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Three great untruths


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#1 lizzzard

Posted 16 June 2019 - 05:56 PM

I have been pondering this for a while and thought I'd put it out for there for some Sunday night reflection...

A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference, and was really impressed by one of the speakers: Jonathan Haidt. He spoke about his research on Gen Z, and some scary statistics about the impact of social media on young girls in particular. This article is a great read that describes his views, but in summary he argues that there are 3 great untruths being perpetuated in society as present, which have an incredibly detrimental effect on mental, emotional and intellectual wellbeing:
1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker (like catching a cold off someone who comes into the office despite being sick....)
2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings (if you think someone is trying to disrespect you, they probably are)
3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people (all those people in (2) who are trying to disrespect you are evil and should be cut out of your life immediately)

What hit me more than his specific research (much of which was based on American high school and college students) was the parallels with my observations on EB - in short, that I seem overly pragmatic relative to the norm - 'overly' because what I view as 'pragmatic', others sometimes see as insensitive/arrogant, naive, foolhardy or overly simplistic.

So, what do others think? Do people see some of the above in EB? What about in their own perspectives? Or am I just being arrogant and simplistic? :p

Edited by lizzzard, 16 June 2019 - 05:57 PM.


#2 Dr Dolly

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:15 PM

I find myself struggling at times with the black and white views I see on social media and at times in my social circle.

I believe it is important to have robust discussion and discourse- but increasingly find myself in a society that prefers itself to be ‘Detol-led’ into a perceived safe evironment. Conversations shut down, everyone gets a certificate, lest they be upset for not winning. Fans not being able to barrack for their teams at the Footy... the list goes on.

There is a delicate balance between inclusiveness, gagging robust discussions, and raising children to ensure that they are robust and can take a knock of not being the best at everything.

I am not sure that there is a magic solution... but I am worried that our future will be beige.


[gets off soap box, winds up universal statements... for the moment.]



#3 kadoodle

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:15 PM

I think millennial bashing is getting tired, and gender stereotyping is passé. I’m also a bit over gaslighting.

#4 CallMeFeral

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:36 PM

Interesting post!
I think they are all true in some cases and false in others, it depends on the context it's been used in.

1) Coming through adversity CAN make you stronger (as can certain illnesses) or they CAN make you weaker, it's dependent on how bad it is, how you cope, what the long term impacts are - there's no 'true'
2) Agree, feelings are not reliable, but I think in cases of discomfort with certain people or scenarios it's worth reminding people that it IS ok to rely on a bad gut feel about a situation. Gut feels are based on a heuristic semiconscious pattern matching that is less reasoned but much quicker than logic, and it comes into it's own in matters of safety
3) I feel like I do see a lot of this on social media (not just EB). I'm not sure if it's due to culture of individualism, black and white thinking, rigidity of growing older, and also just practicality, but it definitely seems to be something I see a lot. But the Us and Them thing I think relates more to tribalism, which also seems like it's on the rise.

Regarding pragmatic, what do you mean?

#5 Freddie'sMum

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:37 PM

Yeah, no, that's all complete bollocks OP.

I genuinely feel sorry for the gen z and others to come.  Their lives appear to be ruled by "social media" - which when you come down to it, is the most poisonous ANTI-social thing around.

You can be as damn pragmatic as you like - but to disregard other people's feelings / worries / anxiety is just plan BS.  I do not trust anyone who has no empathy towards others.  That is the way that leads to an "us vs them" - eg rich people are good and poor people are bad.

#6 WannabeMasterchef

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:44 PM

I don't believe in good people and evil people, as a general rule. There are a few truly evil people but I think most are just people.

So I guess I agree with 3.

I do think there is an understandable culture of people no longer trusting politicians, big companies, media etc. Because these days those things are generally untrustworthy. I dont think its what is being got at here but I think its the backdrop to how people might feel.

Edited by WannabeMasterchef, 16 June 2019 - 06:48 PM.


#7 lizzzard

Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:55 PM

CMF - by pragmatic, I am thinking of a few things.... My approach tends towards the Stoic school of philosophy (ala Marcus Aurelius), and perhaps utilitarianism. I'm a psychologist by background, so very empathetic and fundamentally non-judgmental about the validity n'of individual human experience....however I strongly reject the idea that individual human experiences = fact (my professional understanding of human cognition and perception tells otherwise) - 'fact' for the individual's sense of reality perhaps, but not objectively....

Edited by lizzzard, 16 June 2019 - 06:57 PM.


#8 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:17 PM

interesting OP - just commenting to bookmark so i can come back later - but i think i too am seen as insensitive, arrogant and overly simplistic ...and i wonder if there is a a way to discuss resilience and coping mechanisms WITHOUT crapping on millennials - but there  is this creeping hyper focus on the  individual (me me me!) which i can’t but think is a product of late capitalism and neo liberalism and i’m not sure it’s a good thing...


#9 Ellie bean

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:21 PM

I think you can be a bit naive lizzzard, some of your posts are a bit Pollyanna-ish and imo looking for good where there isn’t any, mostly because your own life has been quite lovely? I’ve been guilty of this too, coming through some adversity in recent years has made me less naive.
Eta that’s not a criticism, I was happier when I was more naive!

