a legitmate illness fall back on that, and finally, if that fails make highlight were you are on the autism spectrum or search around until you can find some illness (can you say gluten intolerant) or if all else fails a mental illness.

When you live a life pretending to have some kind of illness it becomes your reality.

I get that life really is not fair. With my daughter I explained to her that yes, she had a serious illness that would impact her life, but she also had two, married, loving parents (many kids dont), a guaranteed college fund one way other (we did not need it but she had a fund, and most kids dont), she lived in a good school district with low crime, etc. So, in fact she was probably on net, lucky. So it is fair to say that a lot of kids do not have her advantages.

Converesly, pretty much every kid alive today has access to the greatest knowledge machine ever (its called the internet), access to free education (MOOCs like Coursera), pretty much anyone who wants can go to college if they are willing to live at home, have more, cheaper and better entertainment, etc. So things are not perfect but it is not the dark ages either.

Long story short I wish the education system would start focusing more on encouraging kids to take advantage of all they have access to and not teach them that they are helpless or only defined by their disadvantages. Even if broadly correct, in that your situation is more important than your efforts, the only thing you can control is your effort. So in a world that is 90% defined by situation and 10% defined by effort, those that are focus on what they can control will be better off than those who focus on what they cant.

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Thank you for this excellent and thoughtful comment. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a parent.

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Man. I love this comment. I’ve experienced the same things with my kid.

I’ve noticed that it’s more apolitical centrists who now have the self efficacy mentality these days. The sort of people that are actually enjoyable to be around.

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The fetishization of depression is definitely real. It was a thing when I was growing up in the '90's but it seems to be getting worse. One of my very unpopular opinions is that we are probably misclassifying normal, transient and proportionate reactions to bad events as depression the disease and that we should reevaluate the diagnostic criteria so that more severe symptoms are necessary for someone to be diagnosed. I also think we need to acknowledge that not all severe mental anguish is mental illness -- for instance, grief is incredibly painful but it is also a normal part of life. We need to acknowledge that life is sometimes very painful but that doesn't necessarily mean that the person experiencing the pain is sick. Along with that, we should be willing to provide counseling to people who are going through a really painful life stage but do not meet the criteria for a mental health condition.

It's a lot easier to romanticize an illness when most of the people with it aren't severely disabled, especially when it can be seen as a response to an unfair and frequently cruel world. Treating wallowing in that misery as a good thing can create cognitive patterns that make someone more susceptible to depression. Now I feel old.

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I agree, and I also think that situational depression has gotten short-shrifted. If you are in an unhappy relationship, your job is an unfulfilling slog that still demands lots of overtime (so no free time for hobbies), you don’t feel loved or understood by your family of origin, you are simply not getting paid enough to make ends meet and every month is a penny-pinching juggling act - all those are stressful and DO wear on people! Depression can magically lift once someone gets out of their bad marriage, finds a better job, moves away from belittling and controlling parents - you get the drift. Depression can be and often is transient and goes away once the bad circumstances change.

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Totally agree. I also wish doctors were more comfortable asking about life circumstances and then recommending life changes to alleviate depression. If someone can cure their depression by leaving a marriage to a souse with a drinking problem, that's something their doctor should have them seriously consider.

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There’s a whole lot of kids running wild on the streets of Paris these days!

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Yes! And they aren’t depressed either! Mad, cranky, but not depressed.

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I don't think it's accurate to cast all home entertainments as equally bad - not that you were doing that explicitly, but many do, as a way to say "cellphones can't be that much worse than television which has been around for a while."

Television & console video games are family entertainments to some extent - multiple people can watch a TV show or a movie together, or play a multiplayer video game together, so while it's not as social or as mentally stimulating as, say, playing a family softball game, it's still social to some extent. You all have to agree on a show to watch or a game to play, you all have to suffer through the advertisements together, you all laugh together at the funny parts.

Cellphones don't allow this, obviously. It's one person to one phone. Even if you're all in the same room, you're in your own little worlds. A few mobile game options like Minecraft are multiplayer but not many. Also, televisions have gotten *much* cheaper in the last 10 years, and now many families have a TV in every room, so people can watch whatever they want individually without family interaction.

I say this as someone who effectively self-isolated with his computer as soon as he could as a teen....but there was still relatively a lot of time spent with my family either watching a movie or the new Simpsons every Sunday at 8. That sounds as antiquated as nickel hamburgers now. In the era of streaming content there's far less of an incentive for anyone to watch anything together. My era's PC games like Runesapce & World of Warcraft were also a lot more effectively social - both with real-life peers and online peers - than the relatively spastic & asocial games like Fortnite that currently dominate, which even if playable with a group don't really encourage it.

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Disagree. Place holder to share my thoughts after a intake kids to the pool.

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The way for parents to travel, at least in theory, is with a group of friends/siblings/cousins who also have kids. That way you can all take turns alternating between supervising the kids and sightseeing without the kids. Division of labor.

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So glad you're doing better! Have a wonderful 4th.

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Glad the help helped, and you are feeling better.

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I am glad to hear you are doing better, and your counselor was so helpful.

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With appreciation, I will venture to generalize on just some guy's story in what I hope is a respectful response that may be entirely different from his own experience:

Certainly secular therapists have lots of ways to help someone through similar problems, but I can't help thinking that Jesus is a kind of short cut. People who grow up in churches develop an internal image of Jesus that's based on tradition, poetry, songs, ritual, and some very interesting, often difficult stories. One thinks of these things in terms of relationship, not as abstraction. The counselor's suggestion allows drawing from a deep well of ideas, metaphors and signposts that have matured along with one's unique personality. These are all internally available when it becomes necessary to embark on (yet) another process of growth and healing.

(Over-simplified of course: Kierkegaard and other Christian deep-thinkers and writers certainly didn't find any easy short-cuts, but again, their writing ultimately only adds to what's available in a deep, ongoing tradition.)

