The Most 2023 Moment of 2023

It was a social media issue. Of course.

One of the therapists I supervise is a director at a long-term substance misuse treatment program. The following conversation took place during one of our supervision sessions last summer.

T: What is your take on addressing clients’ social media? Is it a privacy violation?

FLG2: Looking at someone’s public social media is not illegal. I think employers should absolutely look at job candidate’s public social media. Ethically, I discourage it for therapists. Programs and agencies should have a very explicit social media policy that all employees and clients are aware of. So, follow your company’s policy.

T: We don’t have one.

FLG2: Well, then you need to implement one.

T: Noted. But I’d like to talk to you about this particular case.

FLG2: Proceed.

T: One of our clients is a well known social media influencer. He has over 2 million followers when you add up Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube.

FLG2: Tell me about the client first.

T: White male. Early 20s. Massive problem with marijuana, alcohol and ADHD medications. No drivers license. No job. On probation.

FLG2: Before he came to your program, where did he live?

T: Friends. An on and off again girlfriend. A lot of hotels and AirBnbs.

FLG2: Got it. Ok. What is the theme of his influencing?

T: This is going to make you nuts.

FLG2: I’m prepared.

T: You’re not.

FLG2: Ha. Just tell me.

T: He posts on health and wellness.

FLG2: Get the fuck out of here. (pause). Hahahahaha. Of course. What a world we live in. Does he actually make money from this?

T: Yes. Over a hundred thousand dollars already this year.

FLG2: But he has nothing to show for the money.

T: Nothing. All on drugs and events and travel. He has no savings.

FLG2: I assume he hasn’t paid his taxes.

T: Wow. I hadn’t even thought about that.

FLG2: Something to address down the road.

T: What do we do in the meantime?

FLG2: Is he still making health and wellness TikToks while in treatment?

T: Yes.

FLG2: Jesus.

T: One of the staff members brought it to me. They were particularly galled by the comments of his followers.

FLG2: Tell me.

T: “You are so smart. You are so wise. Your message is so powerful. You’ve changed my life. I want to be just like you. How did you figure everything out so early?”

FLG2: Jesus Christ. Brutal. (pause, thinking). Don’t do anything about it right now.

T: Really?

FLG2: It’s not our job to police the internet. It’s not our job to reveal all the frauds and phonies and terrible advice that is ubiquitous now. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t.

T: But it’s not sober behavior. And he’s used his income to fund his drug use.

FLG2: I know. But he has to come to that conclusion. You can’t force him. Think about it. If you make $150K a year making three videos a week and then you are told you have to stop it or you’ll get kicked out of a treatment program, which would you pick?

T: I see your point, but I don’t like it.

FLG2: I don’t like it either. (pause). This is so much of what I do in public policy and business consulting.


There has been long history of anti-intellectualism in the United States*. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a stunning rejection of expertise. People have their own facts, they claim to do their own research. I am absolutely appalled by the financial, romantic, social, political and health advice that people get online. Youth, looks, a catchy musical clip and horrendous advice combined into a 20 second video is the new God of the 2020s. I have mixed thoughts and feelings about it, but ultimately, I believe that people are free to watch stupid shit and make terrible decisions. Caveat emptor, indeed.


* Anti-intellectualism is hostility to and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals, and intellectualism, commonly expressed as deprecation of education and philosophy and the dismissal of art, literature, and science as impractical, politically motivated, and even contemptible human pursuits. (Wikipedia)