This interview with a social psychologist is mostly about a non-newsworthy subject, i.e., an older person complaining about how worthless the younger generation is (to the extent that this might be true I would look at what employers are willing to pay for the labor of young people and the employment rate (not the bogus “unemployment rate” but the percentage that are actually working)). Buried in the middle, though, is an interesting idea:
Another thing that happens in the culture of affluence is that people overestimate the amount of control they have and feel compelled to exert control more, including over their kids. … One thing that has struck me is a huge judgmentalism among parents pushing them to overprotect their kids. Parents are afraid that if they don’t, they’ll be criticized by other parents or a neighbor. It’s a powerful moral force.
What do folks think? We’ve become a lot richer as a society. We don’t suffer from heat waves anymore, other than having to get up from watching TV in order to flip on the air conditioner. Does that lead us to wrongly believe that we can control everything else? Could this explain why we thought that we could clean things up in Iraq and Afghanistan?
[The rest of the article is a little bit fun because it uses the word microaggression, e.g., “Moral judgment is not about finding the truth; it is more about broadcasting the kind of person you are to people that you want to like you. You might call it moral posturing. Getting angry about microaggressions shows that you are championing victims. In a victimhood subculture, the only way to achieve status is to either be a victim or defend victims. It’s enfeebling. When victimhood becomes your identity you will be weak for the rest of your life. Marty Seligman has been talking about this for decades. This is a good way to make people learn helplessness.” I wonder for how many more years the term “microagression” will be in vogue.]