How can secular society replace the kind of functionality that comes from well-established, healthy religions? How can society evolve a fluid, comprehensive cultural framework within which people and communities can flourish, without starting from scratch? Seems like these days we pretty much leave it to parents, with unrealistic hopes for the schools (they already have enough to teach as it is.)

The catastrophic and dualistic social justice thinking mentioned in Matt's post as a possible downer for the youngsters has been encountered and dealt with many times by the world's religions. They started from scratch and forgot to consider all the dimensions of balance that are necessary for an effective ideology or movement. (Note: yes, yes I know that religions, like all powerful social and cultural entities, can go extremely wrong.)

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I'm going to get a bit controversial here, but the constant talk of su!cide relating to trans issues for kids is just messed up. Guidelines about discussion of su!cide in the media have always said to avoid going into graphic details, avoid simplification, and avoid suggesting it was inevitable. It's a disgrace that we are now suggesting that surgery and hormones, with permanent impact on fertility and sexual function, are now required for some people or they will almost inevitably go through with it. Just shameful that some people are doing this.

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It’s the catastrophizing. Certain activists assert of you don’t do X then you are killing children, without establishing how doing X affects the latter.

I see these types of arguments with climate change and degrowthers. I just think that casual mendacity is more acceptable now and people don’t even bother showing concern for finding the truth. They just assert if you don’t believe what they do then you hold horrible beliefs or said something horrible, without evidence.

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The official narrative around LGBTQ rights (among others but it is especially notable here) is the opposite of CBT--constant reframing of everything to be trauma, harm, microaggressions. Everything is interpreted as proof that one isn’t wholly and fully accepted or celebrated by the world around them, and that that is itself a traumatic and depressive experience.

I can hardly think of a more destabilizing and immiserating way to experience the world.

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And think about the second order effects of that--all the kids and younger adults who hear that message about suicide and then assume anyone who questions anything about trans rights/the movement must want people to die. Empathy that overwhelms critical thinking.

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America in 2023 is a *much* less racist sexist homophobic etc. place than it was a generation or two ago. Why are the very people who call themselves "progressives" so committed to denying that we've made progress? Why can't we take a win?

There is much to what Matt is saying. The extent to which we've rejected the idea that the abused and traumatized deserve lower status is a good thing (I've definitely benefited from it), but in a case of what I like to call "Costanza politics", now we're teaching kids that if you're abused and/or traumatized you're entitled to higher status, a status you'd lose if you healed from it. But let me suggest another factor. For people who claim to believe in evolution, they refuse to accept that, as evolution shows, gradual and imperfect change can make a huge difference. (So Obama-era cringe!) Instead, they're going by what's essentially a religious view, that nothing short of burning this corrupted world to the ground and building something new and pure from the ashes wii do

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It’s something I have to remind myself that perfectionism is a cognitive distortion too. As a depresssion sufferer who benefits a lot from Cbt and therapy and drugs it’s one of the hardest ones for me to avoid.

I don’t do this in my personal life, but in politics anything short of perfection is absolute failure is so easy to fall into. Especially when we have a kind of post material politics of status.

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I always point to this survey from pew which shows pretty clear positive trends in interracial personal relationships: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2017/05/18/intermarriage-in-the-u-s-50-years-after-loving-v-virginia/

I also have this chart with a current snapshot of how common or uncommon interracial "baby-making" is. About 1 of 7 babies are born to parents of 2 different census categories. And for native-born citizens it's a little higher at about 1/6.

https://theusaindata.pythonanywhere.com/segregation

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Certainly a positive development but I think this gets overstated. Elsewhere on the SB comment section it is a common opinion that Hispanic Americans are assimilating into the white majority, but Hispanic-White "interracial marriage" is a big chunk of that stat. (It would be interesting to see prior rates account for southern vs western European marriages!)

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It's hard to say whether it's over or understated because while it's relatively easy to nail down the facts, it's harder to nail down exactly how much it's "stated" lol.

But even wrt Black people the numbers are fairly high. If you filter out immigrants, which are about (about 16% of new Black mothers) then about 80% of Black people are having kids with other self-identified Black people. That gives 80 / 120 children born to at least 1 black parent having 2 black parents, and 40 / 120 children having 1 black parent and 1 non-black parent.

In the past, children with 1 black parent normally considered themselves Black. That might still be largely true, but the percentage who consider themselves multi-racial is growing steadily. In any case for every 2 black kids in America with 2 black parents there is 1 with a non-black parent. That sounds like a big deal and a fast rate of change to me! And the pace is only quickening. I don't know if it means black people are assimilating into the white majority, but it's some sort of melting pot, for sure.

And the stats for Hispanic and Asian non-immigrants are much, much assimilation. Those census groups only appear segregated because of the high pace of recent imigration.

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I think a more important question than biological parentage per se is who is raising the kids.

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That's fair - under "intermarriage is reasonably uncorrelated between generations" this would produce a _gigantic_ change in the makeup of the US in our lifetimes, in a way that is probably under-appreciated.

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deletedJul 4, 2023·edited Jul 4, 2023
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Wow, really impressive analysis. I actually thought of trying to run a similar simulation or analysis but I never got around to it and I didn't have that 28% data point. Very interesting result, too, with the rising and then falling thing.

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Because you shouldn’t assign credit for integration twice over. My Italian and Irish parents aren’t an interracial marriage

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At one point an Italian and Irish intermarriage was probably considered a bigger deal than most of us would consider black-white intermarriage today.

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Or, Catholic and any flavor of Protestant, or Protestant and the wrong kind of Protestant, or Christian and Jewish…Ethnic (not racial) intermarriage was considered a huge deal, too, in the 50’s and earlier. (There was also a time, albeit a couple hundred years ago, when the Irish, about the pastiest most translucent people on earth, were not considered “white.”)

This is why I believe that (most) Latino Americans are going to be where Italian Americans are now in about 50 years or even less. Just another ethnic grouping, depending on origin, with delicious food and some interesting traditions, but firmly in the US mainstream.

