facebook makes women all stuck up self-care self-hatred suicide

Are Facebook and Instagram conducting a “dangerous experiment on teen girls” and destroying their self-esteem?

If you ask a “Red Pilled” guy what he thinks about social media, he’s likely to launch into a tirade. In the Red Pill world, social media and dating apps are making life worse for men — by making women feel too good about themselves.

As they see it, social media like Facebook and Instagram and dating apps like Tinder offer women endless validation every time they post a new selfie, causing so-called simps and other thirsty males to shower them with praise in the form of likes, compliments and the occasional (or maybe not so occasional) dick pic.

I’ve written about this issue before; it’s a common trope in Red Pill land. It’s also utter bullshit — an assortment of studies have found that while social media can lower the self-esteem of men and boys, it lowers the self-esteem of women and girls far more.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt — author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion  and The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure — has a provocative (and rather disturbing) long article in The Atlantic detailing the effects of too much and too early social media on the female psyche. And unlike the Red Pill whiners, he’s got studies to back up his conclusions.

Social media gets blamed for many of America’s ills, including the polarization of our politics and the erosion of truth itself. But proving that harms have occurred to all of society is hard. Far easier to show is the damage to a specific class of people: adolescent girls, whose rates of depression, anxiety, and self-injury surged in the early 2010s, as social-media platforms proliferated and expanded.

Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, as Haidt himself acknowledges. But this particular correlation is quite striking.

Much more than for boys, adolescence typically heightens girls’ self-consciousness about their changing body and amplifies insecurities about where they fit in their social network. Social media—particularly Instagram, which displaces other forms of interaction among teens, puts the size of their friend group on public display, and subjects their physical appearance to the hard metrics of likes and comment counts—takes the worst parts of middle school and glossy women’s magazines and intensifies them.

So what proof does he have to back up these claims? Looking at an assortment of studies on the subject, Haidt concludes:

Something terrible has happened to Gen Z, the generation born after 1996. Rates of teen depression and anxiety have gone up and down over time, but it is rare to find an “elbow” in these data sets––a substantial and sustained change occurring within just two or three years. Yet when we look at what happened to American teens in the early 2010s, we see many such turning points, usually sharper for girls.

And it’s not just that Gen Z youth are simply more willing to talk about mental illness than older cohorts; as Haidt reports,

researchers have found corresponding increases in measurable behaviors such as suicide (for both sexes), and emergency-department admissions for self-harm (for girls only). From 2010 to 2014, rates of hospital admission for self-harm did not increase at all for women in their early 20s, or for boys or young men, but they doubled for girls ages 10 to 14.

If you prefer your bad news in graph form, here you go:

Haidt’s article is a chilling read, with the data pointing to Instagram as the worst offender in the “destroying teen girl’s self-esteem” category. Unfortunately, while Haidt pushes several proposals designed to try to counter social media’s malign effects, none of them seem adequate to the task.

We’re facing something quite dire: we’re addicted to technology, in he form of social media, that does as much to damage our psyches as a pack-a-day cigarette habit does to our lungs. Yet it’s almost impossible to give up, for good reasons or bad.

Haidt’s article is a sobering one — it’s not going to cheer you up from a bad bout with Instagram — but it’s well worth reading in its entirety.

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GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
5 months ago

@Alan: GOOD! Though I’m sure they’ll still do it, because they don’t want to be told they’re “hags” at 19.

I personally kept growing (as in getting taller) till I was 21, so if I’d had anything plasticed before then, it might not have worked.

@Lollypop: I would NEVER do anything to my teeth for looks. I did have braces as a kid, but that’s so they’d work better. I have had a number of root canals to save a tooth after it has gone bad and given me major nerve pain — I can’t imagine doing that for funsies so strangers can say “Hey, look at her Chiclet teeth.” Even using whitening strips can set off nerve pain and damage the enamel. My teeth yam what they yam. And tomorrow they will eat yams.

tim gueguen
5 months ago

@Fnarf there was a lot of generational despair amongst people from the end of the Baby Boom and the oldest cohort of Gen Xers in the ’80s because they thought WW3 was probably going to happen. Yet I don’t remember talk of a rise in suicide or self harm back then. Of course it may simply not have been noted at the time.

Having gotten back into checking out recent Japanese bands online(I went through a period of buying Japanese music in the late ’80s and ’90s) one thing I’ve noticed is some people with a crooked tooth or two that would probably have been dealt with long ago in the West. Especially given that they’re in the entertainment business.

5 months ago

Elaine the Witch
But then you have your male peers actively telling you that you should look like that and that’s what they want you to look like.

I still remember the sinking feeling that came over me 10-15 years ago on a teaching site.
Some of the yr 8-10 teachers were discussing how best to deal with 12-14 year old girls asking how to organise labia, breast and other surgery because their 14-17 yr old boyfriends were insisting that their genitals were flat out ugly.

The ones who needed proper information were the boys, but the teachers had no way of finding out which boys used what sites and how best to reset their “standards” to real live women rather than to unusual and probably photoshopped images fed to them on their porn diet.

5 months ago


And the thing is that this makes NO GOD DAMN SENSE. In meatspace I have been attracted to women of all shapes and sizes, ages, ethnicities, color, creed, etc. I have observed relationships of all kinds, and am well aware the world isn’t filled with only movie stars.

I think that’s the big marketing lie about relationships, attractiveness etc. There of course are people who everyone seems to look at and think “hot damn” but chemistry between two people is so much more than that, and being conventionally good looking isn’t everything. It’s a silly example but I always think of (fitness influencer) Joe Wicks. He seems like a lovely guy and is handsome, and LOADS of women fancy him, but I am always so strongly reminded of a cocker spaniel when I look at him for me personally I think “aww” rather than “phwoar”. Which is just one weird random thing about how one person interprets the looks of someone else, and it’s happening all the time with everyone.

GSS ex-noob

I would NEVER do anything to my teeth for looks. I did have braces as a kid, but that’s so they’d work better.

I’ve been tempted to get braces to fix one sticky-out tooth I’ve got (my friends used to call it my “flirty tooth”, which is nice), but my dentist explained he’d have to scrape the enamel off the side of a neighbouring tooth to fit it in neatly which is where I noped out of the situation. He’s very much a “teeth have a FUNCTION” kind of dentist and seemed relieved.

Alan Robertshaw
5 months ago

@ lollypop

I am always so strongly reminded of a cocker spaniel

Oh wow yeah! If they ever do a live remake of Muskerhounds he’s a shoe-in for the role of Dogtanian.

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