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164 - Gen Z and the Agony of a Screen-based Life with Freya India

A young girl's brain is no match for the most advanced AI

Stella and Sasha welcome writer and columnist

to the show this week, offering deep insights about the impact of screens and technology on young people and practical advice for balanced living in the digital age.

Basic human things, basic things that humans need - love, family, friendship, your sense of self, all of these things in a phone based world have been corrupted and cheapened.

Freya offers a compassionate and perceptive analysis of the challenges, faced by Gen-Z specifically, of coming of age along side the digital media explosion. Her thoughtful and reflective insights into how living through screens affects the psyche and behavior of younger generations makes for an engaging and informative discussion emphasizing and the importance of genuine human connection while navigating an increasingly digitized world.

I think there's a lot of young people who might look like they're thriving on Instagram, but, they don't have the psychological defenses to handle it.

Freya India is a freelance writer based in London and a columnist for Quillette. Freya has written for several publications including the Spectator, the New Statesman, The Independent, Quillette and UnHerd. Her writing has also been acknowledged by The Guardian, The Atlantic and The New York Times. She is now the author of the Substack GIRLS, where she writes about the challenges girls face in the modern world. GIRLS has evolved into a global, engaged community of concerned parents and young women wanting to change course. 

She has been described by

as “One of the most sensitive and perceptive Gen-Z writers. She went through the social media maelstrom herself and now chronicles its effects on her generation.” Freya recently joined the core team at in service to motivate and empower teens, parents, educators, policymakers, and tech industry leaders to act collectively to free children and adolescents from a childhood spent largely alone on screens, and instead promote independence, free play, and responsibility in the real world.

In this episode, Stella, Sasha and Freya explore the pervasive loneliness and disconnection experienced by young people due to their heavy reliance on screens. They explore how societal norms and expectations contribute to the pathologization of normal human emotions, such as sadness, jealousy, and the need for connection. And critique the trend towards diagnosing common human experiences as mental health disorders, calling to recognize these feelings as part of being human rather than indicators for pathology. They also discuss the concept of "anemoia", a nostalgia for a time and place never experienced, which Freya speaks about how it relates to her own feelings of not fitting into the digital age.

I think what's very different about young people now is there is this sense of, ‘I hate social media, I don't like having to participate in some of these games. I don't like being on dating apps, but I have to because now it's here and there's no way out.’ And I think there's this real grief about that, which is like, ‘I wish I had experienced love and romance before it was swiping and paying premium on Tinder’, or ‘I wish I'd experienced friendship before it was this superficial Instagram posing with people and not actually connecting with them at all.’

The discussion covers a wide range of topics, including youth psyche, the impact of social media on relationships, self-comparison, the challenges of filters, and mental health. At a time when parents struggle to relate to their children’s experience of adolescence due to the vast and rapid shifts in digital integration into daily life, Freya's calm and sensitive approach provides valuable insights for parents trying to better understand and connect with their children “IRL”.

Resources & Links

, publication by

@freyaindiaa on X

A Time We Never Knew: "Phones? No. We had each other.", by

You Can't Buy An "Authentic Self": There’s a vanity to even thinking there is a self to be found, by

Algorithms Hijacked My Generation. I Fear For Gen Alpha: Freya India explains how algorithms act as conveyor belts, transporting girls to dark and extreme places

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