Why are we turning our kids into snowflakes?

Here’s an article from Scientific American about why today’s youth are so fragile. It covers mental fragility. I’d add another issue–physical fragility. Where did all these allergies come from? I don’t remember any allergies among my friends in the US decades ago–and there are far fewer allergies among kids here in Israel…except those born in the US. I’ve read articles attributing this to over-cleanliness…as after my 2-year-old granddaughter found a dust-covered Cheerio under the sofa and popped it into her mouth with no comment from us and no ill effects, I tend to agree. FYI I tried to share the article from the SA website but couldn’t…so here it is:
Kids Today Are Being Socialized to Think They’re Fragile Snowflakes
A looming crisis and how to avert it
• By Michael Shermer | Scientific American December 2018 Issue
Something is amiss among today’s youth. This observation isn’t the perennial “kids these days” plaint by your middle-aged correspondent. According to San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge, as reported in her book iGen (Atria, 2017), to the question “Do you have [a] psychological disorder (depression, etc.)?” the percentage of college students born in 1995 and after (the Internet Generation, or iGen) answering affirmatively in a Higher Education Research Institute study rose between 2012 and 2016. For men, the figure increased from 2.7 to 6.1 percent (a 126 percent increase) and for women from 5.8 to 14.5 percent (a 150 percent rise). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that between 2011 and 2016 the percentage of boys who experienced a depressive episode the prior year increased from 4.5 to 6.4 and in girls from 13 to 19.
iGeners began entering college in 2013. Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 30 percent increase in college students who said they intentionally injured themselves (for example, by cutting), and according to the Fatal Injury Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates increased 46 percent between 2007 and 2015 among 15- to 19-year-olds. Why are iGeners different from Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers?
Twenge attributes the malaise primarily to the widespread use of social media and electronic devices, noting a positive correlation between the use of digital media and mental health problems. Revealingly, she also reports a negative correlation between lower rates of depression and higher rates of time spent on sports and exercise, in-person social interactions, doing homework, attending religious services, and consuming print media, such as books and magazines. Two hours a day on electronic devices seems to be the cutoff, after which mental health declines, particularly for girls who spend more time on social media, where FOMO (“fear of missing out”) and FOBLO (“fear of being left out”) take their toll. “Girls use social media more often, giving them more opportunities to feel left out and lonely when they see their friends or classmates getting together without them,” Twenge adduces. This, after noting that the percentage of girls who reported feeling left out increased from 27 to 40 between 2010 and 2015, compared with a percentage increase from 21 to 27 for boys.
In search of a deeper cause of this problem—along with that of the campus focus of the past several years involving safe spaces, microaggressions and trigger warnings—Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argue in their book The Coddling of the American Mind (Penguin, 2018) that iGeners have been influenced by their overprotective “helicoptering” parents and by a broader culture that prioritizes emotional safety above all else. The authors identify three “great untruths”:
• The Untruth of Fragility: “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.”
• The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: “Always trust your feelings.”
• The Untruth of Us versus Them: “Life is a battle between good people and evil people.”
Believing that conflicts will make you weaker, that emotions are a reliable guide for responding to environmental stressors instead of reason and that when things go wrong, it is the fault of evil people, not you, iGeners are now taking those insalubrious attitudes into the workplace and political sphere. “Social media has channeled partisan passions into the creation of a ‘callout culture’; anyone can be publicly shamed for saying something well-intentioned that someone else interprets uncharitably,” the authors explain. “New-media platforms and outlets allow citizens to retreat into self-confirmatory bubbles, where their worst fears about the evils of the other side can be confirmed and amplified by extremists and cyber trolls intent on sowing discord and division.”
Solutions? “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child” is the first folk aphorism Lukianoff and Haidt recommend parents and educators adopt. “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded” is a second because, as Buddha counseled, “once mastered, no one can help you as much.” Finally, echoing Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being,” so be charitable to others.
Such prescriptions may sound simplistic, but their effects are measurable in everything from personal well-being to societal harmony. If this and future generations adopt these virtues, the kids are going to be alright.
This article was originally published with the title “Kids These Days”
Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer is publisher of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com) and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. His new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia (Henry Holt, 2018).
Credit: Nick Higgins
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There’s no Gaza solution–but we can live with that

It started like this—a Facebook post from a friend in England, responding to Hamas firing hundreds of rockets at Israel in a single day, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters for many long hours, killing a man in Ashkelon and wounding others:

“I would be much happier if Israel defeated Hamas militarily and damn the consequences. This can’t go on.”

Here in Israel, some people share the sentiment. It’s hard not to sympathize. Israel has the strongest military in the region, and Hamas, with all its rockets, is a ragtag terrorist group. Of course Israel could wipe out Hamas if it wanted to.

Or could it?

We’re still learning to deal with what they call asymmetrical warfare. That’s where one side has sophisticated weapons like fighter aircraft, and the other has primitive stuff like unguided rockets and bombs.

If the strong side uses all its might to wipe out the weak side—what does that mean, and how can it be done?

