54 Comments

Brilliant analysis as always. At what point do we classify leftism as a mental disorder? All of the correlations are plain to see in your charts.

From a young age, girls are indoctrinated with anti-human dogma. Hate men because they are full of toxic masculinity, don't have children because the world is ending from climate change, abortion is a holy empowering right - not building a family with a husband and children you love. They cope with digital opium like TikTok, physical opium like anti-depressants and drugs, and self-mutilation like trans surgeries, cutting, and anorexia.

Parents need to push back against this demoralization. If they don't, their girls will grow up as bitter, depressed, childless women - the rates of which continue to set new records every year. The new NPR CEO and E Jean Carroll are two of many examples of childless "girlbosses" who are spiritually empty and bankrupting our society: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/commissar-npr-ceo-katherine-maher-she-her

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Wow! What an incredibly thorough analysis. I must re-read and then re-read again. The youth mental health crisis and its intersection with youth substance use and nicotine is my current vocation and passion point. Understanding the challenges with data collection by chance you have explored correlation with adverse childhood experiences?

I wish there was more research on individualism and collectivism as a guiding principle for raising healthy children. There is so much truth to this and as a parent in the US, it is something I think about often.

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Excellent post, much appreciated. Perhaps we can think of religion and culture as community-building and sense-making institutions, which kind of get in the way when everything is going well, but are there for you when things aren't. For example, as a kid, I only looked forward to going to church when I was really suffering and needed some solace. When things were normal, it was just a missed opportunity to sleep in :)

Thanks for all the hard work.

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Jan 30Liked by Zach Rausch

I think your usage of GINI index is wrong. You should be using perception of inequality for each country instead of GINI which is actually calculated from objective data.

Most people don't know GINI or any other index value for their country and they don't know where their country is relative to other countries. But they do have a perception of various things (inequality, corruption, etc.) and then they behave in line with that.

So it could be, for example, that the poorest countries have a large perception of inequality, but if you actually calculate GINI you find out that they are among those with the lowest inequality based on objective income data.

But the people are poor (objectively) and a lot of them think it's because those rich people stole everything from them. That could skew perception of inequality.

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Thank you for this data-packed post! I always appreciate your in-depth analysis. The next important step is to find concrete ways to help youth regain ground in reality and face-to-face relationships.

To that end, my husband and I are currently working on a book (The Making of Unmachine Minds) and hope to encourage parents to model, guide, and support their children and teens toward a healthier relationship with tech. Thanks again for your crucial work!

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Jan 31Liked by Zach Rausch

Way too long!

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Jan 31Liked by Zach Rausch

The religiosity factor (and differentiation among religious traditions) is a fascinating one! Is it possible to do an analysis of the effects of wealth, individualism, and religiosity separate from one another? I’m curious if, for example, the individualism factor would fade quite a bit when controlled for religion - or possibly the opposite.

The fact that religious and non-religious American teens have such different outcomes suggests to me that the loss of religious belief could potentially be a third pillar of the mental health deterioration you’ve documented and an explaining factor for the difference between individualist and collectivist societies. It may be that something like “loss of a play- and faith-based childhood, replaced by a phone-based childhood full of mostly secular concerns” is the right way to describe the problem.

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Thank you for this important work!

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It seems that the advent of the internet has perhaps hyperextended individualism far beyond the confines of its utility. That is, while freedom is wonderful, people are better off who willingly place restraints on themselves which tether them to a value-set and to others. But as many have withdrawn from communities which do this as a function of their nature (religious communities) and retreated further into the landscape of social media (which offers no limitations, and no real constraints on one’s behavior) it is understandable that young people especially would begin to feel the isolating impact. Furthermore, the online world is a 24/7 competition for social capital. Whereas prior, young girls especially would presumably go home and have a reprieve from the battle for social capital, it has now become ubiquitous. There is no break.

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A play-based childhood implies that children had free time in which to play. At school they had free time in the playground, then after school in the street, in the park or when hanging out with friends. Free time was therefore by definition social and play-based, not individual or solitary.

The arrival of the iPhone completely upended this this way of life by capturing children’s free time, and they went from living in the present to living in their phones. Social interaction with others gave way to solitary interaction with a smartphone – which started the upward trends we see in the charts.

I explain how this happened in my latest post, "How the iPhone stole our free time", https://michaelgentle.substack.com/p/how-the-iphone-stole-our-free-time

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I can see why teens from more religious / collectivist / conservative cultures do better. I don't think that individualism is a problem unto itself, but an individualist attitude often leads to less community and religious involvement.

At my college, most of my friends were from Orange County, CA (though I'm not from there). Orange County (the coast, at least), is quite conservative and much more religious / traditionalist than SoCal as a whole. Again, this is anecdotal, but many of my OC friends grew up being pretty religiously involved. They also tended to be pretty mild-mannered and not neurotic. This is in sharp contrast to the people I knew from the bay area, (and the San Diego area, to a lesser extent), which is much less religious and much more liberal. People in San Francisco would be embarrassed to admit to being religious. The tech-centered culture there is also much stronger, and families in the Bay Area seem to think that lots of screen time is inevitable, and therefore do not seem to limit it as much as more conservative families. At my high school (in San Diego, CA), the culture was still somewhat laid back, but you'd have lots of kids who were terrified of climate change killing them and thought that the Trump Presidency would usher in the end of the universe. Definitely more catastrophizing than my friends in college. Also, more students from OC play sports in high school (at least compared to the bay area), which strengthens community ties and leads to better mental and physical health outcomes.

