Yesterday, my colleague, Owen Bell, wrote a post about millennials and their attitudes. Today I would like to comment on the group coming up behind them, teenagers of both genders.
More than 100,000 children aged 14 in the UK are self-harming, with one in four girls of this age having deliberately hurt themselves, according to a report from the Children’s Society. Experts have put the behaviour down to a combination of pressure from school, austerity and gender expectations. Nearly a quarter said they hear jokes or comments about other people’s bodies or looks all the time, while more than a fifth of those in secondary school said jokes or comments were often made about people’s sexual activity. The mental health campaigner Natasha Devon said more needed to be done to treat the causes of self-harm. “We need to look at the environment young people exist in at home and in school so these issues don’t arise in the first place rather than fire-fighting once they have manifested.”(The Guardian, August 29 2018)
I think the principle culprit in all this is social media, which has enabled the cruel, the bullies, and the twisted individuals to bully and exploit vulnerable youngsters, unpunished. Facebook et al offer a charter for the malicious, and are helping produce, arguably, one of the most screwed up generation in history. And to what end? I have no doubt that the initiators of social media sites had no ill intent when they set out. They naively thought they would bring people together, and in many cases they have done so. But they never imagined how their inventions could be used for mischief. As an Epicurean I refuse to have any social media site at all. If I can’t see my friends and have them sit in my Epicurean “garden”; if I can’t phone my friends or visit them, I just won’t see them. So be it.