Let’s say Israel decides to take out the Hamas leadership, one by one. Well, we’ve done that before—killed wheelchair-bound Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004, killed his successor Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and killed many commanders, big and small since then. Yet Hamas persists. It’s what NFL teams dealing with inevitable injuries call “next man up.” Hamas has enough commanders to take the place of the ones we kill, and let’s face it, commanding the Hamas military wing is not all that complicated. It’s pretty much “get money, dig tunnels, buy some weapons, build some rockets, and let fly.” Over on this side, commanding the sophisticated array of weaponry in the Israeli military is a doctorate-level mission.

So how about sending the Israeli military on a sweep through Gaza, singling out all the Hamas terrorists and killing them all? That would mean killing thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of civilians, while taking high numbers of Israeli casualties, probably triggering a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon—and Hezbollah has more and better rockets than Hamas does. In other words, that won’t work, either.

That’s the background to my response to my understandably troubled friend in England, who recommended sending Israel’s army on a mission to wipe out Hamas once and for all:

“It’s too easy to make such recommendations from so far away. Many Israelis agree with you, but cooler heads here admit it can’t be done. For now there’s no solution…we have to live with this, and we can.

“I don’t want to get over-philosophical here, but there are problems that have no solutions. This is one. We cannot “punish” Gaza or “teach them a lesson.” Palestinians have been educated for generations to relish in their victimhood, with the full support of the world and especially the UN.

“Short of killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, which we are not going to do, nor should we, there is no military solution. Residents near Gaza are understandably upset that the IDF and government didn’t provide a permanent solution to this, but most of them realize, when tempers cool, that there isn’t one.

“It also bears repeating that when Israel did control Gaza (before the 2005 pullout), terrorism was rampant, and suicide bombers from Gaza blew themselves up in Israel–so retaking Gaza is not a solution, either.”

The solution will come one day in the framework of the realignment of the Middle East that’s in its beginning stages now. It started with Arab Spring, and it’s moving toward replacing the outdated 1920’s Sykes-Picot borders with Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish spheres of influence. And one Jewish state.

The borders of the one Jewish state must be fixed in accordance with the realignment of the rest of the region, and that also means the borders of the Palestinian state or entity or whatever emerges. It won’t be peace, but it will be an arrangement that has the support of the Arab world.

Will it result in a Palestinian state, a Hamas-led rogue state bent on attacking Israel at every opportunity? Perhaps. But that state would be at odds not only with Israel, but also with the powerful Arab sponsors of the new order. And make no mistake—besides being a convenient tool to distract downtrodden Arab populations from their own troubles, the Palestinians have never been the darlings of the Arab world. After borders are set and agreed, if Israel has to take drastic steps to defend itself, there will be little objection from anyone other than the professional Israel-bashers, mostly in the West.

After turning down two Israeli offers of an independent state, in 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians are likely to end up with much less—and for the meantime, and that’s going to be a long meantime, nothing at all except corrupt leaders, terrorism, deprivation, and professional victimhood.

And what does it leave Israel? A Gaza that defies solutions means a Gaza that periodically fires rockets at Israel. It is a harsh reality, but one that Israel is tough enough and resilient enough to withstand, especially if it has the kind of leadership that listens to its people and takes their needs into account, as opposed to the kind of leadership that blusters and threatens and warns, with the object of sounding “tough” and getting votes. Here’s my answer to that, my second book, coming soon.

There are government incentives for Israelis who move to and live in the West Bank. It should be obvious that the Israelis in constant rocket range in Israel’s south should get much larger benefits than the settlers. The people of Sderot and the other communities close to the Gaza fence are literally on Israel’s front line. Their lives are hell, not because their government has failed to impose a solution, though politicians from right and left are crowing and wailing in that vein, now that the latest round of violence appears to be over.

Their lives are hell because there is no solution.

We in Israel need to embrace the residents of the Gaza target area not just when the rockets are falling, but especially when they are not. If we do, and only if we do, can we say sincerely that the periodic flare-ups with Hamas in Gaza are unpleasant and painful, but they do not threaten our existence, and they are part of the price we are prepared to pay for the privilege of living in Israel.

—   —   —

Correspondent MARK LAVIE has been covering the Mideast since 1972.

React from strength, not fear, to anti-Semitic attacks

This bears repeating–it’s the last addition to my book before publication:
From now on, then, we must deal with BDS from our actual position of strength and confidence, not weakness and fear.
That applies especially after the horrible attack in Pittsburgh in October 2018, in which a Jew-hating American terrorist killed eleven Jews in a synagogue on Shabbat. It has unnerved many, understandably so. It’s as if the US is not safe for Jews anymore. To some extent, that is true. The US isn’t safe for anyone anymore. But Jews are among the strongest, if not the strongest, minority group in the society.
It’s worth noting, for the sake of perspective, that as recently as the last century in America, it was socially acceptable to publicly vilify Jews as a people, to impose quotas, to ban Jews from certain professions. Today those practices are not only unacceptable in society—they’re illegal.
So today, as we witness a real or perceived surge in anti-Semitism, amplified by antisocial media, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was just a few decades ago. Today we must protect ourselves from outliers, kooks, and terrorists, not from society in general.
We must protect ourselves from our position of strength—marshaling resources to reach out to those who are approachable and to isolate those who aren’t, while adopting the security measures that, unfortunately, are part of the modern era, but are certainly not specific to Jews. There are even metal detectors at American schools. We are not exempt from concern, but we should not, must not, overreact by cowering in our houses.