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A Culture of Fear, Social Media Toxicity, and America's Descent Into Stupidity, with Jonathan Haidt


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Megyn Kelly

May 23 2022



The Entire Show 1:38: 25

Megyn Kelly is joined by social psychologist and "The Coddling of the American Mind" co-author Jonathan Haidt to talk about how social media is making us worse as a democracy, our culture's inability to even speak the same language or share the same overall truths, the way the American conversation got stupid over just 10 years, democracy versus dictatorship, how social media destroys the fabric of our society, the lack of a common shared story in America, how social media makes kids afraid to make mistakes, the rise of tribalism at the extremes (but not in the middle), how social media evolved into a platform for toxicity and addiction, the unlimited "dart guns" to shame via social media, how a culture of fear has led to to a chilling of speech and humor, what happens if we fight cancel culture with more cancel culture, the negative partisanship that helped lead to Trump's presidency, how social media leads to anxiety and thoughts of suicide, how we can reverse the negative trends in our society, and more.

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Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid

It’s not just a phase.

Jonathan Haidt


Hope After Babel

The story I have told is bleak, and there is little evidence to suggest that America will return to some semblance of normalcy and stability in the next five or 10 years. Which side is going to become conciliatory? What is the likelihood that Congress will enact major reforms that strengthen democratic institutions or detoxify social media?

Yet when we look away from our dysfunctional federal government, disconnect from social media, and talk with our neighbors directly, things seem more hopeful. Most Americans in the More in Common report are members of the “exhausted majority,” which is tired of the fighting and is willing to listen to the other side and compromise. Most Americans now see that social media is having a negative impact on the country, and are becoming more aware of its damaging effects on children.

Will we do anything about it?

When Tocqueville toured the United States in the 1830s, he was impressed by the American habit of forming voluntary associations to fix local problems, rather than waiting for kings or nobles to act, as Europeans would do. That habit is still with us today. In recent years, Americans have started hundreds of groups and organizations dedicated to building trust and friendship across the political divide, including BridgeUSA, Braver Angels (on whose board I serve), and many others listed at BridgeAlliance.us. We cannot expect Congress and the tech companies to save us. We must change ourselves and our communities.

What would it be like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? We know. It is a time of confusion and loss. But it is also a time to reflect, listen, and build.

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