Teens + Screens = 30+% Suicide Increase

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12/1/17  A ten-year-old Colorado girl hanged herself after a video of her was posted online.  https://tinyurl.com/ycrflygb

A group of researchers, in Clinical Psychological Science showed the drastic impact of smartphones on teen mental health.

 Between 2010 – 2015 among 13 – 18-year-olds

  • Depression increased 33%
  • Teen suicide attempts increased 23%
  • Suicide jumped 31%.

 What changed?  The social structure of American children now revolves around virtual “friends” and “selfies;” self-importance, notoriety, acceptance, and electronic “gear.” These needs are the same as ever, but the structures, and ways of connecting changed drastically. 

Now, teens stay alert to every text, email, Facebook posting, and Instagram message; they play computer games maniacally; sleep less at a critical stage of development; they barely notice the real world around them.  Even when they are together physically, they play vicious, amoral, computer games, mentally isolating them and pitting one against another (e.g. World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto).

Teenagers develop identities, feel lonely, realize they are separate from others,  feel unworthy, measured on an impossible scale of unending perfection, want independence, but see they are not self-sufficient, are completely dependent on the adults in their lives.  But, what is different about that?   

We all suffered these growing pains, but mostly in private; now teens have zero privacy, addicted to the idea that worthiness equals public notice, acceptance, and approval.  They live for attention, “Look at me and what I did.” is the mantra of teens in 2017.   This transparency exposes them to what their peers post about them on social media, especially “shaming.”  Teenagers have always been vicious to each other in the struggle to be on top, or at least survive.  Teens’ private lives, become public, like embarrassing intimate photos; the cruelty stays imbedded online for anyone to see, forever.

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Sexting, is insanity; trying to impress someone, can lead to immortal images.

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That is much more damaging than the teasing and taunting kids have always done.  Remember, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you?”  Not true for today’s teens. They have paper-thin egos that bruise and tear from any loss of face. Girls have increased anxiety, depression, eating, sleep, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Screen time per day is closely related to suicide risk; the study showed that teens who spend less than 2 hours per day on-screen, have normal levels of risk.  As average on-screen time increases, including texting, so does the suicide risk level:

Risk of at least one suicide risk factor from 2009 to 2015:

Screen Hours/ day = Suicide Risk Factors

2  = 27%

3  = 34%

5+= 48%

What to do?  If you want to support someone screen-addicted, work with them to increase in-person social interactions, not involving screens.  Manage on-screen personal time to 2 hours or less.  Schedule screen-free days or weekends.

Here is a link to the research:  http://bit.ly/2zianG5

 

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Media Magnifying Glass – More Like a Fun-House Mirror

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Disasters, accidents, violent events, novelties, and scandals sell news.  Human nature compels us to gawk when we drive past an auto accident.  Danger, violence, and death attract us.  We “try on” the situation as if it is happening to us.  If our imagination is vivid enough, we experience what we see.  Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which gets us ready to freeze, fight, or flee.  The media know this well, and play to that part of our nature.  The more they succeed, the more fearful and suspicious we become.  Common sense tells us to lock our doors and cars, and take other wise precautions.  But, exaggerated fear-based stories lack context and perspective.

Gun Violence

Fifty-million Americans own more than 300 million guns.  We see the gun violence on TV and read about the terrible incidents of people dying. We hear about the mounting toll of Chicago’s homicide victims.  That does not mean you can expect more gun violence in your neighborhood.  It does not mean that every owner of a gun is a menace to you or your family.  The statistics sound horrific until you realize how vast America is and how many people live here.  The US population is over 323 million today.

Race      Pop.   %
Total 323,515,021 100%
White & Hispanic 232,943,055 73.6%
Black 44,908,095 12.6%
Other 50,663,871 13.8%

Below is a table of firearm death facts.

Firearm Deaths
  Total Black White & Hispanic
Homicide 17,250 7,881 6,576
Suicide 21,000 1,152 16,980
Police      500    233      267
Accidents      800    400      400
Total 33,900 9,666 24,223
% 100% 28.5%   71.5%

I broke the figures down by race because news about guns often revolves around race.  Note that blacks were 28.5% of the victims, which is more than double the 12.6% of the population who are black.  The FBI statistics show that 90% of black homicides were shot by blacks; likewise, 90% of white homicides  were shot by whites.  Gangs were responsible for most of the  homicides, while attacking other gangs, or committing  crimes.

Gunshot injuries 2015 were 85,000, according to CDC.  Total dead and injured 118,900.  Divide 118,900 by 300 million = .04%.  That means that 99.96% of guns did no harm.  That same total divided by 50 million gun owners = .24% were involved.  That means 99.76% of gun owners did no harm.

Police Shootings

Police shot 963 in 2016; 233 were black; of those all but 16 were armed.  The news media make it seem like hundreds of white police officers are shooting unarmed black men. A new study, “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?” used details of 2,699 police shootings 2013-2015 from 1,500 police departments around the country to discover:

  1. Black officers killed unarmed black suspects at a significantly higher rate than white or Hispanic officers.
  2. Both black and white police officers kill unarmed black suspects with higher probability than unarmed white or Hispanic suspects
  3. White police officers are not more likely than black officers, to kill black suspects.
  4. Hispanic police officers are significantly less likely to kill black suspects than either black or white officers.
  5. No evidence of significant racial discrimination on the part of white police officers with respect to black suspects.