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It’s a much less racist and sexist place even relative to ten years ago. Hell Bush II’s re-election hinged on opposing gay marriage. Heck we even call it same sex marriage now.

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founding

Both HRC and Obama opposed gay marriage in 2008

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And you know who forced Obama’s hand on accepting same-sex marriage? That doddering oldster Joe Biden. I wish the larval progressives who whine about him being Too Old and Uncool would remember that, or at least look it up.

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Absolutely. But W’s team put anti-gay marriage initiatives on ballots across the country, as a means of driving turnout and helping Republicans win elections (I’d love to see data on how effective this was or wasn’t).

At the time, as a liberal I used to say “Republicans are idiots, banning gay marriage in Tennessee (for instance). It’s not as if gay marriage is going to be made legal in flipping Tennessee.” Shows how much I know.

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“Gods, Guns, and Gays.” Pepperidge Farm Remembers. Even in blue California, Proposition 8 (anti-gay-marriage) was voted in after Gavin Newsom said “what the hell, I’m going to make gay marriage legal in my city.” (One result of that, incidentally, was florists being sold out! The couples waiting in line at City Hall were showered with flowers by random well-wishers. Gay marriage is a HUGE money maker for a lot of ancillary industries.)

Now, of course, gay marriage is legal in California, and many other blue states. There is a huge red/blue split around LGBT issues, especially the T. But back in 2004, even the blue states were hesitant. We really have come a long way.

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>>Now, of course, gay marriage is legal in California, and many other blue states.

It’s legal in every state since 2015…

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Oh duh. I remember now thinking it was hilarious Scalia got all upset. (My excuse for forgetting is I came down with some crud just in time for America’s Big Birthday Party.)

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Superlike™️.

Because if the world isn't a perfect, equal, immediate, utopia, it can't be a win.

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Wile E. Coyote, Super Like?

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I am not a Super Genius™️, but people who, like me, spend too much time here might have noted my trademark respose to comments I consider to be extra-good. 😊

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I'm a progressive who doesn't deny that we've made progress, as are many(?) commentators here. These extremely broadly scoped statements don't seem useful.

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I'd submit that progressives who enjoy Matt's writing aren't representative of most progressives one is likely to encounter on-line.

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But the progressives one is likely to encounter online aren't representative of progressives generally, either.

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I'm not sure about this. I definitely agree that frequent commentators who enjoy Matt's writing aren't, but I think it's hard to know how distortionary the "read -> comment -> comment multiple times early in morning st you get upvoted" pipeline is. (And on the other end, since the progressives one encounters on e.g. Twitter are going through a similar filter).

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Every generalization has a million exceptions. (That's why the old school liberal axiom that people are individuals first and members of groups second is so essential.) It's tough to communicate without them though.

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Sure but some generalizations are broadly correct and some are wrong, and unfortunately I think yours is wrong.

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Lifestyle creep explains most the complaints about cost of living.

It’s the cost of purchasing what they think is an appropriate social status.

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What, like in door plumbing?

When the overall standard of living increases, it’s right for folks to reset their expectations.

The base to determine our relative standard of living must constantly adjust up.

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But then we're forever on a treadmill of unfulfilled expectations and lack of contentment. I guess it just is what it is, but taking the time to reflect on how much we actually have and how good our lives actually are seems useful to me, and is potentially a way to combat feelings of depression, anxiety or insecurity. The reverse can be unhealthy, if taken too far, and that seems to be part of what Matt was writing about.

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I feel like it’s a tricky balance. Accentuating the positives can sometimes feel like accosting people for having trauma. Toxic positivity can be a real problem too.

I’ve lived through incredible progress in attitudes about people like me. I’ve also been assaulted several times and have a lot of perhaps irrational fears but they didn’t come from only paranoia.

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Yes. Hope is the opposite of despair. And I think that even when bad stuff happens we can be hopeful and resilient without the toxic positivity crap.

But the topic is about kids in a depressed state which is unique and separate from cost of living issues, or even being resilient in the fact of adversity.

More kids thrive, become resilient and hopeful adults, when provided a childhood free from danger, real or perceived, in their communities.

We have failed in that.

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It's now a received opinion in much of online-liberal-world that "things were better" in prehistoric times & medieval Europe than now. A lot of people in that world are utterly detached from reality.

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One of the biggest contributors I suspect is the rise of the delay, delay, delay parenting style. Children of liberals are constantly told to delay marriage, delay having kids, and delay settling down anywhere. Getting married young was the second worst thing you could do, next to having a baby when you’re young.

We were sold this as essential to happiness, career fulfillment, and finding the right spouse/job/city. Smash cut to 20 years later and all my happiest friends are the ones who married young, had kids young, and settled down young.

Besides prioritizing career over family and community during our twenties and thirties, it also fosters the mindset that we’re in search of a perfect life instead of a good life. Friends in their late thirties bemoan that they can’t find “the one” or claim that they want kids “one day”. And meanwhile we all live in different cities that we moved to “for a job”.

In the pursuit of professional success we sacrificed many of the things that make life worth living.

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Maybe because when you marry young, you grow together? And when you have kids at a reasonable age, you’re still relatively young when they (hopefully) leave home?

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That’s certainly true. I remember seeing dating evolve from this romantic dreamy experience in high school, in your twenties it becomes a long clinical list of red/green flags. Instead of being fun, emotional, and natural dating as an adult often felt more like a thesis defense.

Of course it’s also so much better to have the support of a spouse during difficult times (like when you’re young and poor) and you build wealth much quicker when you share a living space.

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There are some obvious confounders in "people who found long-term partners young are happier than those who didn't." The claim is certainly true in my experience, but you don't even need the time delay - people in good relationships are happier than those who aren't

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IDK, most of the people I know who married young are either divorced and/or in debt up to their eyeballs while the ones who married in their thirties are still happily married and generally have their lives in order.

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I'd like to see some statistics and research on this.

