On Instagram, rapper Kanye West recently took issue with his ex-wife, celebrity businesswoman Kim Kardashian, over their then 9-year-old daughter North’s access to TikTok. North West, who turned 10 on June 15, uploaded a video of herself lip-syncing a rap song with sexual-themed lyrics, prompting her father’s public rebuke. Page Six reported that in this case Kardashian conceded her ex-husband’s point. “I saw on the internet [people saying] ‘Kanye [West] was right,’ and maybe he was in that instance,” Kardashian said. The song in question also struck the elder Kardashian as inappropriate for a child. “As soon as I saw the words, I was like, ‘Oh no, we’re taking this down,'” she added. Readers, however, should not get the wrong impression about Kardashian’s general attitude toward her daughter’s use of social media. In a lengthy interview with Time, Kardashian revealed that she will continue to allow social media access because her daughter “loves making slime videos and doing her little hair tutorials, and I will fight for her to be creative.” This is an instructive story. On one hand, there are few things in life more tedious than celebrities, and there are few behaviors more unseemly than divorced parents squabbling in public over their children. This story combines both. On the other hand, a grumpy, childless, middle-aged writer has no business scolding parents, celebrity or otherwise, for any reason. This story, therefore, is not really about West, Kardashian, their daughter, celebrities, or parenting in general. It is about social media. The problem here is that Kardashian, steeped in a culture that sanctifies self-expression, cannot tell the difference between creativity and attention-seeking. Creativity does not require an audience. Social media satisfies not the creative impulse but the desire for approval. Users crave likes, shares, hearts, retweets, or whatever symbol of empty validation a particular platform offers. This is not a new concept. In “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” (1759), the famous philosopher-economist Adam Smith argued that human beings act from self-interest but also from an intense desire for sympathy, which he regarded as natural. If Smith was right, then human beings are hard-wired as attention-seekers who require active moral exertion to restrain their self-indulgent tendencies. While Kim Kardashian and Adam Smith seldom appear in the same article–this might be the first time–it is useful to place this story in a much older context. It reminds us that social media is relatively new, but the moral questions it raises are not. Given the medium’s novelty, it also should remind us that we have no way of knowing the long-term effects of social media on attention-seeking children who have not yet learned restraint. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.