Edited by Ellie bean, 16 June 2019 - 07:23 PM.


#10 Mmmcheese

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:31 PM

I dunno. The first phenomenon might be in response to the 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' school of thought, which has done quite a bit of damage. The second might be in reaction to total denial of feelings as valid at all. My dad and many of his contemporaries self medicate with alcohol as they are completely ill-equiped to deal with the tough feelings. Not sure about the third. But I think it could be argued that many of those observations are reactions to previous unhealthy ways of going about things. Not saying this is any healthier, but maybe just different. (Reminds me of parenting. In order to avoid some of the mistakes my parents made, I'm making a whole bunch of inadvertent new ones :lol:)

Edited by Mmmcheese, 16 June 2019 - 07:32 PM.


#11 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:34 PM

there may be happiness in naivety - i don’t know if i’ve seen that quality in the op ....(and i’ve got the sh*ts because i’m dealing with a failed cake which i hate) ...but anyway - my fragmented thoughts are - there is this over willingness to validate people’s feelings. i see it here, but else where as well. which in some cases is fine - YK - just say “I’m sorry OP, that must be really hard” and jog on...but sometimes people attempt to rationalise the situation.....or just give some cold hard facts - and a subsequent pile on ensues which is often unwarranted. sometimes difficult, unfair situations need to be confronted head on.

#12 CallMeFeral

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:42 PM

Hmmm just skimmed the article and realised he's arguing the opposite of what I thought he was. I guess my points still stand around the first two - it depends on context. Will have to read further tonight to understand what he's saying about the third.

#13 blimkybill

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:48 PM

View Postlizzzard, on 16 June 2019 - 05:56 PM, said:

I have been pondering this for a while and thought I'd put it out for there for some Sunday night reflection...

A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference, and was really impressed by one of the speakers: Jonathan Haidt. He spoke about his research on Gen Z, and some scary statistics about the impact of social media on young girls in particular. This article is a great read that describes his views, but in summary he argues that there are 3 great untruths being perpetuated in society as present, which have an incredibly detrimental effect on mental, emotional and intellectual wellbeing:
1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker (like catching a cold off someone who comes into the office despite being sick....)
2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings (if you think someone is trying to disrespect you, they probably are)
3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people (all those people in (2) who are trying to disrespect you are evil and should be cut out of your life immediately)

What hit me more than his specific research (much of which was based on American high school and college students) was the parallels with my observations on EB - in short, that I seem overly pragmatic relative to the norm - 'overly' because what I view as 'pragmatic', others sometimes see as insensitive/arrogant, naive, foolhardy or overly simplistic.

So, what do others think? Do people see some of the above in EB? What about in their own perspectives? Or am I just being arrogant and simplistic? :p
Yes the article resonates with me to some extent. Probably to a greater extent than the others who have commented so far.
I am no psychologist but I do worry about whether current epidemics of anxiety are at least in part related to points 1 and 2.
I have always been a very pragmatic shades of grey person who never splits people into good vs evil. I don't know if there is more of this good vs evil thinking around now than in other times, but I do see it having different manifestations.  Eg the trends in colleges to limit speakers, texts etc. I don't think EB is too bad at the moment, but in the past there have been both issues and particular posters, where it was way too easy for a minority view to be labelled evil rather than actually listened to with any attempt to understand perspective.
I don't think this article is millenial bashing at all. Society changes over time and observing those changes critically does not equate to blaming anyone in particular.

#14 kadoodle

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:51 PM

I’m a bit sick of Stoicism being seen as a panacea; it’s as if we’ve forgotten Victorianism, and all the problems that created with social repression and emotional constipation. Haidt’s premise of liberalism being the opposite of libertarianism, rather than an extension thereof is a bit of a red flag for neoliberalist thinking and capitalism apoligiticism.

#15 lizzzard

Posted 16 June 2019 - 07:54 PM

Roman Stoicism isn't about repression Kadoodle - quite the opposite actually. It argues for acceptance and observation of emotion, and then a thoughtful response to it.

#16 born.a.girl

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:00 PM

I don't think there's an epidemic of anxiety at all.  What I DO think, is that anxiety in previous generations was not recognised for what it was, and wasn't considered worthy of treatment.


I say this, because it's only when our daughter was appropriately treated for anxiety (in her mid twenties) that it was obvious it had significantly affected her life for ten years, but was put down to other things (including the panic of procrastinating over something for so long that she had a panic attack about it, whereas it was the anxiety stopping her dealing with it) that i recognised the same responses/behaviours in my husband, and even more so in my MIL.


It was only when my MIL was in a truly awful rehab bed, and told me that she felt like killing herself (an otherwise positive and seemingly happy person) that I became aware of how bad her anxiety was.  She had learned to handle it, as my husband had, by some behaviours that looked like controlling to the rest of the world, but were actually the only way they could function without a panic attack.

I often think of this when I see younger EB members vent about their PIL in particular, not recognising that previous generations were not readily able to label their anxiety for what it was (that wasn't readily accepted), and learned to deal with in their own personal way, a way which rubbed others up the wrong way.


