An important piece by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt arguing that the relationship between the rise of social media and increasing mental illness in teenage girls is not simply a matter of correlation but causation. It’s worth the ten minutes it takes to read.
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt offers an insightful diagnosis of the divisions and stunted intellectual discourse that have characterized American public life in recent years in his essay “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid” appearing in The Atlantic. It is a longer read, but it does reward those who put in the time. (For that matter, there is also an audible version of the article available on The Atlantic’s website. I was able to listen to the essay while driving today.) Haidt compares the fallout of developments such as the “share” and “like” buttons in Facebook and Twitter to the splintering of the ancient peoples into different language groups at the Tower of Babel. There is much to ponder here for those of us who reside in Canada, who face similar, but not identical social dynamics. Russell Moore, the former SBC ethicist, reflects upon Haidt’s piece in a column, “Fragmentation is Not What’s Killing Us.” Moore agrees that there is much to learn from Haidt’s analysis, but suggests that a theological reading of the Tower of Babel story might suggest a different framing of the problem and understanding of the solution than Haidt proposes. For my part I could not help but think of Stanley Hauerwas’s important essay “The Church as God’s New Language,” which juxtaposes Babel with the Spirit’s animating of the Church at Pentecost.