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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Young, liberal and depressed: Doomers are not OK

Liberals are the most depressed among the growing number of sad teenagers, writes Matthew Yglesias on Slow Boring. Teenage girls are sadder than boys, the CDC reports, and young liberals are sadder than conservatives, according to a 2021 paper on The Politics of Depression. Politics outweighs gender, according to the survey, Yglesias notes. "Liberal boys are more depressed than conservative girls."

. . . some of the left-inflected pushback has essentially argued that maybe teens aren’t depressed because of phones but because, in Taylor Lorenz’s words, “we’re living in a late stage capitalist hellscape during an ongoing deadly pandemic w record wealth inequality, 0 social safety net/job security, as climate change cooks the world.”

The politics of depression authors seem to believe that "liberal teens are depressed because they correctly perceive injustice in the world," writes Yglesias. They see "growing conservative political climate" which is now "hegemonic."

He asks: Really?

"The inflection point for liberal adolescent depression" was 2012, when Barack Obama was president, notes New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. The trend "also shows up in Britain, Canada and Australia."

"Technology, not politics, was what changed in all these countries around 2012," she writes. "That was the year that Facebook bought Instagram and the word 'selfie' entered the popular lexicon."

When Muslim students at Macalester complained about an art exhibition by an Iranian-American feminist, "progressive" students claimed the art would cause "harm," writes Jill Filipovic. She warns of "tremendously negative long-term consequences" to young people whose "default position is victimization." While the language of "harm" may "give a person some short-term power in progressive spaces, it’s pretty bad for most people’s long-term ability to regulate their emotions, to manage inevitable adversity, and to navigate a complicated world," Filipovic writes.

Doomer culture is a dead end, writes Noah Smith, who points to a Substack called OK Doomer for catastrophizers.

. . . I worry about a culture of negativity on the political Left — and yes, that includes the center-left of which I count myself a part. Acknowledging any amount of progress on any problem is often seen as encouraging complacency. But failing to acknowledge any progress eventually backfires, turning into helpless doomerism — if nothing ever gets better, why try?

Like Filipovic, Smith warns that negative thinking is very bad for mental health.

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