Youth need social media like their parents needed TV

Most anything that is popular, or ubiquitous, is bound to have a dark side. This is the way of the world, manifest in the madness of crowds.

Whatever the mania, you can be certain that credentialed egg-heads, professional do-gooders, and compulsive busy-bodies will claim access should be curtailed, controlled or even cut off, “for the children.”

A generation ago, it was television. Today, the culprits are the Internet, and social media in particular.

Nevertheless, social media are essential to young people today, just as television was a necessary evil for those of us who came before.

In 1961, in his first address as President John F. Kennedy’s Chairman of the Federal Communications Chairman, Newton Minnow famously referred to television as a “vast wasteland.” Indisputably, the same can be said about much of the Internet.

Recent news stories of “cyber-bullying,” sometimes with tragic consequences, are reminders of the cruelty with which humanity infects most any creation, no matter how miraculous. Likewise, the career-threatening conduct of some young people online is worthy of concern.

The Internet unbridles society’s id, with results relatable to the axiom that it is unwise to discuss politics or religion in polite company. To wit, people take all their frustrations from the entirety of their lives and try to jam them, camel-like, though the eyes of those needles. This is the principle on display in most any Internet comment thread that runs more than a couple-dozen entries.

This informs the decision taken by some to divorce themselves from the entire enterprise.

Doubtless, you have seen some friend post a manifesto as to why they are taking leave of social media, written as though they were Washington bidding farewell to his troops. These pledges rarely last and are a fairly nascent happening, much like the medium itself.

The forswearing of TV, however, has a long and irksome history.

Something about not having a television makes people decide they are experts on everything. For instance, some of the harshest opprobrium I have heard regarding, say, Fox News, has come from people who simultaneously boast they do not own a TV.

That sort of illogic speaks for itself, and if adults wish to strike the supercilious pose of know-it-all hippies, so be it. But children deserve better.