John R. Lott, Jr and Carlisle E. Moody
College of William & Mary and the Crime Prevention Research Center
July 21, 2017

Here is a link to the study: https://goo.gl/xqI4bu (Unless you are a statistician, their paper can be daunting)

People “of Politics” Underestimate Trump

The underdog populist, Donald Trump enlists seasoned veterans of the establishment for his insurgency.  Do not underestimate the “swamp-power” behind his crusade.

The British underestimated George Washington, who was a veteran officer of the British forces that fought the French and Indian War.  He attracted a cadre of experienced men, and the support of Lafayette.

The Union Generals underestimated Robert E. Lee who was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. He used his abilities to outmaneuver his enemies despite their immense superiority in men and weapons.

Both knew the other side from the inside; that is how they won.

There are some neophytes, but many “inside-the-beltway” professionals, in Trump’s camp.  Yes, there is entropy, as the elite scramble to understand the America they assumed they knew.  But there is also transformation.  Many entrenched politicians are pushing buttons that always worked before, (rather more like the Regency Bell Pull), to no avail.  The old ways can work against the establishment, when used by masters of “the system.”

Information is the ammunition for both side’s cannons.  As the prestige leaders of government take sides, the balance of power swings back and forth between extremes.  The media is the battleground of taking sides.  The Left singles out Fox News as the Devil of the Right, ignoring the giant counterbalance of media favoring the Left.

Recent reports on the inside shenanigans of the DNC to assure Hillary Clinton would defeat Bernie Sanders are a fitting example of the underhanded fighting within one party.  The rancor among Senate Republican leaders and the President is suicidal.  The Tea Party and the populist movement battle against the “safe-district” Republican incumbents.

The point is, the blandishments of both sides favoring themselves and the apoplectic, demeaning, political ridicule of both sides is dehumanizing and embarrassing.  We would be wise to put down our clubs and sharp-pointed sticks, and resume civilization.  Who believes that damaging another member of our community, somehow enhances our community?  Who knows other individuals who exemplify the crude deprecations flooding the Internet?  I do not have any of the menacing characteristics attributed to either party.  Anyone who knows me knows that.

Go get to know some people outside of your clannish prejudices; you might be surprised how few monsters live here.

 

 

 

Virtual Fahrenheit 451 – No Part of History Is Good Enough

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“Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.

In Ray Bradbury’s prescient 1953 novel, the government made the past illegal. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books.  They even had book-sniffing robots to find homes with hidden books.

When Guy becomes despondent over the meaning of his work, his fire chief explains that, “over the course of several decades, people embraced new media (in this case, film, and television), sports, and a quickening pace of life.  Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span, while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in literature (yet comic books, trade papers, and sex magazines were allowed to stay, as those fed into the population’s want for mindless entertainment).”  People would watch the “parlor walls” (large televisions) with visiting friends instead of conversation.

We are now in the throes of a virtual Fahrenheit 451.  The need for burning books has become moot with the advent of ubiquitous, mesmerizing “screens.”  Evidence:

  1. Generations of high school graduates who show increasing ignorance, apathy, and illiteracy; they are ill-equipped for self-sufficiency, yet they excel at World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto.
  2. People without enough money for food, have cellphones, and giant high-definition televisions, with cable. They read little and text a lot.  Everything is Facebook, selfies, videos, and soon virtual reality.
  3. Minority groups are protesting the controversial facts of our history. For example, the Fairfax County, Virginia school board just renamed my high school, J.E.B. Stuart High School, Justice High School.  (I can just imagine my next class reunion.)  Why?  Because he was an officer in the Confederate army.  Does anyone believe the Confederacy won the war?  Does anyone not see the tragedy of 600,000 lives lost as a lesson in pain?  Why remove the reminders?

What is next?  Will we remove the Civil War from our libraries?  Will museums take down every work of art with elements of that part of our nation’s history?  Will schools bury the history of slavery and the people responsible?

When will we hold accountable the Africans who sold tens of millions of other African as slaves to the entire world? https://goo.gl/EXnyGT

Were they not even more responsible for the misery of those slaves and their progeny?

Ignoring or censoring history will neither change the past, nor the consequences of what happened.  It will leave us less aware of the truth; a type of cultural dementia.  We must resist becoming a world of virtual Fahrenheit 451.

Not Quiet Enough – Eminem’s Storm

Hey Eminem,

Storm not quiet enough?
You still singin’ hate stuff?
All that bitter candy-ass fluff
That Nasty taste of losin’ It
Why can’t you just swallow It?
Why you gotta wallow in It?
Just because you didn’t win It?