While I agree that there are real costs to delaying those things, there's also real costs to not delaying them!

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This is some major "grass is greener" sentiment

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

My understanding as a layperson with a casual interest in family policy is that the correlation-causation problems and lurking variables are really complicated regarding age at first marriage and divorce. The population who get married young do not look like the population who get married old, and some of those other variables matter a lot.

Like I had a good number of law school classmates who were married by 25, some of whom also had kids relatively young. That they're mostly now biglaw lawyers (with the big money, high education, and high hours that entails) seems much more likely to influence their odds of divorce than their age at marriage. Or, say, how often they go to church (very large inverse correlation, which itself has a correlation-causation problem in turn).

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I know this is an extreme tangent but...

So many of the things Matt writes about American political culture--about "popularism", about elite dominance of the issue agenda, and here about the depressive style in left-wing discourse--are things I see in this country as well.

I live in Afghanistan. And one of the (many, many) things I find troubling about English-language media coverage of the country is the way it valorizes despair.

I need to put the "to be sure" up front here: obviously one huge difference between Afghanistan and the US is that the situation for most people really has become much worse than it was a couple of years ago. Depression is a valid response to much of what has happened since August 2021.

But I've noticed something odd, and concerning, about the way in which this topic is handled.

The few surviving local media outlets are constantly running stories about Afghans who have committed suicide, either because of the economic crisis or because they're young women despondent about the closure of girls' schools. I have no idea whether the overall suicide rate has risen since the Taliban takeover, and although it wouldn't be surprising I'm sure there's no reliable statistical data. But the constant coverage of the subject would certainly lead most readers to conclude that suicide is up... and in general, the media here don't follow any of the standard guidelines in other countries about how to write about suicide in a responsible and non-triggering way.

Something else I find striking is that some of the major human rights organizations, when they write about abuses against women and girls, will mention widespread female depression and suicide as part of a list that includes actual policy decisions by the Taliban, such as the closing of schools and the new restrictions on clothing and independent travel for women.

That's very strange. Depression and even suicidal thoughts are predictable reactions to losing your rights, but these experiences are not in themselves rights violations. They're *consequences* of rights violations, which are the things these organizations are actually supposed to be campaigning against.

The language used by some of these groups (and by journalists who cover Afghanistan from an advocacy posture) makes you feel they're repositioning themselves as mental health advocates, not just political campaigners. I think this is a bad trend.

This tends to be combined with a certain type of infantilizing language, which I suppose is meant to make people feel better but which I think might have the opposite effect. I tweeted the other day about how annoying it is to see Afghan women constantly described as "the bravest women in the world". What journalists and activists mean by that, of course, is that Afghan women are the most *oppressed* women in the world, but with a change of phrasing that emphasizes their agency. It's similar to using "rape survivor" as a substitute for "rape victim"... but it also reminds me of the way you'd talk to your five-year-old child while waiting for the pediatrician to give him a measles shot. That can't really be the right approach here, can it?

As I said: there are good reasons for despair here, so the analogy with the US doesn't work completely. But surely it's even more irresponsible to preach depression to people who are depressed enough already.

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1. Great comment.

2. What is it that brings you to Afghanistan?

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I'm trying to start a business and an NGO. No further comment for the moment :)

I worked here for five years during the war so it's not the kind of culture shock it would be for most people... although I am a little surprised that apart from me and some people with continuing jobs, none of the other expats who were here before August seem to have returned. Things are difficult here but there's a lot of work to be done.

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Good luck!

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The idea that victim status and aggrievement gives people status is weird. It is even weirder when rich and privileged elites at Harvard, Brown, or Yale try to position themselves as oppressed victims.

Can we just go back to when people defined themselves based on fashion, music tastes, and skateboarding?

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See also what I think are the related concepts of valorizing "self-care" and continuously extending people the benefit of the doubt based on nebulous claims about their health, mental/emotional issues, etc.

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I think that “be kind, for everyone is fighting a tough battle” is a good mentality when it comes to, for instance, little aggravating moments with strangers or service people. You can’t really do much about that cranky person ahead of you in line, and you likely won’t see them again, so just taking a deep breath and letting go is the best solution for your own mental health.

And with my close friends, benefit of the doubt always gets extended, because, well, we’re friends, and people have bad days! You give grace to your friends and they extend the same to you - and if they don’t, it’s time to re-evaluate the friendship.

Where things get to be unpleasant walking on eggshells is when that mentality is extended to the workplace and neighborhood. Yes, they’re kids, but no, they can’t just grab my cat! (Insert bad Trump joke here) Sure, you may be suffering from some painful health issues and be “low on spoons” but that doesn’t give you a good reason to be difficult to work with. Sometimes you just have to be kind and pleasant for everyone’s sake, no matter how you yourself are feeling.

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I'm "low on spoons" quite a bit, but the idea of outing personal circumstances in order to claim some kind of victim status has always felt like a major hazard. Certainly self-pity is one of those roads that must be traveled at times, and it's something that can be learned from, but holding up self-pity as some kind of cultural norm seems extremely toxic. "Let's all spiral down the miserable drain of self-pity, blame, and powerlessness together."

(Just started watching Bill Nighy in "Living" - his stiff-upper-lip character prefaces explanations of his terminal illness with the remark "it's really a bit of a bore, but ...")

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I thought low on spoons was an opiate reference.

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Great point. This also helps one to "fake it till you make it," at least in my experience.

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What I'm thinking of in particular is my experiences with Kickstarter, where vague statements like, "I'm dealing with a lot in my life right now," are treated by many people (who've just had their pockets picked!) as licenses for someone to walk off with literal six-figure sums of money.

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Yeah, the victim-mentality has only gotten worse. In my college days there were a lot of testimonials about someone suffering some indignity or micro-aggression, tending to brush it off, and then being talked into escalating it by their friends even though it didn’t really bother them in the first place. Today, it’s only a matter of time until articles pop up deeming a popular movie/celebrity/book as “problematic” for some aspect that no one even noticed.

