As someone who regards social media in much the same way as I regard a sexually transmitted infection or anything churned out by Hollywood, I find it deeply disturbing to learn that a great many young people apparently confuse reality with the trite presentations of a smartphone app. There would seem to be some striking comparisons with the gin epidemic in Britain in the eighteenth century (of which Hogarth was an able chronicler), cigarette consumption in the first half of the twentieth century, and the current obesity epidemic that’s a consequence of mass consumption of junk food.

In all these cases, what people want turns out to be very bad indeed for them. In all cases, governments and NGOs eventually stepped in to attempt to mitigate the terrible harms that resulted from unrestrained access to harmful products because the social cost was far too high for any nation to bear. We haven’t got there yet with McSlop and Kentucky Fried Cancer and Diabetes-Cola but in Europe the first stirrings of mitigation are beginning to be felt and perhaps one day may even reach the USA. But perhaps we should also be thinking carefully about the mental McSlop that people are pouring into their brains, and the terrible harm that is occurring in consequence.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.