Lex Fridman (whose ancestry includes Russian and Ukrainian) interviews Jonathan Haidt, “The Case Against Social Media”, 102 minutes, June 4.
Lex has made several clips from this on his “Lex Clips” YouTube Channel.
Haidt has previously noted the “safeyism” that started to affect parents in the 1990s, when they would be less likely to let their kids play outside unsupervised (at least the richer kids).
He notes that the Internet gradually became more important to people as a source of information, with blogs and flat sites first, and then with social media (starting with Myspace) gradually becoming more important in the 2000’s. (Remember all those Dr. Phil programs like around 2007, “Internet Mistakes” on Myspace first). There were other problems, too (as shown by the NBC series “To Catch a Predator” that started in 2005), and some infamous incidents (like with Justin Berry).
Starting around 2012 or so, after Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and YouTube, were more established, all larger tech companies started using algorithms based on recording visitor behavior and coordinating it with advertisers. This business model tended to give people what they wanted to see. But it gradually drove political polarization, which enemies (like Russia) could subvert even before the 2016 election, when Trump won. Political polarization tends to lead to cancel culture, because people fear being “attacked” on a medium like Twitter by their “enemies”.
But the algorithms also did something else. They particularly affected pre-teens (allowed to join most services around age 13), especially teen girls, who would become inordinately concerned about their social popularity online and their potential sexual competitiveness with boys before they had even finished puberty. Some people argue this is driving some pre-teen girls to believe they are transgender and to seek social accommodation and treatment. (This will be covered again in another book discussion).
Haidt believes that people under 16 should not be allowed to have their own social media accounts, and that other online activities before 16 should be limited.
However, you run into some teenagers who were incredibly mature when they started Internet usage with their channels (like Max Reisinger and John Fish). The social problems may be more severe for girls.
I’ll also share a recent video from PragerU about China’s recent “progress” with its social credit system.
(Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at 9 PM EDT)