It was only when I went on to A/Ds for a period of months, that I suddenly found that sick, anxious knot in my stomach, that I assumed everyone had (If I'd ever thought about it) disappeared, and I felt a confidence with life that I had never had.

After that, I knew that it wasn't normal, and knowing that, it has been much easier to deal with.

Life is anxiety inducing, those without it I suspect are in the minority.  Learning how to deal with it and live with it (or medicate where necessary) is important.

#17 kadoodle

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:03 PM

We both know that’s not the contemporary application of the term, though, Lizzzard.

#18 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:07 PM

at the end of the day - i - the individual do have to overcome adversity (i’m channeling Homer here, so we’ve drifted east to greece).

but as we all know, what ( hopefully) modern enlightened thinking has taught us - is that i am not *entirely* the architect of my misfortune. structural inequities come into play. what i find problematic though with modern (or its actually postmodern thinking) is this “individualisation of all social phenomena”. “i feel oppressed, discriminated against, offended” - and this doesn’t leave much scope for societal change through political protest, organising and collective action, it’s left to the free market and (i’m quoting here) “atomised actions of individuals”.

there was this great article on twitter i saw last night on how mindfulness is feeding into this neo liberal sleight of hand...will try to find it.

#19 Mmmcheese

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:08 PM

Oh born a girl. That resonates. My partner is medicated for anxiety but developed some spectacularly annoying/damaging traits to cope with his anxiety in his childhood/teenage years, and his mum has another set of different yet frustrating set of behaviours to deal with her's.

I've now read the first part of the article. (the tone is very patronising and I'm not keen to finish). That whole what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is true in some cases, but in others it's really not, and there has been an unhealthy way of dealing with people who don't come out stronger.

#20 StarandMoon

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:10 PM

View Postkadoodle, on 16 June 2019 - 08:03 PM, said:

We both know that’s not the contemporary application of the term, though, Lizzzard.

Maybe not, but that's the first context I think of it in, too - perhaps too much Ancient History study on my part?

I guess it is often used as a negative term - if you are being 'stoic' people tend to mean you're expressionlessly pretending to cope without really engaging with an issue.

#21 kadoodle

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:17 PM

View PostMmmcheese, on 16 June 2019 - 08:08 PM, said:

Oh born a girl. That resonates. My partner is medicated for anxiety but developed some spectacularly annoying/damaging traits to cope with his anxiety in his childhood/teenage years, and his mum has another set of different yet frustrating set of behaviours to deal with her's.

I've now read the first part of the article. (the tone is very patronising and I'm not keen to finish). That whole what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is true in some cases, but in others it's really not, and there has been an unhealthy way of dealing with people who don't come out stronger.

I’m waist deep in supporting people with PTSD, and whatever doesn’t kill you can rebound in any direction it feels like. Some people (my maternal grandfather, my mother, my MIL) overcome horrific situations to rise to the occasion. Others (my paternal grandparents, FIL, DH, youngest sister) are damaged by adversity and traumatised beyond recovery.

Dismissing anxiety as a modern phenomenon of (implied) vacuous adolescent girls is doing a disservice to the generations before us who were unable to ask for help.

#22 Meepy

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:19 PM

The focus on individualism has been exacerbated by the increased consumerism driven by neo-liberal economists.  Stoicism was more common and encouraged when individuals weren’t worrying about trivial, trite issues e.g. appearances, likes etc.  Anxiety existed but the time and ability to treat it was limited.  We forget how rapidly the communication age has altered lives, amplifying perceived inadequacies and allowing time to focus inwardly.

#23 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:31 PM

...and i can’t help but think that at this time in history when we have this hyper awareness of feelings and trauma and anxiety — and a corresponding desire to address that (which is good. i will go on the record here - that is a good thing) but we have this increased record of it occurring - which can’t entirely be explained away by “well we’re just better at recognising it now” which we are, and that’s good but i do wonder if (takes leap) there is a bit of a social contagion going on...

#24 blimkybill

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:32 PM

View PostMeepy, on 16 June 2019 - 08:19 PM, said:

The focus on individualism has been exacerbated by the increased consumerism driven by neo-liberal economists.  Stoicism was more common and encouraged when individuals weren’t worrying about trivial, trite issues e.g. appearances, likes etc.  Anxiety existed but the time and ability to treat it was limited.  We forget how rapidly the communication age has altered lives, amplifying perceived inadequacies and allowing time to focus inwardly.
Well you could look at the same phenomenon slightly differently and say that the relative comfort and safety of modern life is what allows individualism to exist. It's hard to focus on individual identity when your survival is at stake.  Many people's lives in past generations were much more focused on survival,  and closer to random death, than ours are.

#25 kadoodle

Posted 16 June 2019 - 08:33 PM

View PostStarandMoon, on 16 June 2019 - 08:10 PM, said:



Maybe not, but that's the first context I think of it in, too - perhaps too much Ancient History study on my part?

I guess it is often used as a negative term - if you are being 'stoic' people tend to mean you're expressionlessly pretending to cope without really engaging with an issue.

It’s mostly the coopting of the term by the red pill movement that makes me wary of people lionising the philosophy.




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