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Micro aggressions were not even a concept when I went to uni.

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We had an entire art exhibit in the student union called “hate on campus” which featured picture re-enactments of racist micro-aggressions at the school. It was ridiculous.

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The use of the terms micro and hate together suggests the he creators have no concept of or concern for magnitude or degree.

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The idea that it's our responsibility to change things that we fundamentally do not have control over, and that we're supposed to do it without the aid of a higher power is pretty much the exact opposite of what recovery programs teach.

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Yes, belief in God or some higher power does seem to correlate with better mental health.

That doesn't provide any evidence at all that a higher power exists. In fact it tends to point in the opposite direction, because it provides an evolutionary answer to a question that might otherwise make atheists feel awkward: if all religious beliefs are false, how did humans ever end up having them, and why do most humans still have them now?

So we're stuck. Nietzsche is very good on this

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Yup, whenever I hear the “religion is terrible” argument, I just ask “then why did every successful culture create a religion?” Used to pity religious types, now I kind of envy them.

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Religion has countless functions in society since it touches all aspects of personal and community life. It sure makes it a lot easier to find meaning in life, for one thing. (For a good summary, see Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists.)

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It doesn't have to "exist" and it's not about "true" and "false" as we understand these things in our rational, scientific culture. Human beings have never been fools: who knows how many of them truly expected to see a pulling the sun or hear some voice thundering from the sky. (Actually it's usually a "still small voice.") The way we conceptualize truth and falsity has been conditioned by our culture, but since it's our culture, it's invisible to us.

Science is mighty useful, but humans have enjoyed countless other modes of thinking and types of knowledge. As for our religious ancestors, I think the stories, symbols, rituals, etc. were more a matter of, "is this wise," "does this story help me get through life without losing hope," "do we feel better when we do this," "do these teachings help me be a good person." Somehow humans (and other hominids) evolved the capacity for spirituality. Even if it's the result of some kind of random series of unlikely events, it's still a gift that shouldn't be blithely discarded.

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I think that's right. Humans have always had the ability to will themselves into beliefs that make them happier or better-adjusted, and that seems to be especially true for the special category of beliefs that fall under the heading of "religion".

Nietzsche's point was that for thoughtful people today (with "today" beginning in the late nineteenth century, when he was writing) it's much harder than it used to be to choose religion in the face of the competition generated by modern science, and also by modern levels of social awareness. It's not as easy now to disregard the fact that the world is full of other humans like ourselves, whose religious beliefs are different from ours and were formed through the same type of individual and social experience, without being any better supported by factual evidence.

But Nietzsche also believed the highest value was truth, without denying the fact that its value is just as much of a human construct as any other value.

That's different from believing that truth *itself* is purely a human construct. You can reject this very implausible po-mo idea and still believe that giving yourself certain types of false beliefs is a better way to live. Nietzsche still thought that would be a mistake. He was asking for people to show courage instead: acknowledging the falsehood of supernatural belief systems even while recognizing that they can be an easy way out.

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deletedJul 4, 2023·edited Jul 4, 2023
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Serenity prayer: feeling responsible for things we cannot change is a recipe for depression and anxiety, which is why knowing the difference is wisdom, and then leaning on a higher power for the strength to make changes where we can.

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I think there is a common underlying cause for much compulsive behavior (including addictions and codependency), which is ineffectively trying to control things outside oneself. Compulsive behaviors often provide a false feeling of control, which is often the primary obstacle to overcoming them. Letting go of the idea that everything will fall apart if you don't keep trying to control things is often a necessary first step to enable actual change.

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Beautifully put. I have also heard that addiction is a symptom of trying to tolerate the intolerable.

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I spend a good chunk of my free time at a boxing gym for young people, coaching strength training and intro boxing. Most of the people who attend are young women and men of color, mostly Latino, Black, and Arab, with ages ranging from 15 to about 23. These “kids” aren’t depressed, nor are they anxious. They’re dedicated to getting better, and such dedication leads to resiliency. Lots of people in these comments are looking for meta-theories and grand explanations for supposed depression among Gen-Z and younger, but what they are doing instead is desperately seeing explanation for their own depression and anxiety.

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I semi-recently moved to an area with a much higher proportion of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, and the difference in mood & attitude is palpable. The teens are riding bicycles and going out for pizza. The moms, in twos and threes, are taking their kids to the park to play together - and they're playing with *soccer balls*, imagine that.

It doesn't surprise me that born-here-American gen-Zers are phone addicted and depressed, because their parents are too. Kids are impressionable and imitate their parents and other adults. Most kids growing up with born-here-American parents now see their parents and most other adults do very little other than scroll on a phone. They don't socialize in real life because they don't see their parents socialize in real life.

And I don't think parents are ignorant of the effects phones have on children. But they still get their very young kids phones. So why do they do it? I think it's largely so the kid stops distracting them when they're on *their* phone. Having been around kids a fair amount, if you're engaged with something like a phone instead of with the kid, the kid will *really* want to know what's so exciting about the little screen you're always looking at.

Basically I think the massively negative effects of phones on kids & teens are obvious, but it's wrong to "blame" the kids themselves. They're merely imitating the parents. There's no sadder sight than a little kid desperately trying to get his mom or dad's attention while the parent is ignoring the kid of the phone. The parents are also, often, in total denial about their own behavior, and will viciously attack anyone who criticizes them or their kid for it - "You don't know how hard raising a kid is, you don't know me, you don't know him, etc etc"... As a result schools are now entirely unable to keep phones out, because kids will pitch fits, and parents will defend their kids' behavior in this regard because they're guilty of the same thing.

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Insightful comment, thank you for sharing.

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I would suggest that the population of young people who are going to a boxing gym is probably not representative in terms of mental health; regular exercise, particularly in a social environment, is important for mental health and these kids are getting that! You refer to "supposed depression"—do you have reason to doubt the available numbers?

