Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
First Written 2018
Genre Nonfiction
Origin US
My Copy library ~audiobook~
First Read July 21, 2020

The Coddling of the American Mind

But all that aside, I think that while the explanatory threads might not connect (or really be too generous in some places!) the problems they describe are real, and I sure wish that like, everybody on earth identified with the near-universal human wisdom that, you know, adversity can make you stronger, etc. I also think that the authors are underselling the compassionate and interesting arguments in FAVOR of all the issues they describe.

Noted on July 22, 2020

A compelling argument that instincts to protect children (and adults!) from harm has spiraled into unintentional cultural problems. This is essentially Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids argument but focusing on college students and psychological harm, rather than physical.

The authors start with 'three great untruths', concepts that have gained purchase culturally but they argue go against the grain of the great wisdom of the world's cultures: people are fragile and should be treated that way (what doesn't kill you makes you weaker), your emotions are an accurate guide to the world (always trust your feelings), and us vs them (life is a battle between good people and evil people). You can imagine how this is elaborated in an academic environment of protecting safe spaces, the concept of microaggressions, and callout / cancel culture.

They attribute this to some explanatory threads: increased anxiety and depression in teens and children (judged not only by diagnoses but also measured effects like suicide rates) (and driven perhaps only by the rise of social media use!), 'paranoid' parenting (cf. Skenazy), the decline of free play for children, the 'Bureaucracy of Safetyism", etc.

It's all a pretty solid set of discussion in general, but sadly it feels like it's so related to harsh right-wing arguments that it's a tough argument to engage with.

Noted on July 22, 2020

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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