By Ralph Nader
January 14, 2023
Every Sunday about a dozen high school teenagers gather without their iPhones on a little hill in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, USA. They form a circle and quietly start to read serious books (Dostoevsky, Boethius) (paperbacks or hardbacks), or draw in sketchbooks, or just serenely sit listening to the wind.
As the New York Times reporter Alex Vadukul wrote last month (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/15/style/teens-social-media.html) these youngsters have had enough of the addictive Internet Gulag run by corporate incarcerators. “Social media and phones are not real life,” said Lola Shub a senior at Essex Street Academy. She expressed the group’s consensus: “When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed. I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person.”
Before peer group sanctions get to them, I’ve got to have a couple of these daily “self-liberators” on my Ralph Nader Radio Hour. This is a rebellion that needs support and diffusion.
These youngsters may not know the full extent of how corporate giants like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have broken up families. These corporate predators are separating millions of kids for 5 to 6 hours a day from their parents, communities and nature with iPhones and tablets.
Among the books in their satchels should be Susan Linn’s latest, Who’s Raising the Kids? Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children. These young mavericks would learn just how premeditated these company bosses are in tempting, seducing, then addicting youngsters and moving them into the Internet prison (en route to Zuckerberg’s mad metaverse). Marketing strategists use peer pressure and cultivate narcissistic behavior. Numerous studies and public hearings have shown the physical, mental and emotional harm done to children by relentless corporate hucksters’ direct marketing to them and bypassing parental authority and guidance.
A few other high school students in Manhattan and Brooklyn are joining this escape from the grip of commercial-driven “virtual reality” and connecting with the realities they will have to confront as they grow into adulthood.
The teenagers, who have formed the “Luddite Club”, are trying to liberate themselves in a world of technology that envelopes them without a framework of ethics and law.
They may gain further self-confidence and knowledge about the controlling processes around them by reading the “think-for-yourself” book – You Are Your Own Best Teacher! (in print only) by Claire Nader. Fifty-four topics will give young readers solid self-confidence and better classroom performance, and the book’s liberation exercises will spark their curiosity, imagination and intellect.
Curious young people may also want to follow the lawsuits against Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube “which also operate social media products that cause similar injuries to adolescents.” The large law firm Beasley Allen in Montgomery, Alabama is “handling lawsuits for teenagers who became addicted to social media and suffered serious mental health consequences, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, ADD/ADHD, self-harm and suicidal ideation.”
These lawyers have plenty of experts who will back them to make the connections between these affiliations and the deliberate actions driven by these greedy companies who know full well the consequences of their relentless drive for profits. Many of these executives restrict their own children’s Internet time. They know!