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Spot on. I think we can be confident that the population he works with has very little overlap with the kids suffering from all this depression and anxiety, almost by definition.

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Well, yes, they aren’t miserable over privileged white kids who spend too much time on the internet.

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Totally accurate. It grates on me, though, the way we talk about these kids as if it’s their fault. They don’t even have the tools to get out of that frame of mind because every adult in their sphere is endorsing the safetyism, the coddling, the validation of every fleeting emotion.

It’s up to all of us, truly, to help this generation.

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Unfortunately, if you are a US teen, you are more likely to have depressive symptoms and other mental health issues if you are in a lower socioeconomic group than a higher one. (For teens in all SES groups, it is very high at the moment.) I happen to know more than I would like about this because of discussions and meetings in the Title 1 school district my kids attend, but if you do a quick Google Scholar search you will find a lot of info. Not much attention is paid to these poorer kids' mental health, so most people are not aware of this. I thought the same as others on this thread due to media coverage. I suppose it is akin to school shootings. They get tons of coverage, but the vast majority of kids killled by guns are killed outside of school.

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Hey, I wrote a response that came across more aggressive than I meant; so I deleted it. Have a good holiday.

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Oh, you too! I was literally typing a response as it went away so I was very confused. But also I actually don't think we disagree on anything at this point!

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Ps, a simple answer exists, backed up by copious research--internet addiction and over reliance on smart phone social media apps for peer interactions.

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I’d wager basically the entire difference can be explained by a narrative of “tolerance” which might as well be reverse CBT and the omnipresence of social media to spread it, coupled with the increased pressures parents drop on most kids to make sure they’re able to “succeed in life.”

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I'm not really sure how you could describe tolerance as being in opposition to CBT. If anything, it's in line with some of CBT's core cognitive tenants, such as avoiding thoughts that might lead to overgeneralizing or magnifying negatives

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I assume he meant mainstream DEI, with “micro aggressions” and “intent doesn’t matter, only impact” kinda stuff is antithetical to CBT concepts.

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Maybe. I think mainstream DEI explicitly disavows tolerance as a virtue though (I believe it's considered weak tea or insufficient, preferring instead concepts like affirmation or the titular inclusion)

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I'm reading CBT as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in contrast with CRT, Critical Race Theory.

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I agree with his idea that allowing political doomers to run the table is a bad idea for mental health. But there is a core issue I think hasn’t been addressed directly enough in this piece that might be showing up in the mental health surveys.

Because of a big age gap, my youngest is my only kid who as dealt with the full forces of gun violence. He was

- locked inside school starting in grade school

- by high school experienced black chainlink fences cutting through once open spaces and walkways on school campus, and safety glass around the reception area.

- had active shooter drills.

We are broadcasting the fact that adults can’t keep them safe.

Maybe we should compare gen Z America with kids who have lived through war if we want to understand why they are depressed.

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They’re safer than they’ve ever been, just way more exposed to the hang ups, anxieties, and frankly, stupidity, of their parents.

Constant contact, constant observation, constant reinforcement, constant and instant access to the thoughts and feelings of the globe… these things are not good for us.

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Michelle Goldberg wrote a column called “We Should All Know Less About Each Other” and I think she has a point. I like to cite it when I point out to people that it doesn’t do us libs any good to know or care that some family in Arkansas poses for Christmas pictures in camouflage family pajamas and holding guns. It really doesn’t. We can’t change their minds, and the image only upsets us (sort of like trying to teach a pig to sing).

Constant and instant access to the thoughts and feelings of everyone, everywhere, is NOT good for us.

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Omg yes. We live in a extremely large, diverse country. Somebody somewhere is always going to be doing something we dislike, whether it's gun culture, drag culture, or religious practices. Freaking out about it does no good. Live and let freaking live.

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This is where I want to bring back internet walled gardens, such as forums and list serves. I love having the Internet, I love having the convenience of paying my bills through an app, I love having turn by turn navigation! But I think that not being able to avoid other people’s private lives has done us a real disservice. Bring back forums where everyone can pick and choose where to join and what to see.

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In fact I think child and adolescent mortality has risen recently, which doesn't mean that kids are unsafe in a historical/global context.

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Striking that none of those examples are actually exposure to gun violence, but exposure to measures designed to prevent gun violence. Maybe we should ease up on those? (Active shooter drills seem particularly unwise to me)

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The synthesis is “increased salience of gun violence”

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I can’t think it’s good for anyone to have monthly shooter drill from kinder where they’re told to hide in the corner.

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Why not?

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For one thing it raises the salience of these things way out of proportion to the risk.

Probably even more damning is we have enough of these to know the stand in the corner and be really quiet isn’t a great plan, and if we’re really going to prepare for it we should teach them how to do smarter things.

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Is that not true of fire drills, too? A quick Google search suggests that in a four-year period, school fires killed one person: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/Structure-fires-in-schools. I don’t think that argues against fire drills or suggests that fire drills are making kids fearful.

Now if the shooting drills are teaching bad practice then that is indeed more damning. But are they? Are the drills not based on advice from safety experts? Or are the experts wrong?

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"Paying more attention to gun violence" feels like the kind of bad choice Matt is critiquing in this article, IMO. We could choose to focus on how rare mass shootings are instead of choosing to traumatize kids with active shooter drills.

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I don't have a strong feeling here but I'd want some evidence that these are traumatizing. Fires and earthquakes are also rare, but I don't recall ever feeling traumatized by fire and earthquake drills; just bored. My two kids have never mentioned feeling like these drills make them feel scared or unsafe.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

You don't think there's a difference between "someone might come to kill you" vs "earthquakes happen" vis-a-vis anxiety induction?

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My kids haven't reported that anyone is saying "someone might come to kill you," any more than we were told "the ceiling might fall on you and crush you to death" as an explanation for why we should duck and cover.

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Perceived salience of gun violence, you mean. I’m not going to argue with you on this, or even discuss it because it isn’t worth either of our time.

