The writer appeared on the BBC Radio 4 show on Wednesday (27 January), to discuss a study showing that teenage girls are experiencing a sharper decline in wellbeing and self-esteem than teenage boys of the same age.
Haig, who is a mental health campaigner, was joined by Whitney Crenna-Jennings, who wrote the report that was being discussed.
However, many listeners questioned why Haig had been asked to speak on Woman’s Hour on a story that focused on young women in particular.
The tweet that prompted the response was shared from the official Woman’s Hour page and read: “What is the impact of social media on the mental health of teenagers - especially girls? We hear from author and mental health campaigner @matthaig1 on why he’s given up on Twitter.”
Truly struggling to understand why you chose to interview Matt Haig for this. I enjoy his fiction (for what it is, light and a bit twee), but why is he the person who you wanted to speak to here? Why not ask those of us who have been or still are teenage girls on social media?
— Alisha (@aligre_) January 27, 2021
Yes, when I want to know how something is impacting teenage girls, I often ask the opinion of a 45 year old white man. https://t.co/anK8zTh9E5
— No-One (@judeinlondon2) January 27, 2021
why don't you ask teenage girls
— Peter Gallagher (@peter_gallagher) January 27, 2021
“What the f*** does Matt Haig know about being a teenage girl exactly,” one reply read, while another commenter wrote: “Is this a joke?”
“Ah yes, the famous teenage girl Matt Haig,” another comment read. “Why are you interviewing a middle-aged man about this, rather than letting teenage girls have their voices heard? Or even just someone who works with them and knows them???”
“Truly struggling to understand why you chose to interview Matt Haig for this. I enjoy his fiction… but why is he the person who you wanted to speak to here?” another commenter wrote. “Why not ask those of us who have been or still are teenage girls on social media?”
“With respect, what has a (successful, rich) man on the benefits of leaving Twitter having been off for... a few days got to do with teenage girls social media usage and mental health,” author and critic Hannah Rose Ewans tweeted.
Woman’s Hour is hosted by Emma Barnett, who took over the show earlier this month following the departure of Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray.
The Independent has contacted BBC Radio 4 and Haig’s representatives for comment.