I saw this article going viral Why are young liberals so depressed?
The CDC survey doesn’t ask teens about their political beliefs, but Gimbrone et. al. find not only divergence by gender, but divergence by political ideology. Breaking things down by gender and ideology, they find that liberal girls have the highest increase in depressive affect and conservative boys have the least. But liberal boys are more depressed than conservative girls, suggesting an important independent role for political ideology.
But as Richard Hanania noted, polling conservatives tends to be difficult compared to polling liberals. Conservatives may be disinclined to answer surveys or may not give answers that reflect their true feelings.
The recent hype and focus on ‘teen girls and social media’ overlooks that plenty of men/boys face these problems too. I dunno why one sex would be much worse affected than the other. Fitness culture, like hustle culture, messes with people’s minds. On social media, the widespread and undisclosed use of steroids and other drugs has created unrealistic expectations of what is obtainable.
I think there is plenty of depression and unhappiness to go around on both sides, and among the young and the old. A lot of people are struggling. Things like mortgages, car payments, inflation, insurance, or other unpaid bills take a phycological toll. Obesity, drug addiction, pain killer abuse, etc. are major problems that predate social media and have gotten worse.
My ‘mental model’ is that people are getting increasingly angry and anxious, particularly in the US, and that extremism, depression, and polarization are downstream from this. Social media, high stress lifestyles, and unmet expectations could be contributing factors, but it’s not just social media.
I don’t think social media has made it worse or is the main cause, but I think people are reaching for explanations and social media seems like a big one. Sure, maybe social media can explain depression among teens, but it does not explain the opioid abuse epidemic in rural America, for example.
OxyContin and other painkiller abuse in ‘red states’ shows that depression is hardly just limited to ‘the left’. One thing that stands about red states is just how poor and dysfunctional they are, even more so than blue states. Whatever problems blue states have, are as bad or worse in red states, like poverty:
The left vs. right framing is incomplete. It has more to do with IQ and or wealth that predicts the quality or health of a population, and less to do with politics or religiosity. India and the Middle East, for example, are religious and traditional but also dysfunctional. By comparison , South Korea is much more secular and functional; same for the Nordic countries.