Columnist argues that social media is a societal carcinogen.


According to Britannica, The Dunning-Kruger Effect is “a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.”

A stunningly large portion of Gen Z seems to be affected by this type of zealous overconfidence, and I put the blame squarely on social media. By becoming dependent upon a form of content delivery that puts quantity over quality and often promotes egregious misinformation, our generation has lost a strong grounding in reality. This has caused this generation to disregard basic science en masse, to develop an unjustified sense that we are less fortunate than previous generations, and to believe that tearing down systems simply because they are old will improve the world.

There is no way that anybody will convince me out of believing that social media is a societal carcinogen.

Beyond how the media typically depicts the harms of social media as increased loneliness, decreased social skills and disruption of sleep rhythms, social media is also damaging because of how it delivers its content.

According to Morning Consult polling, 54% of people aged 13 to 25 said they spend at least four hours daily on social media, and almost two in five spend even more time than that. More than anything, it makes me sad knowing that this generation could do so much more and genuinely make the world a better place if it showed that level of dedication to any of the major issues our country faces.

It is deeply troubling that essentially half of our generation is wasting a quarter of their lives being entertained by content that, by and large, has no redeeming value. Let’s take a look at the different purposes of content and see what, if any, merit they have.


The notion that meaningful learning can be done with videos less than a minute in length is laughable. The high volume of content encountered scrolling through TikTok and other apps gives the user a false sense of gaining knowledge. Our generation has deluded itself into thinking that it is knowledgeable and politically active because of social media. This is demonstrated perfectly by polling of young
people that showed that when asked who the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is, 40% incorrectly chose Brett Kavanaugh and another 14% chose Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. The correct answer is John Roberts, for those of you who didn’t know.)

There is no learning to be done on social media.


Our republic relies on the people being well-informed. Social media runs counter to this by promoting vast amounts of misinformation that is consumed uncritically by millions. There is no meaningful message or idea that can be expressed in such a short amount of time and little space. There is good reason that lectures are typically over an hour long, because truly sharing ideas requires background knowledge and context, so political speech on social media has devolved into out-of-context clips of prominent figures designed either to garner support or to cause outrage. This only makes our political discourse less informed and more inflamed.

Former President Obama addressed this issue specifically in 2019, saying, “I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people… If all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”


This is possibly the only legitimate use for social media. I use Instagram from time to time, and I have to admit, sometimes there is genuinely funny content on there; however, I limit myself to 10 minutes a day.

I don’t have any strong objections to using social media for a few minutes a day for entertainment, but it becomes problematic when social media displaces what people would otherwise be doing. If you spend three hours daily on social media, that same amount of time over the course of a year is enough to read over 130 books that are 300 pages long. Multiply that over an entire generation, and it is easy to see that this generation is actively depriving itself of vast amounts of knowledge.