“The happiest, the most prosperous, the most purposeful people in America are middle class families,” he says. But today too many women “can’t find a man they find economically or emotionally viable,” resulting in a slump of “household formation” with fewer children, leading to declines of the middle class and eventually prospects for the U.S. economy.
We could go on but you get the picture.
What caused all this? New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg admits she’d like to blame the advent of Donald Trump-type politics but problems worsened notably beforehand, around 2010. Joining psychologists like Jean Twenge, the author of “iGen” and the forthcoming “Generations.” Goldberg puts major blame for youths’ “downward spiral” on increased intensity of social-media use.
Others cite widespread pornography — another form of addiction to screens. And in The Wall Street Journal psychoanalyst Erica Komisar cites ignored results from legalization of today’s highly potent marijuana, including more suicides and three in 10 consumers hit with “cannabis use disorder.”
What’s missing? This exceedingly important discussion usually slides past a huge societal disruption in the early 21st Century, the palpable decline in vitality for much of American religion, with shrunken youth groups, disappearing Sunday school programs, slumping worship attendance by teens and young adults and with it the loss of congregations as natural places for young people to meet possible mates.
Writing about the CDC report for World magazine, Allie Beth Stuckey adds a spiritual crisis to all the other ills. She contends that social media help exchange “the god of self” for the true God through constant focus on ourselves, as in “how we feel, how we look, how we sound, what we want, what we like.”
We hear constant calls to teach girls “to love themselves more.” Yet she suggests that such “self-idolatry” is “driving teens into feelings of purposelessness and depression.”
Solutions do not come from the place where girls’ problems lie. Instead, people through history through history “have needed purpose, joy, and satisfaction that exists outside of themselves, namely in the God who created them.”
So the agenda for religion writers to mull with good sources runs leaders to questions such as this: To what extent does the Great Recession in American religious faith create a vacuum that’s filled with escalating psychological woes, not to mention sexual predation? If so, what can houses of worship, and American culture as a whole, do to heal the land?
FIRST IMAGE: Uncredited graphic with feature entitled “Social Media, Anxiety and Depression in Teens” at the website of the Oas Center & Specialized Therapy Services in San Diego, California.
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