Why you all too mad?
Is your life all so bad?
What’s ‘at really about?
Breakin’ bad & hidin’ out

Down in that bunker of a studio
You just hear what’s on the radio
You heard what you were told
You bought what you were sold
Asked no questions about It
Just sang curses about It

Uploadin sore-loser gripes
Trippin over stars & stripes
No one buys nice words no more
Poison pays it forward low score
Keepin’ the meter ru-runnin’
Stackin’ up those Benjamun-uns

Oh say can’t you see
America can dis -agree
It’s not white OR black
Can’t take what is done back
Asterisks are not heaven’s stars
Stripes are not our prison bars

Playin out borrowed words of-color
Grinnin’ on color magazine covers
How can you real-world real-life correlate?
With your mind & your mouth stuffed so full of hate?

 

Trump Ignores “Face” at Our Peril – North Korea Not Like NYC

If America desires influence in Asia, we must understand the sensitive parts of their cultures, that may not be as sensitive in ours.

President Trump’s aggressive, public, verbal attacks on North Koreas may play well in the USA, but they are more harmful and dangerous in Asia than most Americans think. Regardless of how you see Kim Jong -un, he is Asian; you must take Asian culture into account.

Asian culture developed the concept of “face” over thousands of years. A person’s “face,” sums up their standing in all parts of life; it is much more important than our concept of reputation; it is who they are as a person.

Most average American’s discovered Asian culture in World War II.  We were confronted with totally foreign, Japanese ideas and customs, including seppuku, the noble term for honorable, ritual suicide by samurai (the term familiar to most Americans is, hari-kari, a term used by Japanese commoners.).

Decades later, we are motivated to observe Japanese etiquette socially, and in business; we are challenged to understand what “face” means, and how it works.  “Giving face,” “losing face,” and “saving face” are extremely important in every part of daily life.

“Giving face” means acknowledging, honoring and giving credit to another, while minimizing one’s own importance, and deprecating one’s role in the matter with humility.

“Losing face” means being, publicly slighted, criticized, ridiculed, or humiliated. The caustic, demeaning language Americans commonly tolerate could evoke suicide among some Asians sensitive to “losing face.”

We only recently see such sensitivity among youth immersed in social media.  “Shaming,” and “cyberbullying,” are examples of the new American version of “losing face.” Ironically, Facebook is a big part of this phenomenon

“Saving face” means recovering positive standing, dignity, and honor with offsetting actions and expressions; for example, smoothing over mistakes, and minimizing losses.  In  “face” culture, even adversaries seek to give tokens and acknowledgements that do not dishonor each other.  Bragging or ridiculing are considered ignoble, vicious, low-class breaches of etiquette.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un have lost face, in the eyes of many Asians and Americans.   Both have established “low-face” reputations already.

Kim Jong-un is feared, more than respected, as a man who would assassinate rivals, and punish those who would embarrass him, or challenge his godhead.

Donald Trump is disrespected for his feral attacks, predictable, public taunts, and churlish name-calling.

The brash, threatening exchanges, threats, and personal, demeaning attacks, slash at the “face” of these vainglorious, egoistic adversaries; the use of “Rocket Man,” and “dotard,”are examples of the escalating, vulgar, and unforgivable personal affronts they have exchanged.

Both men must somehow find a face-saving way to end their disputes, or they will escalate without reason.

First, they must clear the “face” board; no more personal attacks, minimum admissions of error, and tolerable acceptance of blame.

Second, they must engage in building trust and agreement, without losing face.  For the most part, that means letting diplomats forge whatever agreements it will take to tamp down this “monkey dance,” and reduce the threat of nuclear havoc.

Third, they must give and save face to hold agreements in place.

 

Swamp Warfare Consumes – Nothing Good Happens When Nothing Happens

When politicians get personal, at best, nothing happens, at worst, nothing good happens.  We are witnessing, and suffering the slings and arrows of Alinsky-esque, Pyrrhic battles among the old guards of both parties of the “swamp” and the “Neo-Alt-Populists.”

What earnest, stalwart citizens expect is honest disagreement and negotiation to get the nation’s business done.  Instead we get messy, nasty, underhanded, duplicitous, deceitful, street fights by leaders of the traditional, two-party Congress and political elite intended to sabotage and neutralize the populist agenda.  Instead, we drown in oceans of pure sewage, a woeful waste of time, money, and reputation.

Trump started this ad hominem warfare with schoolyard nicknames for his opponents and constant public comments on everyone and everything.  But the swamp knows how to respond in kind.  Undermining, demeaning, and slandering one another absorbs enormous energy and batters the already dwindling confidence of the public.  What can we do with the barrage of bickering and dirty laundry?

I assign a giant portion of blame to the partisan, self-serving, faux journalists who constantly, gleefully, nakedly, shamelessly, and blatantly editorialize the mayhem.  The growing competition for notoriety risks America’s reputation and wastes our resources and influence.   Adolescent gossip has become the fodder for our herd of addicted commentators, who flood every form of information outlet, 24/7, with waves of “breaking news.”

I propose a ceasefire and a truce on public criticism, starting with the President.  Take your bar fights out back; do not make us witness the ugly, monkey-dance posturing, angry barbs, and impotent jabs.  Come back when you are done mauling each other, and you have made up with some workable compromise.  We are tired of seeing how no sausage is made.  We want to see and hear mature, decent people, doing what we elected them to do, with decorum and dignity.