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Exactly. We are in deep read America GA/FL and these measures design NOT to address the real problem of gun violence, but to pretend to address safety.

Kids see that nothing makes them safer and are confronted daily with physical reminders.

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Reminds me of the vintage films of kids doing A-bomb drills by getting under their desks.

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You are probably right about active shooter drills. On the one hand, I always wonder how much we boomers were traumatized by drop drills and the threat of nuclear annihilation. I thought about that a LOT. On the other hand, in my current life, I have stepped back a bit from citizen emergency response (FEMA CERT) training because it's just depressing to imagine and think practically about a massive (Cascadian) earthquake and its aftermath.

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Gen X kids lived through the crack epidemic and record murder rates. Way worse than what happens now.

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Not to mention AIDS and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

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And “Social Security Won’t Be Around When You Retire.” Swear to Bob, I have heard that since Reagan was first inaugurated and I was in high school!

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I'm of a similar vintage and can confirm that this was a thing.

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As a Gen x kid, we were assured that murder and crack were limited to “geto” life. Bad people problems.

My over privileged kid was confronting with the evidence that adults are not keeping his generation safe on a daily basis.

Big difference.

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Over privileged kids are incredibly unlikely to be victims of gun violence in this country. We are "confronting" them on a daily basis with an over exaggerated, disproportionate response that makes them terrified of threats that they are almost certainly never going to actually face.

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It sounds like your kid wasn’t raised to be anti-fragile or resilient.

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That doesn’t make you a failure as a parent, far from it. That’s a societal problem, not a you problem. Every parent does the best they can, so no judgment.

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Kids, especially teenagers, are good at gallows humor of the “school is prison” kind. When that switches from metaphor to truth for them, all they’re left with is the gallows.

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What were the depression rates in the post war generation? The Great Depression generation. People the past has it objectively infinitely worse in every possible metric. Were they more depressed ? More resilient ? I honestly have no idea.

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I would argue that sending folks to fight overseas would not yield the same generalize sense from school aged kids that they are not safe in their communities.

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A shooting happened in my daughters school district a few years ago. It’s horrifying to worry about your kid after you drop them off at school. The idea that her last thoughts and the mental anguish she would go through as she prays for someone to save her as a psychopath wanders the halls. I could be sitting at work, worrying about some client while she’s bleeding out calling for me or her mom. It’s a waking nightmare.

I used to be able to deal with the fact that it’s a low possibility much better but once it happens two miles from your house, in your school district, it’s harder to compartmentalize.

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Yes. And I’m sure you recognize that your anxiety level affects your child as well.

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This is a perfect example of the catastrophising Matt is talking about. Kids are extremely unlikely to be anywhere near a school shooting but the left benefits from the idea that "kids aren't safe at school," because it's so politically potent in suburban swing districts. Kids are at an astronomically higher risk of danger in a car than at school but we've collectively decided that mortifying kids about gun violence is somehow an important part of ensuring their safety.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

I do understand what he means by the over promotion of events to give a false sense of danger. I do think it’s a shame we don’t let our kids ride bikes around the block anymore because I don’t think the idea of that being unsafe is warranted given facts.

However, I’ll disagree our school environment is an example. It’s not at all catastrophic thinking. The physical environment created at schools who have experienced no gun violence has an impact on the child’s perception of safety in their world. That is real damage we are doing to their psyche.

The right’s need to deflect from real solutions to mass shootings (more young people die from gun violence than car accidents now) has been to build fences, lock down entrances, increase police presence, practice hiding in closets….

Part of what makes America so prosperous is a true sense of safety from physical danger and from corruption.

When we turn our youth into people who can’t rely on safety in society, we absolutely lose our edge.

Fear will be our downfall.

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More kids are dying from guns than car accidents but it's certainly not because of school shootings, especially not the kinds that make national news. Kids outside of high crime neighborhoods and without a gun in the home remain far far far more likely to die in a car than from a gun. The constant suggestion otherwise continues to seem to me like a way to win votes in the suburbs at the expense of kids' mental health.

Both sides have turned the schools into these environments where kids expect violence well out of proportion to it's actual occurrence with goofy architectural features and constant drills for extremely rare events. Neither side has any real solutions as far as I can tell.

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The reaction in school settings is 100 percent the result of purposeful misdiagnosis of mass shooting as a mental health crisis and also describing schools as soft targets that need hardening.

Saying both sides don’t know the fix is just flat out wrong.

There are all kinds of solutions in place in other parts of the world. The right is just not interested.

And as to the fact that kids die more from gun violence than cars, that can be solved in the same ways mass shooting will be solved.

And the sense of danger and generalized dread non school shootings cause is real and rational.

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I think that when there is a basic safety threshold (even if it’s just a perception) that is not met, more people will exhibit mental health issues than would have otherwise.

It’s no longer a matter of the socio economic environment you are raised in.

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Im not sure video games are a healthy outlet for everyone but it is true that lots of countries have lots of kids playing video games but have much fewer incidents of gun violence. They are also consuming the same American made violent movies and tv shows. It’s not the games or movies. That argument always gets to me.

People that don’t want have harsher penalties for gun law violations or introduce new gun legislation lazily blame video games because it’s convenient for their narrative of what’s wrong with kids these days.

Young men having easy access to guns and have little fear of being caught for violating gun laws is 98 percent of the problem.

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Oh I agree on the merits about the potential for games to be an outlet. I work in games so I’ve gotten into a lot of these discussions. One thing I always point out is that for “some” people violent media can be a trigger but it is not the majority case by any stretch. I’ve gotten a little over cautious in my reactions because I’ve had so much evidence thrown at me at this point for different things in games.

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OG Karen Tipper Gore was wrong about so many things, wasn’t she. Though her pet crusade was hair metal and Prince. Providing an outlet for singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” at the slightest provocation, and, um…wearing purple? Either way, harmless at worst and maybe providing another outlet at best.

