Harold Bursztajn, M.D., on a Generation in Terrible Pain
Can we clone you? You’re a national treasure along with Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan and Christopher F. Rufo, Ayann Hirsi Ali and others. It’s real hero’s like you that will save the Republic!
This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing, Abigail! I am “Gen Z” and can attest to the fact that many in my generation feel the weight and seriousness of replacing synthetic, online relationships with intimate, real connections. We are dedicated to fighting this trend and restoring the beauty of a full life in this nuanced, complex world. Leaders like you and Dr. Bursztajn help us have the courage to do it.
Such a touching piece--thank you! As a historian, I feel as if learning history (in a reasonable way like is laid out here) is also an important tool for this next generation
Great piece. Thank you for this. I think the only thing that can save this generation of ‘social justice warriors’ is major psychotherapy and a temporary ban from social media so deprogramming can take place😼Otherwise I don’t have much hope.
Beautiful but sobering interview with Dr. Bursztajn. I only wish I shared your confidence in the maturation of today’s youth. I just see them getting swept up in a culture that hates. Hates everything they don’t identify with. Like the Dr. said, for them it is a binary world.
Absolutely fascinating - love his description of “time”
This is so very thoughtful and speaks to what these kids are experiencing in their lives. For many, their only outlet has been technology and that is no way to fully connect with the their inner and outer worlds. I also have a theory that their diets play and integral role in their anxiety. So many of them are hocked up on caffeine and sugar that there bodies and minds are always racing. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts and speaking out.
I'm surprised there are only nine comments so far. I found this piece much more instructive than I at first expected. Dr. B's ideas should be a big help to me in my work with millennials (and soon Gen Zs).
I would be curious if Dr. Bursztajn had any thoughts on a possible solution apart from trying to close Pandora's Box, i.e. stop the use of social media.
The author is a national treasure. We need more sort of like her, but not *exactly* like her :)
It's interesting and sobering that Bursztajn's research comes to the identical place as did the earlier work of Jean Twenge (iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy -- I would only change the "more tolerant" part, which is a strange conclusion) and of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt (The Coddling of the American Mind). There's little doubt that this travail of the younger millennials, born after the mid-1990s, is one of the great social realities of our time. This is the same cohort identified as maturing from early teens to young adulthood under the sway of, not just the internet, but specifically of social media available 24/7 on mobile devices. After all, the iPhone was released in winter 2007. The change was noted on campuses in the 2013-14 academic year, when those born in 1995 started to enter. The 1995 cohort turned 12 in 2007, and the minimum age for internet accounts was stupidly set in 1998 at 13. (Originally the legislation had been drafted at 18, then 16. It was changed at the last minute to 13.)
However, there are some other realities that need to be kept in mind about the younger cohort of millennials. The big obvious facts are the 2008 crisis and Great Recession, which left deep and wide scars for anyone not in the upper middle class or the wealthy. This same generation is expected to go to college and borrow what amounts to a mortgage, at age 18, to pay absurd levels of tuition. Some of these trends were operative with the older millennials, born between the early 80s and mid-90s, but they were not social and emotionally stunted in the same way. They cope in ways more cognitive than reactive and hysterical. And it's not just social media, as the authors just mentioned show. There are also the ideology of "safety-ism" and helicopter parenting, among other things.
All this has hit the younger millennials hard, both coddling and infantilizing them well into their teens, but also placing them under strange new forms of always-turned-on stress.