The Problem With That TikTok Therapist Criticizing Black Men
Compassion and trust are intrinsic to erasing the mental health stigma.
A few weeks ago, I talked to New York City high school students about how to find their voices on social platforms. Their teacher’s insights from earlier that week surprised me.
“I try to get them engaged with social media and telling their stories, but a lot of them are hesitant, truthfully. They’ve been schooled in the age of ‘Everything you put on the internet is forever.’ They’re really cautious about how they’re perceived.”
Somehow, I’d sealed it in my head that teens spent all of their waking hours on social media, posting choreographed dances and food porn. But that wave has ended. The most recent set of high schoolers is wary of the effects of social media and “the clout chase.” Their predecessors gave them reason to fear missteps. So many of us embarrassed ourselves with bad takes in the name of being seen that they are now all about the “ratio,” (evidence of a bad comment or unpopular opinion) and “cringe,” the proof that your whole style is out of step.
I remember how vulnerable and paranoid I was as a teen, so I wanted to meet this group with abundant empathy. I can’t imagine being that age right now with the pressures of social media influencing how I date, form friendships, receive news, and generally cope with adolescence.
It’s even worse that some social media creators can make a living peddling negativity and narrow worldviews. A cluster of similar thinkers is all they need to spread like the fungi of junk science jargon and “New Age” gloop. For the most part, I avoid these extremists because they rely on polarizing takes and feed on the unresolved anger and misery of their flock. Misery loves even virtual company.
The YouTube relationship blogger Kevin Samuels was like this, but he fits a mold with too many aspiring others to name. And they’re on either side of the opinion spectrum.
The first therapist I had a session with was Dr. M, who had been recommended by the underprivileged kid prep program I’d been in. When I slinked into her chair for the first time as an eighth grader, I knew that adults like her were only as safe as the…