Social media is encouraging a thin skin

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in the Atlantic ask whether we are encouraging our students to develop an extra-thin skin by protecting them from exposure to ideas they don’t like:

But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.

It’s only relatively recently in life that I’ve started to try to get outside of my comfort zone. I do well with money, I went to a great University, I have some of the best and most connected mentors in the country.

Yet I still found some things difficult. Performing, public speaking, large groups of people – they all take a lot of work to get right. Yes, even with the body confidence I have.

I can say for sure that getting outside my comfort zone has taught me things that I never knew about myself. It actually allowed me to leverage the skills that I have properly.

You see, I suffer from – though usually have under control – a form of anxiety disorder. This particularly manifests itself when I talk in front of a crowd of people.

How I overcame it

The breakthrough moment for me was learning that I could train my courage and learn to become more confident.

I did it by repeatedly exposing myself to situations that I found challenging. Over time, the fear decreases, and after several exposures, the fear vanishes completely.

I have a theory that social media is causing a kind of “conscious coddling” – a conscious process of pruning opinions and viewpoints that we don’t like.

Rather than try to protect each other from ideas that we don’t like, we should be trying to get better at coping in a world of personalities and ideas that actually, we have no control over.

Categories: Marketing

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