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What I haven't seen in these 4 posts, and I easily may have missed it, is what has happened with the suicide rates in *adults* in the same countries/areas. Is it absolutely clear that this increase only hits teens, or are adults also feeling the pain. The answer to this conundrum might significantly change any proposed remedies. Along with some other things, the smartphones of the Digital Revolution have, as every Industrial Revolution does, further atomized many societies, particularly those best positioned to use the tools of the Digital Revolution. If the same effect is being seen in adults, we might need more than, or an addition to, the "control you child's use of smartphones and let them play" prescription.

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Great analysis. I had an instinctive revulsion to the concept of social media when I first heard about Facebook in the noughties....... having previously been very positive about the marvel of the internet search engine. Ironically both negative and positive reactions reflected, I guess, my own individualistic and (perhaps slightly) asocial tendencies. The search engine was a boon for the intellectually curious individualist whereas social media was a turbocharger of man's groupthink tendencies. But I was late middle aged when all this came along so I never foresaw just how poisonous it would prove to be for the young.

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Please vote for your favorite Health Education messaging:

First Do No Harm...Stop the Lying ..

"Don't Sweat It" is a lie... Exercise and Exposure Therapy are mandatory and both cause sweat. The best predictor of successful anxiety and depression treatment is a metric called WILLINGNESS. A similar word has been (falsely?) stigmatized: OBSESSION. IMHO, no PhD would be awarded, no Professor nor Scientist minted, no popular feature film made, no great artist minted,, no civil rights won, without OBSESSION. WE DIDN'T GET HERE* BY WALKING ON EGGS!

*successes in advancing civilization

I've recently polled 7(out of the 7) UC Berkeley student clubs full of Pre Med students. NO FUTURE DOCTOR KNEW THE WORD RIB (the verb)!!!😁😁😁

Our kids are suffering from a "Prank Deficient Diet!!!"

No student could name ONE HALLOWEEN PRANK NOR ONE FRAT HOUSE PRANK!!! IMHO a survey of the lack of Dark Humor would expose a Generational Vulnerability to WIMPIFICATION!😁😁😁

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I take issue somewhat with the use of the term “individualistic” and “collectivistic.” For instance, Russia is listed as “collectivistic” and yet it less religious than the most secular city in the United States (the most individualistic country). During the Cold War, the term collectivist did not mean communitarian. It meant a society in which the individual was nothing more than a pawn to be used for the greater good of the whole society, and whose self-interest (hopes, desires, dreams, loves, fears, etc.) was to be viewed with suspicion. Individualistic societies were more capitalist and more classically-liberal (founded on the belief that the individual is the fundamental unit of society, a person in possession of natural rights).

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With regard to posts about the relationship of social media use to teen suicide, can anyone help explain a major mystery in the CDC’s 2021 Adolescent Behavior and Experiences Survey (I apologize if formatting is a problem; see formatted table at: https://mikemales.substack.com/publish/posts/detail/142303583?referrer=%2Fpublish%2Fhome ):

CDC 2021 survey result................Teens online <1 hour/day.....Teens online 5+ hours per day....Odds ratio

Mental health poor.................................................24%.......................................................37%...................................1.82

Persistent sadness....................................................37%.......................................................51%...................................1.81

Considered suicide..................................................16%.......................................................24%...................................1.75

Suicide plan.................................................................17%.......................................................24%...................................1.53

Attempted suicide...................................................15%........................................................11%...................................0.67

Mental health poor, attempted suicide..........33%........................................................21%..................................0.54

Sad, attempted suicide..........................................34%.........................................................20%.................................0.48

Hospitalized for suicide attempt..........................5%...........................................................2%..................................0.45

Note the top four lines. Compared to teens who rarely or never go online (less than 1 hour a day), teens who are online a lot (5+ hours per day) are much more depressed, sadder, and likely to consider and plan suicide (OR > 1.0). That’s in line with the conventional view.

Now, look at the next four lines. They show a complete reversal. Compared to teens who rarely/never go online, teens who go online a lot are LESS likely to actually ATTEMPT suicide and to suffer a serious (injurious) suicide attempt requiring hospitalization (OR < 1.0).

That is, among the teens who consider or plan suicide, nearly all who spend little time online go on to attempt suicide, compared to just one-third of the teens who spend many hours online.

How can the same 7,000 teens report on the same survey that being online a lot is associated with substantially MORE depression, sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide planning – and also with substantially LESS actual suicidal behavior and injury? How can teens with poor mental health and/or sadness (the ones we think are most vulnerable) report that being online a lot is associated with substantially fewer suicide attempts? What major factor intervenes to prevent suicide attempts, especially serious ones, among teens who are online a lot that doesn’t deter teens who are not online? This pattern, which is obvious for those who download and analyze the full CDC survey, applies across several measures to all ages and both sexes of teens with only small variations.

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