(Hair metal has long since disappeared from public consciousness, but Prince, more than Ms. Gore, is here to stay even after his untimely death.)

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So, okay, if they are a kind of social anger management tool, then let the adolescents play the video games when the hormones start surging, but keep them away from the little boys who should be learning to read.

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I wonder if we’ve over-emphasized empathy. We saw a huge push over the last decade or so, and while it seemed/seems like it could only be positive, I’ve recently started to wonder if it was a little off target.

Compassion, for instance, is very different from empathy. Empathy can paralyze us, cause us to feel hurt when we ourselves are not hurt. It can overwhelm us. But compassion is the simple act of making space for the experiences and emotions of another--even if we do not understand them or cannot feel them personally.

Compassion actually sounds much healthier than empathy, but we just raised a generation to process everything as if it happened to them personally. It’s crippling, I’d say.

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We wanted people to be less cruel, less intolerant, more understanding, and in the process we raised a generation of kids so attuned to the lives and plights and pains of others that they are drowning in empathy.

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Happy Good Riddance Day in UK

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This is probably not specific to young *liberals*, but there is plenty of evidence that helicopter parenting is bad for a young person’s self-esteem and sense of efficacy. Here’s but one article: https://www.gottman.com/blog/helicopter-parenting-good-intentions-poor-outcomes/

I know that today’s economy does force young people to depend on parents longer - both because of cost of living and because a college degree is more necessary to get ahead in life. But above and beyond that, I think that many young people have led such constrained lives that they feel helpless when something bad happens, or even when they see bad things happening in the world around them. They can’t comprehend that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Paradoxically, social media, which can be bad for mental health, gives us more ways to get involved than ever - Postcards to Voters! Textbanking! There’s a ton one can do, and the result is ideally, “even if our candidate didn’t make it, we tried our best and we’re going to keep trying.” Not “waah, the world sucks, it’s hopeless, I want to die.”

A lot of young people have the learned helplessness that was instilled by parents with the best of good intentions, to protect their kid and make sure they stayed on the right path. Jean Twenge relates in her “IGen” book that college students, once so eager to be Real Grown Ups, now *tell* university officials that they want to be treated like children! We’ve gone from “I can’t wait to be an adult and not have to answer to parents anymore” to “25 is the new 18, I want to shelter under the comforting blanket of minorhood for as long as possible.”

Again, I do not think that helicopter parenting and stunting emotional and psychological growth is unique to liberals. But I think it does cause anxiety and depression in parents and kids alike. I read an author named Michaeleen Doucleff on NPR and she’s very interesting in how she is raising her daughter (I have no kids, but if I did, I’d look to her for advice!). Instead of telling her daughter to “go play” when the kid tried to “help” Mom with chores, Doucleff included her, even as a toddler (with appropriate safety precautions). And she’s very restrictive on her daughter’s screen time. The result so far seems to be a well-adjusted, helpful kid. I think that kids need to know they are useful and needed and can make a difference in their own lives and those around them - of course graded to age, but still, I think that being coddled and sheltered and watched like a hawk prevents that.

Finally, I can’t remember if it was Pew or Gallup but someone on another board linked to a research survey on how people felt about America. The MOST optimistic, the most likely to feel like our country was headed in the right direction, were black Americans, followed by Latino Americans. Non-Hispanic whites were the LEAST optimistic. Probably those here will say “yeah no shit Sherlock” but the academic and Very Online left seems to have lost all touch with what normies, even lefty normies, feel and think. If people who are supposed to be suffering the most, as a group, feel the *most* optimistic about America (again as a group, I know that individual attitudes vary), then… maybe it’s time for a rethink on all the doom, gloom, and rending of garments?

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I think helicopter parenting and the pervasive pressure “to get into a good college” plays a major role.

I’ve got a kid who just ended freshman year at a public high school and I feel like I fell off the turnip truck because I haven’t made him take a practice SAT exam yet, unlike many other parents.

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Except that depression seems to be pervasive across class. My kids go to a school with a 75% graduation rate, almost no one does SAT prep, and no one really cares where you go to college. Most people go to the local community college or one of the 4 year colleges within 30 minutes of the school. And mental health and depression issues among teens at their school are similar to those at the ritzy suburb down the street.

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I’ve always found this paper insightful: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacob-Vigil-3/publication/228846196_Political_leanings_vary_with_facial_expression_processing_and_psychosocial_functioning/links/0fcfd509ea4b33ebaa000000/Political-leanings-vary-with-facial-expression-processing-and-psychosocial-functioning.pdf

Basically, people who feel strong and efficacious (the author attributes it to life station but I think personality plays a larger role) advertise their capacity to provide and protect by adopting conservative views that valorize toughness and industriousness.

Meanwhile, people who feel vulnerable and put upon (again for either reason) advertise their harmlessness and willingness to cooperate by adopting liberal views that signal trustworthiness--“I’m so overwhelmed and sad and I’m honest enough to tell you even though it makes me a good target for coercion. I clearly have neither the intent or the ability to take advantage of you!”

As far as the time trend, my best guess is that communications tech has just amplified existing processes. People have observed that the political left tends to attract a lot of neurotic people for a long time.

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Being at a large university I completely agree. Although I’ve noticed that in private a lot of successful academics aren’t as left-wing as they seem, especially when it comes to their views of meritocracy. Which is what you’d expect based on their high status. So I think that even within a group who would all identify as “liberal,” you still see a gradient from moderate liberals who are comfortable with the idea of competition and those further to the left who feel like any kind of competition is harmful.

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Why am I depressed? Because of the whole...oh wait...just remembered I’m not young anymore. Dammit.

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Because they are children. I generally don’t have time to pity fools, but I make exception for children. They simply don’t know any better.

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I - personally - pity the fool.

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Also, I’m moving to the PDX area soon. Very excited. I think that region is a great place to raise a family.

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First city, where my mother in law has a house, and then to burbs. Thinking Beaverton? All that’s pretty much go in the air right now.

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I understand, at least some of us should.

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